Here we are in the middle of Holy Week 2023. The season of Lent seems to have flown by. It feels like we just finished Christmas, and now we are in the holiest week of the Christian faith. The time leading up to the passion and crucifixion of Jesus.
I have to wonder if, as Jesus was journeying toward Jerusalem, the time felt as if it was flying by as well. When we look at the scriptures before this point in Jesus’ life, we see he was keenly aware of what he would be facing as his journey took him to the events we will revisit this week. Knowing what Jesus knew, he proceeded along his course without delay. Of course, we have the privilege of hindsight, so we know the story and the outcome just as Jesus would have known. Knowing in the end there would be Resurrection, do you think it made it any easier for Jesus to enter Jerusalem? Would it make it easier for us?
Jesus comes into Jerusalem with a fanfare of a parade, people calling him blessed, saying he was their King, and the long-awaited Messiah. From there, he goes and cleanses the temple, driving out the money-changers and those preying on the people and their desire for holiness and forgiveness. Jesus goes to the Mount of Olives which overlooks Jerusalem. Jesus tells his disciples through parables and discourse about the destruction of Jerusalem, the end of the age, his second coming, and the final judgment. We are also privy to the knowledge this was the day Judas negotiated a price with the religious authorities to betray and hand over Jesus to them. Jesus instructs Peter and John to go and prepare a place for all of them to celebrate the Passover together. The whole cadre of them gathers in the upper room for this special meal. Jesus indicates how truly special it is by announcing he will not eat it again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God. He further sets this time aside as particularly special by sharing bread and wine with his friends and indicating it is a new tradition by which they will be blessed and remember him. Judas makes a cameo appearance here too. Jesus lets Judas know he is aware of the betrayal, but he shares this meal with him anyway. Later we are told Jesus goes with the other disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. The armed soldiers come searching for Jesus, and Judas leads them right to him and even indicates who Jesus is by giving him a kiss. The events succeeding Jesus’ arrest seem to come quickly. He’s arrested, tried, and found guilty. Jesus is mocked, beaten severely, and finally given a death sentence. The mix of religion with the power of the government turns deadly, and Jesus is crucified. He hung on the cross for only a relatively short time. Usually, death came agonizingly slow to those crucified. They might hang there for many hours and even days. But even there on the cross, Jesus is carrying out his mission and purpose, pronouncing forgiveness to those who kill him, and to the one who asks for forgiveness.
There is no record of Jesus uttering forgiveness to Judas, but I’m willing to go out on a limb here and say, I’m certain he did. You might wonder why I’m so certain. I’m certain because grievance, anger, acrimony, victimhood, and seeking revenge, are all too great a burden to bear. They would have certainly been to bear in light of the great sacrifice Jesus was making. The Jesus I know would not have carried any sort of resentment, anger, or thoughts of revenge to the cross. He would have forgiven all slights against him as that is his nature. It’s exactly what he was modeling for us, and what he calls us even now to do.
The time we spend dwelling on past wrongs against us, giving voice and energy to holding on and letting them fester is a slow, agonizing time. We are the more tortured and the life of love is sucked out of us.
I continue to wonder how quickly this week came to Jesus. These are truly momentous times. Knowing what lay ahead, did the time progress agonizingly slow, or did it seem as if time was fast-forwarded? What was the time like for the disciples who still seem somewhat confused as to what was going to happen? What was the time like for Judas the betrayer?
This Holy Week is a time for reflection, for being wholly and completely aware of the depth of love and forgiveness which has been showered upon us. We can’t really get to the resurrection moment God provides until we forgive others and even ourselves. Resurrection living is about becoming a new person in Christ. We cannot become new if we are not all about forgiveness. The less we hold on to those troubling things, the quicker resurrection can come for us.
In this Holy Week, may the grace of forgiveness make the time between now and our own resurrection to new life fly by. May our forgiveness of ourselves and others draw us closer to the kingdom of love and light Jesus is offering.
Your fellow traveler on the Way,