Easter this year will have a different meaning for me….a deeper meaning….a better ‘relation’ to it. What I’ve experienced over the last 4-6 weeks kept bringing me back to one thought: ‘is this what the apostles felt like during Holy Week?’ Let me try to explain.
About 6 months ago I got word that someone I care about was going to be leaving for a while. For a while it seemed ‘far off’ and while we knew the ‘day would come’ it was easy to keep going on. It was off in the distance. And then January hit and ‘far off’ suddenly became ‘on the horizon.’ There was still some unknown for a while and as departure day got closer my thoughts started to turn toward corollaries. God had given great peace about the departure but there was a sadness that comes naturally when you’ll miss someone. For whatever reason all I kept thinking about was ‘is this what Jesus and the apostles felt like?’ I knew the answers to a lot of the questions, for the most part….the apostles didn’t. I don’t know how they did it as I had enough struggles with most of the answers in front of me!
As departure day drew near I kept finding myself thinking about what the apostles must have been feeling as they entered Jerusalem with Jesus. He had told them in advance that he’d be killed. I don’t think they fully grasped that concept. The week started with a celebration and ended in heartache. They KNEW their best friend and mentor was going away. They KNEW it was only a matter of time. They grasped at every moment they had they could spend with Jesus. Did they start thinking ‘how many more nights will I be with him?’ ‘How many more mornings will I see his face when I wake up?’ ‘How many more fish dinners will we eat together?’ ‘Is he really leaving? This just doesn’t seem real.’ It’s a crazy feeling when you know it’s your ‘last week’ with someone. All the ‘last time’ thoughts try to creep in following by a good dose of melancholy. The clock ticks. The calendar turns. And before you know it…..
And then Jesus started to get his affairs in order. He taught the crowds. One more time. He had dinner. One more time. He went to the garden to pray. One more time. He made sure the apostles had all they needed to carry on in His absence – they had instructions and they were equipped. And He boldly faced what was going to happen. In the garden He faced it head on. He didn’t hide, He didn’t cower, He didn’t even try to deny anything. “Who is it you seek?” “Jesus the Nazarene.” ” I AM HE.” That sounds like someone facing things head on with great peace!
The week the person I care about had to leave was really tough for me. I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed being with this person until he was gone. And it took a few days to recover & be ready to deal with people again. Just like the apostles. Jesus was killed – and they hid. They were scared, frazzled, confused, and hurting. They needed time to regroup. I know when this person is coming back. They didn’t. All they knew was He was leaving and they didn’t think they’d see Him again.
I feel like I’ve been through my personal Jerusalem the last 6 weeks. The feeling of ‘losing’ someone and knowing it’s happening is just something beyond words. This little account doesn’t begin to do justice to what I felt and experienced. I was struck with the ‘face it head on’ approach of Jesus. Regardless of what was about to happen. Regardless of what He was about to give up and ‘lose.’ Even regardless of how much His apostles would be hurt, lost, bewildered, and confused. And it’s encouraging to see that courage and know He’s given it to all of us, too, through His Holy Spirit. He’s given us everything we need to face our personal Jerusalems. He’s given us the example to follow – to face it head on (emotionally as well as physically…remember, Jesus didn’t want to experience what was about to happen and even prayed for God to get Him out of it. He sweated drops of blood. I think He felt a little anxiety! And yet He got up off His knees and faced it head on.). Now THAT’S holy boldness!
I take great comfort in having gone through a mini-Jerusalem. It gives me a better window into what the emotional side of those words on a Bible page convey. It gives me an example to follow. It gives me hope. Because He’s coming back again for me. Just like the person I care about it coming back, too. And I look forward to both the returns….as much as I look forward to the return of my friend, I look forward even more to the return of Christ. We all have to go through a Jerusalem to get to the other side. May we all face it head on, just like Jesus did. From one still on the journey, just from where I am right now, I can already say it’s worth it.