Close to the End
While Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside by themselves, and said to them on the way, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified; and on the third day he will be raised.”
For three years, the disciples had followed Jesus. They had watched him heal and teach. They had seen Jesus reach out to those who were hurting with deep compassion and they had seen him challenge those in power. They had walked with Jesus through the countryside and visited the towns and cities across the land. They had learned by lesson and example. They had fallen in love with Jesus – and they had been confused and concerned and frustrated and blessed and amazed. Now, at this third pronouncement from Jesus recorded in the scripture for today, they began to realize that their journey with Jesus was almost over. They had no idea what was coming next and yet they continued to walk with Jesus.
Since Ash Wednesday, five weeks ago, we have been on a holy Lenten journey with Jesus in faith and hope as we strive to follow where we believe Jesus is leading us in our lives. We each walk this journey differently. Some of us have a discipline we follow and for others we travel however the Spirit leads us. We have met virtually for worship and studies, we have worked and played, we have worried and learned new lessons of life. We reflect and pray and wonder and struggle and are blessed. In three days, on Palm/Passion Sunday, we begin Holy Week. This year’s Lenten journey is nearing the end. We have no idea what’s coming next and yet we continue to walk with Jesus.
These stories about journeys of faith have been told ever since Abram and Sarai were called by God to set out to a new land. They have been followed across the centuries since the first disciples were called to travel with Jesus. When they followed him to Jerusalem, they had no idea where their journeys would take them, but their faith and love sustained them in the journey.
Today, we are the faithful journey-walkers. We have been traveling through a year that has been filled with an unexpected pandemic. We have encountered the divisions and devastations of racism and political polarization and prejudices – and now again, more mass murders. We have felt confused and devastated and frustrated and challenged more than we imagined could happen. Still, along the way we have discovered new technologies, learned new skills, become involved in making a difference in our communities, met with people across the zoom-miles, and we have experienced joy and love and blessing. We have no idea what is coming next and yet we continue to walk with Jesus in faith.
Lent is almost over. The Gospel story of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem is close to the end. With the disciples, we walk with Jesus toward an unknown ending. The journey to Jerusalem will include trials and betrayals, pain and suffering, abandonment and loyalty, hard questions and condemnation and crucifixion. It seems that the journey is over. It is at that moment, that great astonishment and wonder and awe are experienced: “and on the third day Jesus will be raised.” Just when it seems that we are close to the end, we are surprised by joy and discover instead, the grace-filled gift of a resurrected life. We are not close to the end; we are close to a new beginning.
God of grace and new life, thank you. As we walk our journeys of faith, help us to remember that wherever our lives take us, we are accompanied by the risen Christ. Thank you for holding us in your Spirit of healing and hope. As always, we pray in the name of the One who taught us how to live and love and walk in faith, Jesus Christ. Amen.