by W Paul Jones
The church divides its year into two “rehearsal” periods for a drama that discloses the meaning of everything. The plot unfolds in three acts: promise/ gift/response. The first rehearsal is titled Advent/Christmas/Epiphany and the second Lent/Easter/Pentecost. During the intervening thirty-plus weeks, we live out that drama in our “ordinary” daily life.
Thus Lent crescendos this week as a play within the play. Excitement is rampant as we dress for our parts, ready to pass in triumph with Jesus through the Jerusalem gate-anticipating a victory over repressive authorities. Isaiah’s dream is about to happen, for God “will bring forth justice to the nations.” Now is the moment, for “the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare.” But our cheers drown out Isaiah’s hints that this week may not end as we hope-for he will not “lift up his voice or make it heard in the street.” In fact, “a bruised reed he will not break. “What kind of a liberator is this?
The plot intensifies. The night before his entry, Jesus dines with friends. Unexpectedly, Mary anoints him with costly ointment as Jesus whispers something about its being for his burial, while a “friend” prepares to betray him. And Hebrews warns that although Jesus will enter triumphantly, the temple sacrifice will be his blood, no longer that of goats.
The week ahead will plunge us into the question that undid the disciples: “Who do you say I am?” Equally important is a second one: “Who does Jesus say that we are?”
God, are the mixed messages I receive your doing or mine? Amen.