Today is the worst hump day of the year. Next week, hump day will mean the midpoint of the week, a casual slide into the weekend and rest and relaxation. But this week, it’s just not the same.
This holy hump day seems like the last glimmer of twilight. Tomorrow darkness sets in and it will be dark…for three days.
So forgive me for not being as excited about hump day this week.
I’m a liturgical nerd. I love the services of Holy Week and the fact that they only come along once a year. I love the reminder that we have all like sheep gone astray, yet there is One who is faithful to us even still (Isa 53:6).
Most years I even love the waiting and hoping for Easter Sunday to arrive. Those agonizing moments on Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
But, what I don’t think about and don’t know how to love rightly is the conflict between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world.
The rest of the year we can skirt around the conflict. Sure there are some skirmishes when the authorities aren’t pleased with Jesus. Sure, folks try to throw Jesus off a cliff. But, mostly we can proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God and Jesus’ declaration that all are welcome in this new reality.
But this week, after today, it’s hard to sit in the pain. The pain of the reality that you and I will betray (have betrayed) the One who has welcomed us.
That for all our holy thoughts and Lenten fasts, we’re still more prone to choose our way–the way of this world–then follow Jesus to the cross.
That at the same moment we want to single out Judas, we remember Peter and the others deserted Jesus, too (Matt. 26:34).
That we too might be willing to sell out our best friend for thirty pieces of silver.
**Taking of Christ, Caravaggio
Because this is the crisis point for the kingdom of God.
In the next few days we’ll get to see the two sides trot out their best:
- The fickle crowds’ shouts will turn from “Hosanna” to “Crucify.” But the faithful one will walk the long road to Golgotha.
- The men (Peter and the boys)–respected and deemed worthy by society–will flee in fear, but the women (The Mary’s and others)–second class citizens in the first century–will stand with Jesus at the cross.
- Rome will try to
thwart kill this “King of the Jews” to mete out “justice,” but Jesus will submit and bring a greater justice than Rome can imagine.
But before all that, there is one last glimmer of twilight. After Jesus predicts that Judas will betray him, he doesn’t cast him out:
While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matt. 26:26-29)
Jesus commands them to drink–all of them–even Peter, even Judas.
Jesus commands you to drink, too. Not because of your faithfulness, but his. Not because he’s ignorant of the events to come, but (to steal a phrase from Lewis) because he knows the deeper magic.
Even in the face of the darkness to come, Jesus still has time to share a meal with his friends. Even though he knows we, like them, will desert him, he promises to drink with us again in his Father’s kingdom.
It’s going to get dark, but hold on to the twilight.
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