Submitted by Pastor Donna Fuller, Rock Port United Methodist Church, Rock Port, Mo.
“The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.” Matthew 26:23.
This week we will celebrate Holy Week. For Christians, it is truly the holiest of weeks in the year as we remember the events of the last week of Jesus’ life on this earth. It began with Palm Sunday, when Jesus came into Jerusalem to the cheers of crowds lining the streets. It ends with the glorious news of his resurrection on Easter morning. But in between those events, there is betrayal, abandonment, judgment, torture, and execution. Yet we call the whole week holy.
Different churches remember those events in different ways. But all Christian churches remember them. They are central to our beliefs. But they also speak to us as human beings who sometimes also suffer from the betrayal or abandonment of friends or family, false accusations, unfair judgments or violence. And we all suffer death in some way. We can suffer as Jesus suffered. It is hard to know how to respond when bad things happen because we often don’t know these things are coming.
But Jesus knew. Imagine sitting down to a meal with friends knowing one would betray you, and that most would abandon you. Imagine sitting down to a meal that should have been a celebration and a joyful occasion. It was the Passover they were celebrating, that moment in the history of the Israelite people when God delivered them from slavery to the Egyptians. That was definitely a reason to celebrate. But Jesus knew what was ahead of him. He knew not only about the betrayal and the abandonment, but the pain, suffering and eventual death that he would face. He told them that he knew. No one wanted to admit that he would do something like betrayal or abandonment. But that is exactly what happened. One would betray and most would abandon.
We humans can also be the ones to betray or abandon our friends or family. We can be the ones to judge others unfairly or commit acts of violence out of fear, anger or just plain hatred. What would we say if Jesus told us what we are capable of doing? Would we deny it? Or would we admit our capacity for such acts? Would we change our lives? Would we take a different path, or make a different choice?
God does tell us. Sometimes we listen. Sometimes we change. Sometimes we deny. But God also tells us in the remembrance of this week that no matter our capacity to choose the worst of acts against other human beings, God still loves us. God loves us enough to come into this world which can be full of suffering, risk experiencing that suffering, and willingly go to the cross. For us. Out of love. That is why this week is holy. All of it.