Holy Week - let us follow Jesus
We are in the depths and we need Jesus, writes Andy Goodliff - this means being led into the depths of his passion, into the isolation and horror and suffering of the cross.
The first in a series of theological and biblical reflections from Baptists for Holy Week and Easter
This year’s Holy Week will be like no other we have experienced, like so much else in 2020. It may well because of our current situation that there is a special opportunity like no other to engage, pray and reflect on the passion of the Christ, albeit on our own. Many of us have a little more time than usual. It might be that we see this time as a gift, even if we wish things were different.
To focus our lives next week on Jesus and his time in Jerusalem is to measure our lives upon him and with him. While we are all consumed and overwhelmed by the Covid–19 pandemic — our lives measured by the latest updates — next week we are summoned to measure our lives by the gospel, dwelling in its drama, meditating on the movements of arrival, temple, supper, garden, trial, crucifixion and burial. I don’t mean to say we should forget what is happening around us and to us, but to bring the story of the passion and the reality of what is happening to us into a space where we will hear both differently.
As Christians our lives are storied by the life of Jesus. It is Jesus who gives our lives purpose and meaning. Every year we tell the story from birth, through baptism, ministry to arrest, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. We tell this story because we have found it to have become our story (Gal 2.20). And perhaps more than ever at the moment we need Jesus. We are in the depths and we need Jesus.
It might be a second gift that as Western Christians we discover that we (really) need Jesus, that we have nothing to do but throw ourselves on the mercy of Christ. Of course to follow Jesus is to be led into the depths of his passion, into the isolation and horror and suffering of the cross. This might not be where we want to go, because it is another reminder of our own mortality, our own fragility, our own helplessness. It might be that we want to skip next week and arrive straightaway to the women on their way to the tomb. This temptation has a likeness to that which Jesus faced in the wilderness: a temptation to want a different kind of Christ. And like Jesus, I think we need to resist it. If we live by the word of God, if we worship God, we live by and worship the suffering and crucified God. And so like the early Baptists we ‘follow the Lambe wheresoever He goeth’ (1644 Particular Baptist Confession).
Let us follow Jesus as he arrives riding donkey into Jerusalem with the crowd shouting Hosanna, and wonder what it means to see Jesus as Saviour.
Let us follow Jesus into the temple, clearing out the traders, and wonder what it means to see Jesus as Prophet.
Let us follow Jesus to his anointing in Bethany, and wonder what it means to see Jesus as King.
Let us follow Jesus to a Last Supper with friends, and wonder what it means to see Jesus as the Passover Lamb.
Let us follow Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane, and wonder what it means to see Jesus as the Man of Sorrows.
Let us follow Jesus to Pilate’s Palace, and wonder what it means to see Jesus as the Rejected Messiah.
Let us follow Jesus to Golgotha, and wonder what it means to see Jesus as the Crucified Lord.
Let us follow those who carried the body of Jesus, and wonder what it means to see Jesus as one laid in a tomb.
This is his story. This is our story.
prepare our hearts
to follow your Son
into the place of suffering and death
in the knowledge that you do not abandon us
but enter the depths of our humanity
in order to raised to new life.
Show us your mercy
and renew our faith
Image | Lorenzo Lamonica | Unsplash
Andy Goodliff is minister of Belle Vue Baptist Church, Southend.
This is the first in a series of theological and biblical reflections from Baptists for Holy Week and Easter
Do you have a view? Share your thoughts here.