Holy Week is one of the busiest times of the year for a pastor. The days are full, the services are emotionally charged, and there are a lot of them. What is difficult, is staying with Jesus the whole week.
Maybe you have a similar challenge. We began Holy Week with the triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The crowds were excited; the people were filled with hope—the Messiah is here, they proclaim. Our choirs and children raise their palms and sing Hosanna! The one who is going to save us has finally arrived! Jesus enters on a humble donkey with no pretense but the crowds do and the Pharisees do. They have already decided what Jesus will do next. We like the praise, the celebration and we know about what is coming. Death…but THEN resurrection!
It would be easy to skip the death part. The gruesome, lonely, hateful and hurtful way our Savior died. It would be convenient to only want the celebratory Passover meal like the disciples and not want Jesus to wash our feet. It would be painless to fall asleep when Jesus is praying because we are so tired. It would be obvious that we would protect ourselves by pretending like we didn’t know Him. It would be easy to hide until Easter. It would be easier to return to our normal, full, and often overwhelming week and wait until Easter.
When I think about Jesus’ last conversations with his disciples, I wonder what was behind Jesus’ words. What did He really want when He offered them bread and cup. What did He mean when He told them not to fight when the Pharisees came to take Him away? Or when He told them one of the twelve would betray him.
I believe Jesus was asking us to stay with Him. The disciples wanted to change what was happening. They wanted to protect Jesus, to keep Jesus with them, pretend like it wasn’t happening. I get it too. It is hard to stay in the moment when you are also trying to plan for the rest of the week. When your regular days don’t change just because it’s Holy Week.
Plus it is hard to stay. The middle of the week emotions are difficult to live into. The anger when Jesus turns the tables over in the temple. The celebration mixed with confusion and worry over someone’s betrayal. The exhaustion in the garden. The fear when Jesus was taken. The betrayal of their friend towards Jesus. The guilt when they abandon Jesus. The pain of watching their friend suffer. The sadness of Jesus' death.
Those are hard emotions. It would be easier to skip them all. It would be easier to go right to Easter. But I don’t believe Easter would be the same without the rest of it. We need those moments. We need them so we can understand how Jesus could stay with us.
Staying with Jesus through His whole life is how we show our love and gratitude that He stays with us. It is how we can understand and realize His human experience was filled with human needs. He didn’t want to suffer. He didn’t want to die. He loved His friends. He cared. He wept. He was angry. He was lonely. He died.
We need Jesus to need us to stay with Him. Otherwise it isn’t a relationship. A relationship that requires something of us and invites us into grace and truth that we already received because Jesus stayed.
Stay. I am going to try too.