Thursday, April 17, 2014

That ear

I was going to begin this post as I often do--with some story of an ordinary moment in an ordinary life, usually mine. But this is no ordinary week. This is Holy Week. Everything has been leading up to this. It's the climax of the story of all stories--of yours and mine and every person's who ever was or will live. What we celebrate this week is the good, bad and ugly then best of our stories.

Hebrews 2: 14 says, "Since the children have flesh and blood, He too shared in their humanity so that by His death He might break the power of him who holds the power of death--that is, the devil."  That's the story of the Incarnation of Jesus Christ in one verse.

It struck me last night as I was falling asleep (you know how these things can happen) what it meant to Jesus, the Son of Man, that last week before the cross that He shared our humanity. It's like everything that can happen in a whole lifetime came to him in that single week. In this one week, He:

  • Was welcomed into the capital city with a ticker-tape parade. People lined the streets, shouting His name, waving leaves in His face, and proclaiming not just that they wanted but that He was King. This proclamation enraged the Jewish leaders. It was blasphemous in their minds. 
  • Refused to accept the status-quo,, lost His temper (in a not very civil or Gandhi-like fashion), caused a riot all by Himself, informed the governing body that they were a bunch of vipers, and thereby, sealing His fate. Jesus knew what He was doing, what would come of it.  
  • Had one of His dearest friends turn traitor. Let's not forget this. Judas was one of His dearest friends. It was a stroke of fortune for the priests, and grave misfortune for Judas when he took that silver. What it did to Judas was far worse than what it would do to Jesus. That's the sad, awful truth. But here's the other part, Jesus loved Judas. Don't forget that when you look down your nose at Judas. When Jesus sent Judas away from the table, He loved him, when He met him in Gethsemane, it was with great sadness, because the cost to Judas would be too much for Judas to bear. Jesus had to say goodbye to his disciple that night when Judas kissed him. 
  • Had a feast with His closest friends, and said some things. Not everyone gets to have a final say to those they love most. Jesus got this. And what He had to say was, "when ever you break bread, you're  sharing with me." And, "Whenever you're drinking, It's in my name." In other words, whatever we do, who ever we do it with--if we're His, He's to be there with us. Yes, it's a Sacrament. It's also sacramental to eat and drink and be together with people. That's what the Last Supper is about. It's about the truth that Jesus is always in our daily lives, He's in the most elemental of our needs--our eating and drinking (give us this day, Lord, our daily bread). He is, after all, the Bread of Life.
  • Didn't sleep. I say it this way because He went out to the garden to pray. He'd gone off to pray myriad times before in the time the disciples had followed Him. But this time, when He asked Peter, James and John to come with Him, He asked them to 'watch' for a little while. To be with Him. But they were tired. They fell asleep. I don't suppose they thought it was that much different than any other time He'd gone off. But it was. And He felt alone when He came back to them. Felt let down by His closest friends. "Couldn't you be with me for a single hour?" 
  • Sweated like blood. That's heavy-duty sweat, my friends. Now, I'm married to a man who seems to have invented the concept of sweating, but I know nothing of sweating like blood. That's some powerful sweat. Hard core prayer. Beyond my pay-grade, I suppose. He was in anguish. Working it out with God, knowing those were His last moments alone until After, perhaps. The time was upon Him. Imagine all of history had come down to that moment. And it weighed like all the blood of humanity on His shoulders as He prayed. Maybe for the cup to be passed, nevertheless, with the most beautiful of surrenders. 
  • Healed an ear. In in those last moments, He was still healing. Still teaching, too. "No, Peter, put back down that sword." He healed a man who'd come to take Him to His death. For a moment, let that be you who has come. Let that be me. You have come to take Jesus to His death. You arrive and someone grabs a sword and cuts off your ear. Slices it right off. The man Himself first takes away the sword from the would-be fighter, then actually puts the ear back in its place. The ear reattaches, the blood stops flowing. THIS is the man you have to take to His death? This man just healed you. This man might just be who they say He is. What if He is? YOU are taking Him to His death but He healed you anyway?
And that's the point, isn't it?
All these things make Jesus very much human, in some ways. All these very human things He experienced in just the last week. The adulation we might all long for, losing His temper (righteously!), sharing meals and saying important things to important people, saying hard goodbyes to beloved friends, feeling lonely, and even full of anguish: these remind us that He really was fully human. 
But that ear...
That ear makes us know that He's also always fully God. And we ARE the soldier. We weren't there, but we are the ones who take Him to the cross. And we are the ones He heals there.
So that He might break the power of the one who holds the power of death. 
Amen.

1 comment:

Pamela M. Steiner said...

That "ear" ...wow...that brought it right down to human terms that you and I can understand. That was powerful. It was all good, but the part about the ear really gets to me. I was the one coming to take Him to His death...and He takes the time to heal me anyway and shows me His eternal love for me in spite of me and what I've done. praise God!