Holy Week is haunting. I try to put myself in the place of Jesus, who ever since the resurrection of Lazarus is more famous, and infamous, than ever. There is the celebration dinner thrown for him by Mary, Martha and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised to life after four days of death. Just six days before the Passover, the house is packed for the news has gone viral. It is at this meal that Mary takes that pound of pure nard and pours it over Jesus feet, filling the room with its sweet fragrance. She wipes his feet with her hair as an act of pure devotion; costly, intensely personal mixed with a sadness born of insight. Judas gives her a hard time “Why this waste?”, he scorns. But Jesus rebukes him and reminds the whole house that this anointing is for his burial, which is near. For “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” He continues: “now is the judgment of this world, now is the ruler of this world cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
Jesus has set his face “like flint” to go to Jerusalem one last time, for one last Passover, where he will be the sacrificial Lamb. The forces of evil coalesce and Jesus, in those last few days shifts his focus to his disciples. “You are my friends” he says, for I am about to lay down my life for you. There is no greater love than for someone to lay down his life for his friends.
And then there is that final Passover meal. Have you ever tried to eat when you have that feeling in the pit of your stomach that something horrible is about to take place? I cannot imagine it, but only wonder. To die is one thing, but to know for certain that you are going to die is something else. To walk towards death by crucifixion is too much for me to fathom. But he does it.
Tomorrow night, our fellowship gathers for a Christian version of a Seder meal that will seek to re-enact that night. We will try to enter into the spirit of it. But that feeling in in the pit of my stomach will still be there.