As the story of Jesus’ betrayal and suffering draws on inexorably. we are faced with the odd scene of the Passover meal among friends, after which Jesus knows He will be handed over to His death, and the mysteriously, powerfully symbolic with hindsight utterances commanding the disciples, and us, to eat and drink in remembrance of Him. As seems to have been the case with Jesus more often than we like to admit, what He says during this meal, and how He says it must have been quite perverse to those who heard/ Why didn’t Jesus just say “it’s Judas, he’s going to betray me”? Why didn’t He say “When I say it’s my body and blood, I mean that it actually is/spiritually is/is meant to signify the sacrifice I’m about to make and all that it means”? It would certainly have been a lot easier for us who followed after Him. I wonder though if that isn’t something of the point. Here, in the midst of the fear of oncoming death, in the middle of the most real, crucial event and undertaking in the whole of human history, Jesus doesn’t lay it all out in easy, bitesize chunks. Rather, He does what needs to be done, and doesn’t feel the need to elaborate or explain further.
So often, we want to break faith down in to easy, approachable elements. We want to make it seem attractive. We want to minimise the sacrifice we feel called to undertake in order to be faithful. We want to understand everything, to live it all day by day, and still to enjoy our comfortable, “successful” lives. I’m sure Jesus, in a sense, wouldn’t have minded doing that either. You only have to watch The Last Temptation of Christ to be able to see what a strong drive their might have been to follow that path rather than the crushing one set before Him.
The thing is, He took it anyway. I wonder sometimes if He truly knew what He was getting in to, the gravity and severity of the pain, the separation, and how it would feel to die an undeserved death on behalf of others who would reject Him continually. I have very little doubt that He knew it was needed and that the benefits to Him and to all would ultimately be enormous, but still, I wonder, how in control of things was Jesus at that point? And yet, He did it anyway.
Often, for me at least, unless the risks are minimised, the way is clear, the steps are logical and sensible, I’m not willing to move on in my faith and life. My trust in God only extends to the limits of my intellect. In which case it is no trust at all. I’m trusting myself and calling it trusting God instead. How can we live in such a way that we might be so obedient that, whatever the consequences to us, we follow God, His ways, and live, love and hope for the coming of the kingdom, today?