Isaiah 50:4-9a / Psalm 70 / Hebrews 12:1-3 / John 13:21-32
At the end of the Psalm in today’s lectionary readings, a voice calls out, “…Come to me speedily, O God. You are my helper and my deliverer; O Lord, do not tarry.” It reminds me of a prayer I heard my preacher Granny say many times. She’d fold her hands sweetly and say, “Dear Lord…give me patience…and give it to me RIGHT NOW!”
Most of us have been cooped up at home waiting for answers and help and relief for weeks now. These do feel like unprecedented times, which can feel scary. We don’t know what’s going to happen. Or maybe we think we know what comes next—maybe we’re listening to the predictions, the closures, the limited hospital beds, the death rates, the unemployment numbers—and we’re bracing ourselves for the weeks ahead. Hurry, Lord!
There must have been a sense of tense anticipation at this moment in the story of Holy Week, too. Jesus is “troubled in spirit” in today’s Gospel text. “One of you will betray me,” he says to his disciples.
What do we know about betrayal on this Wednesday in 2020? Maybe some of us still carry the hurt of someone we trusted who disappointed us. (Maybe someone who took all the toilet paper, or maybe something more.) Maybe we are feeling betrayed by our systems as they buckle under the strain of this pandemic. Maybe we are familiar with a part of ourselves that seems to go off and sell us out. Or, in moments of despair and uncertainty, maybe we feel betrayed by the way bad things happen to good people. Maybe we…well, not us surely, but maybe people we know…maybe those people feel betrayed by God. Hurry, Lord! Don’t delay any longer!
In the Gospel text, Jesus turns to Judas and says, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” What must Jesus have been feeling in that moment? He knows what’s going to happen, and here he sets the events in motion anyway.
Meanwhile, the rest of Jesus’ crew is trying to wrap their heads around what’s going on, and they are totally missing the point. They think maybe Jesus is telling Judas to get some supplies or maybe go give away some money to the poor. These aren’t bad interpretations, they’re just interpretations based on the old reality, the times when Judas was the friend who carried around the money and did stuff like that. They don’t know what’s coming next. They don’t know what will happen.
But Jesus has his eye on more of the story—the bigger story. As Judas leaves to betray him, he says, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him.”
It’s very tempting to get hasty in our search for meaning when the world is changing and anxieties are high. But when we rush, we are more likely to just see what’s in front of us and miss the point...We don’t know what’s coming next.
How might we slow down and surrender to the bigger story our Helper and Deliverer has in view? How do we practice the trust our great teacher Jesus showed us? May these days in Holy Week offer you space to slow down, breathe, and listen deeper in a way that brings you to peace and joy.