We are finally coming to the end of our Lenten journey in the wilderness. And I don’t know about you, but this wilderness journey has been long, cold, and gloomy and I am ready for it to be all over. I am ready for Easter: for some new life to be brought forth!
But before we jump too quickly to Easter, we must travel through the next three days. Because it is in these holy days that we are reminded of what it actually means to be resurrection people.
You see, it is during Jesus’ last supper with his disciples in the Gospel of John when we hear an important commandment, which is why today – the first of the Three Days – is called Maundy Thursday – or “Commandment Thursday.”
During this meal, Jesus gets down on his knees and begins to wash the disciples’ feet – an act that only a servant would do for a houseguest. And as he does this he says to them, “You call me Teacher and Lord. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.”
Later, he goes on to say: “I am with you only a little longer… [So] I give you a new commandment, just as I have loved you, so too, should you love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Here, as Jesus is preparing his disciples during their last meal together for his impending death on the cross, he commands them to follow him. To follow his way of life that is full of compassion, service, and love for others. To continue Jesus’ ministry by being His hands and feet to the world after Jesus’ death. This is how people will come to know God’s Kingdom is near and how they will experience the love of God.
And so today, we are being called to follow Jesus on his journey, as well.
But our call to follow him does not end after we gather with one another around the Table. When we are called to follow Jesus, we don’t get to just pick and choose the fun and easy parts of his journey and then skip the difficult ones that we don’t want to face. No, when we choose to follow Jesus, we must follow him on his entire journey – painful, scary, and all.
When we go to bed tonight, the three days will have only just begun. And it is in the painful event that comes next when we will begin to better understand who this Jesus is that we are called to follow.
Because, when we look to the cross, we see a king who chooses to save the entire world rather than to save himself.
You see, for Jesus, the path to greatness is not to be first, but rather it is to put others first. It is to tear down all walls that divide and to walk alongside those who suffer, including and especially those the world deems as the last and the least.
As we look to the cross, we are reminded that Jesus’ path can be quite difficult and painful at times.
And yet, while we know the tragedy that comes after Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, we can also hold onto hope. Because our journey following Jesus does not end there. Jesus’ death is not the end of the story. We will soon come to the empty tomb.
So as we enter the three holy days today, let us answer “yes” to Jesus’ invitation to live as resurrection people. Let us choose to follow him on his entire journey – which begins with a great commandment and then continues on toward and beyond the cross.