Today is Maundy Thursday. We begin what many consider to be the most holy days of any year. We remember, solemnly, Jesus’s final days on Earth. As I have been reflecting on Jesus’s last days on earth, I can’t help but think about what it must have been like.
How did he know his work was complete?
How did he know the timing was right?
We know how much he loved those twelve disciples. Leaving them behind must have been excrutiatingly painful.
I think about the scene in the garden:
My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.
And then again …
My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.
This account is in three of the four gospels. That must mean something.
Did Jesus feel like he wasn’t done?
Did he feel like he hadn’t prepared his disciples enough?
Like he hadn’t fully completed that which he was sent to do?
How did he know he wasn’t just throwing in the towel?
How did he tell the difference between moving on and giving up?
The answer may seem simple – Jesus had a special connection with the Father. He had an “inside path.” As God’s son, of course God’s word was clear to him. But I can’t help but wonder …
If Jesus was fully human … if he truly experienced life the way we do … then there had to be times when he wasn’t 100% sure of what God was telling him, right? There were times when Jesus had to choose a path … how did he know which path to follow?
Sometimes God can be awfully hard to figure out. There are times when he pulls our heartstrings in completely different directions, all at the same time. He fills our hearts with passion for so many different things, that sometimes it seems impossible to live them all out. And then, just when we begin to live out what we think is our calling, obstacles show up in our path and make it that much more confusing.
How are we supposed to know the difference between an obstacle and a roadblock?
How do we know when to perservere and push through the obstacles and when to follow the roadblock and take a different path? It can be awfully hard sometimes to tell the difference between a temptation and an opportunity. Maybe it helps to turn to the Story itself and see how Jesus lived his life.
How was he so certain of his Father’s will?
Throughout the Gospel accounts, we see Jesus spending a lot of time in prayer. At the beginning of his ministry, when he was probably unsure of where to start, he went to the wilderness to pray. During his ministry, when the crowds became overwhelming and his energy level began to dwindle, he went off by himself to pray. Approaching the end, conflicted about his path, he went to the garden and prayed.
Could it be that it was through Jesus’s constant discernment and prayer that he became certain of the path which God was leading him on?
But that doesn’t mean it was easy. We know that during his final days, Jesus questioned whether there was another way. I think it was probably likely that he felt like his teaching wasn’t done. Maybe he even believed that if only he stayed a little while longer, maybe he could have convinced the people … maybe his death wouldn’t have had to happen the way it did.
In the end, God had other plans. God knew there was no other way. As hard as it was, Jesus had to let go of his own desires and allow God’s will to happen.
And great things have come of it.