this is a Holy Week post. yeah, i know it’s a few days late – we already celebrated the resurrection and everything, but today was the first time in months that i remembered that i had a blog where i could share some longer-than-140-character thoughts.
this lenten season i’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus being fully man, yet still abiding in God’s meta-narrative for his life: that he was called to die for our sins. his prayer in the garden of gethsemane, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me,” is something that i’ve heard and even spoken on a number of times with my youth group, and i’ve always understood its implications – how Jesus is dreading the journey ahead of him just like any man would, but still ultimately leaves it up to his Father – and that has always been powerful to me too. but that’s not really what’s been resonating with me this season.
i’ve taken the idea of Jesus’s faithfulness and spread it across all of his miracles throughout the gospels in my mind – water into wine, calming the storms, feeding five thousand, walking on water, healing the blind and lame, raising Lazarus from the dead – and i’ve come to realize that all of these acts took a great deal of trust and faith on the part of Jesus. i think that since we already know the whole story that we forget how much faith it requires to perform each of them. we already know that he succeeds in all of his soon-to-be-miracles, but is Jesus fully aware that he’s going to succeed?
what’s going through Jesus’s mind when he sends the blind man to the jordan river with mud all over his eyes? “welp, hope you show up God, cause thats a long way to go for a bath.” or when he is about to keep the wedding reception rolling by turning the water jugs into wine, “welp, hope this actually works, cause otherwise i’m going to look like a total lame-o.” or when he starts to walk out onto the water, “welp, hope i don’t sink cause i’ve only got this one shirt…” or when he commands Lazarus to walk out of the tomb after three days of rotting, “welp, you better get up Lazarus cause it really stinketh up in here.”
okay so maybe i’m being a bit too facetious, but my point is this: when performing these numerous miracles, does Jesus have any doubt that his Father will pull through for him as he expects him to? does he know that with God’s help he’s the Ender Wiggin of performing miracles? or, since he’s fully man afterall, does he ever even have a fleeting “welp” moment?
whenever i think about the events or curriculum or courses i create for the students in my youth group, i’m consistently doubting that God is going to show up. almost every morning i finish speaking and think, “welp, that could’ve gone better.” and when i’m watching the clock countdown the minutes before the first students start showing up for our various events, i always have that quick thought, “welp. hope somebody shows up tonight.” what pitiful faith i have. Jesus has the confidence that the Father is going to perform miracles at a moment’s notice, yet i don’t have the confidence that my Sunday morning series that i’d been preparing all week had any sort of impact whatsoever. lame.
a few weeks before palm sunday, i spoke on the triumphal entry and how the Jews didn’t fully grasp the idea that Jesus wasn’t exactly the mighty conqueror king they were expecting when he rolled into Jerusalem. (i used this performance of whitney houston’s “i will always love you” to illustrate my point)*.
*not who you expected, huh?
anyway, long story short: i tanked it. i ran out of time and had to skip half of my talk, and i’m not totally sure i even mentioned the triumphal entry. i left that sunday feeling like a total failure. “welp. really bombed that one.”
then a few days later, we had an event at the church, and i gave a short little blurb and utilized Lazarus’s resurrection as an illustration. i asked the group why Jesus would wait three days to go to the tomb and save him when he clearly has the power to heal people immediately from a great distance away. he already did it with the roman centurian’s servant. i asked, “why would Jesus ever do it that way?”
a sixth grade dude raised his hand and responded, “it’s like what you were talking about on sunday: Jesus doesn’t do things the way we expect him to.”
um. what? excuse me? you mean you took something away from my string of incoherence this past sunday? did i just dream that, or did you actually repeat what i said verbatum? it was a perfect illustration of what little faith i have that God will actually show up amidst my endeavors – whether they’re successes or failures in my eyes.
I planted the seed, Apollos watered the seed, but God is making the seed grow. – Paul, 1 Corinthians 3:6
nothing happens on account of us. we just have to have the faith that God is growing the seeds we’re planting and watering. which can be frustrating when it doesn’t happen on our time, in our midst, and during our programs. it’s a failthful grind every single day.
which brings me back to the garden. Jesus is pleading to God for Door #2. he’s about to be arrested, tried, tortured, and nailed to a cross until he suffocates. and then – just like Lazarus – he’s gotta wait three days until God decides to sweep in and raise his body. Jesus doesn’t even have the luxury of being immediately risen – he has to go hang out with Hades until Sunday morning.
he’s the getting nailed to the cross, yet i’m the soldier whining about my swollen thumb.
i’m the one who gets frustrated when Jesus doesn’t work things out on my watch. i’m the one who needs affirmation that my ministry is remotely a success. i don’t have the patience to wait and see if the seeds i’ve planted ever grow, yet, in the meantime, my Savior has just bled all the way up a mountain side without saying a single word. it’s embarrassing to even think how small my faith is in what my Father is capable of doing.
so that’s been the state of my heart over Holy Week this year. full of shock and admiration at Jesus’s faith in his Father. wishing i could be remotely like Him. thankful that even though it looks like Friday through my unfaithful eyes…Sunday is always comin’.