Right before our reading today happens, we hear about the empty tomb for the first time. Hallelujah! Jesus Christ is risen! I hope you were able to find a way to get to an Easter celebration in a church near you. The songs of Easter are still ringing in my ears! The joy and marvel of Jesus’ resurrection – what do we do with it?
Our Easter faith simply means we put our trust in Jesus as our Messiah. We must never forget his great sacrifice for us. He did all the work, and now it’s our turn to believe. We might find ourselves blinded like those men on the road to Emmaus. We read that “God kept them from recognizing him.” Ask God to reveal himself to you.
We pick up where we left off in our last reflection, only from Luke’s perspective this time. The fact that the Roman officer had come to faith in Luke is powerful since it’s the concludes thought of our last reading (in Mark). Think about that for a minute. Who converted and worshiped God? A Roman? Seriously! That’s terrific.
Time passes quickly, and nightfall will soon usher in the Sabbath. Had Jesus’ executioners thought about what to do with the body? Or were they just so intent on getting rid of him permanently, they hadn’t figured out the next step in their plan? Thankfully, Joseph stepped up.
Jesus’ journey to the cross ends today as he is raised up on the tree for all to see. As Christians, this is an essential event in our faith story. Knowing that, however, doesn’t make it any less excruciating for us to imagine. I can almost feel each blow and hear each taunt jeered at Jesus. I have to shut out the noise of the world to do so, but that’s how I want to spend my quiet time today. I want to feel closer to Jesus.
I can’t help but think about what Jesus was feeling besides the agony. Was he picturing all of our faces as he endured his torture? And what about Jesus’ abusers? Imagine what evil must be burning inside for them to commit such a deed on another human. What kind of mindset must they have had to reconcile their actions?
My focus today is on what happened that night in the garden. But, before we reflect on that, it’s good to remember what happened right before. Jesus had just shared the final meal he would share with his closest friends. We recognize the elements of our present day sacrament, Holy Communion. So many truths were revealed during the meal, I’m sure the disciple’s heads were spinning.
Jesus’ response to all of that was to pray. It sounds like praying in the garden was a regular thing. This time, Jesus was hoping the disciples would to stay awake and ponder all that was happening. Jesus knew that he needed his Father more than ever this night. I try to put myself there in the garden, too. With all that Jesus had just shared, I don’t think I could have fallen asleep!
Imagine you’re with Jesus to share a meal, and, all of a sudden, he wants to wash your feet! I think I would have been a little bit like Peter, aghast at what the Messiah was doing. In those days, a lowly servant was the one who would cleanse the master’s feet. After all, in those days, dusty roads and sandals would leave dirty, smelly feet.
But Jesus’ response surprised me. Did it surprise you when he said, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” What does that even mean? Clearly, the lesson Jesus intended from this experience went beyond having clean feet or doing something nice for others. To not belong to Jesus would be a frightening reality.