“I am going to prepare a place for you…” John 14:2b
Today we shout, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” and by the end of the week the ‘blessed’ one will be dead and we will have left him and he will have left us. True, next Sunday he will come back at the resurrection, but that is not our reality or the reality of this week for his disciples, because Jesus really died, he really left and for a time we were alone with no reason to believe God was coming back.
Jesus has been, to this point in the gospel of John, Emmanuel, God with us, but as we read Jesus’ words, “I am going…” he takes on a new name, at least from our perspective. His name? The God who leaves.
It is important during Holy Week to not get to wrapped up in Easter. There will be an entire season called Eastertide where we can celebrate the resurrection but this week is a week of mourning, of reflection – to sit in our sadness and brokenness and to have our eyes opened to know the death residing in our lives.
Calling this week Holy Week can give us the impression that this week is really about the new life we have in Jesus – the abundant life he gives through the Holy Spirit because of the resurrection and ascension. The word holy we often translate as hyper spiritual but holy really is about completeness, togetherness, wholeness but since this is the week we will kill the very God we are seeking it would be more appropriate to call this week, un-holy week. It is a week of separation and there is no “but.” It is simply a week where God leaves us and we will feel left and out of fear and to save our own skin we’ll leave too.
John 14-17 is the “Farewell Discourse” of Jesus and it is basically Jesus’ long goodbye. This week is a mirror for us, an un-holy, disconnected broken week of abandonment where we can look at the coming departure of Jesus and ask, where have I left?
We all, if we’ve followed God for any amount of time, have asked the question, where is God? But we less frequently ask the question, where am I? This is maybe the most important, spiritual and if not most honest question we can ask during this week. Where am I? Where have I gone?
As followers of Jesus we can be so zeroed in on following him that we lose sight of ourselves. We wait for Jesus to resurrect and we miss his death, our death, the very death he came to recreate through his resurrection. This is the very reason we can sing “Hosanna in the highest” on Sunday and “Crucify Him!” on Friday – not because God left us but because we left ourselves, our desperation, our need. We forgot that what we needed was not a king who would pull us out of our suffering but a God-with-us who would join us in our suffering.
Jesus, you said you were going to prepare a place for us and we struggle to trust you. We are constantly tempted to leave you and when we do we are so ashamed that we project our leaving onto you. Show this week how to sit with you in your suffering and as we do show us our suffering which we’ve silenced or even forgotten. We rejected and crucified you. This week, that is our only reality. Be with us as we embrace such darkness.
P.S. I am trying to post each day during Holy Week. I don’t know where it is going but I was challenged, unknowingly, by Jamie Noling-Auth to sit with Jesus’ Farewell Discourse in John. That will be my focus so feel free to join me.