The Christian Holy Week, I am reminded, begins on Sunday, March 29th, with Palm Sunday. We will remember that Christ rode through the gate of Jerusalem on a white donkey, to ecstatic crowds littering his path with palm branches. He knew, though, their cries weren’t real, that in a few days they’d call for his death. They were caught in the moments, not grounded enough to understand what was happening. Of course, even his disciples didn’t know what was happening then, so how could the rest of us?
The next day, Monday, he stopped by the Temple and the Christ reminded the merchants that God’s house was not created to build businesses. This made a lot of powerful men angry so that, when he returns to town on Tuesday, members of every group he offended are waiting with their trick questions. He answers them strongly, and then shares a story and they begin to understand it—they are going to kill him. Tuesday night, his stories to the disciples become more than stories. They can see the great dividing line being drawn among humanity: Some will serve the light, others the darkness. They begin to understand how much he needs them to carry Cosmic Love into the future.
Wednesday night, he has dinner with his closest friends. Mary Magdalene washes his feet with oil and her long hair. On some level, she knows who He is and what is coming. Thursday night, Jerusalem is quiet as all head indoors to prepare for Friday’s Passover celebration with family members. Like everyone else, Christ Jesus enters a quiet room, with the disciples, his closest relatives–in Spirit. They will have their last meal with him that night, though they know it not.
Before they eat, Jesus the man with Christ the God, washes the feet of each of his disciples, showing them how much he loves them, telling them that he wants them to love and care for each other, ‘humbly, like this.’ I once heard a man say about that act, “It was also his way of thanking them for being there. It was a small group who stayed with him and who would carry out his message of Cosmic Love.” The man said this with such reverence, I fought back tears.
Some say that at dinner that night, as Christ tore the bread, saying, “This is my body,” then handed them the chalice of wine saying, “This is my blood,” light as bright as the sun entered the bread and wine and they took Christ’s light within themselves. They would need it, as their own sacrifices of the soul would follow his greatest of all sacrifices: ‘I give my life for all who know not the divine path. I have come to take them home for they belong to me, not to the darkness.’
Judas leaves the meal, breaking a Passover law not to leave the safety of home or meet the Destroying Angel, which, of course, he does, but not until he brings those who most fear the Christ to his place of prayer, the Garden of Gethsemane. From there, soldiers will drag him from politician to politician, city and state leaders calling for his death, which he has already willed into being. The crowd calls loudly for his crucifixion. He is beaten, spit upon and a crown of thorns is pressed into his head. He carries, for as long as he can, the wooden beams he will be hung on at Golgotha. Nails are hammered through his wrists and feet into the wood, which is then raised between the crosses of two criminals.
When his chest is pierced by a sword and he bleeds into the Earth, his soul follows his blood into the Earth, into the Kingdom of the Dead, carrying his light to the children of God who belong not in the dark places. That is Good Friday. It is Good Friday because the God of Goodness reigns in the dark places until Easter Sunday morning, when we remember that a distraught Mary Magdalene will go to his tomb to anoint his body, but she will not find it. She will find Him alive, Master over Death and Darkness, Teacher, and Lord of Love, instead.
The message of this God-man’s life, death and life? Be not afraid, for I am with you, especially when it seems the darkness is going to take you. You are not alone–ever. Call to me and know in your heart that I am coming to stand beside you, to guide you, to hold you–whatever you need from me. I will answer you because my Father in Heaven has sent me to do so. P.S.–I love you.