9 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.
11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side! —
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.
14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
(Psalms 31:9-16 ESV)
Holy Week is coming.
I love Holy Week. A week of up — Jesus has come into Jerusalem! Our King is here! Our kingdom is come! — and down. I don’t think I have to describe the down, ending as it does with betrayal, arrest, torture, and death.
A while ago, I wrote a song, based on the anointing story and the passover supper in Matthew 26, combining the two. And as I crafted those words,
This is my body
Broken for you
Do this, remember me…
I found myself thinking — we consider what Jesus did at that table in the upper room to be a commandment. And rightly so. We gather to remember his saving life, his life-giving death, and his redeeming resurrection. But what if Jesus isn’t commanding us, he’s pleading with us? because he’s not entirely sure that we will do these things, that we will remember him, that we will take bread and wine, eat and drink, and know he is with us?
That he doesn’t know. That he has been forgotten. Like one who is already dead.
Our four Gospels give us several different views, several different ways to look about the life and death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the chosen one of God. He is both completely in control, laying down his life so he can pick it up, but he is also uncertain, frightened, even succumbing to despair. “Take this cup from me!” Is it all for nothing? He said in confidence he will rise on the third day, but will that really happen? Or is he wasting his life — and his death — for no reason?
We know the answer. The gospel writers knew the answer. Jesus seems to know the answer. And yet … he walks by faith into the darkness, not entirely certain. Trusting. Hoping. Believing.