Lenten Reflection – by Mark Liebenow

The Big Uneasy

In the weeks before the Passover, Jesus is speaking in parables (riddles) about what people have to do to get into heaven and about his death. Most of the disciples seem oblivious to the hard realities of what Jesus is saying. They’re high on a feeling and talking about where they will sit when they get to heaven – “Okay. You’re going to die, rise up, and we’ll be with you in the afterlife. So we’re good, right?”

Yet some in Jesus’s band of followers are nervous because he is attracting increasingly large gatherings in the provinces, and the authorities have noticed. Now they are going to enter Jerusalem. They don’t see this as a triumphal coronation, but as getting in the Man’s face, poking the sleeping bear, throwing down the gauntlet. Hubris is on overload, and these disciples are uneasy about the blowback.

We know the events that follow. But if we are yoking our faith to the disciples so that we can experience what they did, then we have to set the joy of Easter aside and let ourselves feel the tension, as well as the exhilaration, of Palm Sunday, the fellowship of the last supper, the ministry of service with the foot washing, the horror of the crucifixion, and the utter despair of Saturday’s dark night when our dreams are smashed to the ground.

The message of Jesus is of assurance but also of challenge – Yes, you will be with me in heaven, but first you need to take my message to others. I need your feet on the ground.

— Mark Liebenow