Week beginning 8th April [Easter Sunday 9th]
The Message version: Matthew 26:42 ‘Father, if there is no other way than this, drinking this cup to the dregs, I’m ready. Do it your way.’
Matthew 27: 19 ’Pilate’s wife sent him a message. ‘Don’t get mixed up in judging this noble man. I’ve just been through a long and troubled night because of a dream about him.’’
There is so much humanity in the account of Holy week. Jesus, praying to be excused from what he knew lay ahead, but still submitting to God’s overall plan; the disciples, tired to the point of exhaustion and unable to stay awake; Judas succumbing to bribery to betray Jesus and then full of remorse that he had made an awful mistake; and Peter, full of bravado until he was accosted that he was a follower of Jesus, and then reneging on his promise and becoming embarrassed.
The religious leaders don’t behave well either, shouting, spitting and jeering at Jesus as they sought to have evidence of his ‘blasphemy’ to present him to the Roman Governor Pilate. I am reminded of the boys in the story ‘Lord of the flies’ by William Golding as decent behaviour seemed to disappear. Pilate was placed in a tricky position, wanting to appease the religious leaders, but knowing that there was little, if any real evidence that Jesus had committed any crimes. The message to Pilate from his wife is intriguing. What did she know, and perhaps believe, about Jesus and the religious leaders? What connections did she have that she sought to give some intervention to her husband? It appears that her dream must have been vivid to prompt her to communicate with her husband when he was holding a court session. Did her action make any difference to the outcome? We will never know, but we can ponder.
God, our Father and Mother, we can be afraid of many things in the future – illness, operations, legal hearings, dangerous journeys to name just a few. Help us to remember that Jesus the man was afraid too as the actions of others moved him towards a cruel death. He knew though, that whatever happened to him, you would be there with him, giving support and courage. Please, give us faith to trust you too when we face hardships in our lives. What we call Holy Week was a highly challenging week, a down time, a time when feeling positive of the outcome was almost impossible to contemplate, but even though many of the key players did not cope well that week, they had the hope of Jesus’ promise, ‘After I am raised up, I, your Shepherd, will go ahead of you, leading the way to Galilee’.. May we too remember that all we need to do to access help is to ask you. Let us follow the risen Jesus wherever he leads us, carrying the excitement and joy of that first Easter.