“Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, 2 “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Matthew 26:1-2
Years ago I helped out delivering the liturgy on Sunday mornings. We had three services and two pastors, so I would handle the liturgy so one of the pastors could run from the sanctuary to the gym right after the sermon to preach it again. On occasion, I would be asked to deliver a pre-written sermon, delivering the entire service.
As an experienced stage actor, none of this was difficult, but I always got a case of nerves; especially right before the sermon. But I assumed the robes and position, and on I went.
Jesus was assuming His final mantle when he entered Jerusalem. He knew what He was going to be doing in the next few days as well as what was going to be done to Him. Things came to Him to prepare Him for His passion and death.
The woman who poured the fragrant oil on his head did so in preparation for His burial. Jesus even promised that everyone for the rest of time would hear her story. And we have!
Jesus ate this one, last Passover with His disciples, but added in the Lord’s Supper; eat my body, drink my blood. Those were hard words for the disciples to hear, given the Jewish proscription against drinking blood, not to mention the normal human revulsion toward cannibalism. This, however, is where His mind was. He continued to put on the robes of Saviour, as it were.
Even when He predicted their scattering and Peter’s denials, I can’t help thinking He consciously continued to put Himself in the noose and perhaps even draw it tighter Himself. It was a steady, deliberate ascent to the cross. I also guess that by making these predictions, He saw the whole thing, right through to His resurrection. If He knew what the disciples’ future was, He had to have known His own. Maybe that was a reassurance to Him, that He knew the ending as long as He stuck to the plan.
The doorway to that endgame was a gruesome one. He saw His success, but He knew what He was being asked to endure to get there. Sometimes we see a goal, but we are unwilling to pay the price to get there. His bitter, agonized prayers in Gethsemane were a last ditch effort to find some sort of salvation in the discount aisle. He really didn’t want to have to go full bore, if it could be helped.
“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
It wasn’t to be. Not long after those prayers, Judas and company arrived. They seized Jesus. A disciple wielded the sword they brought and cut off a servant’s ear. The disciples ran for it, and Jesus was in for a long night.
Jesus had an attack of nerves; one bad enough that he sweated blood. But the Creator of the universe wasn’t going to let all of the effort from the beginning, through Egypt and deserts, past Canaan and the prophets go for naught. He just had to do one…more…thing.