I don’t really like the last few days in the life of Jesus. Up until that point I think much of what he did was endearing. Sure, he spoke a truthful word, but he loved kids, honored women and healed…a lot. When we read about the last few days of his life, the tone seems a bit more hurried. It’s almost as if he is trying to pack in all of the important things that he wanted to say. The words are pointed. He fussed at religious leaders, he cursed a fig tree, he tells stories that point clearly to a lack of faith. More than ever, I hear this need to communicate with those that may still be listening but not hearing.
It is not lost on me that one of the groups that Jesus had the harshest words for – all the way to the end – was the religious leaders. I am more and more and more and more convinced every day that as we step out in the ministry of Jesus, we are going to be held accountable for the ways that we lead people. I never want a human to cross my path and think that they are unlovable. Feelings of unworthiness and exclusion are incompatible with Jesus. As a leader in the church, I will fall on the side of love and grace. Every. Single. Time.
My family knows that I love Holy Week. They understand that this is more than a religious exercise for me. They have embraced that every ounce of energy that I pour into preparations and planning is done only because I want others to know the fullness of this story. Without fail, I feel excitedly nervous that all of the preparations are not enough. I frantically begin calling and texting all the people with ‘what have we forgotten?’ questions. You know I love parenting teens, but tonight was an especially treasured moment. In the midst of school and swimming and boys, both girls offered to help me cut and paste and prepare for Thursday’s service. In our kitchen, they spoke my love language. There is not much in my Holy Week preparations that tops doing it with my family. Being together in this season reminds me that we need each other. My kids are now old enough to know that we never outgrow needing each other. I needed them tonight. Sure, I could have completed the task on my own, but I needed for them to show me that what I love matters. I needed for them to remind me that they love the things I love, because they love me. They were living examples of the way that Jesus reminded us in his last days to major on the majors – loving people well – even in the midst of doing the important work.
So wherever you find yourself on this Tuesday night, draw deeper into the truth of his final days. He wanted us to hear the depth of his love in the truth of his words. He gave us example after example of how to love. Now, it’s our job to do it.