Blood, toil, tears, and sweat #Lent2023

“Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name.”
Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.”

John 12:27-28
author Derek Maul

When I first wrote Reaching Toward Easter, I had essentially three purposes:

  1. To help me learn more about Lent, to both understand and engage the season more completely.
  2. To provide a cohesive devotional framework for the six-plus weeks between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
  3. To understand more of what Jesus was going through, what he was thinking, feeling, doing as a very real human being, especially during those final few days between The Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) and The Crucifixion, where he was dragged back outside the city, tortured, and executed.

This scripture (above) reports an interaction Jesus had with Andrew, Philip and some Greek visitors in front of a crowd, early in the week, possibly the same day he rode into the city on a donkey.

Jesus flat out admits to being in the throes of angst. “My soul is deeply troubled,” he says. Other translations substitute words like distressed, in turmoil, dismayed, very sad. “Now comes the hour of heartbreak,” Philips phrases; Peterson quotes Jesus, “right now I am shaken.”

But this wasn’t because Jesus felt blindsided, out of control, backed into a corner, or that things had gotten away from him. No, “I imagine that [Jesus] was crystal clear regarding the part he was destined to play in the unfolding story of redemption” (RTE p. 17).

Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen – and he went to Jerusalem anyway; he continued to teach, regardless; he engaged people with love and grace and mercy; he doubled down on his mission to offer hope and redemption and justice and light.

Jesus was deeply troubled because this world was – this world is – deeply troubled. Jesus understood that the solution for the pain and brokenness of this world would break him, and bring him pain.

Hell to Pay:

Light may always defeat darkness, but when goodness and love and beauty and grace come up against evil there is still hell to pay. So you can understand why Jesus was shaken.

Jesus did not ride into Jerusalem because it would be easy, he came because he knew it would be hard.

We are not invited to one more hold hands and sing kumbaya experience with this journey through Lent; we are invited into a pilgrimage, we are invited into a struggle. As Churchill said in his epic May 1940 speech, “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat…”

Lent: Blood, toil, tears, and sweat.

Jesus: his heart was deeply troubled: “Right now I am shaken.”

Me? You? Other pilgrim wannabes? I am reminded of the beautiful line from “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (yes, Christmas was less than two months ago).

Where meek souls will receive him, still, The dear Christ enters in.

In love, and because love is not only willing to “enter in”, but also willing to be broken for me – DEREK

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