At the mid way point in Lent, Jonathan Good reflects on the hope of Easter "We need to ask ourselves: Are we making room for Jesus in our hearts? But we also need to ask: Are we taking risks to welcome Him?"
This week marks the midpoint of our Lenten journey to the cross. We’re halfway through the trek, which began with ashes of mourning three weeks ago and will end in the hope of glory three weeks from now. Halfway points can be tough: You’ve come too far to turn back, but you’re not close enough to the finish to start coasting.
Not that we should ever coast on our faith journey, but halfway through Lent, it’s understandable if we find ourselves thinking a bit about the home stretch of Holy Week. As difficult as His journey to Jerusalem was, even Jesus thought ahead. In Mark’s Gospel, we read how Jesus took time to prepare, even for what He knew would be the last events of His life (Mark 14:12-16). He told two of his disciples to find a man carrying a jar of water in Jerusalem and to follow him home. Wherever the man went, that was where Jesus and His friends would share their last Passover meal. The disciples were to tell the homeowner: “Get ready. Jesus is coming.”
It’s a nice story and very poignant. It’s also incredibly powerful. But I’m afraid much of its impact is lost on us today. First, the disciples had to find one person in a big city (Jerusalem’s population was nearly 50,000). Although men were not typically water carriers — that was women’s work — the task was still daunting. Preparing for Jesus can be like that.
Next, there was the issue of the upper room where the Passover meal would be held. Jesus said the man carrying water would enter a house with a large, furnished upper room. Not all homes had such a room — especially one that would fit 13 people. This meant that the servant the disciples would follow probably served a wealthy homeowner, one who could afford to build a spacious second story. This homeowner had a lot — and a lot to lose. He would clearly be taking a risk by welcoming Jesus, who by that time was a fugitive, wanted by both the Jewish leaders and Roman authorities.
As we prepare for the hope of Easter, by all means we need to ask ourselves: Are we making room for Jesus in our hearts? But we also need to ask: Are we taking risks to welcome Him? Are we coasting toward Easter, or are we taking on new challenges to prepare for the hope Jesus brings? Habitat for Humanity’s work of building homes, communities and hope is surely daunting. It might even prove to be the upper room where you can do the risky business of encountering Jesus in a new way this Lent.
Lord Jesus, forgive us for the times when we want to coast our way to the cross. In this season of Lent, remind us of the difficult journey You took on our behalf and of the hope of glory which You’ve given through the cross. Give us courage to take on new challenges as we serve You in all we do. Amen.
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