Readings for today: Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Matthew 26:14-27:66
But he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming as human beings are; and being in every way like a human being, he was humbler yet, even to accepting death, death on a cross.
We are officially one week from Easter! Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week, which in the past has honestly never meant very much to me. But this year I have really taken the whole exercise of Lenten preparation much more seriously, and I am so excited for Easter!
The readings of this week focus on the two extremes of how Jesus is portrayed: He is praised and exalted, and later is shunned and crucified. The sudden shift from love to hate for Him has deeply moved me this year, particularly since I have come to realize my own conversion. We put Jesus into these dichotomies of praise and anger throughout our lives: we come to love Him when things are going well, but then curse Him when things are not going our way.
I’ve had my fair share of this inconsistency and constantly flipping back and forth between states of awe and abandonment. But throughout our own trials, when we constantly put Him to the test, the crazy thing is that He never abandons us. He never grows tired of us, and instead He always has His arms wide open, ready to catch us when we decide to turn back to Him.
This is one of the things that God was able to show to me throughout this Lenten season. As I journeyed with Him, I found myself marvelling at the abundance of blessings that He has given to me, not just during Lent but throughout my life. But there have been other times where I felt that He was distant and far away, taking away the things that I thought made me happy and making my life more challenging than before. This illuminated the fact that even though I have come a long way, I still have a lot of capacity to grow in terms of fully trusting in God.
Trusting in God wholeheartedly is admittedly not an easy thing to do. Even Jesus struggled with a glimmer of human doubt when He was agonizing in the garden: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39). Here I am getting stressed out about really small and insignificant things, while Jesus is faced with the agony of being crucified as an innocent man in order to fulfill salvation history. And even with this challenge, He gives His yes to God and obediently takes on the ultimate punishment so that we have the opportunity to be in heaven.
The ways that God thinks and the ways that we think are so different, and even just saying that undermines the sheer power that is the mind of God. We can’t even begin to comprehend what God has planned for us, but God understands that we will struggle with following His path for us. As humans we typically look for the path that is the easiest with as little pain and suffering as possible. Jesus was once a human too, and He completely understands this human desire. Yet, He took upon His cross – our cross – and went about a painful and difficult road to Calvary.
Our paths are not easy, and life is not easy. Jesus is there for us every step of the way. As we walk through the last week of the Lenten season, hold on to Him and embrace the challenges that are to come. He will never forsake you.