“Is it nothing to you, all you who pass by?”
April 4, 2012
Wednesday of Holy Week
The Gospels are silent on what Jesus may have done on this day of Holy Week. After the turmoil at the beginning of the week He may have retired to a quiet place for solitude and reflection. Such a place, perhaps, as the Garden of Gethsemane pictured above, with it’s view of the Temple Mount in the distance.
When Linda and I stood there among the olive trees a few years ago, we were struck by how little the scene had changed in twenty centuries. We recalled the account of our Lord’s bitter tears in this place as He looked ahead to the suffering that awaited Him. Another story also came to mind, when Jesus sat on this hillside looking across at the great temple, reflecting on the faithlessness of the people. The Bible tells us all he could do was weep.
I am old enough to remember a day when God’s people made time for Holy Week. Most businesses closed between noon and 3PM on Good Friday ( the traditional time of Jesus crucifixion) so people could attend worship, and many churches were full. During the week, sanctuaries were open for prayer and meditation. People stopped in at all times of the day to pray, to think, to reflect, to be with Jesus, to contemplate His passion, to give thanks, to bear witness to their faith.
Our sanctuary is open during Holy Week from 7AM to 7PM. Candles are lit and organ music, reflecting the solemnity of the week, plays quietly. The large wooden cross stands in mute testimony to the love that was poured out for sinners. Over the years I have routinely seen one or two people make their way into the church during the week. A few more may make the pilgrimage that I do not see, but you get the idea. Today, this is a common story often told across our land.
It would be easy to complain about this but all I can do is feel saddened; saddened to see Christian people whose hearts and minds are so conformed to the works and ways of the world that their response to the Great and Holy Week of our faith is studied indifference. This observation does not need to be defended. It simply needs to be said. Perhaps you, Christian, need to hear it.
Seen in the light of such casual neglect, the wonder of God’s grace seems even more amazing. But has it not always been so? We do not deserve the blessed Jesus. We do not belong in the same world with Him. But deserving has no place in the equation of grace.
So, our dear Lord Jesus struggled through His tears on that hillside outside Jerusalem twenty centuries ago, got to His feet and shouldered the terrible cross for the faithless, undeserving ones – for you and me. Amazing.