Maundy Thursday

10 04 2009

Why do I feel that something awful is about to happen?

We have come into the city every day this week and the Master has taught in the area around the Temple, and that’s been great. Its great, white stone walls towered over us, a building built by a tyrant to glorify himself, taken over by the religious establishment to glorify Judaism, despite the rule of Rome. It is truly an amazing building and the Master has been continuing to do amazing things.

And yet it has been an uneasy week. When we arrived last Sunday the Master made straight for the Temple and we thought he would bring an offering but instead he managed to upset the Chief Priest and his men by overturning all the tables and releasing all the animals that are part of the Temple provision for the sacrifices. There was total pandemonium on that day and his anger was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. It was probably only that which cowed the authorities and allowed him to get away with it, that and his popularity with the crowds.

That’s been the strange thing about this week; he has been becoming more and more popular with the crowds and more and more hated by the religious establishment here in the city. As he has taught and as he has healed people, the crowds have gathered and listened and cheered and then gone away and gossiped. The word on the street has been that he is getting ready to stage a coup to overthrow the Romans, but he hasn’t told us, and why he didn’t do it on Sunday when the crowds welcomed him like a conquering king, I don’t know. I’m told that the priests hate him because he is so unconventional and they fear he will upset the Romans who let them get on administering the ceremonial aspects of our law here in the home of our people. The Romans may be here, but it is still our home and the traditions of the centuries are still worked out here.

Of course we’re all here for the Passover and that in itself worries the authorities. Why? Because it is the remembrance of how our people were originally set free from slavery, about how God set us free from the oppressor in Egypt. Every year the Romans get very edgy, wondering if, as we celebrate the Passover, some zealot will stir the people to rise up against them and claim our freedom again. Perhaps it will be the Master who will do that but, as I said, he hasn’t said anything about that to us, and no one has had the courage to ask him about it.

The religious authorities do all they can to make it a formal, solemn feast, to keep control and prevent anyone stepping out of line to threaten their religious presence. I think that is it really; they are using religion to subdue the people and reassure the Romans, so that nothing threatens the ongoing working of the Temple. It is there, it was said of old, that God would come to meet with us, although His glory has never been seen in this building built by Herod. Indeed it’s been hundreds of years since He spoke prophetically to us – that is until John came and, of course, then the Master appeared three years ago.

But I can’t shake it off, this feeling of doom.  We all met this evening to share the Passover meal together – which was great – but the Master kept saying things that were not clear. I mean, I know his teaching is often enigmatic, leaving us puzzling over just what he meant, but it seemed that tonight he was doing it more than ever. I don’t know why but we’d hardly settled down when he took a towel and bowl of water and insisted on washing our feet. It seemed an odd way to start a celebration. And then when we sat down to eat he took the bread, prayed and broke it and said, “This is my body.”  His body? How can the bread be his body? His body was there in front of us, talking to us. And then when the wine came round again, he said, “This is my blood poured out for you.” I may be appearing a bit dim, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one around the table wondering what he was on about.

If that wasn’t bad enough, he seemed to go into depressing mode and started talking about one of us betraying him. Why? Why ever would we want to do that, and how? What was that about? Peter put his big feet in it and declared he would never let the Master down, but the Master only looked at him sadly, and very quietly said that Peter would deny him three times before next morning came. Peter was devastated, I can tell you. The Master went on to teach for a long time and I just felt there was an unusual urgency behind everything he was saying. I don’t know what it was. It just seemed like he felt he had to pour out a whole load of stuff he felt we needed to know, but I really don’t know why we should need it now.

Yes, I know I said I’ve got this feeling of doom hanging over us this evening, but it’s crazy really because the Master is more popular today than he’s ever been. There are many saying they believe he is the coming Messiah and the vast majority of the crowds here for the feast are just waiting for him to proclaim himself. We’re on the edge of something wonderful, so I really don’t know why I’m feeling like I am.  I mean we could be on the edge of a tremendous revolution and the world may never be the same after this weekend – if the Master makes his move. Everything he does thrills the crowds. We’re just ripe to take on the Romans. They may be armed but we outnumber them fifty to one. They haven’t got a hope. When our people rise up there’s no stopping them, so it looks like there could be a whole new day coming.

We’re just clearing up at the moment. The Master says he wants us to go across to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray, but something’s not right. I can’t put my finger on it, but something feels bad. But that’s crazy because the Master is in control; he always is. He won’t let anything bad happen, I know that. I’ve watched him these past three years, and he always knows what is going on. It’s just that… well, I don’t know…. there’s something…..

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