I didn’t grow up doing much around lent. Throuhout the years, I’ve experienced a variety of traditions of how people observe the lenten season – from fasting on Fridays, to fasting from alcohol, desserts or other food, to adding in a new practice. This year I chose a specific Lenten devotional that focused on the practice of waiting, doubt, and expectation.
Along with that, I’ve been reading back through the book of Matthew in a bible study I am doing with some friends. We are not any where near the end, so this week we’re skipping to chapter 20 as we come up to Palm Sunday. What strikes me as I look at how Matthew has crafted his telling of the story is that right before Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey, he tells the story of Jesus healing two blind men.
If you know anything of Matthew, he is big on making connections for people. “Hey remember God said this a while ago? — he’s doing that now!” — and so of course this is why he picks up the passage from Zechariah to remind his readers that they should tune in when they hear Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. This is exactly how the prophet had said their King would come to save them, nearly 500 years earlier…..
It’s like Matthew is saying “It’s time for eyes to be opened! Keep watching”
Looking back even further than the blind men receiving sight, there is the third time Jesus predicted he was going to die.
The third time.
The disciples knew this was coming. I wonder how much they paid attention to Jesus telling them this though? Did they keep it in the back of their minds, looking around the crowds to see who was going to hurt him, or did they toss it off lightly thinking “not this year”?
I guess either way, we know the story goes (not to make light, just summarizing): Jesus was arrested, they scattered, denied him, and then he died the death of a common criminal, having done nothing but speak truth about who God really was and what he really wanted. Yes, he upset some people and rocked the boat. They didn’t like it one bit. His followers were devastated. They grieved. Their hearts were heavy, broken, disillusioned.
I wonder if they could actually remember the last part of what he told them, that he would be raised to life on the third day? Because in the midst of grief, it’s hard to have hope, even if its there, isn’t it?
Because its always there. Always. As steady as the mountains I can see when I go hiking, as solid as the ground beneath my feet
As I have read during this lenten season about doubt and hope, about things not being how they should be, staying present and remembering grace as we wait for change, I realize this part of the story fits right in.
Just as the disciples struggled with Jesus death, hopes dashed, nothing ending up how they though it would in that moment – maybe we can find ourselves in that same struggle, forgetting that very last statement:
“and then I will rise”
Will there ever be change in this situation, or reconciliation where there is division? Will there ever be times to laugh again, times that are not hard? Where is our deliverance? When will my voice be heard? When will people not be ignored? — the cry of so many varying voices in our country today and around the world. When, Lord, when?
Hold on, my friend. The season of Lent tells us that eyes will be opened to really see. There is injustice, there is denial, there is struggle and grief in the story… but that is never the final word.