8. Mark 14:12-16
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb is sacrificed, his disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” So he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you; follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher asks, Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.” So the disciples set out and went to the city, and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.
When I was young, I always read this story as another example of Jesus being omniscient – you know, life Father like Son, a chip off the holy Block. I can understand why I thought this. After all, there are other scenes where Jesus predicts what will happen to him.
As I read this now, however, I don’t think this story is about foreknowledge, but about courage. I think, that is, that there is no miraculous or omniscient vision at work; rather, Jesus made plans. Like you and I might do when we’re traveling, making arrangements to stay at a certain place ahead of time. Jesus can give his disciples explicit directions of where to go, who to meet, and what to expect because he made these arrangements ahead of time.
Why does this matter? Because it means that he was prepared for what was coming. The last meal he shared with his disciples, his confrontation with the authorities, the false trials, mockery, and crucifixion – these things weren’t accidents that he somehow fell into. Rather, he saw them, was prepared for them, faced them, and endured them intentionally.
William Barclay, one of the most prolific Christian writers of the previous century and minister of the Church of Scotland, once observed (commenting, I believe, on just this scene) that there are two kinds of courage. The first is the courage of the person who reacts instinctively and bravely in the face of danger – jumping into a cold river to save one who has fallen in. The second is the courage of the person who sees danger a long way off and resolves steadfastly to face it. Both are valuable; the second is harder to achieve.
When we travel down this Lenten road to the cross, we do so knowing that Jesus set himself on this road not only before us, but also for us. Seeing danger a long way off, he nevertheless set out to embrace his destiny. All we can do is watch…and give thanks…and perhaps also do as he did by looking at those around us worthy of love because they, too, are people for whom Christ died
Prayer: Dear God, in the presence of the sacrifice of your Son we can only watch in awe and give thanks. Accept our gratitude and fashion us into people who strive to emulate such love and courage. In Jesus’ name, Amen.