This week, Gracewriters welcomes guest contributor Donita Bundy, with inspiration and encouragement to point us toward Jesus during this very strange Easter 2020.
Last Sunday was Palm Sunday, the day we remember and celebrate Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey, an animal symbolising humility, peace and Davidic royalty.
The streets of Jerusalem would have been packed, and charged with an excitement so electric you could’ve tasted it. The hordes of cheering supporters waving palm branches – the national symbol of Israel. Cloaks and robes laid out on the road – an act of royal homage.
But this year we sat at home behind closed doors, in isolation. Some of us may have had company; others didn’t.
Instead of mourning what cannot be, let’s look at this unique time and what it has to offer.
What happened next?
Jesus may have received a roaring welcome into Jerusalem, but we all know that’s not how he left.
Within a week there had been a dramatic turnaround. After the donkey had been stabled, and cloaks had been collected, things went a bit pear-shaped.
The problem was, Jesus didn’t follow the people’s plan.
- Instead of overthrowing the Roman Empire, the Galilean overthrew business in the temple.
- Rather than welcoming the religious elite into the Kingdom of Heaven, this carpenter chose prostitutes and tax collectors.
- Instead of crumbling before the superior knowledge and wit of the Pharisees, this up-start … out-knowledged and out-wit them.
The religious leaders had been running the show for hundreds of years waiting for this day. They did not need him coming in and telling them how to run his Kingdom.
Couldn’t he just get in the box they’d prepared and stay there?
Because Jesus was set to follow a path none were expecting; he was pulling against the tide.
We read in the Gospels that during his earthly ministry, when he was tired and needing refuelling, Jesus withdrew to a quiet place and spent quality time with his Father or with those closest to him.
- After his baptism, Jesus was led into isolation, where he was tempted, but also had time with His Father to gain a greater understanding of what ‘Sonship’ meant. Jesus withdrew when he needed to hear from his Father.
- When openly confronted about their misinterpretation of God’s Word, the Pharisees became hostile. After these encounters Jesus withdrew with his disciples to teach them his truth.
- John the Baptist was Jesus’ relative. When Jesus heard that he had been killed, he withdrew to grieve.
- When the crowds didn’t understand his purpose and wanted to force earthly kingship upon him, Jesus withdrew to spend time with his Father and to be strengthened by the Spirit.
- When the apostles returned from their first mission, they were full of news and excitement. Jesus took them aside so he could give them his full attention and celebrate with them.
- Because of who he was and what he offered; Jesus was constantly hounded by crowds. In order to cope he often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
- Knowing that the religious authorities were plotting to have him killed, Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the wilderness until it was God’s time for him to die.
One last time
Today, we remember the Last Supper. Jesus created a space behind closed doors where he could be alone with his disciples one last time, to comfort, teach, encourage and reveal his truth to them.
Because Jesus didn’t follow the world’s script, they hated him, and they would hate his followers too.
But the Father is in control. Jesus already knew what was going to happen, and even though it would hurt them all for a while, in the end all would be well.
Despite moments of clarity, the disciples were confused. Jesus had been preparing them for three years, but still they weren’t ready to hear.
So, he showed them with his actions: he washed their feet, then walked to the cross. Then told them to go and do the same.
He would leave them. But only for a time. And only so he could prepare a place for them to join them.
Nevertheless, in his absence, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, would come. He would teach them and remind them of everything Jesus had said.
Not only was Jesus the Son of God, The Way, the Truth, and the Life, He was God. And most astonishingly, the Son of the Most High came to serve, rather than to be served, and to give his life for many.
During this season when we are challenged to be socially distant, let us use this opportunity of “timeout” to meet with our God behind closed doors.
Spend time with the Father: How is He…
- Commissioning you?
- Refuelling you?
Reflect on the Word. What is He…
- Teaching you?
- Revealing to you?
Be open to the Spirit. How is He…
- Comforting you?
- Transforming you?
As a mum, I often used ‘timeout’ with my boys when they were younger, not so much as a punishment, but rather a forced opportunity to reflect. To think about what they had been doing or, better yet, to consider what they could have, or should have, been doing.
We too have a choice.
We can focus on the doors that have been shut behind us – the things we were doing.
Or we can consider the opportunity that has been opened up before us: an opportunity to withdraw to spend time with our heavenly Father.
- What have we been called out of?
- What have we been called into?
- How could we follow Jesus’ example and move away from the world’s script?
- How could we use this time to be fed, encouraged and transformed?
Let us use this time of isolation to get prepared for what lies ahead.
We don’t know what that will look like. But we do know God is in control, Jesus has gone before us and the Comforter is fired up and raring to go.
Are we prepared to withdraw, listen and respond? Are we ready to get out of the box and follow the script God is writing?
Donita Bundy is a writer and writing teacher who was appointed the inaugural Somerset Writer in Residence in 2019. Her debut urban fantasy Dangerous Salvation was published in 2020, the first in a YA series of seven.
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The notion of using this time to be strengthened and transformed by God while all other distractions have been stripped away, is a powerful and positive challenge to all Christians.
Belinda Pollard says
That’s so true, Sue. I’m inspired by it, even though I sometimes find it hard to follow through on the challenge as strongly as I’d like. But everything is a gift…
Jane Tucker says
This post encouraged and challenged me! Perfect for Good Friday, 2020. Well done!
Belinda Pollard says
Thank you so much, Jane. It’s a thoughtful piece, isn’t it? I’m really grateful for Donita’s input. 🙂
Dawn Dicker says
Inspiring and timely – thanks for posting!
Belinda Pollard says
Thanks so much for dropping by, Dawn.