It was six days until Passover. Jesus felt the weight of all that meant upon his shoulders.
But not tonight. Tonight was his final respite, and he was grateful for it. And there was cause for celebration: Lazarus had been dead, but now he was alive again.
His friends saw this as a miraculous, if temporal, sign, but Jesus recognized it as a promise of things to come, not just for Lazarus but for all of them. And that indeed was worth celebrating.
Jesus took time to look at those seated around the table and reflect on how much he loved each and every one of them.
Dear Martha and her servant’s heart, always finding a way to meet the needs of others.
Lazarus, a strong and stoic friend of Jesus. He was someone you could count on, as his sisters and community knew well. And Jesus knew that strength would be more needed and valuable than ever in the days to come.
Mary was the embodiment of how it looked to “rank high” in the Kingdom of Heaven, as he had taught, “Whoever becomes simple and elemental again, like this child, will rank high in God’s kingdom.” (Matthew 18: 4)
Her beautiful and humble anointing reflected her heart, and it was a salve to his. Jesus prayed her heart would remain tender in the breaking, and that she would not allow bitterness or anger to seep in.
Judas had stood apart from the beginning as a natural leader, intelligent and visionary. Jesus recalled how he had established the common purse and had done an amazing job meeting everyone’s needs on a very meager budget.
Jesus also understood how much Judas wrestled with his independent nature. He had seen his heart change along with his choices, and he prayed Judas would turn back and choose the Father’s way out.
Jesus was so pleased to share these quiet moments with them. The food. The fellowship. Mary’s incredible gift, prescient in ways only a heart like hers understood.
Yet he also was acutely aware of the spiritual battle raging around them. Its rumblings were manifest in Judas’ words and the sounds of the people gathering outside. Their spiritual blindness was why none of them as yet grasped the significance of his words:
She’s anticipating and honoring the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you. You don’t always have me.John 12:8
They may not know what was at stake, but Jesus did: Their very lives were on the line. And it was for love of them–Martha, Lazarus, Mary, Judas and the others (including you)–that Jesus was preparing to lay down his life. He would hold their faces before him, recalling the love he felt right now, to give him strength to endure it.
It was taking every ounce of love and trust Jesus had in his Father to take each step along this path. And the real work hadn’t even begun.
When it was finished, for each of these whom he loved, it would all come down to just one thing:
Who do you say that I am?Mark 8:29, Matthew 16:15