Empty and Full - Mark 14 & 15 (The Passion of Christ - Palm Sunday
Preparing for a trip away is both exciting and draining. There’s so often so much to do, depending on the trip of course. One must get the tickets, make sure the travel documents you need are correct, pack the right sort of clothes for the destination, secure the house for your absence, and so the list continues. It’s almost exhausting just preparing for the trip, much less the challenge of travelling. But whenever we do plan and prepare we always have the destination in mind. We are confident that the destination is worth all the time and effort to prepare.
Today we begin our Easter journey. People miss the significance of Easter by taking pieces of it and just being part of that. It’s like going on a trip and only coming out of your hotel to see one thing rather than embrace the entire experience. Who does that? Who plans a trip to an exotic and fascinating destination, and then spends all their time in the motel room, only coming out for the one activity? Such a thing seems bizarre. If you go on such a trip, you want to take the opportunities to experience all the other things as well as the one single activity you hoped to see. The amazing thing is that many people talk more about these other things they saw than about the actual single event the went there for in the first place.
The journey of the disciples with Jesus must have been a roller coaster of emotions, doubts, fears, anxiety, hope and joy. They must have felt their very life being squeezed out of them as they watched their hopes of the messiah shatter around them. There must have been an unsettled emptiness consuming their very beings as they watched Jesus talk about his pending death, and then witness the tragic events that made this a reality for them. One can hear the despair in Peter’s denial. One can hear the cries of anguish of Mary and the other women. Amidst the changing tide of a fickle crowd, one can hear the void of emptiness consume Jesus’ followers.
To only hear this, to stop the journey at the cross, misses the entire point. If all we have is a Christ crucified, then we are people who have nothing. We are people empty and full of despair. Our journey has been without meaning, as if we shouldn’t have left home in the first place. But the power of the cross for salvation is found in the life of the resurrection. The journey is not one that leaves us empty, but one that finally, when we truly arrive at the destination, fills us beyond anything we can imagine. The cross wins the battle in which the resurrection claims the victory.
As we begin this Holy Week, I encourage you to take every aspect of the journey and participate in all of it. Don’t be like the moping tourist who attends one thing, and then wonders why the experience was empty. Travel the entire journey, experience every moment, and arrive fulfilled and blessed that you have a Lord who carried you through despair into hope. The opportunities to experience the journey is far more important than any single moment along the way. As an entire journey, you gain the real joy. Come and walk the path of Jesus and find his blessing for your life this Easter.