“They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid.”
The gospel passage for Morning Prayer today comes from Mark. And in this passage, Mark 10:32-45, Jesus is on the road to Jerusalem. He is traveling with his disciples and is about to tell his disciples, for the third time in Mark’s gospel, what is waiting for him at the end of the line once they arrive in Jerusalem.
But the picture that Mark paints of this band of travelers who are following Jesus is interesting. You have Jesus at the head of the pack, striding ahead one imagines, and the rest following behind. Those who are following Jesus exist in two emotional states: either they are in fear, or they follow behind in amazement. The text seems to suggest that the disciples are rather dumbfounded with amazement by the teaching Jesus has just hurled at them (see Mark 10:17-30), with the rest of the crowd of followers afraid of what Jesus will reveal to them next about entry into the kingdom of God.
I wonder how often we exist in those two emotional states when we set time aside to walk with God. How often are we afraid of not living up to the expectations of God, thinking that if only we did x, y, or z differently or “better,” or that if we were “better Christians” that God would smile and we would be somehow more deserving of entry into the joy and bliss of God’s loving embrace? How often have we encountered those feelings of fear, or the other feelings that at times creep in on the coattails of fear: doubt, guilt, or unworthiness when we think about the strength of our belief, or our worthiness as disciples of Jesus?
Or how often do we find ourselves in some sort of stunned amazement when we try to contemplate, rationalize or wrap our minds around what God has presented to us? Perhaps what God has revealed and presented to us are challenges, things that we find difficult–maybe even impossible–to deal with. Or maybe God has presented to us something so wonderful and beautiful that we are left only in a state of amazement over that which has been shown to us.
My brothers and sisters, as WE prepare to walk with Jesus as he enters into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday let us continue to walk with him during all of Holy Week. Let us open our hearts and minds to those moments when we are afraid of God, and hold close those moments of amazement as we encounter them over the course of this coming week. If we open ourselves to the moments where we are touched by the events, stories, and experiences of Holy Week, we will live more fully into our call as Christ-ians, the followers of Christ. Holy Week provides for us our own walk with Jesus on the path that leads ultimately to his murder on a cross. And it is a walk with our Lord and Savior that guarantees for all time our freedom from the bonds of sin and death.
In the name of Jesus,