Last year Coram Deo sent a team of people to Austin, Texas, to plant Providence Church. Jeff Lark is an Austin resident and longtime Campus Crusade staff member who is part of the launch team for Providence. This week, Jeff is writing daily reflections on the final week of Jesus’ life. With his permission, I’m posting them here as well.
Reflection #4: Walking to the Cross – The Night of Passover
When Jesus woke up Thursday morning, except for a possible afternoon siesta, it would be the last time he slept before his trial and execution. It was going to be a long day. The afternoon preparations would turn into an intimate evening with his disciples – but I can only imagine that the tone of this year’s Passover was different than the past couple of years.
The disciples could definitely sense that something was different this year. Maybe this is why, just like I revert to sarcasm in uneasy situations, the disciples again began to argue about their position in the kingdom (Luke 22:24).
But, in contrast to his disciples, rather than experiencing uncertainty and uneasiness, with every step through Thursday, Jesus was deliberately and intentionally walking straight to the cross. Don’t get me wrong, it was not a cold and calculated day. The evening was full of emotion – the genuine expression of love in washing his disciples feet (John 13:1-11); sharing this Passover with his disciples; the betrayal of a close friend of three years (Judas); the intimate conversations about the future with his disciples (John 14-16); the joy-filled prayer for his disciples (John 17); and the intense prayer in the garden (Luke 22:39-46).
But, with every step toward the cross, Jesus had two things on his mind:
These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:11)
Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. 21 When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. 22 So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. 23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. 24 Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. (John 16:20-24)
But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. (John 17:13)
And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed. (John 17:5)
Put together, it is as we see his glory that we experience joy. Toys, trinkets, achievements, acclaim, success, money, esteem, honor, sex, and food can’t bring the ultimate joy that Jesus longs for us to experience through seeing his glory.
And, on this side of the grave, the greatest portrait of the glory of God is seen at the cross – where Divine wrath and grace meet; where judgment and mercy meet; where fierceness and kindness meet; where indignation and love meet; and where punishment and forgiveness meet.
Jesus is saying: if you want joy, look at the glory of God at the climactic event in all of history – the cross.
Questions for reflection:
- What do you find yourself turning to, thinking that it will give you ultimate joy?
- How does seeing the glory of God in Christ satisfy your joy-starved soul?
- Why is Christ crucified the most beautiful thing you could ever look at?