It’s a disaster! My tree photograph was part of a plan, a set of pictures extolling the beautiful orchard at Canons Ashby. This is what I brought home- definitely NOT what I expected. My camera went wrong… all its clever little innards crossed their wires and it only took photos in a Van Gogh mode. No warning, just a “fait accompli” by electrical gremlins. The camera is dead on its perch, kaput, and REPLACED.
If you’ve been following the narrative of Holy Week, this is the day where you might start to ask for your money back. It’s not what we expected (though read the small print, Jesus did mention trouble ahead…).
Big parades, Jesus welcomed as a conquering hero, getting one over on the money-makers the oppressors of the proletariat, huge reputation as a miracle worker and prophet… Now the gang is in turmoil. Judas has gone crook, Jesus is praying in a garden when the Temple police show up to drag him away. An incident with a sharp sword and some bloke’s ear- it’s all going to hell in a camel-cart.
Except it isn’t.
Despite appearances, a masterpiece is being painted. Justice confronted by injustice, hatred met with grace, mercy goes on vacation- and great impressionistic swirls of colour and detail emerge. Peter, the big-hearted big mouth becoming shy and scared. Herod with his self-important head where the Son won’t shine. Caiaphas twisting his words and witnesses to distort reality and gain a conviction. Pilate, the Roman governor, proving that wise men listen to their wives by ignoring his– and so condemning an innocent man to a dreadful death just to save his own impossible job of keeping the Jews quiet and Caesar happy.
The darkness under the trees is replaced by torchlight illuminating another darkness. That darkness will grow until the Sun goes dark on God-forsaking Friday when those who don’t know what they are doing do it anyway with whips, thorns, nails and a Cross.
Thursday- the day when Creation sucked in its breath and paused, horror-struck, as humankind turned their backs on God.
It’s not what the theologians expected. They had God “in a box.” Foolish theologians…
The Romans didn’t much care- they’d never met a problem they couldn’t crucify.
And Jesus, who understood perfectly what to expect, said “Let Your Will be done.”
Later on, a wiser human wrote the Letter to the Hebrews and told them to always focus on Jesus:
“Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12 v2
Jesus endured what we could not: and He didn’t ask for a refund or a re-run. That’s why we love Him- because He first loved us.