Tonight is a night to pin your ears back – not in anger like a lion about to attack its prey, but more like a big beefy Rugby Union front rower who tapes back his ears for the oncoming onslaught of the scrum.
Like they do in Rugby, heads will clash tonight. It is time to brace one’s self for the impact…
This will happen as the sacred meal is shared for the last time in that upper room. Then the tough stuff will happen after the meal out there in the darkness of night in the nearby olive grove.
They must have been able to sense something as the meal went on. There must have been some dark foreboding when Jesus radically altered the well-worn order of the ancient meal and called it “my blood” and “my body given for you”.
Like the Twelve, I don’t think I know what to do with this King who will voluntarily subject himself to this tough stuff either. What do you do with a guy like that? Jesus did say this would happen, but did anyone really believe him?
The “dark garden of no delight” will be entered by the troubled man with his sleepy few.
The blood sweat of pure anguish will fall to the ground from him. He will cry out for a last minute reprieve from all that is about to come his way.
And yet he will then commend his very being into the hands of his heavenly Father like an ANZAC about to go over the parapet to certain death, like a woman on the operating table surrendering to the medicos for the risky operation, like a Year 12 student sitting ready to sit the exam that will shape his future.
Surprisingly, there will be very little said by the Saviour of the world after his call for relief. There will be total submission to the will of him who loves the world and the mission he is about to enact through this tough stuff.
Those who have most to lose will turn up in force to laud it over Jesus.
The signal for the injustice and violence to be inflicted will be the clash of heads between teacher and disciple in the betraying kiss in the garden.
Peter will start acting out in pure fear as he draws a sword and on pure instinct, chops off that Roman ear. He does not know what else to do when confronted by the reality of Jesus’ own words about all of this.
“He was led like a Lamb to the Slaughter” – silent……
Tonight is the time to pin our ears back and face the onslaught – not scatter. It is our onslaught. Evil raged at him, and the Evil was ours. Evil still rages at those whose life is hidden in him in baptism.
Evil takes no prisoners and is no respecter of status or intelligence or moral purity. We will soon see the intent of Evil and Evil one – a dead man on a shameful cross.
But because of this voluntary descent into the pit, and what he will achieve for his much loved world, Evil will respect him. It will have to respect him, because by what he is about to do for us who have no chance of life and love and victory over death without this man, Evil will be undone.
Our own aging, dying, hurting, sinning, hating, betraying, loss and suffering will be struck a fatal blow because he will take all the blows and became a fatality for us.
Someone had to do this. We could not achieve this with our reason or intelligence or science or philosophy or fame, fortune or fun. Someone had to go the bottom of the heap, drink the dregs of death; take the full weight of the scrum of demons for us.
He did. He still does.
Tonight is the beginning of that gruesome and deadly force of Evil to be unleashed on this innocent man.
Yet, tonight is the beginning of the end for evil, the evil one and the death he loves to entangle the living in.
So, friend in Christ, pin your ears back. Brace yourselves for the onslaught.
What do we do with a guy like this? Well, there is no need to scatter. No need to turn away.
He is here in his body and blood for life and forgiveness like he promised to be for all the betrayers, fighters and runners – you and me.
As he did when it all began in the garden, commend yourself, your hopes, your dreams, your worries, your questions, your fears, your challenges, your struggles – into this divine man’s hands. They have been pierced and they have been glorified. They embrace you in these days.
He will win the victory and your life will remain in-tact. When the dawn comes, we will discover again that he did enough. We will know in our heads and hearts that our lives are truly hidden in him.
Your joy will be complete as this loving man takes it all, defeats it all and rises above it all and invites you to live in him and in his community – free and true and full of the same kind of hopeful, self-giving love for all. Amen