Scripture: Lectionary for March 31. Ezekiel 37:21-28. Jeremiah 31:10.11.12.13. John 11:45-57
The events of the sufferings and death of Jesus are imminent. We learn from the Fourth Gospel many of the details prior to those we will be meditating upon during Holy Week. Caiphas, the high priest for the year prophesies that it is necessary for one man to die for the sake of the whole nation. He did not realize what he was saying (this is part of Johannine irony) but does predict what will happen to Jesus. He does not realize that this is the divine plan of God in salvation history for those who have come to believe in Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus’ death is soon to happen. We are to enter into the solemn happenings prior to that death when Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, will be crucified. Pilate and the Romans will crucify him as they did to so many others who were considered trouble-makers or criminals.
Let us stay with the image that John the Baptist has given us in a revelatory statement of pointing out to his own disciples who Jesus is: “Behold, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me there comes one who has been set above me, because he was before me.” (John 1:29-30). This symbol associates Jesus from the beginning with his purpose of being similar to the Paschal Lamb and the great day of the Passover where the People of God were liberated from the evils of Egypt. Jesus’ will free people who believe in him from the powers of darkness which are fear, sin, and the Prince of Darkness, the Evil One or the Devil. Just as the Exodus liberated God’s people and brought them into the promised holy land that is theirs, so, too, Jesus’ own Passover journey will bring the Resurrection that proclaims to us the freedom and joy of the children of God. Jesus was in Passover time when these controversies were occurring. We are in Passover time looking forward to the Easter that celebrates our union with the Resurrected Christ.
As we enter the last days of Jesus’ life we are able to follow them more closely. The Evangelists seem to have reflected and written down the details of these last six days more than the other years of Jesus’ life. We can follow the Lord from Monday through Friday and Saturday through the daily readings. There is no other writings that are so authentic and accurate in bringing us to realize our own journey with the Lord to the day Christ died on the Cross and then rose on the Sunday following what we call “Good Friday.”
Jesus is celebrating his own Passover time for the last time here on earth. He desires greatly to do this with his intimate friends, the disciples as we will learn in chapters 13-17 of John. His death and resurrection will be our sorrows turned into joy through the resurrection.
We may be led to reread one or all four of these Passion Narratives in order to enter more deeply into the Paschal Mysteries of Jesus. These daily narrative accounts of his last six days will enable us to experience the Last Supper and the last Passover of Jesus. Amen.