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Difficult Journeys

“It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified [Jesus].”  Mark 15:25

Have you ever had a tough day?  Maybe a rough month?  Or there may have been an entire year when everything seemed to go wrong, be against you, or life was just plain difficult?  I have had my share of difficult journeys, but I don’t think anything I have faced can compare to what Jesus faced the last week of his life.

He was betrayed by someone who was a follower and probably considered a friend.  When he was arrested, most of the disciples disappeared and went into hiding, abandoning him.  Peter, who promised to follow Jesus to the end, made an attempt at being brave, but even he denied his friend and teacher, and in the end, Jesus was crucified alone except for the women in his life.

The women could come and ago as they pleased because women had little or no status in Jesus’ day.  It was a different story for the men.  Those who were known to be followers of Jesus – considered an insurrectionist by Jewish leaders and condemned as one by Rome – would have feared for their lives.  They ran.  They hid.  They trembled with fear.

What would we have done?  I suspect I would have been afraid and run, too.  Most of us don’t stand up for others unless we find some kind of passion about a cause somewhere.  In our Bible study group, most of us admitted that we have difficulty speaking up when we see some injustice or something happening that is harmful to another person.  We are afraid of the consequences and don’t want to become involved.

Jesus always stood up for the poor, the needy, the sick, the outcasts, the women, the children, the “untouchables.”  He healed, fed, welcomed, defended, loved, and touched.  What did he get for it?  His followers left him, abandoned him, disappeared into the night.  Don’t we do the same?  Don’t we abandon, deny, betray Jesus and his ministry?

We approach Holy Week beginning this Sunday, April 1.  We begin the journey with Jesus.  What do we intend to learn?  How will we do something differently because of Jesus’ suffering and death.  After all, he died for us.  He died so that we might have life, so that we might experience God’s love and forgiveness, so that we might reconcile with God and be in full, healthy, loving relationships with God and each other.

It doesn’t always work that way, though.  Human tendencies block us and get in the way.  Fear keeps us from speaking up at racist jokes or derogatory comments about another person who doesn’t “fit” society’s idea of who they should be or how they should look.  Selfishness stops us from giving more of ourselves, and we truly begin to look out for “number one” meaning ourselves.

This is what humanity is all about.  Jesus lived it, understood it, and tried to teach us that it isn’t how God wants us to live our lives.  So what will we do differently this Holy Week that will lead us to live our lives differently forever?  What can we change?  What habit could we break that stops us from being healthier?  What vocabulary words could we remove from our minds and mouths?  What could we give away because we aren’t using it anyway?  How can we make someone else’s life better because of our actions?

This is a throw down – not only for anyone who might end up reading this blog, but also for me.  I have things I want to change in my life, too.  Will you join me?  May God bless you on this journey, whether it’s difficult or smooth at this time in your life.  And when the times are tough, may you know that strength comes from the One who has walked the path of loss, betrayal, abandonment, and rejection.  He understands.  Jesus knows.  Jesus truly understands and walks with us.

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