A Maundy Thursday scenario: It is a day of unparalleled heart heaviness for Jesus. He’s embraced his dearest friends, Lazarus, Mary, and Martha, weeping with them, for the final time. Re-entering Jerusalem, he’s greeted by a foreboding silence, the then-rejoicing, now-disillusioned, crowd of a few days ago elsewhere, being stirred by other voices, ominous, conniving voices. In his soul he hears music, not that which is audible to human ears, but a darkly-rising, grinding symphony, growing ever louder, ever more discordant, ever more terrible. Pushing through the din, he makes plans for another final – the Passover meal with his disciples. As the afternoon begins to give way to evening, the now-roaring cacophony makes him want to scream out the distress in his tortured soul. The solace of Gethsemane pulls enticingly at him, but there is no time left before the meal begins, so he prays as he walks, prays for extra measures of strength in all his commitments, prays for composure at this once-beautiful traditional meal, this meal now overshadowed by looming terror echoed by the devilish noise thudding, chanting, mocking, within.
Mounting the steps to the room that has been prepared for their evening together, a new knowing that says to him that his Father is with him, right now, in this moment, eases the weight. Its intensity is tempered somewhat, allowing him to hear something else, something stirring underneath the maelstrom, a faint new melody, but a surprising melody, familiar in its gentleness. With gratefulness welling up, he hears the instructions to serve his friends by washing their feet. As he stoops to this humbling servant role, the new melody seems to grow more prominent, easing its way past the vileness, somehow bearing a promise of a nearing celebration. When sending Judas out on his ‘errand,’ the hideous clanging momentarily overwhelmed the new song, but as the group left for the garden to pray, the new began to assert itself once more.
In the stillness of the garden, all music suddenly came to an end, both the horrible and the peaceful. There was silence. Emptiness. Dread. Fatigue. With the noise of boots and the flames of the torches making their way through the garden, the devil’s symphony reappeared to mount its terrible crescendo, and another ‘final’ came clearly into focus. It was Judas’ kiss, the bitterness of this intimate treachery, that did it. A final chain of events was now in motion. As he surrendered himself to their will, the screeching, as quickly as it had begun, was quieted, the clamor done, muted once and for all. In its place, the sweetness of heaven’s music swelled, still gentle, still calm, but redolent now of throne room glory, of angel wings stirring, of joy in the long-awaited reunion with his Father. And was that a hint of perfume in the air? This New Song would increasingly buoy his soul even as his body was given to sacrifice, to death, to everlasting victory. PD