What a huge difference traveling by car as opposed to traveling by air! Air travel is done on an airline’s schedule: flight leaves 6 AM, arrive at airport 4 AM, leave home by 3 AM, get out of bed by 2 AM (or else!), pack carefully to fit in everything that will be needed, keep all important travel documents easily accessible, wear clothing that is easy to remove for the panicked crush through multiple TSA stations, pretend it’s completely normal for a total stranger to scrutinize your full body scan, take only bags with wheels, try to remember flight number, gate number, seat number, connection time at the next airport … Car travel, by comparison, is luxurious: leave home when you’re good and ready, throw in a few extra bags for the ‘just in case,’ want to stop for a 2-hour lunch? No problem! Sightsee along the way? Sounds like fun! Take the detour to find a Wendy’s for the requisite annual, small chocolate Frosty? Who’s gonna say no? Pick up snacks for the car, for the destination? Sure! Why not? Aah! But the downside of vehicle vacations is that they’re slightly limited. If we want to see friends (and we do!) on the other side of the Pond, well, viable car options are dubious. Despite the stress and wee small hours involved, air travel is sometimes a necessity, so we gird up our loins, stiffen our resolve, set our faces like flint, and … set our alarms.
For 30 years, Jesus, too, prepared himself for a journey. An ultimate journey to a cross on a hill outside Jerusalem. His was a quiet, well-structured childhood (apart from his exceptional arrival, surprised guests both poor and wealthy, the King’s death threats, a midnight escape to Egypt) in a small backwater Galilean town called Nazareth. His devout parents raised him according to the requirements of Judaism, including taking the whole family to Jerusalem each year for Passover. His father, a carpenter, taught Jesus to work in his shop right alongside him. But there is one aspect of Jesus’ person that is way too ‘other’ for us to adequately comprehend, so we embrace this towering mystery: He was fully God and fully man – from Philippians 2:6-8. And this mystery, too: “[Jesus] understands humanity, for as a Man, our magnificent King-Priest was tempted in every way just as we are, and conquered sin.” Hebrews 4:15. As the time drew closer for Jesus to leave his hometown and launch a very public ministry, his humanity must have had so many questions! Knowing the fate of many prophets before him, there would have been apprehension. Knowing the heated political climate of his day wouldn’t have escaped his attention either. Would there be acceptance of him? Would there be rejection? Would he find the right words to convey the Father’s message of Love? How long would this journey take? Would he endure to the end? The answers to these questions go without saying, since we’ve read the Story already, but it is instructive for us, I think, to ponder the process Jesus may have gone through, and also, for us to ponder similar processes on our own journeys. These next six weeks of pondering together are going to be good! See y’all tomorrow at 10 AM, 3 PM, 4 PM. PD