Deadline: historically, a line drawn around a prison beyond which prisoners would be shot. So, literally: a dead line. Today, somewhat less lethal, it indicates the final day, or minute, something must be completed. Our last house move, five years ago, had multiple such ultimatums. Prepare the house for viewings – do you know how incredible it is, the vast number of items that accumulate in closets and storage areas? And, how much of that needs to be re-homed temporarily so that everything doesn’t look so cluttered. Get ready for the photographer who’s coming to take pictures of every nook and cranny of your home (no stray anything, no article out of place, not one speck of dust! The goal, basically, is to make the house look like no one lives there). Then, the biggie! Making sure everything is packed up for the movers’ arrival. I distinctly remember them scheduled to be at our door by 8 o’clock Monday morning. On the previous Friday, I felt like Road Runner sensing a dark cloud, only to look up and see Wile E. Coyote’s anvil about to fall on him – one more time! So many things on the checklist! So many last-minute things to pack up (movers arrived at 7:45!)

This might be how Jesus was feeling during his last earthly days. He most assuredly knew the ‘what’ but maybe not the specifics of the ‘when’ of his death. He took every opportunity to be visible in his Father’s house, teaching. I wonder what miracles and deliverances occurred during those days of which we have no written record? What hush-hush, clandestine, meetings with secret followers (both Jewish and Roman?) What amount of calming the anxious fears of his much-to-be-pitied disciples? How did worship proceed following his temple rampage, clearing out the market people, the cheats, along with all the animals? What new enemies were then made? What new followers?

Jesus was acutely aware of the religious rulers watching his every move, listening to every sermon, desperately trying to find an excuse to arrest him and drag him off to his death. But he was always surrounded by those hanging on to his every life-giving word. It’s believed Jesus left Jerusalem at least once during this time to go to Bethany for a visit with his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. I love to think of the secret Jewish temple police urgently dispatched to follow him! Hearing the laughter and sounds of celebration coming from the house that evening must have made them crazy!

Jesus was in the world but not of the world and he told his disciples it was true of them as well. Despite the sinister atmosphere in Jerusalem, Jesus demonstrated that truth to his friends, his disciples. His steadfastness in the face of the looming terror had to have been a recurring topic of discussion among the disciples later. And to think, he offers us the same focused and fearless confidence today!  PD

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