Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…
Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
The next day, the news that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem swept through the city. A large crowd of Passover visitors took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” Jesus found a young donkey and rode on it, fulfilling the prophecy that said, “Don’t be afraid, people of Jerusalem. Look, your King is coming, riding on a donkey’s colt.”
John 12:1-3, 12-15 NLT
Millions of people this week are watching with anticipation as college basketball makes its annual pilgrimage to the Final Four. I’m one of them. And in the midst of the excitement of the NCAA tournament, one could almost forget that another road to something more “final” than any basketball game is looming before us. I was almost one of them. The world tends to do that to us if we allow it.
Jesus was once again traveling the road; however, this Passover journey would end up in a different place. As we read above, it was just a few days before the Old Testament prophecy would be fulfilled concerning this particular Passover. Passover commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.
This time, Jesus would stop at an old friend’s house on His way. You remember, the friend—Lazarus—that Jesus wept over when hearing of his death. Of course, Lazarus was very much alive this time.
And then we have Mary. Note that Mary, and not a part of any religious ritual, anointed Jesus. I wonder if His friends knew what lay ahead. I wonder if they knew that He was about to be their Savior.
He was on a journey that He would walk all alone. He would be embarrassed, spit upon, whipped, sworn at and mocked. He would face everything in front of Him, all alone—or at least that’s what it would seem like to those who would line the sides of the road as He was headed to the cross, as they did on Palm Sunday as He entered Jerusalem.
We have found ourselves in the same place—traveling on a part of our journey, treacherous and difficult at times—all alone. Or at least it seemed that way. Too many times we’ve looked down a long dark and winding road stretched out before us, uncertain of where it would lead, but knowing we had to go. Too many times, we’ve found ourselves sitting all alone, walking through life, not sure which way to turn for help, not knowing who you can trust, let alone who could possibly help.
And then we remember that the stone was rolled away and we remember that the tomb was empty! He was risen! And we remember that we are not alone.
We are never alone.
In the midst of all the stuff of life that overwhelms us at times—knowing we are not alone provides us with the energy, even if faint at times, to continue to press on, to punch our heads through the gathering clouds of darkness—knowing that He will provide a way, through whatever we face, into the sunshine of a brand new day.
That’s the message of excitement and hope which is beginning to stir in millions around the world who will gather in a few weeks to embrace again afresh and anew the reflections of Palm Sunday and Holy Week, leading to the celebration of Easter Sunday.
Enjoy the Road to the Final Four. Embrace it for all it can be for the lives of those who are on that road, and as an inspiration and encouragement for us as we watch and journey with them.
But don’t forget a much more important road is before us in the next few weeks for us to travel. Embrace that journey all the way to the empty tomb, where you and I will discover again that the stone is rolled away and the tomb is empty.
He is risen and we are never alone!
And that is the final and eternal Hope for all the world.
In His Name—Scott
Copyright 2017. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.