My family and I are reading a devotional together for Lent and Easter called “Bread and Wine,” which has challenged and in some cases perplexed us. What a sad, dark discipline it is to stop and ponder such matters as repentance, temptation, the passion of Jesus and his crucifixion. The readings on resurrection and new life can’t come soon enough. As expert as I’ve become at tribulation of the spirit, nothing quite prepares me for going all the way to the cross with Christ. But there are no half-measures for anyone serious about wanting to follow him. This is something we each have to do alone.
In a reading this past week, Henri Nouwen reflects upon the central word in the story of Jesus’ arrest in Gethsemane. He writes that this is “to be handed over.” Some Bibles translate this word as “betrayed,” but the Greek (Nouwen writes) says that Jesus was “handed over.” The word is used for Judas, but also for God. God did not spare Jesus, but handed him over to benefit us all (Romans 8:32). This “handing over” creates a useful word picture for those of us who think visually.
Handing ourselves over is one of the hardest things we can contemplate—but we must. Fortunately, we have a model. Jesus walks before us.