Today, the sun is shining. The bars and cafes are packed with folk who have ditched their thick coats and heavy boots. From wide-flung windows and back gardens, cheerful music and happy voices ring out. A special meal is prepared and a glass of wine is drunk, or two. After a long and cold winter, the people of Scotland are now, just as the people of Jerusalem did then, making the most of their festival, their long weekend away from work.
But not for one young man.
Not for the people whom he loves and the people he is loved by.
For us, this is the end of all things.
The end of what?
What did Jesus come for? What was His purpose? Why did He live? And why on Earth did He not run when he had the chance?
Because it didn’t have to end like this.
At about quarter to midnight last night, I was sitting on a tile floor that seemed to be getting colder by the minute. The sunshine had gone. The friends from the upper room had gone. The meal had long since been eaten and my stomach was beginning to grumble. On that cold tile floor, I had a certain sympathy with Peter and James and John as they nodded off in Gethsemane. And I started to wonder – what are we all still doing here? The garden is open. The road is over there. The people who are going to come to arrest you aren’t here yet. Run. Run, for God’s sake, while you still have the chance. Why can’t we change the story? Why couldn’t He?
He was his father’s son, and his mother’s son, and Joseph’s, too, and they had taught him well, raised him up right, and now, on this darkest of their days, this brave and beautiful boy, now become a man, says, these are the things for which I have lived and they are the things for which I am prepared to die. Not for this man the path of least resistance. Not for Him to betray his principles and his integrity.
For me. For you. For the whole world, even the parts that turned their backs and declared that they wanted nothing to do with it.
For peace. For love. For equality. For justice. For freedom. For fairness.
For truths that I hold to be self-evident, but which led to Him being branded a radical and a terrorist. Truths that He refused to betray and for which He was killed. Truths for which people are still being killed today. As I sat there last night and asked why He didn’t run, I thought about Jesus, yes, but I thought about the ones who came after him. The brave men and women of integrity who said, these are the things for which I have lived and they are the things for which I am prepared to die.
And now he’s gone.
The churches have been emptied of God. The world is cold and dark, the singing voices are silenced, and it feels as though we might never be happy again. The light of the world has gone out.
What do we do now?
What do we live for?
And what would we die for?