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The reading this week provides us the location where Jesus will celebrate the Passover for the last time with his disciples. Again, unnamed disciples are dispatched to a location without the benefit of address, only that they will find a man carrying a jar of water. Ask him where is the room where my master may eat Passover with his disciples? True to the words of Jesus, the disciples find just such a person and he shows them a larger Upper Room and the disciples finish the work of preparation there for the Passover.
The Upper Room is a key place in Christian history and theology. It is a particular location of Jesus choosing to do what he would do the last time with those who had left everything to follow him. In the Upper Room they are made aware that their time together as they have known it over the last three years was coming to an end. There is sadness in the room as well as uncertainty. What will it mean for them to have to go on without the master? How would they make it? They still have not grasped the meaning of sacrifice nor understood they were walking in the shadow of the cross. The church does a disservice if it does not remind us that we walk in the shadow of the cross. Every day is not a high day of celebration but there are days that are solemn and call for thoughtful contemplation.
There is hurt in the room because they hear that one of their own will betray the master. There seemed to always be those who lurked close by that wanted to use Jesus for their purposes. Jesus requires of us hard commitment that often stands in the way of aspirations. There are those that believe Jesus is not enough and that one has to hedge their bets for the unknown. There are always those that are willing to buy from us what God has given through grace and gifts. In those moments we need to declare "not for sale." Our integrity, character, witness, hope and affection are not for sale.
There is anger in the room. The leader of the group, Peter ,is told in front of his peers that he would deny Jesus three times. This is a smack in the face of the one who felt that he had proved himself to Jesus. Surely Jesus' words about Peter in the Upper Room lead the other disciples to have conversations about Peter and may have lowered his standing as the leader of the group. Peter seeks to rescue his honor by declaring that he is better than everyone else--"Even through all will desert you, I will not." When Jesus pushes the point, Peter pushes back that if necessary "I will die with you before I deny you." This back and forth reveals a man whose emotions are becoming frail.
In spite of the sadness, hurt and anger in the Upper Room, it is space that is transformed because Jesus is present. It is the presence of Jesus that makes the difference even in our sadness, hurt and anger. The presence of Jesus is enough to hold us together in certain as well uncertain times. May he hold you in the space that you are in now because he is present. For in times like these we need an anchor.
Published on Tuesday, April 7, 2020 @ 10:00 AM EDT