I’ve got this sort of sixth sense when it comes to guessing the end of movies and television shows. My wife and I watch lots of crime dramas, and usually within the first 15 minutes I’m able to tell her who the villain is. It kind of drives her crazy. I’ve learned to keep my mouth shut because, well, it ruins the drama of it all. Knowing what’s about to happen really makes the rest of the story seem kind of boring doesn’t it? Like it’s all just details and filler, making us wait for the end game – the climax – the grand finale. But I’m here to tell you that knowing the ending doesn’t always ruin the day.
As a pastor in some capacity for almost 18 years I’ve heard my share of stories. In the church world we call them testimonies – I guess because we’re giving an eyewitness account of what has happened in our lives. The thing about church testimonies is, they all end the same way. No matter how they start or what they go through to get them there, they all end with a person’s life being transformed, restored and renewed, through a life-giving and life-changing relationship with Jesus. Some people overcome a lot, more than seems possible, and others (like me) grow up in Christian homes and have known the love of God from a very young age – but they all end with Jesus changing someone’s life for the better. But here’s the rub. You NEVER get tired of hearing a good testimony. Even when you know how it ends, there’s still something about the story of God at work in the human life that draws you in, keeps you hanging on every precious detail, and won’t let you go. Sometimes I even cry. I guess there are some stories that even knowing the ending can’t ruin.
The Monday of Holy Week can sometimes feel like filler. We aren’t exactly sure what happens when between Sunday night and Thursday morning, but we know there’s a lot of it. Cleansing the temple, preaching using parables, talking about taxes, articulating scripture to the Sadducees, foretelling destruction and wars, and teaching lessons to His disciples through the death of a fig tree – it seems there’s a lot for a guy to do. One thing is for sure Jesus didn’t waste this Monday, He didn’t have the time. Monday doesn’t have the drama of Thursday night and Friday afternoon, the sadness of Saturday, or the immense joy of Sunday morning – but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter.
There are all sorts of things that Jesus accomplished during that last week in Jerusalem, so much of which is often overlooked as we hurry towards the incredible ending. But I would imagine that for those who experienced Jesus personally that week, those he taught to, prayed with, and spoke to one on one, they would tell you that perhaps the most important thing Jesus ever did for them (other than die for their sins), was to take time in what was obviously the hardest week of His life, and invest in them personally. A quiet conversation when everyone else had gone to sleep. An embrace after dinner, followed by the gaze of some misty eyes that seemed to have a direct line to your soul. Or perhaps the answer to a question they’d been struggling with for months. While there’s no record of these things in the Gospels, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to think they might have happened – and if they did, how much must they have meant to the people they included. And let’s not forget, people are what brought Jesus to Jerusalem this week in the first place. He knows how this will end, but for now, He is content to delve into the defining details of doing God’s work.
The endings of stories get all the glory – the who-dunnits and the hows. Lots of people can properly predict those, not many the stuff in between. But the truth is without the details, there wouldn’t be a story at all. Without the things in life Jesus has helped you understand or overcome, a testimony doesn’t mean as much. So even though I know, and you know, how this story ends – I encourage you not to skip to the end – and instead look and listen for what God might be trying to teach you on the Monday’s of life. After all, it just might be the thing that makes days like Friday, actually make sense.