Tuesday – ‘a walk to remember’

April 11, 2017

The walk from Bethany to Jerusalem is less than two miles. The average walking speed of a human is 3.1 miles per hour. This means that the walk to and from Jerusalem each day took Jesus about an hour and a half round trip. That’s a lot of time to think and talk, especially when you’re awaiting something as stressful and traumatizing as death by crucifixion. Conversations with friends and followers are probably a welcome distraction, but also hard, as they serve as constant reminder of how he will soon be incredibly alone.

Today there is another helpful distraction – the fig tree has died. In one night it has shriveled up to nothing more than some crunchy leaves and branches.

Mark 11:20-25 (ESV)

As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

Prayer and forgiveness, these seem to be common themes for Him now-a-days. He has been spending more time talking with his Father about all that awaits him, and asking for the strength to see it through. HIs words are no longer just for them, but for himself too. He is reminding himself that his Heavenly Father will give him the strength that he isn’t sure he has. Strength to forgive his friends when they run. To forgive those who will falsely accuse and illegally try him. To forgive Pilate as he lets the pressure of an earthly kingdom come before the heavenly one. The man who will scourge him, the soldiers who will mock him, the ones who will drive in the nails – forgiveness must be offered to them all.

I often imagine the scene of the crucifixion as if I were standing there myself, a part of the crowd shouting crucify him and spitting and shouting as he walked down the street. The truth of the situation is, your sin or my sin would have been enough to cause all these things to occur. We are all just as guilty as those who were physically present. We require the same forgiveness and receive the same amazing grace because of him. I have sometimes wondered if he thought specifically of me at some point in the process, as if to say ‘I am doing this for you,’ for each one of us. Only God really knows, but I like to think he did.

With each passing day the lessons he teaches become less about vague situations and imaginary people, and more directly about what is about to happen. If you’ve ever been the only one in a group who knows a secret, you know that it can be not only very emotionally taxing, but also physically draining. It is all taking it’s toll on him now. Starting to wear him down. He alone understands what will soon happen, and all that it means, and he is carrying it with him, back and forth, to and from Bethany and Jerusalem each day. Six more miles – five more hours – two more days in – one more time home – the countdown is in full effect now.

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