It’s not supposed to be this way.
Have you felt, thought or said this lately? The stories in our newsfeeds, the images flashed onto our screen. The uncertainty of the pandemic. Perhaps, it’s something completely unrelated to the virus. Maybe it’s a situation. The death of a loved one, an unexpected diagnosis, loss of a job, or disappointment over a very important, canceled event.
On Saturday of Holy Week, I often think about the despair and disappointment that must have both confused and burdened the disciples. The week had started out in a glorious high. Jesus, the Messiah, journeyed through the city among cheers from crowd-lined streets. The people were sure that he would deliver them from the oppressive Roman Empire, and be their earthly king. Can you imagine the excitement and happiness the disciples must of felt?
The following days were full of even more “highs.” From cleansing the temple in a dramatic way, to infuriating and shocking the religious leaders with His teachings. Jesus spent quality time in private conversations with his disciples, giving them quizzical things to ponder. The special time was something I am sure the disciples thought important and treasured.
At the Last Supper might have been the first hint that things were changing. When Jesus washed his disciples feet, his disciple Peter thought, “It isn’t supposed to be this way.”
After the supper, in the garden, Jesus and his disciples were questioned by a mob of soldiers and officials organized by one of his own disciples. Jesus answered all their questions, and even stopped Peter from defending him. Jesus was arrested and bound. I’m sure Peter thought, “it isn’t supposed to be this way.”
The next day, Jesus was brought before a governor who could find no fault or guilt. The very same crowd of Jews who were cheering on Sunday, were jeering on Friday. A thief was set free, and a Jesus was flogged, a crowned with a crown of thorns. Instead of raising Hosannas, they were crying out “Crucify him, crucify him.” It wasn’t suppose to be this way…
Then as if things couldn’t get worse, Jesus, Messiah, leader, teacher, and friend, was crucified a horrible, painful death, among a mocking and hateful crowd. Some of his loved ones and disciples stood by and watched. It wasn’t suppose to be this way…
In the gospel of John, chapter 12, verse 16, it says, “His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him, and had been done to him.”
It’s this part of the story, the pause between the tomb and the resurrection, where I am sure a lot of time was spent trying to remember the things Jesus said, trying to figure out where things went wrong, where things went right, what things meant. I wouldn’t be surprised if his loved ones and disciples even thought, “it’s not supposed to be this way.”
You may be in a situation right now and thinking “it isn’t suppose to be this way.” More times than not, we don’t understand why difficult things happen. Sometimes time gives us perspective, and sometimes we may never know the reason. Either way, it is hard, painful, discouraging and disappointing while we navigate and grieve through it.
When these times happen, and they will happen to all of us, may I suggest we take an example from this part of the gospel story and pause. Pause like the pause in the story. A silent and somber pause. A reflective and remembering pause.
We, pause, and then wait and see.
Out of the pause, is where unexpected things happen.
It’s where God’s glorious power can and will break through.
It’s where impossible things become possible.
A pause leads way to “plans and places that are supposed to be.” It can bring us to the foot of the cross, make us revisit an empty tomb, and help us hold on tightly to our Resurrected Savior and Friend’s hand.
I believe Jesus can and will see us through all the things we thought isn’t/wasn’t supposed to be. But we have to allow him to meet us right where we are. Meet us as the imperfect, sometimes confused, disappointed, healing-needing people that we are. As we learn to walk with him, to trust in his ways, he will give us strength to take the next step forward, and we might even get a glimpse of the future to come.
The disciples did not have to wait long to have their questions answered, and a glorious reunion was about to take place. Tonight, let us pause, and then look forward to tomorrow with an anticipation of great things to come, as we celebrate the way things were suppose to be!