I’ve been thinking of Good Friday, even in my dreams. This morning when I woke up, I felt awful because a fresh dream was still hovering. In the dream I’d been wolfing down a plateful of rice cakes coated with thick peanut butter. Since I gave them up for Lent, as I awoke I was devastated. No one in the dream seemed to know I was going against my commitment to the Lord. As for me, I’d simply forgotten about it.
In just a few seconds the nightmare faded, but the thought of “forgetting” to keep my tiny bit of shared suffering with Jesus was deeply disturbing. During Lent I’ve wanted to reflect every day on Christ’s cross and the weeks leading up to it. The rice cakes that stand in my kitchen cabinet next to the Jif have been important reminders of this season (especially because of the Post-it note there that says “Lent!”). But I’d like to think even if there were no rice cakes, Jif or Post-it, Jesus’ sacrifice would have been on my mind every day anyway.
As I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ walk toward his own death, I’ve wondered how much thinking he did about it. Although I doubt he thought about it as a child, we see him describing his death to his disciples as he taught. Somewhere between pre-teen and adulthood, his Father must have begun detailing the future. And surely as he did that, he also strengthened Jesus to follow through with the elements of the plan.
As the Father was reminding him about the cross and encouraging him toward bearing it, Satan was probably working non-stop to coax Jesus away from it, fabricating lies about being able to accomplish it in another way. And I believe Jesus could have pulled out, had he wanted to. Even as he was being arrested, he said he could have called on God to rescue him. (Matthew 26:53)
But the Son and his Father were in it together. They mutually devised salvation’s plan, and they partnered to carry it out. This is evident in the Father’s response to watching his Son suffer intense torment just before his arrest. Listening to, and watching Jesus agonize as they talked, the blood of intense stress coming from his brow, God responded with help. He dispatched an angel exactly then, and not just as a reminder to Jesus he’d soon be back where he belonged, in heaven. Scripture says the angel came for one purpose: to strengthen Jesus.
As I’ve been thinking of the anguish leading up to Easter Sunday, the thought of the Father-Son team embarking on this massive effort “as one” has brought comfort. Jesus understood the plan and refused to divert from it in any way.
Unlike me in my dream, he never forgot the importance of his commitment.
“The Father is in me, and I in the Father. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:38b, 30)