I prepare for the Seder, this last supper Jesus celebrated with his friends and it’s uncomfortable to think of the things he said, the things he did. How can you be brave enough to stay, following a man who tells you “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you have no life in you?” Hundreds left him, over those words. I want to read them without letting them sink in. I, too, want to turn away.
I lay the lamb roast out, flayed open, and blood spills onto the counter and my stomach turns. I don’t like to look this in the face, that it’s only by innocent blood I am saved. I don’t want this spilling over, this suffering, this bleeding out. I quickly wipe away the red, I turn away.
I don’t want this bringing low of the most High, this kneeling down, the way he ties a cloth around his waste and takes my feet in his hands to wash away the dirt. I want to cry out, like Peter, No! You shall never wash my feet. Lord, don’t bring yourself low for a nobody like me. He cups my heal in his hands and pours the water and shame tightens around my chest and I want to turn away.
I don’t want this breaking, the tearing apart of unleavened bread, this crying out in the garden of Gethsemane where my beloved savior is abased with sorrow, and I can’t even keep my eyes open. He begs for one hour of my time and my willing spirit can’t overcome the weakness of my flesh and I turn away.
I don’t want this cross, the splintered symbol of my sin and his suffering, this turning away of heaven itself as the light of the world is plunged into darkness. I don’t want this injustice, this heartache, this affront to everything I think I understand. I cower at the foot of the cross, I can’t get the sound of the hammer striking nails out of my ears. I watch the greedy dust draw in his blood and I turn away.
This is the paradox, the upside-down Way he teaches us. The Christian is called, at the times we most want to turn away, to draw close. Jesus tells us this with his words and with everything he is, this is how we must live:
Draw close to the radical words that shock you into life.
Draw close to the bleeding wound of injustice.
Draw close to serving the dirty and the broken and the destitute.
Draw close to the suffering and the forsaken.
Draw close to the painful way of the cross, the dying to the world, the laying down of your dreams.
Draw close when you want most to turn away, because that is how you draw close to Me.