“Live deliberately, ” I tell my classes. “Make deliberate, conscious choices.” (So during this Holy Week, I choose to direct my attention more often to the cosmic, eternal events which makes this week so full of opportunity for us.)
This week begins with the familiar story of Palm Sunday.
It had been a pilgrim’s journey to Jerusalem, where observant Jews can be present for Passover. Jesus had been making the journey to this Passover in Jerusalem for a few days, and He made a few stops along the way.
Did you know that once Jesus was scolded for not being “present”?
There is a city along the way to Jerusalem called Bethany. A man named Lazarus lived there with his two sisters. He became very sick and was dying. The sisters sent word to Jesus to come quickly and heal him.
(Here is an aerial view of Bethany’s location, down in the corner):
But Jesus did not arrive quickly; Lazarus was dead by the time He got there.
The sisters scolded and said, “If you had been here sooner, you could have done something for him!” ( If you had been present here, our brother would not have died.) But Jesus had not been present when needed, or so they thought. We know what Jesus did for Lazarus. The sisters are united with their brother.
Then it was time to take care of their Guest, a Guest who is now present. But Martha scurried away to get the food and drink ready. Only her sister Mary remained present at the side of Jesus to hear every word He had to say.
One present at His side, one not; and Jesus said that Mary had chosen the “better part.” I don’t need to point out that being present for Jesus at every moment is indeed the better part. How much you can miss when you’re scurrying about with other duties and other thoughts!!
Then, on the first day of the week, Jesus walked all the way into Jerusalem– and was met by many people who had anticipated that He would be present in the city!
Yes, it’s ironic that the same population who was heralding Him as their Blessed King “who comes in the name of the LORD” is the same population that cried out that they have no king but Herod — so crucify this Man!
But for now, on this Palm Sunday, they rejoiced that He was present in their midst and that they themselves were present to sing highest praises of hosannas in His presence.
And after this day of palms? The next day He made Himself present to the people of the city He loved. He was present and exposed to anyone who wanted to make a case against Him.
He walked around, He talked, He healed, He answered questions, He was out in the open, totally present to anyone who wanted to find out about Him.
Again, present, as He is for us today, without us having to buy a ticket to fly to Jerusalem.
So being present is a two-way phenomenon. Someone is present for you; and you make yourself present to Someone.
Same way it always was.