the penultimate WORD
He is going on before you... into Galilee

The Irvine Tartan  My monthly column in The New Brunswick Anglican

The return trip seems shorter somehow.

Familiar paths never seem to take long. The milestones pass by quickly. We are surprised how soon we find our beginnings.

Jesus’ Easter journey had him return to Galilee. Not long before, he had traveled in the company of his disciples. Now he would travel alone. Now they would return without him, confused and bewildered.

As they drew closer to Jerusalem, Jesus talked with them and their step was light. But now, without Jesus, their conversation turned to the events of the week. They remembered the intrigue surrounding Jesus’ outburst in the Temple, and they remembered how those fearful of Jesus’ influence had planned to rid themselves of this Nazarene.

They remembered the Passover they shared together. And they still puzzled over Jesus’ words… "This is my Body," he said; "This is my Blood of the new covenant…" And he had washed their feet! He had actually washed their feet! What must it have meant?

They remembered the garden when Jesus led them following supper. He had prayed. They had slept. There had been a commotion. Judas was there, and the armed guard -- and Judas kissed the Master. Shadows thrown by flickering flame hid shame, disappointment, and regret. Having run away, details were lost.

Confusion was glimpsed at a distance. Only a few would venture close to catch a conversation here, an accusation there. Peter had followed, at a safe distance. And so had John.

They saw Jesus’ body placed in a tomb -- it had been "borrowed". In the chilling alarm of the women’s news on the day after the Sabbath, they saw the tomb once holding Jesus’ body -- now empty!

"He is going on before you… into Galilee."

And so they set their backs to Jerusalem and retraced a well-worn road. Their steps obliterated Jesus’ tracks as they followed him. As steps erased steps, memory served to recall earlier exchanges. They would ask questions. Jesus would ask questions. Questions led to discoveries. And a kingdom was discovered.

"He is going on before you… into Galilee."

Not a short distance lay ahead of them. They’d not accomplish it in a single day. They’d rest, as the day grew too hot to bear. They’d stop by a well, a well they had drawn from before. And they would slake their thirst. And Jesus’ words of thirst and springs welling up within came to mind. And their conversation would take another turn.

"He is going on before you… into Galilee."

Familiar faces, frequented places, brought Jesus back to beginnings and that is were his disciples found him -- and find him still, today. James and John, Andrew and Peter, and the others returned to the familiar and the frequented and in their beginnings discovered a new beginning.

"He is going on before you…" and, retracing our steps, we discover resurrection hope.

The return trip seems shorter, somehow.

Copyright © 2000 James T. Irvine

Series 2000

the penultimate WORD Lenten Series | Ashes to Easter