Our Troubled God

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Maundy Thursday.

 

 

Here is the source of every sacrament,

The all-transforming presence of the Lord,

Replenishing our every element

Remaking us in his creative Word.

For here the earth herself gives bread and wine,

The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech,

The fire dances where the candles shine,

The waters cleanse us with His gentle touch.

And here He shows the full extent of love

To us whose love is always incomplete,

In vain we search the heavens high above,

The God of love is kneeling at our feet.

Though we betray Him, though it is the night.

He meets us here and loves us into light. 

Malcolm Guite

There is something just beyond my grasp in the picture of the last supper…that scene with all the disciples who had to be confused. Shouts of Hosanna and a crowd that seemed to embrace Jesus…but did not understand Him. He knew. The disciples had to be so perplexed. Jesus tells them that His time has come, that He is leaving them…and there had to be such a panic at that moment. What on earth did that mean?

He washes their feet.

And then there is this line…

“After saying these things, Jesus was troubled in his spirit”

When I was young I used to think that although Jesus died on the Cross, and I was sure that was painful…that He went through the whole experience with a sense of aloofness. I had this picture in my mind that He knew what He was here to do, and that He was God, so He was somehow a bit removed from the whole process.

I was wrong. He was never aloof. He was immersed in what it is to be human, and part of that immersion…incarnation…was to feel the pain of betrayal and the stress of facing an overwhelming task.

He was troubled in His Spirit.

He knew what was coming, and this verse comes just before He reveals that He will be betrayed.

The God of love is kneeling at our feet.

Though we betray Him, though it is the night.

He meets us here and loves us into light.

With full knowledge, with full understanding…He meets us here. He knows we will betray Him. He knows we are caught up in wrong motivations, in sin, in a love that is never pure…and yet. He overcomes all our barriers.

It was not done with callousness or with simply a dutiful mindset. He was troubled by the betrayal of Judas, and He showed the depth of His struggle in the Garden. He was God and He was man and He understands how difficult our struggles can be.

That is astounding to me and even after 30 years of following Him, it is still difficult to get my mind to grasp. The story is so familiar and sometimes it is easy to simply make our way through the paces and the verses and dress up for Easter…but remember that He was troubled in His Spirit. He was impacted and knows the pain of betrayal.

He is not soft, this God…not in the sense of being weak…but He is compassionate and He is loving and He is impacted by our betrayal. Still He meets us here and loves us into light. 

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