So, at long last the day of Christ’s glorious and life-giving passion has come round again. We have exited one Great and Holy, the Forty Days, only to enter into another Great and Holy, that Week. The sun of His entry into the Holy City rises resplendent and seemingly unconscious of what lies ahead, else would it dare to rise? Yes, Mary and Martha, it was no dream: your brother is still alive. Lazarus, who was in the tomb for four days while Jesus, seemingly heedless, went on with His affairs, breathes again. He is still with you. No one has yet dared to ask him, though he speaks, of what he met with in the lands below.
Nothing we could have done in those Forty Days now ended would have prepared us for this Week. Though we tried to ready ourselves, even to inflicting forty lashes on our flesh, even to cleansing the house of our hearts by threefold toil—fasting, prayer, alms—our search has so far failed to turn up the lost drachma. Time seemed to speed by. So much to do, we began the work, but we could not finish it. Now, we enter into time through a different door, it seems, and it flows more slowly. With dead Lazarus now alive, every second drags to make more spacious the time that His Passover will utterly fill.
Nothing they could have done in those three years now coming to a close could have prepared them for what was to happen. Though they followed the Master, lived with Him, walked at His side, day and night being in the Presence of something greater than a mere cloud by day and pillar of fire by night, their flight from spiritual Egypt had so far failed to bring them into the Promised Land they expected. Time seemed to have sped by. He had shown them the fields white for harvest, but in their hearts they sensed with foreboding that the Lord of the Harvest had first to sow an aweful seed, His own body.
But they were afraid to admit it to themselves, just as we, twenty centuries later, fear to look at what this means, ‘I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds’ (John 12:24). Now, we with them are entering into a Week when either time is stretched to its limit, or simply comes to a stop, so that the Son of Man can reveal His work to us, and form it in us, by our witnessing what all time, all creation, has awaited. Something more terrible than the trumpet-blasts and dark cloud of Sinai is about to appear.
O Master, how can we have come to this place in time where what we fear most is about to happen for the sake of what we desire most? How can the Son of the Promise, our Only Son, be required of us, and in such a brutal offering? How can we go on? What must we find on the other side of the Sacrifice? We know, no better than Your mother and Your first disciples knew, what we will find there. We only have Your words, just as they first heard them, ‘Father, the hour has come: glorify Your Son so that Your Son may glorify You’ (John 17:1), and like them, we cannot bear to hear You ask us, ‘Do you believe at last?’
Yes, now at long last, without knowing what it means, we still say with Thomas, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him’ (John 11:16). After these words, and after others uttered by a Voice raised on high, ‘It is finished,’ we will have to face two resurrections from the dead, that of a man who will have to die a second time, and that of a Man who is the living One: ‘I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades’ (Revelation 1:18). Time has ground to a halt, or the sun has stopped in his tracks, because another Joshua comes to defeat one greater than the Amorite kings.
Yes, and we will hear the refrain sung at the midnight tomb from which the Son has come forth ‘like a Bridegroom, exulting like a Hero to run His race’ (Psalm 19:5), ‘Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered: let them also that hate Him flee before Him’ (Psalm 68:1). Nothing we could have done in these Forty Days now ended could have prepared us for this. Though we might have searched and searched for the lost drachma, we would never have found it, for that, and all other riches of earth or heaven that we might pursue are thrown down in payment for the life of the Son of God.
Yes, time has slowed down to open wide the course for its Lord to run His race, and soon it will come to a stop as all creation watches what angels have longed to hear of and to see. There is now nothing more for anyone to do—our work is done but unfinished—but with the Hebrews to cry out, ‘Barúkh ha-Bá b’shem ’Adonáy!’ Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord! For He who runs His race has appeared, and to Him is the Victory, the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, to Him who is the start and the finish of all races, of all things. ‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, who is, who was, who is to come…’ (Revelation 1:8).