getting ready: silence
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” Matthew 26:6-13 | ESV
The last week of Jesus’ earthly life started loud.
Met by a crowd bursting with enthusiasm, screaming “Hosanna to the Son of David,” swinging palm branches, and singing children amidst a tumultuous pilgrim crowd, his Sunday entrance was anything but low key. By the time he made it into the temple all he had time to do was survey the scene and then leave the city, looking for a place of solitude.
The following day was kicked off with clearing the temple courts, overturning tables, driving out animals (both human and beast) and shouting, “You have turned my Father’s house into a den of thieves!” People flocked to him that Monday. Healing, teaching, and sparring with members of the religious establishment who prodded him with questions and challenges.
Tuesday was a day filled with more teaching, more healings and many stories – with the grand finale of a searing final condemnation of the religious establishment as he “left their house to them desolate.” Leaving the city, he sat with four of his disciples on the Mount of Olives and gave them a glimpse at Jerusalem’s final, cataclysmic days.
And then came Wednesday when he did…
Wednesday of Holy Week is often called the “Quiet Day.”
The day of silence.
No controversial stories.
No showdowns or face-offs.
Wednesday was a quiet day in which one key thing happened: someone stepped forward to do something extravagant for him.
The anointing in Bethany was evidently on this quiet day, and stands as a timeless reminder not only of one woman’s sacrifice of worship on Jesus’ behalf, but of our desperate need, shared by Christ, of just such a quiet day where we can receive rather than pour out.
That Wednesday seems almost to have been a midweek Sabbath for Jesus before the final plunge.
Think of it.
During his final week, his final moments on the planet as Jesus of Nazareth,
He took a day to simply be.
This may not work for you today as we observe Holy Week.
It may not be possible on a regular basis.
But it stands as a challenge for us to seek it – and the gift waiting for us within it.
When’s the last time you really had a day off? What is the greatest challenge for you in really, truly stopping and experiencing silence?
Lord, show me how to stop this week. Teach me how to be still, how to allow even one day, one morning or afternoon, or just one hour to be uncluttered by noise and activity. Give me the wisdom to clear the deck so that I might be ready to give and receive as you would have it. Through Christ.