Reflection: Journey to Jerusalem
Dear Beloved Community of St. John’s,
I want to invite you to step back a little with me as we consider the gospel stories. We have been looking at important events in Jesus’ ministry over the past weeks, and we will continue to do that in the weeks ahead, particularly as we head toward Ash Wednesday, Lent, Passiontide, and Easter.
We undoubtedly know this, but we need to remind ourselves because it is so easy to be captivated by the particular story snippets, that we lose track of the big picture. The events of Jesus’ ministry—his teachings, the parables, and the miracles—all of these must be understood in one large context. Jesus is with deliberation heading toward Jerusalem, and all that that means. Yes, indeed, we can look at individual, important chapters in the story, and there is much to learn from our gospel readings, week by week.
The larger narrative arc is Jesus’ journey to what will happen at the climax of the story. All of our gospel writers—as do we, most certainly—know how this story will end. It will be painful, shocking, and in almost every respect, inevitable. The fulfillment that we encounter is the only conclusion that can be. The dramatic events of Jesus’ final teachings in Jerusalem in the Temple precincts, the last supper, his arrest, trial, death, and resurrection–each step along the way is another step closer to this fore-ordained culmination.
Certainly it is possible to look at specific stories as having meaning in themselves. As compelling as each episode is, they are even more riveting, and take on ever more importance, because they all lead to one significant place: Jerusalem, and the dark and glorious fulsomeness of what that means to us and history.