The last seven days of Jesus’ earthly mission – traditionally called Holy Week – were full of fears and signs. We need to notice both.
Mark 10:32 tells us that the crowds following Christ on the road to Jerusalem “were afraid”. Jesus had become famous and he had powerful enemies in Jerusalem (John 11:8; 12:24). He himself had made predictions about suffering and death awaiting him (Mark 8:31; 9:91, 10:33). People – the disciples included – were afraid of what they did not understand (Mark 9:32). So fear was in the air.
But for those who had eyes to see, there were also signs. Signs that as Jesus headed into danger, he was no hapless victim. He was Lord. He was Lord of strife-ridden Jerusalem just just as much as he had been Lord over the stormy sea.
He gave two signs of that Lordship. Neither were real attention-getters. But both said what the church would later confess as its gospel and its battle-cry: “Jesus is Lord.”
The first sign took place on Sunday – Palm Sunday – just prior to the triumphal entry. Jesus sent two disciples to a nearby village to fetch a colt. He simply said, “You will find a colt tied” (Mark 11:2). So they went, and (surprise!) “They found a colt tied” (verse 4). He even predicted the brief dialogue the two would have with the people noticing them untying the animal (verse 5).
Do we have eyes to see? This was a sign: “They found a colt tied”. A sign that amid hovering danger and seemingly out-of-control circumstances, Jesus was Lord.
The second sign came four days later, hours before that final Passover meal (which became the Lord’s Supper). Again, he sent two disciples on ahead: “[A] man carrying a jar of water will meet you…[and] he will show you a large upper room…And the disciples set out and found it just as he had told them…” (Mark 14:13-16). They found the man and they found the room – “just as he had told them.” Amid the fears, another sign that Jesus was Lord.
I write this post in Holy Week, 2020. Likely some will remember this time as “Covid Spring”. As of April 5, the virus fatality count in Canada is 277. In the US, it’s 10,000. The news yesterday reported a popular US high-school teacher who went from healthy to dead-from-the-virus in a week. Wife, kids. When I saw that report I mentally joined that crowd on the road to Jerusalem: I was afraid.
But I needn’t surrender. You, either. We can recall Jesus’ unspectacular Holy Week signs, and lay hold of the ancient church’s gospel-announcement and battle-cry: “Jesus is Lord.”
Jesus is Lord: I’m not sure how Covid Spring is going to play out. But I am certain of that.