“It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.”John 13:1
Today on Good Friday, as communities of believers, we gather to reflect on the incomparable sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
On this day, we linger at the cross.
We slow down to consider the grief of a death not deserved.
To reflect on our role in this tragic and tragically beautiful moment in the story.
To not miss the moments He chose obedience unto death because of great love.
For you. For me. For us.
The Long Goodbye
I don’t know about you, but I struggle with goodbyes.
Where I’m from in the Midwest, we drag them out just about as long as we can so much so that they are actually termed “Midwest goodbye.”
We often joke that our goodbye rituals can take up to an hour.
So when I come to passages like John 13-16, when Jesus is trying to fill the disciples with the words and reminders they will need so they can navigate the exact moments (and after) that we are observing today, I imagine what they must have been processing as their Rabbi began His loving version of a “Midwestern goodbye.”
Finding Comfort in Goodbye
Questions. Misunderstanding. Assumptions.
They experienced a range of emotions and mental processing that I would probably feel and experience, too.
And none of the challenges they were experiencing caught the Messiah off guard.
His words to them were saturated in truth to provide clarity for what was going to happen.
And the truth was paired with comfort for their hearts in order to prepare them as they would bear witness not only to what would happen to their Friend but also to their future without Him in front of them and with them as He was.
“Jesus went on to say, ‘In a little while you will see me no more, and then after a little while you will see me.'”John 16:16
This comforting saying didn’t make a whole lot of sense to the disciples at the moment.
In fact, it seemed to really stump them and concern them.
They didn’t even seem to know how to ask Him their questions about the goodbye and hello that He was expressing would come.
Our kind Savior took the time to lovingly tell them this goodbye wasn’t forever.
But it was, in many ways, a goodbye.
As much as I want to flip the pages and get to the “Hello, Mary.” part of the story, it’s important to sit with the disciples in the waiting and the processing and the wondering this goodbye produced.
So, my dear sisters and brothers, I think the invitation today for all of us is to linger.
Let’s let Good Friday remind us of how real these moments were.
Let’s find ourselves in the back of the crowd with the disciples and feel with them what it meant to see Him willingly give up Himself.
Let’s mull over and replay Jesus’s words here over and over as they would have because there’s a grave between the cross and the empty tomb.
And appreciating the cost and the depth of love in the goodbye transforms the way we experience the joy of the hello.
And truly what a glorious, “Hello!” it will be!