Meditation Monday – Walking With Friends Through Holy Week 

by Christine Sine

by Christine Sine

I love to look at Holy Week from different perspectives. I have written about The Subversive Walk of Holy Week and the Garden Walk of Holy Week, two posts I love to revisit each year. This year however, still filled with the glow of celebrating my friend’s 80th birthday a week ago, I am pondering the close community of friends who walked with Jesus through his final days. There are quite a few of them, yet we tend to gloss over their importance as support and comfort for Jesus.

First there are Mary Martha and Lazarus. John 12:1 tells us that 6 days before Passover they hosted a dinner for Jesus and other good friends for the last time. Mary lavishly anoints his feet with expensive perfume, probably in gratitude for the restoration of her brother Lazarus but also in some ways foreshadowing what Jesus does in the foot-washing at the last supper. Good friends do that. They lavish expensive gifts on us as an expression of their love. They do what they can, often more than we think they can afford, to help relieve our aches and pains (I suspect Jesus feet were sore after so much walking) I don’t know if she sensed she was preparing him for burial, but good friends often do unexpected things that prepare us for the future in ways that make us very aware thatchy are guided by the holy spirit. 

Then we see Jesus process into Jerusalem surrounded by his disciples, many of whom are his best friends. They walked with him not only in this procession, but throughout the events of Holy Week even though they didn’t understand what he was doing. I think back on the friends who have stood by me through challenging times and through times I made decisions they did not understand or agree with. How precious friends who accept us even when they don’t understand us are. Jesus friends had lots to puzzle over during those last few days of his life. Judas left but the rest continued to walk with him, not just followers, but more like family. I wonder if Jesus would have been able to face what he knew lay ahead in Jerusalem without those good friends walking beside him. 

Artwork by Mary Button

Next comes the Last Supper, foot washing, sharing bread and wine, expressing the need to love one another as Jesus loved them (John 13: 34) . I think as we read this we gloss over Jesus love for his disciples not as disciples but as friends. In John 15: 13- 15 we read one of the most beautiful descriptions of friendship in the Bible.

“No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friend. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you.

“I call you friends” What an incredible statement for the son of God to make. Sit and bask in the wonder of it for a while. I think this is whole evening is one that only flows out of the love of deep friendship, the love one only holds for those who have walked through thick and thin with us, even those we suspect are about to betray us or deny us, or run away. I think that deep down Jesus knows his friends will eventually overcome their fears and be there at the end and in the new beginning. 

Praying At Gethsemane - He Qi

Praying At Gethsemane – He Qi

Then we see Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane with his friends. Unfortunately they fall asleep, and it is obvious that he is grieved by their inattention. He must have felt very alone at that point. When we hope that friends will enter into our struggles and they they fall asleep instead, it can be very hard. for us too. Recognizing that Jesus suffered in this way too was very helpful for me.

Australian Aboriginal Crucifixion – artist unknown

Next we come to the crucifixion where the women are most prominent at the foot of the cross. (John 19: 25,-27 Women like Mary Magdalene – one of his closest friends. She is one of the last with him when he died. A witness to the horrors of his death, but also the first to see him after his resurrection. Hers was the first name he uttered in the garden. Surely this speaks of deep friendship and love. There is also his good friend John to whom he commends his mother’s care. Such an incredible moment and it reminds me of friends dying of cancer and other painful diseases who commend their loved ones to friends. How good it is, even for Jesus, to know that they have friends who will take on the responsibility of family. Friends like this can be closer than biological brothers and sisters.

Here on the cross Jesu also seems to make a new friend. In the agony of torture, in the horrors of crucifixion, one of the criminals being crucified with him turns to him and asks to remembered  “when he comes into his kingdom (Luke 23:40-42/ As I read this over the weekend I felt the strange intimacy of the moment. It seemed that this man was saying “Be my friend as I die, take me with you into your kingdom.”

I love that Jesus last appearance recorded in John’s gospel is like a great reunion of close friends. In the middle there is breakfast on the beach because all good friendships are cemented by food and fellowship. Here we meet once more Peter who needs to feel Jesus’  forgivenness. Friends like John who describes himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” (John 21:20) The exchanges of this last encounter are intimate, emotional, and indicative of deep friendship, friendships that formed the foundations out of which the Way of Jesus could become a reality and spread throughout the world. 

Where would we be without friendship? Sit quietly and picture your closest friends. How have they shaped your life? How have they encouraged you through the good times and the bad? Take some time to journal about them.

Now consider Jesus as your friend. Do you realize that he does not just call his disciples friends but calls you friend too? Sit and imagine yourself walking in the company of Jesus. How does this friendship impact your life? 

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