When we realized that the virus really had hit the United States and states started ordering their citizens to stay at home there were some memes flying around the internet about, how we as Americans, have got this. All we have to do is sit around our homes watch some TV on the couch and we’ll be following the rules of the quarantine. So by simply binge watching our favorite shows and movies or discovering new shows and movies to binge watch we’ll defeat the virus. And if watching TV isn’t your thing I have seen plenty of people baking, doing puzzles, playing both board and video games, and of course like some of our sewing members, making cloth masks for people. All we have to do is be couch potatoes.
Now obviously that is a stereotype meant to poke fun at our culture, which is exactly what a meme is, but it has proven harder than we thought. Staying at home all the time, not being physically near other people that we are used to seeing everyday, is now taking a toll on people. I have admitted multiple times that it is hard leading worship and preaching to an empty room.
Yet here we are in 2020 and we have this new unexpected expectation placed on us. We are expected to do things that had never thought of doing. For some it is easier than others. For some they are essential workers doing everything they can to fight this virus and stay healthy themselves. Some people are home and don’t do well sitting on their hands. For some, not being able to be around people goes completely counter to their nature and is extremely hard. I even saw a news article the other day about people hosting and charging money to enter a Zoom dance club. People are wanting and needing more than what we are able to do at this time and it’s not easy to go against what we have been and done for so much of our lives.
We are expected to do things we never expected to do and people are finding it harder than they thought. If you are finding it hard and having difficulty I strongly encourage you to reach out to family, friends, and myself to talk through it. These are unexpected times and we need one another to get through it.
Speaking of unexpected expectations, Jesus placed a whole bunch of them on the disciples on Thursday night. Now I know that the washing of the feet is only found in John 13, but I feel the foot washing is inseparable from the story of Maundy Thursday, especially since I asked all of you to wash one another’s hands before your meal for this service. Jesus has throughout the gospels modeled servant leadership, but the stories of Maundy Thursday just drive that image a thousand fold more than ever. Jesus, the rabbi, the Messiah, the one whom they have seen as their leader and as the Son of Man takes off his outer tunic and stoops down and washes the feet of his disciples. Unexpected. The job of a slave and a servant, done by God’s own son. Then Jesus says:
14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.
The followers of Christ should know that being a servant to others is one of expectations placed on them. If Jesus did it then so should we. The disciples may become the new leaders in this revelation of God, but their leadership comes with a servant model. Leadership through service. Unexpected.
Then as we come to our text from Mark today we see more unexpected sayings from Jesus. He tells them that this bread and this wine that you are drinking, they aren’t actually bread and wine they are my body and blood and they represent the my covenant of love with you and with all people. We are now expected to share in a meal together like you all are today and in that meal as you share bread and wine you are to remind one another that the presence of Christ is in that bread and wine. Unexpected. So unexpected that the church has been discussing and even arguing for 2000 years about what Jesus meant by it, yet we all agree that we are expected to share that meal with each other in remembrance of him.
Jesus and the disciples then head out to the garden at Gethsemane and there he tells them that instead of sticking up for Messiah, they are going to run away and desert him in what they consider is his greatest hour of need. What he does ask of them is to pray near him while he prays and instead they start falling asleep. They are being asked things they probably had never thought would be asked of them and they aren’t sure how to handle it. Just a few days ago they were praised for coming into the town and now they are being told that what he told them about his betrayal, arrest and death are actually coming to pass. Instead of hiding him away, instead of raising a revolt they are being asked to pray and stay awake. They aren’t supposed to be political usurpers. They aren’t supposed to be government protesters. They are ones who are supposed to pray and wash feet. Unexpected expectations.
Just after our text today in Mark 14:43-50 Jesus is arrested by the kiss of Judas and there is a fight that ensues between a disciple and a high priest. Jesus stops the fight and without actually saying it again reminds them they are not here to overthrow the government of Rome. Jesus reminds them their role isn’t about violence; it isn’t about political shifts, it isn’t about saving Jesus life, but actually about letting these things happen. As Mark 14:50 says…”But let the scriptures be fulfilled.” Let scripture be fulfilled. Not personal gain, not personal wants or desires, not what we want, but what you want God.
Exactly what Jesus prays in the garden. This isn’t about you and this isn’t about me. It’s about fulfilling God’s plan to redeem us from our sins. The expectations placed on us are different than the ones we would think of for ourselves. I wouldn’t think that through death there would be life. I wouldn’t think that through service there would be leadership, yet through Jesus, God teaches us the unexpected ways of God. God desires a servant heart. God desires love. God desires peace.
We may be at home stuck by ourselves, or with our families. Some of us may be working daily from home or at places of employment because we are essential. We are in unexpected times. We don’t know if our stay at home order will be extended or not (though we assume it will be). We don’t know how long this will last or what life will look like afterward. Nothing like this has happened, so there is no way of knowing.
What we do know, is that God seems to do miracles in the unexpected moments in life. What we do know is that God is alive and active in even the uncertain times, and is doing amazing and incredible things through them, just as God did amazing and incredible things through a final meal, through praying in a garden and through the arrest of Jesus. All unexpected. All different than what anyone had ever dreamed would have been the end of Jesus life. Yet it wasn’t the end, and it brought about life and forgiveness, and grace and truth. In these unexpected times and unexpected expectations placed on us lean on not your own understanding but on the love of God as found in Christ Jesus, and know that God is doing great things. May God guard your hearts and your minds and may you feel the love of Christ now and always. Amen.