Mark 10:32 They were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them what was to happen to him, 33 saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death; then they will hand him over to the Gentiles; 34 they will mock him, and spit upon him, and flog him, and kill him; and after three days he will rise again.” 35 James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” 36 And he said to them, “What is it you want me to do for you?” 37 And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”
V.32 says that Jesus disciples were “amazed” and “afraid”. Why? Because going into Jerusalem was like walking into a hornet’s nest for Jesus. The level of opposition from religious leaders was growing by the day, which was dangerous for Jesus and those who followed Jesus. In some ways it would have seemed foolish to go to Jerusalem, but there was another possible motive.
The disciples continued to believe that Jesus wouldn’t really die, but that he would eventually become king of Israel. And any king would have to remove the existing Roman rule in Jerusalem first. So – it made sense to go to Jerusalem despite the danger. Sensing that the end-game was at hand, the brothers James and John approached Jesus asking to sit at his right hand and his left “in your glory”. I can imagine Jesus hearing this request and groaning on the inside.
Despite Jesus’ repeated warnings of what was to come, the disciples simply could not comprehend what was about to happen. They had no mental maps, no imagination for an outcome that included Jesus dying, even if he was to rise from the dead. They must have thought Jesus’ assertions of his imminent demise were another metaphor given how often Jesus taught used parables or riddles to teach. It was only after seeing Jesus actually hanging on a cross they realized the literal truth of Jesus’ warnings.
We’re almost halfway through May and the coronavirus is still with us. The question on everyone’s mind is, “When will things get back to normal?” The honest answer is “We don’t know.” We are all flying blind at this point because none of us has experience with this set of circumstances. People are reacting differently, as you might expect.
Some people are being cautious and continuing to mostly stay at home for now. Others are choosing to get out and re-engage the world. I empathize with both groups. But I don’t think things are going to be “normal” anytime soon. At least not until we either have an effective vaccine that is widely available or enough people are exposed to the virus to achieve “herd immunity”. Either of these will take time. Many more people will die in the process. That’s not a political statement, but simple microbiology.
Pathogens are not democrats or republicans.
So we’re in this together. What does it look like to be the church in this time of pandemic? How will schools function next August when the new fall semester is supposed to start? How long will parents have to work from home with their children home as well? I don’t know. What I do know is that whatever emerges will be something none of us has ever seen.
Heavenly Father we ask for an extra measure of your grace during this time of pandemic. Help us to be thoughtful, but not panicked. Give us wisdom to know how we move forward into a future the likes of which we’ve never seen. We place our trust in you, O God. Give us your peace. Amen.