I don’t know about you, but I’ve been so focused on the COVID crisis that I haven’t really been meditating on the passion of Christ—his last week of life here on earth—the way I usually do. With church services being cancelled, commuted, or online, and all hope for family gatherings gone, somehow I’d been unconsciously allowing the COVID Grinch to steal Passion Week. However, I was deeply moved by reading Amy Carmichael’s thoughts on the last act of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Do you know the last thing Jesus did before his hands were tied? He healed: “And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him” (Luke 22:50-51). “Then the band and the captain and officers of the Jews took Jesus, and bound him” (John 18:12).
Isn’t that incredible? If I were about to be murdered by a band of outlaws, I’m pretty sure my mind would be focused on how to escape, not on healing one of the men set on killing me . . . and in the chaos of someone having his ear sliced off, I’m afraid my gut reaction would be to try to make a run for it—like you see the “good guys” do in the movies. Instead, Jesus was totally at peace and resolved to do his Father’s will, which was to suffer crucifixion. He didn’t run for it. He asked the soldiers to let his companions (disciples) go free and willingly surrendered himself to the will of these merciless men—because he knew that this was all a part of God’s plan for him. Instead of protecting himself, he healed someone who was hurting.
As we ponder Good Friday and head into this weekend, let’s make sure we don’t allow the COVID crisis to absorb all our attention. I need to refocus on my precious Lord! My guess is that the lion’s share of our concern over COVID is “What if I get sick and die?” Well, Jesus knew he was about to die, but it didn’t distract him from continuing to live exactly as he always had—obediently loving God and caring for others! Listen to these encouraging words from Amy Carmichael: “Our Lord Jesus spent much time in healing sick people, and in the natural course of events, it happened that the last thing He did with His kind hands was to heal a bad cut. (I wonder how they could have the heart to bind His hands after that.) In this, as in everything, He left us an example that we should follow in His steps (1 Pet. 2:21). Do the thing that this next minute, this next hour brings you—faithfully and lovingly and patiently: and then the last thing you do, before power to do is taken from you (if that should be), will be only the continuation of all that went before” (—from Amy Carmichael’s devotional book, Edges of His Ways, for April 7th).
Let’s not let the COVID Grinch steal our Easter! We may have to hold hands “virtually” and call on the phone or email our friends to say, “He is risen!” “He is risen indeed,” but may the world join together in singing and praising God for resurrecting our Lord Jesus Christ! Yes, Jesus died on the cross for us, but God raised him from the dead, and now Christ “is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (1 Peter 3:22).
Do we need to fear what may happen to us and our loved ones during the COVID crisis? Not if we belong to Jesus: “The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah. Come, behold the works of the Lord, what desolations he hath made in the earth. He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth” (Psalm 46:7-9). No, we don’t have to fear: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2). God is with us, as he was with Jesus, who told the thief on the cross, “Today thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). If we have believed in Jesus, the “worst” thing COVID can do is kill our body, which will release our spirit to be forever with God. What’s to fear in that?!