by Eboné Bell
After a week filled with buzz and tension--a triumphant entry into Jerusalem, glory and honor from crowds of people, teaching, heated debates and turning over tables--suddenly Jesus goes silent. Where was he?
The entire city was flooded with religious pilgrims ready to celebrate the highest, most honored time of the year, Passover. Jesus was in the house of Simon the Leper, along with Mary of Bethany as she anointed Him to prepare for his impending sacrifice. He was not in the hustle and bustle of what was going on around Him. He wasn’t caught up in the praise of people, the religious celebrations, or even the ministry opportunities. Jesus was focused on what He came to do, and this day of silence was part of it.
Silence. How uncomfortable. We like the buzz of activity, the rush to help and serve and heal, the debates and theological reasonings to follow and ponder. But silence? Not so much. It makes us uncomfortable. Among the hustle and bustle of this Holy Week, Jesus slows things down instead of powering through to the end.
Judas became uncomfortable in the silence with Jesus. Maybe he was disappointed in Jesus’ leadership. Jesus was not seizing power and taking advantage of the momentum of the moment. Didn’t he see how desperate the Jews were for self-rule? In Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin (ruling members of the Jewish people), were deliberating ways to murder Jesus. And there, Judas found his solution.
Even my close friend in whom I trusted,
who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.
Psalm 41:9, ESV
While Christ was quietly being anointed to prepare Him for the sacrifice ahead, Judas’ mind and heart were spinning with thoughts. We too can get frustrated by stillness and silence, and miss opportunities to worship Jesus. Mary, the sister of Lazarus, recognized her opportunity, however. She came to anoint Jesus. She came to worship Him with all she had.
A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. . . “She has done a beautiful thing to me. . . The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. She has done a beautiful thing to me. Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Matthew 26:6-13
This became a never-forgotten display of an imperfect woman worshiping Jesus perfectly, and sacrificially. We too can come to Jesus in those calm and quiet moments before the storm, and give him everything he deserves. What Mary did for Jesus was beautiful in its simplicity and discretion. She didn’t seize the moment for attention in front of the big crowds, and it wasn’t because she was caught up in the hype. Yet Jesus said that this action that only a few people witnessed would be remembered forever.
Where are we when the buzz of what's going on around us (even at church) is quiet? Many of us, in refusing to pause, cast away Jesus for far less than what Judas was paid.
If Jesus is silent, it’s not because he is ignoring us or has moved away. He’s creating an opportunity for us to pause in worship and trust before He moves again. Let’s give Jesus the time and honor He deserves today. Let’s allow our souls to be still in His presence, not expecting anything, but giving Him everything.
Prayer: Let’s pray today that we would find peace in the silence, in whatever season we find ourselves, that we would learn to trust in Him. Let us honor Him in prayer and worship, and be still in his presence.