If they knew what was coming, would they have changed their minds?
If they knew how seemingly out of control the next few hours — days — would spin, would they still have dropped their fishing nets to follow?
With their bellies full from the Passover feast, purposefully prepared food that told the story of their lineage, their unique relationship to a living, mighty God, with their eyes heavy with wine…what a night! they might have thought. Fulfilled in ways that can only come from ancient traditions steeped in meaning, deep conversation between men who have traveled and slept and witnessed impossibilities beside one another for three years, intimate prayers and muscle-memory rituals rich with history.
Did they notice the unusual hitch in Jesus’ voice or the slow and deliberate way he broke the bread and poured the wine, blessed the feast then washed their filthy feet? Half the time these simple men could barely keep up with Jesus, his mind and thoughts so far out of reach, his wisdom timeless and older than the sea.
But did they notice that night, these men who knew Jesus more closely than anyone else, the strain in his words, the God within him warring with the man in him, the weak and so easily broken body he had worn these many years. God in disguise, a Lion in Lambskin.
Could they understand, even as they heard those puzzling words, saw the telling flash in his eyes:
This is my body, broken for you.
This is my blood, poured out for you.
More riddles, they might have thought. Maybe Jesus speaks of that first Passover, the daring and dangerous night they are celebrating, the escape from slavery and into the unknown, leaving behind cruelty and injustice and a foreign land. Their ancestors crying out and being heard by God himself. Called out and freed by God himself.
He is so wise, so well-spoken, so thoroughly taught. No one knows more than Jesus. Surely He speaks of their covenant with Yahweh. What else could Jesus mean, on this the day of Passover?
If those men had known what Jesus’ words truly meant, would they have drifted off to sleep in the garden while his body crumpled to his knees and blood-tears?
Knowing the story, the full story, I still want to tell Jesus to stop. To get up. Leave the bread, the wine, just get out of here. Can we just forget the whole plan? It’s not worth it, Jesus; I’m not worth it. Let’s just call the whole thing off.
I dread the next chapter. Every time I read it. I want to press my hands against my ears and squeeze my eyes shut tight and block out those heavy, life-changing words: “broken for you; poured out for you.”
“Don’t do it, Jesus!” I want to yell at the whisper-thin pages of my Bible, trembling with grief and awe as I read on.
But even so, he goes. The story continues.
Jesus watches Judas slip out into the night, greed leading those washed feet; he implores one last time his men to understand, to listen and hear; he meets his fate in the garden just before dawn, in the deepest, darkest part of the night, the black sky weighing down on him like heavy oak.
Doesn’t he know we’re going to blow it? Doesn’t he know how dangerous and small and fickle and mean we will be, even in the name of his life and death? Doesn’t he see the hurt and abuse we will inflict, the agenda we will push, the self-righteousness we will wear like silken robes? Don’t do it, Jesus! We aren’t worth it! Just call the whole thing off!
We are going to fail you, Jesus. Why do you still head toward that cross?