Holy Week: “Spy Wednesday” Meditation – Brad Jersak
Wednesday is often referred to as “hump day” because for those on a Monday-to-Friday workweek, it signals a psychological crest. If you live for the weekend, there’s still a lot of work to do but you can see the Friday horizon.
Of course, COVID-19 has signficantly disrupted those rhythms and in terms of this virus, the hump day phase seems a long way off. Our best models for the coming weeks forecast dark days. Denial of is false comfort. But neither should fear-mongering be regarded as wisdom. What then?
This COVID Wednesday of Passion Week invites us to hunker down with Christ, uniting with him in his sorrow so as not to get stuck in ours. In other words, if we tuck in beside him through his own dark night, we’ll also experience his comfort, hope and victory, emerging with him from the valley of the shadow on the far side. But we don’t get to skip the process. Rather, we walk it with him.
I love learning new things. For some of you, reading that another name for Good Friday/Easter weekend is the “Paschal Feast” was novel. It’s a precious term because the word Pascha ties together the Jewish Passover with the sufferings of Christ, the Lamb slain and our new exodus out of bondage to death. To review that aspect of Holy Week, you can read my PT article by clicking HERE.
The new thing I learned this week is that many of our Christ-following brothers and sisters refer to Holy Week Wednesday at Spy Wednesday. I don’t recall ever hearing that before. I’ve normally heard the day called Good Wednesday, when we remember Mary anointing Jesus with spikenard (Matt. 26:6-13).
Spy Wednesday is so named because it is the day on which Judas Iscariot initiates the betrayal of Jesus (Matt. 26:14–16). Judas is seen as a clandestine spy among the disciples. The two stories are tied together by Judas, first in his objection to wasting the expensive oil on Jesus, then in asking the chief priests how much they would pay if he delivered Christ into their hands.
Today, as I meditate on the realities we’re facing with the COVID crisis, it weighs in as a “big heavy.” Heavy because we’re not on the hump of a hill; we’re in the valley of the shadow of death. For many, it will be actual death.
I can’t see Easter yet. What I see is tomorrow’s graveside service, where I will serve as a masked and gloved pallbearer at the social-distancing graveside of my beloved mother-in-law. Perhaps on Sunday, I will rejoice over Eleanor Wiebe’s resurrection. But today, I don’t get to skip the “big heavy.”
On this COVID Wednesday, I am grateful that Jesus doesn’t come to me with the false comfort of “cheer up, you know how this ends!” His Father didn’t inflict such platitudes on his sorrowing soul. Instead, Christ felt the “big heavy” of his own pre-sanctified burial and the “gut punch” of a beloved friend who betrayed him.
It was all foreshadowed and prefigured “according to the Scriptures.”
- Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver. Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the lordly price at which I was priced by them. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord, to the potter (Zech. 11:12-13).
- If someone asks, “What are these wounds on your body?” they will answer, “The wounds I was given at the house of my friends” (Zech. 13:6).
- If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me, I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend,
with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God,
as we walked about among the worshipers (Psalm 5:12-14).
Knowing it would be a “big heavy” ahead of time did not make Christ’s burden or betrayal any less heavy. Knowing Easter was coming did not alleviate the weight of his grief or bypass his Cross.
Sometimes, we just have to sit with the sadness of lost loved ones, lost relationships, lost wages, lost jobs … but we’re never truly alone. Christ bore our grief and all of our sorrows, not so that we wouldn’t have to, but so we’d never have to grieve alone.
Jesus mourned so that we could be comforted. Comfort is not an anesthetic that numbs our pain. It is a tender love that comes alongside us to share in our sorrow and reminds us, “You’re not alone. I’ve been there. And I’ll sit with you.”