Throwback Thursday or #TBT is an internet trend used on social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. On a Thursday, users will post nostalgia-inducing pictures – from a different era of their life, accompanied by the hashtag #TBT or #ThrowbackThursday. Today being a Thursday, I expect more of that.
However, on this end, I want to reflect on some bittersweet experiences. It is bitter because the one who went through it had to endure and hang in beyond superhuman efforts. It is sweet because it changed the historical possibilities of everyone who has ever lived in the world in a way that nothing else can ever do. I’m talking about a Thursday 1,991 years ago, in the garden of Gethsemane. A Thursday that preceded the antitypical Easter weekend; which is now celebrated in types.
On that fateful day, Christ harboured grief that could not be expressed in words. He knew he was facing the finals of the great controversy that began in heaven. It was the final duel in the grand plan of redemption. He had known that He will need to face this moment and he knew how frustrating it would be. Every passing minute was burdensome.
What if Christ had to update His timeline on a TBT? What could he have said about this particular Thursday?
I want to take the painful duty of taking a first-hand experience of how this particular Thursday could have been for Christ. I want to share with you the first-person imagination:
“We were settling in Jerusalem for the Passover meal with the twelve. It was going to be the final dinner with them and also their graduation having walked with me for three and a half years in ministry. I had seen them grow from common men to men who can be relied upon. They were not thoroughly furnished, but I was proud of the steps they had taken, save for one man Judas. All my efforts to help him change from his love for gain were failing and he was going to lose it. I had kept reminding the twelve that one of them would betray me, and this I did collectively not singling out Judas, but he who needed this warning the most, paid the least attention. It was so painful that he came to the Passover meal having auctioned me and enlisted to betray me at a price of thirty pieces of silver. What is nostalgic about such a Thursday?”
“I manned up myself for the dinner table, and I could not bear it any longer. The thought that Judas was on the table yet he had booked an appointment with my enemies really pained me, yet more so was that having walked with me all the while, even when people were quitting the course, he didn’t get the benefits of walking with me. He seemed to be in a hurry. Any slight delay was so much an inconvenience to him that he kept checking the time. Yet I would not leave him unwarned. If not for him, then the warning would benefit the rest. I could see they were noticing my struggles and uneasiness.”
“While everyone was settled, I could not help but say it loudly, and I could not hide the pain from them anymore. “I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He. Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me.” When Jesus had said these things, He was troubled in spirit, and testified and said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”
The twelve looked at each other, everyone bewildered. I had been telling them this same thing, and maybe they thought it was symbolic language. Painfully enough, Judas also looked shocked, and he was sitting on a cheque he had counted my worth. The little John, who was to me like my own son, looked at me and leaned on my bosom, and with a breaking heart, asked me who was the traitor in the camp. How could I hide it from him? I had seen him grow from the son of thunder to a loving and lovable disciple. “It is he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it,” I told him.
I dipped a piece of bread and gave it to Judas, who kept on asking me, “Is it I Lord?”, and He left and vanished into the darkness. I had my own troubles of the soul, but knowing that Judas had turned his back on me was an additional pain to the pain I was battling. I had to preserve his dignity among the eleven because my mission was to save the lost, not expose them, maybe we could meet again when he comes with his business partners.
Immediately we left for the garden. Many a time it had been a blissful haven of repose of tiresome labour, but this time around I struggled to take steps to the very place. I was comforted by the eleven who stood with me, yet I knew they were not ready for what awaited me, and so I had to excuse myself and go with Peter James and John, a little distance from the rest. But then, I felt I needed to excuse even the three, and asked them to pray with me as I took a step to talk to my father. But when I came back I found them asleep. They didn’t know the painful battles that awaited them. Only nature wept with me in the cooling dew to help me face the bitter cup.
The enemy had succeeded to delude the disciples into a stupor. He now pressed upon me the discouragements to let the ungrateful man face his own destiny. But realising that there was no more option out, strengthened me. I didn’t enlist myself to die for humanity because of their remorsefulness but because of their helplessness and desperation. The need was my reason to die for them. I can’t imagine how humanity will face the second death if they refuse to accept on their behalf my righteousness at all cost.
Judas arrived soon enough with a band of soldiers and the Priests. I came to save them from sin, and from themselves but they had set up a funeral committee to plan my dearth. Well, I had to die, so that they might live, but they took it differently that my very presence was the cause of their problems. Their salvation was my very life’s mission, but they were seeking salvation from my absence. The enemy had succeeded in misleading them, and this was because they refused to see the light that was available to them. Like Judas, they were running away from the light into deep darkness.
My heart was breaking especially when I saw Judas in the mob. He was going to act his part of feigning a friendly kiss as a way of telling me to the rebellious mob. He was imagining that I would just get myself away as they had witnessed before with the twelve. But he didn’t know that my work was done, and he would not have another privilege to undo the cup he was signing up for. It was time to seal my testimony with my own blood, and Judas refused to believe it. I could not help but ask Him a question, “Friend, where do you come from?” This proved an opportunity for him to do his part.
The commotion aroused the sleeping disciples and they came to stand with me, but what could they do? Peter was ready with his sword to fight for me. But it was not a war of flesh and blood. I wished he could have known better to pray, but he didn’t and I could not do much more for him than to release him and his colleagues and then go all the way to Calvary to die for them, so that they may live.
Then turning to the mob, I had to address them for I knew a lot of them were in error and deep darkness. Those who were supposed to lead them to the truth had brought them to arrest and kill the way, the truth, and life. Anyone in error and ignorance must know what cause he was taking, and the Priests must bear the inconvenience of misleading them. Turning to them, I addressed them boldly, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour and the power of darkness.” Everyone in that mob got to know what power they were aligning with, and none of them will be guilty of ignorance on the day of the final reconning.”
This is how it was for Christ, and the terrible TBT ushered in the Good Friday. No sinner needs to die because a saviour has died. As you remember your nostalgic moments in life, don’t forget to reflect on that Thursday on which Christ tasted the second death once for every man and nation.