Holy Week Maundy Thursday 1st
Maundy Thursday 1st April
Hymn392: When I survey the wondrous cross (to start service)
Hymn 378: Praise to the holiest in the heights (for communion)
Matthew 26: 57-67
Those who had arrested Jesus took him to the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the teachers of the Law and the elders had gathered together. Peter followed from a distance, as far as the courtyard of the High Priests house. He went into the courtyard and sat down with the guards to see how it would all come out. The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some false evidence against Jesus to put him to death; but they could not find any, even though many people had come forward and told lies about him. Finally two men stepped up and said, “This man said ‘I am able to tear down the God’s Temple and three days later build it up again.”’ The High Priest stood up and said to Jesus, ‘Have you no answer to give to the accusation against you?’ But Jesus kept quiet.
Tonight, in our reflections before communion, we will be looking at that single phrase, ‘Have you no answer to give to the accusation against you?’
Hymn392: When I survey the wondrous cross
At one level this is such a simple reflection. The High Priest has given him an impossible dilemma. The accusation has been put to Jesus that effectively he has said that he is the Messiah, because only God’s Messiah could have the power to tear down the Temple and rebuild it.
Everyone knows that if Jesus said this statement then he was talking about reforming the temple, that the way the Temple was run is not set in stone, within a short period of time reforms could be made that make the Temple more the way God wants it to be. These are sophisticated men that would have used such phraseology themselves. What’s more most of the people there would know and want the Temple to reform.
But the way the question has been put, ‘Are you the Messiah?’ Has rigged the question
If Jesus says YES then he is condemned because he has not gone to the religious leaders to seek their acknowledgment, therefore he must be a false Messiah for why would the true Messiah not work through God’s Temple people, so Jesus must be a false Messiah and be condemned. If Jesus says NO then he is admitting that he has been pretending to be the messiah and in fact he is a false Messiah and must be condemned.
So he says nothing. For there is no answer that they want to hear that will change anything for the better.
Heads they win, Tails you lose.
And that is all very clever, but what about when God is silent to us? What about when we are craving answers and God gives us the silent treatment? What about when we say to God, , ‘Have you no answer to give to the accusation against you?’
For we often in our desperation accuse God. If God could have done something, then why didn’t he?
Pick any scenario...
Why is my mother dying of cancer?
Why did my wife leave me?
Why was it me that was made redundant?
Why am I so unhappy?
Is the answer that God doesn’t reply because we are more shouting at God with frustration rather than seeking an answer?
What if God gave us an answer but we didn’t want to hear it?
Your mother is dying of cancer because she smoked too much,
Your wife left you because we were always tired when you came home from work and just sat every night with a malt whisky in our hand.
You were made redundant because the management thought you were lazy compared to others so the firm used the recession as an excuse to get rid of the dead wood, you.
You’re so unhappy because your expectations are too high. You’re not content with what you need to get by; you want to live in the lap of luxury.
Does that sound too hard, is it God doesn’t answer us because we don’t want an honest answer?
Or that God won’t answer because we would find the answers unfair, unreasonable, because we are not ready for honest answers. Maybe we don’t really want answers; we just want the pain to go away. We are not ready to take action or to face changes or to step out of our comfort zone, even if that comfort zone is a difficult place. We just want to feel numb for a while, to let the pain and sorrow and hurt wash over us. We might be happy with the childish pretence that if we close our eyes it will just go away.
True healing may take time and reflection and changing how we do life, and we are not ready for that yet, we don’t want to face that possibility. If that was true, how would you respond if you were the one that God gave those honest answers to? If you were the one that God was silent to because you weren’t ready to face self reflection and change how would you respond?
But you could still have done something, you’re God.
Why didn’t you heal my mum of the cancer, or inspire her not to smoke in the first place?
Why didn’t you make my wife tell me she was unhappy years before she left so I could have done something?
Why did you give me such a boring job that I wasn’t motivated?
Why couldn’t I have a bit of luxury, I haven’t done anything wrong? Why is it is that I don’t get what I want while those that don’t care seem to get everything they want?
Are we really saying that at that time of frustration God doesn’t respond because we don’t really want answers? Are we really saying that that at that time of desperation God is just giving us space to vent our frustrations? Are we really saying that at that time of need we should be happy with his silence?
Or maybe God does answer, just not in the way we expect.
Here is my Body, broken for you. Here is my blood, shed for you. I will do whatever it takes for you to find healing. I will be here until my body is spent; I will be here until my blood runs dry.
I am here with you, I am here for you. Together we can face this. Together we can learn from this. Together we can grow from this.
Maybe this is God’s answer.
Let us reflect on this as we share communion. If you haven’t already found some bread and something to drink we would suggest that you pause the video and get some then restart the reflection.
Hymn 378: Praise to the holiest in the heights (verses 1-3)