This morning I dropped my wife off at work and headed back towards home only to be stopped at a green light by a police officer directing traffic. When I came to a halt he was sending rush hour traffic heading south towards downtown through a red light. There didn't seem to be an accident in the intersection and he looked too old to be a trainee, but maybe, I thought, this is one more way the city is trying to cut down on rush hour traffic tie ups.
As the light kept changing and the officer kept the flow to the south uninterrupted while backing up all eastbound, westbound and northbound traffic, my initial explanation made no sense. Nothing seemed to. After seven or eight minutes of missing green lights, drivers were getting exercised and a few started to honk at the police officer. Even in those moments when the traffic going south had all but disappeared he kept our flow blocked.
I started to wonder if he was really even a legitimate police officer. Had the weather been better and the windows been down I am sure we'd have heard some pretty choice language. Behind the wheel of a car many of us can be pretty irrational and I half expected someone might just ignore him and go, but if they did, the officer was in a very precarious position.
Jesus entry into Jerusalem and then into the Temple stopped all the traffic at the beginning of Holy Week and a lot of folk were angry at Jesus. Yet day after day he came back to the Temple to teach, but as he did it was clear he too was in a very precarious position.
There were a number of people questioning Jesus' authority too. Who was he to be forgiving sins and to be healing on the Sabbath not to mention cleansing the Temple as he did? In Nazareth they had said, "Isn't this Joseph and Mary's son? Who does he think he is?" By the time he got to Jerusalem there were those who said he had a devil in him. They just wanted life to proceed as normal, and he was in the way. Before the week would end, Jesus would be as good as run over.
At first the sound was faint, but in no time the ambulance with its police escort came racing into view and it all started to make sense. The officer who had stopped the traffic was there to help save a life.
It wasn't clear to everyone in those days leading up to the cross, but Jesus had also come to save. He came to save the world from sin and death. As we gather through these evenings in Holy Week it is for some an opportunity to try to make sense of the mystery of Christ's death and resurrection, and for others a time to wonder afresh at God's love. But for all of us it is a signal to ignore the lights and the voices that say Go and Go faster and instead to stop and pray and listen anew to this One who comes to save the world.
Grace and Peace,