I like padded pews, not that I get to sit in them since I’m the preacher. But they provide a measure of comfort that seems legitimate given how hard it is at times to listen to a preacher. You deserve a padded pew. At the least though, a preacher ought to preach the Gospel in a way that makes the pad necessary and I don’t mean by that the kind of hellfire and brimstone beating people in the name of Jesus sermons I heard growing up. I mean sermons that call us to the justice and peacemaking Gospel Jesus preached even before there was a crucifixion.
Speaking of which, we’re getting close to the Easter High Holy Sunday and as you know, you can’t really get to Resurrection Sunday without passing through Thursday and the Garden of Gethsemane, betrayal and Friday’s catastrophe of blood and shattered body that was the flogging and crucifixion. But like padded pews, lots of folks–both liberal and conservative–try to pad the Gospel and reduce Jesus to an ethical teacher or a prosperity salesman. It will be very important in the coming days and weeks as we approach Golgotha that we listen to the Christ and all he had to say about servant-ministry and sacrificial love. Martin Luther King summed it up well when he said, ‘When I took up the cross I recognized it’s meaning. The cross is something that you bear, and ultimately, that you die on.’ We are all not called upon to give up our lives as King or Christ did, but we darn sure ought to get a splinter now and then from following the Crucified Lord.
Be awake. Be alert. We are following Jesus to Jerusalem. We will sit in the upper room and commune with him. And a time will come when we are tempted to betray him, to run from him, even before the rooster crows for the rising sun. It is time to weigh our souls in the balance and find our way to a Holy place. Easter is coming. First, however, there is a Thursday night of betrayal and a Friday noon of nails.