What do you do when you are the Savior of the World, have a little over a week left to impart your message to your disciples and still have to make the journey to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover?

If you are Jesus of Nazareth, an itinerant rabbi and preacher, it appears you keep going about your business, even as you know you are about to face your own death.

On our calendar Palm Sunday arrives this Sunday. For Jesus and his disciples their journey to Jerusalem marked returning to a city that had attempted to stone Jesus earlier in his ministry. The twelve closest to Jesus had strong memories for that time. This place frightened the disciples even to the point of questioning Jesus' intention to return to Bethany, outside the city, to visit Lazarus, Mary and Martha to raise Lazarus from the dead. They had all survived that visit, Lazarus was brought back to life, his sisters were grateful to Jesus for saving their brother, but more ill will had been stirred up among the religious leadership. Jerusalem held great religious significance, but also intense political rivalries and fear that each Passover would only remind the Jewish people of a freedom from bondage that would never come again.

They were not alone on the road Thousands of Jewish pilgrims would be making their way to the city for the holiday. The road would have been hot and dusty, a grueling trip at best. Jesus' work with the twelve was almost completed as they traveled toward the City of Jerusalem, but His sense of urgency in letting His disciples know what they were about to walk into was clear to Him, if not to them. "And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them; and they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, 'Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and deliver him to the Gentiles; and they will mock him and spit upon him, and scourge him, and kill him, and after three days he will rise (Mark 10:32-34)."

As they all continue walking, only James and John, the sons of Zebedee, come to Jesus to ask him for leadership positions as his closest allies when he comes into his glory. "But Jesus said to them, 'You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized (Mark 10: 38)?" The two men assure Jesus that they can fulfill these obligations, but Jesus tells them that he cannot promise them any kind of permanent positions next to him because those places are prepared by someone else.

Next on their journey Jesus stops to help blind Bartimaeus, a fellow traveler on the side of the road looking for a handout who instead receives healing and a new way of life as a follower of Jesus.

The ordinary and the extraordinary seemed to have merged for the disciples. Was it so commonplace to be a part of Jesus' life that they no longer heard His words or their implications? Had healings become so usual that the disciples just assumed a few would happen every day? Perhaps those closest to Jesus were simply used to his language, aware of the danger they were always in, but also caught up in the mystery and power of this fist century celebrity with whom they had aligned themselves. Perhaps they were also weary and fearful that if they listened more closely to what Jesus was saying they would be too frightened to forge ahead. Ironic, then, that the only two who spoke to Jesus after hearing His profoundly prophetic words of what the days ahead would hold, chose to discuss their place with Jesus after all the messiness was done. The bickering among the twelve for position in Jesus' kingdom would eventually catch up with them at the Seder table later in the week.

I often wonder what Jesus thought as he laid his head down to rest that night. Would the disciples understand what he was saying to them in time to become the leaders Jesus needed them to be? How many more times did he need to tell them that he was about to be arrested and put to death? How would he get through any of this without knowing they were still with him? Perhaps prayer was his only answer, the one that gave him the comfort to fall asleep, rise the next day and continue on to Jerusalem.

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Bring authentic, meaningful faith into your daily life by visiting www.creatingwomenministries.com.