“[Jesus Speaks a Third Time about His Death(; )] As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and spoke to them privately, as they walked along. Listen, he told them, we are going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the teachers of the Law. They will condemn him to death and then hand him over to the Gentiles, who will make fun of him, whip him, and crucify him; but three days later he will be raised to life.” Matthew 20: 17-19 GNT
In the months leading up to his death, Jesus worked to prepare his disciples emotionally for the events to come. He was a Master of the stages of grieving – after all, he had devised them as a way to help his creation to find their way from the pain of loss to purposeful living after the death of a loved one.
Denial – The disciples heard Jesus speak of his coming death, yet they refused to believe he would die. They saw him as the Messiah, the coming King who would put down the Roman rule and restore Israel to greatness. So they argued among themselves about who would sit on his right and left side.
Anger – During the last week of his life, we see the anger in the disciples. “You’re not going to die!” “If everyone else forsakes you, I’ll stand with you.” In anger, Peter even grabbed a sword in the Garden of Gethsemane to make a futile attempt to defend Jesus from the soldiers who came to take him.
Bargaining – At the last Passover meal which Jesus ate with the disciples, we see them become introspective and anxious when Jesus announces one of them is going to betray him. Perhaps they even wished they had not come to Jerusalem.
Depression – As Jesus hung on the cross, most of the disciples went into hiding, fearing for their lives, feeling the fear and confusion of loss. What Jesus had told them became reality and they felt hopeless and helpless to prevent it.
Acceptance – After He died, the fishermen-turned-disciples went back to their earlier occupation. Resigned to the fact that their Master was gone, they struggled to return to a normalcy in their lives.
But here’s where the stages of grief end and purposeful living begins. The Resurrection of Jesus restored their hope, their dreams, their joy! They were no longer resigned to life without Jesus; they were empowered by the resurrection power of Jesus in them. He was and is alive!
Lord, As we remember your death and resurrection this week, infuse us with your Resurrection power so we might live victorious, purposeful lives filled with hope, joy and meaning! Amen.