A few years ago, I worked on an exercise where you ask yourself, “What would I do if I only had a week left to live?” You then answer that for a month, a year, five years, and a life.
It was a good exercise. I learned some things about what I thought was important.
And then I started thinking. How would Jesus answer the question, “What would I do if I only had a week left to live?”
We have the details, of course. We’re moving into Holy Week, the week between Palm Sunday and Good Friday. And this is the most documented week of his life. I thought it would be interesting to see what Jesus did.
This week, I’d like to point out four things that Jesus did during his last week.
1. That week, Jesus stayed in conversation with God.
Those of us who are familiar with the story of the last supper might remember that after they had eaten, Jesus and 11 of his disciples went to the Mount of Olives, to the Garden of Gethsemane.
This week, I noticed that when Luke describes that trip, he says, “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives.” I thought, “as usual?”
So I reread the story of the whole week. And Luke says that during that week, “Each day Jesus was teaching at the temple, and each evening he went out to spend the night on the hill called the Mount of Olives.”
Jesus spent the nights that week talking with God. It was part of his usual practice, by the way, to go away and pray. It happens often through the Gospels. In fact, John quotes Jesus saying that every teaching was at the Father’s direction. Perhaps a little like talking to the coach in the press box who sees the whole field. Perhaps like the best friend who gives courage, not able to take your place but with you, anticipating your needs.
But deeper than either of those.
We know about the prayer struggle of the last night in the garden, but that’s just the glimpse that the father and son permitted, like a presidential photo opportunity after the hard work behind closed doors.
If you are in a hard week, if you want to make the most of your last week, stay in conversation with God.
(First published 2017)