Walking with Jesus through Pascha

Orthodox Christian Pascha Week, a time that the Church walks with Christ through each step of His final days in the flesh, is a period of the year that many people experience spiritual renewal and revival.  Christians throughout the world take leave from work, spend additional time in prayer and fasting, and go to Church multiple times during the week and sometimes even each day.  Whereas the early Christians visited and prayed at each site where the events of the week originally took place in Jerusalem, Orthodox Christians today seek to do the same within the context of the church building.  In light of this upcoming time of remembrance, I want to consider the question what does it mean to walk with Jesus?

 

Walking with God

In the first Book of the Bible, God establishes a relationship with humans that is described in an intimate manner.  We are told that God  was with humanity “walking in the garden in the cool of the day.”[1] To walk with another person is to have a relationship of intimacy with them.  When God extends His invitation to humans to walk with Him, we should remember that is predicated on His extraordinary love to us. The first person in the Bible that is described as one who walked with God is Enoch.  “After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”[2]  Uncovering the true delight of walking with God, Enoch learned the beauty of communing with Him through every facet of life; as a result, he is taken up to glory.  Let me just clarify that God is not saying to us:

     + Get impressed with Enoch’s piety

     + Get pious and you will be taken up to heaven too

     + Or walk with Me and you’ll be provided with wealth and health

I believe what God is saying is I love to walk with humans and I made Enoch – the first human who truly walked with Me – an example by doing something extraordinary with him, in order that you may know how much I value walking with you!  In other words, God is not inviting us to just remember some past events, but to actually live with Him and experience Him each day.

 

Going Beyond Memory

Following the events of September 11, 2001, the slogan Never Forget quickly made its way to billboards, t-shirts, and bumper stickers.  These two words meant vastly different things depending on who you asked:

Remember: I will always remember the events of the day.

Fight: If I ever see the people that carried out 9/11, I’ll kill them.

Honor: I hope my life can honor their lives in some way.

How does the Bible convey remembrance?  I was recently blessed to hear one of the most powerful euloProverbs 31gies in my life. The woman who delivered the eulogy, speaking about her sister-in-law, described her as a servant of God, a woman of elegance and a Proverbs 31 woman.  She then gave a call to all the women at the wake to honor the life of her sister-in-law by also living as Proverbs 31 women.  She communicated so effectively the Biblical idea of remembrance (ἀνάμνησις), as a means of invoking the real presence of the person (or event) in such a way that it impacts our lives.   In the words of Moses, “The Lord did not make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, those who are here today, all of us who are alive.”[3]  The covenant was not just something to be remembered as a past event but it was to be experienced and lived out by the current generation walking with God.  Likewise, Pascha week is not just a time to remember some extraordinary events from 2,000 years ago, but rather it is a time to walk with Jesus, and the people He interacted with along the way.

Walk through Pascha Week

St. Gregory of Nazianzus, a 4th Century Bishop of Constantinople (modern day Istanbul) invites us to walk with Christ, as if we are the people themselves that He interacted with:

If you are a Simon of Cyrene, take up your cross, and follow Christ.  If you are crucified beside Him like one of the thieves, now like the good thief, acknowledge your God…If you are a Joseph of Arimathea, go to the one who ordered Christ’s crucifixion, and ask for His Body. If you are a Nicodemus…bring spices and prepare Christ’s body for burial.  If you are one of the Mary’s, or Salome, or Joanna, weep in the early morning.  Be the first to see the stone rolled back, and Jesus Himself.[4]

Who-Are-You

It begs the question, are you a Simon of Cyrene, a person that was just minding their own business and got pulled into a relationship with Jesus?  Are you a crucified thief – a guilty person deserving of death, rejecting and scandalizing Jesus – who has their life transformed after examining Christ?  Perhaps you are a Joseph of Arimathea, wealthy and comfortable, but moved to offer your resources in an act of service to Christ? Are you a Mary or John the beloved standing at the foot of the cross? Are you a Joanna, a Salome, a Peter?  What do you see? Maybe you are a Judas, a Herod, a Pontius Pilate, or a Chief Priest?  How will you respond?

 

How Will You Respond?

God is inviting you to walk with Him through Pascha week, through each day of your life, and through the scriptures.  As you walk with Christ, reflect and realize more about who He is and your relationship with Him. If you have been far from God, He is inviting you to walk back home like the prodigal son.  If you are walking with Him, He is inviting you to commune with Him more intimately day-by-day. To answer the question, what does it mean to walk with Jesus? we must also ask ourselves the two questions, who are you? And how will you respond to Him?

 
Question to Ponder

Who are some of the people Christ interacted with that you relate to?  Who are you?

How do you believe God is calling you to respond?

 

[1] Genesis 3:8

[2] Genesis 5:22-24

[3] Deuteronomy 5:3

[4] St. Gregory of Nazianzus, 2nd Oration (23-24)

3 Comments

  1. Inspiring, thank you!

    I once gave a talk about Who Are We in the Nativity scene but I love this challenge of walking through the Pasha week with Christ and considering how would we respond. So many players, so many different perspectives, so many opportunities to be His.

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