Maundy Thursday - A Little While Longer
by Rachel Millican
Take a few minutes and read John 16:16-33.
Her fiancé’s photo stood in the old wooden frame on her dressing-table, beside the mirror and her veil. She stared for some time into the mirror, her dress so beautiful – it was simple but not plain. Timelessly elegant.
She knew she had to focus her mind and her heart as she waited for him. People who had initially congratulated her had recently begun to laugh at her for wearing her wedding gown now. Even her family. Even her closest friends. Some who had walked with her many years had turned on her in recent days, spitting out cruel vitriol against her belief that he was going to turn up.
“He’s gone!” they had snorted, “and he’s really not coming back! Move on!” They even seemed to take delight in her sorrow. Sometimes she just couldn’t stop the tears. And the horrible mocking would take up residence in her mind – where was he? Was he coming? Why wasn’t he here?
But, always, a soft wind would blow and a still voice would answer…
“Yes, in a little while…I’m on my way. Wait patiently. I’ve not forgotten you, nor the promises I made you.”
He had sent her texts, loads of them, words that locked themselves into the deepest cavities of her soul. When she received his words, she could feel his nearness – so near – so here – that she might reach out her hand and touch him. That thought made her tremble, with joy.
“Keep your eyes on me. The world is in chaos. Oh, it’s groaning and heaving towards the end. I hear its low moaning noises as it labours towards that day. But, my bride, that end is only a beginning – our wedding day, when we shall see each other face to face. Remember, I am the one who made this covenant with you and I am a faithful husband. There is no one like me. Draw close, my bride, and wait in the shadow of my coming, for just a little while.”
In that shadow, peace envelops her mind and joy is folded into her being. The voices around her continue their taunts but her ears are tuned to the words of her lover, the song of her saviour:
“And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.”
Christian, you are betrothed to him.
You are betrothed to the One who leads his friends to weep and lament, watching from a distance, hearing from strangers that this provocative rabbi - the Nazarene – has finally been taken by the authorities and been executed. He promises that your heart will be sorrowful. But this is a sorrow that no one can bear.
You are betrothed to the One who promised to turn all your sorrow to joy. Agonising sorrow, as the Messiah, the only Hope for mankind is abused and tortured and crucified. Oh, but then – Joy – when you see him once again! “Your hearts will rejoice,” he tells them.
He’s not wrong.
You are betrothed to the One who will love you to the end. Even when you “scatter” and try to run and leave him and harden your heart in fear and doubt – even then – he will not leave you. The One who says, “Yet I AM not alone, for the Father is with me,” invites you in this blood-bought covenant relationship.
So, be of good courage, betrothed Christian, listen to his voice: “In ME you have peace.” IN him. This is the good news – you are in him – and there is real peace here. The world will harass you and distress you, but you, beloved of the LORD, you can stand in the truth he has told us, “Take heart, I have overcome the world!”
Listen – I hear the sound of the wedding song, in the distance…
Just a little while longer.
So, let us wait, a little while, for he is the sublime truth of the known and unknown universe and the almighty lover of our souls; he can be trusted to the end. And in that new beginning, we will gather in joy, all our sorrow fleeing away, no more tears, Christian, no more tears.
Come, Lord Jesus.