Holy Wednesday

IV

The Calm Before the Storm

On Wednesday, Jesus remained in Bethany, awaiting the completion of His ministry on earth and the hardship that would soon be upon Him. We know the disciples were with Him, and we know Judas was selling Him out to the Pharisees, but outside of that, we know very little. In fact, the Gospels say nothing in particular about what Jesus was up to on Wednesday, leading us to guess that for Him this was, in essence, the calm before the storm.

In the two days prior, Jesus had been in Jerusalem causing issues for the local authorities, making scenes in the Temple, and confronting the Pharisees head on. He incited a huge crowd to amass for His entry and cursed a tree. Now, the day before He knew He would be arrested and betrayed, He was back in Bethany laying low.

If you knew you had only days to live, what would you do?

Many say they would do something they’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet. Jesus, you might think, would be even more busy preaching and teaching, giving everything He had to Jerusalem while He could. But He wasn’t. For all we know He was quiet, not busying His last free day with anything. And when we think it through, should we be shocked by this? All throughout His ministry, Jesus had shown a tendency to pull away into quiet places to pray, especially before big moments. He even spent 40 days and nights in the wilderness before He started His ministry. Why should it surprise us He would withdraw before He knew His ministry was going to reach its climax?

But even if we can acknowledge this fits a pattern Jesus had shown, it’s still fair to ask, “Why?”

While we can’t be exactly sure what was in Jesus’s mind or what He was doing while He was alone, what we can guess is that Jesus was preparing for His suffering by spending time alone connecting with the Father. He was making Himself ready for all God had called Him to do by getting alone and setting His mind on the Father and accomplishing His will. Likewise, we today can participate in the disciplines of stillness, meditation, and prayer not only to center our focus on the Lord but also to help us remain calm in times of suffering.

So today, instead of examining ourselves in light of a specific event in Holy Week, we are going to take a time to practice stillness and meditation in the Word.

Find a nice quiet spot, read this passage from the Psalms, and connect with the Lord. You don’t have to pray. Let His presence surround you as you meditate on His Word. When you finish, spend some time literally doing nothing. Just be. Let the Lord fill your mind and set your thoughts on Him, His Word, and His will for your life.

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore. (Psalm 131:1-3 ESV)

Consider, dwell, and meditate on this verse. And feel free to turn to other verses you have memorized or passages that have impacted your life and let God’s Word renew your mind. If you want some questions to guide your thoughts, you can start with these:

  • What about the Lord’s character or the gospel is calming to me?
  • When has it been especially hard for me to trust the Lord? Why is that?
  • When faced with difficult decisions or significant moments in my calling, what would it look like for me to practice stillness before the Lord, trusting in His faithfulness?
  • What would it look like for me to be more faithful to the Lord in the moments of calm before significant moments in my life and calling?

If you’d like to continue your study on Holy Wednesday, here are some additional resources:

“The Final Days of Jesus: Wednesday,” a video by Crossway Publishing

“Spy Wednesday,” an article by Johnathon Bowers of Desiring God