Borrowed Rooms. . .  

Mar 28, 2024 | WEEKLY WORD

There is a Christmas carol that I love to sing that begins with the words, 

Born in the night, Mary’s Child, a long way from your home;
Coming in need, Mary’s Child, born in a borrowed room.

The song captures this idea that Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were not in a place that belonged to them.  They were borrowing space in a stable.  

This isn’t the only time that Jesus ever did this. On the Thursday of Holy Week, we find Jesus and his disciples finding a borrowed room to eat the Passover meal.  

What is it about this great teacher and healer – someone who commanded the respect of crowds of people – needing to borrow space?  What is it about this Messiah – Son of the Most High God, as some people knew him – needing to borrow space?  

There are stories in the Gospels of Jesus inviting himself over to someone’s house or being a guest in someone’s house – borrowing spaces, just for a night or for a little while, on the way from one place to another.  On Palm Sunday, he even borrows a donkey.  

When it comes to borrowing a room for the Passover meal, it kind of makes sense.  In the Book of Exodus, when Moses instructs the people to eat their last meal in Egypt before their liberation, he tells them to eat their lamb, and herbs, and unleavened bread while dressed for travel:  “your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly,” (Exodus 12:11) Moses tells them.  The people are to eat with urgency because they are about to be set free – they are about to be on their way through the wilderness with the hope of a promised land in their future. 

Jesus sits down with his disciples to eat this freedom meal on the night before Jesus frees all the world from sin and death.  But, like their Israelite ancestors before them, Jesus and his disciples would go through a wilderness of their own before reaching the promised land of Easter morning.   

The stories of what happened on that first Maundy Thursday and Good Friday – starting in a borrowed room, and going out to a garden, and moving to imprisonment and death – are rich with meaning and hard to hear.  There will be some wilderness tonight – and tomorrow, and the day after that.  But we won’t stay in the wilderness, forever.  We are on our way, along with the disciples, setting our minds and hearts on the hope of God’s liberation. . . the hope of a promised land that will be found – after traveling through some dark days and nights – at the empty tomb and the good news of Easter morning.

Just in case you don’t remember, even the tomb was borrowed.  Jesus didn’t need it for long.

Let us not linger too long, here.  Instead, may God use this time and place and what we do here to strengthen and prepare us to go into the world – ready to see and share God’s liberation.  

See you on Easter Sunday!

Grace and Peace,

John


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