jesus blinched (or: why i love maundy thursday)

"You  only blinched inside," said Pooh, "and that's the bravest way for a Very Small Animal not to  blinch  that  there is."

as a lapsed agnostic christian (I KNOW, right? like there are agnostic christians “in good standing?”), this might sound strange, but maundy thursday is a really important (obscure religious) holiday for me.

my (south glastonbury congregational) church held a somber candlelit service on maundy thursday evenings. they became a special thing i would do with mom. but what caught my heart wasn’t the sip of “wine,” the melancholy tone or the rare quiet darkness in church. what stays with me to this day is the abject humanity of jesus in the stories of the last supper, the betrayal, the denial and above all, in gethsemane.

he’s human. he’s sad. he’s stoic and humble and passionate, as ever. but he also aches, and let’s us know. he’s alone… his closest disciples cannot even stay awake even though he’s admitted to them how freaked out and upset he feels about what is coming.

“Could you not watch one hour with me?”

despite his entreaties, they fall asleep repeatedly. he’s alone. he’s scared. and while he bears up in his particularly jesus-y way and goes on into the morning of the passion, for a moment he does blinch inside.

“If it be thy will, let this cup pass from me”

he’s asking to sit out the round. he’s asking for a literal passover (the last supper was a seder, no?) from the suffering he knows to be his fate. he’s all “look it’s cool, i’ll do it if that’s what you need me to do, but, um, err…”

it makes the parables and the sayings and the lessons so much more real. it casts into stronger relief the many stories that sound so ridiculously “holier than thou” that it’s hard for the average person to relate to behaving in the ways jesus modeled. the many many times he does not blinch. it makes me connect to the human being inside those stories with so much more credence and interest.

“sad superman”

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7 thoughts on “jesus blinched (or: why i love maundy thursday)

  1. Inspired storytelling that catches, colloquially and personally what Maundy Thursday has been like for me.

  2. Love this–nicely retold and personalized, in a way that grabs. Leaves me thinking you are not so lapsed as you might think (I am UCC here in Calif, btw). Off to Maundy Thurday service this eve. 🙂

  3. Laura. We add so many layers. We repaint and repaint and in the process, we obscure the original masterpiece. Usually not malicious, mind you, but the effect is the same. You scratched through the layers.

  4. Agreed. I have always felt this was the most moving part of the bible… even moreso than the actual crucifiction itself. I always get a little choked up when I think about it. That Jesus was alone and afraid and vulnerable that night in the garden somehow makes him a little more heroic and a lot less arms length as figure to identify and look up to.

  5. Love it. Makes me more thoughtful about Jesus’ full humanity. Maundy Thursday shows me Jesus at eye level. Lots of empathy. It also helps me see the beauty of the "rest of the story" taken in context with Good Friday and Easter Sunday: Jesus agonized, suffered and died in a fully human way. God sacrificed Him so my sins could be forgiven – a true Passover – and yet the sacrifice didn’t stay dead in the grave. He rose from the grave so I don’t have to stay spiritually dead: I can become spiritually alive. Our sins can be forgiven.

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