Summary: Poetic reflection for Maundy Thursday, in which the Jesus who is about to go to the cross tells His disciples that He knows their schemes to harm, their unwillingness to travel difficult roads, and their failure to accept the burden of testimony, so that
"Oh, I know your thoughts, and your schemes to wrong me.
... Have you not asked those who travel the roads, and do you not
accept their testimony?”
‘Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me, one who is
eating with me." They began to be distressed and to say to him
one after another, "Surely, not I?" He said to them, "It is one of the
twelve, one who is dipping bread into the bowl with me.”’
Surely, not I? Not I, Lord; surely, not I?
I know your schemes; you are transparent. Did you think
you could hide from Him who made you? Did you suppose
that your hearts were not open to me? When Adam wore
the fig leaf, did I not see his nakedness? When Eve hid in
the garden, did I not find her wantonness?
I know you. I know your schemes. You are transparent. But
I also know how to touch your hearts. I know how to reach
your innermost being. Dip with me into the bowl of suffering
love and be changed.
I know your schemes to wrong me. I know that the heart of
man is deceitful above all things. I know that you want and
want and want more, and that when you do not have, you
grow fretful and impatient and treacherous. I know that as
you seized the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge
of good and evil, you seized the very place of God. You
chose to take unto yourself the things that belong only to
heaven. You chose to deal in death. You schemed to kill –
Abel first, then others, many others, hundreds of others,
thousands. You schemed to kill.
You schemed to kill Esau by taking his birthright, and you
schemed to kill Jacob for revenge. You schemed to kill
Joseph’s brothers’ spirit with dreams of splendor, and then
you schemed to kill Joseph when those dreams hit home.
You schemed to kill Hebrew babies when their strength
threatened you, and you schemed to kill the Egyptian and
spill his blood on the desert sand. You schemed to kill
Goliath when his power challenged you, and you schemed to
abandon Uriah when you wanted his wife. And then you
schemed to bring down David, rebellious Absalom that you
are. I know your schemes, your schemes to wrong me.
You schemed to slaughter, in my name, and claim others’
lands; you called it a Crusade. You schemed to enslave, in
my name, those you called pagan Africans, and said it was
God’s will. You schemed to destroy six million, a holocaust,
and called it solving the Jewish problem. You schemed to
take everything possible – thirty pieces of silver and much
more – and called it free enterprise. You schemed to strike
towers, to bomb cities, to spread disease. I know your
schemes to wrong me.
Surely, not I? Ah, but yes. Yes, more than Judas and his
greed, more than Judas and his impatience, more than
Judas and his misguided mind. Though all sit at the table
and wonder, “Surely, not I?” I know your schemes to wrong
me, for at your core you want to be like God, determining life
and death on your own.
What shall I do with you? Shall I judge you? Mercy is not
cheap. It is costly. The only answer is the Cross. Dip with
me into the bowl of suffering love and be changed.
I know your schemes. I know your schemes to wrong me.
Have you not asked those who travel the roads? Have you
not asked those who have traveled wearying, toilsome
Have you not asked Father Abraham, as he set out from his
father’s house in Ur of the Chaldees, to go to a land he knew
not? Have you not asked Jacob, fleeing a brother’s wrath,
whose road took him to a wrestling match at Jabbok? Have
you not asked Joseph’s brothers, trekking back and forth
from Canaan to Egypt, from hope to disappointment? Have
you not asked those who travel the roads?
I know your schemes. You want it easy. You want to sail on
flowery beds of ease. You want a straight and open
highway. You have walked a little way, only a little way, only
as far as Gethsemane, but now you sleep. You say you are
tired. You believe you have been faithful. But I know your
schemes. You want privilege and power, you desire comfort
and certainty. Have you not asked those who travel the
roads? Who tread along in pain and struggle? Who would
not give up when the way grew long and hard?
Have you not asked Francis of Assisi, who set aside position
and power, shoes and fine clothes, to enter a life of service