March 25, 2013
This thing is going to hell in a handbasket.
No one knows who first used that “alliterative locution” (thanks Wikipedia) to describe a situation headed for disaster or without effort or in great haste.
Sometimes, you can see a train wreck coming (think: Sequester). Other times, it’s a tsunami-like experience that comes on you without warning and wipes from the map things that looked like they were set for the century.
There are other times when the “insiders” see the future, while the majority live in the grand delusion of the moment, clueless concerning what’s just over the horizon. Often, the multitude prefers to live in their bubble and not be confronted with the inevitable. The dumb tax is collected at the door; once paid, the party can become the anesthesia against the pain associated with reality.
If you turn to the politically-conservative media outlets, the daily headlines – for years, now – have been some version of Hell in a Handbasket – with details at the top of the hour.
Had you been around Jerusalem about 1,980 years ago, you might have been on the fringes of an incredible moment in Jewish cultural history. John wrote about it, decades later, when he recalled: “The next day the great crowd that had come for the festival heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the king of Israel!’” (John 12:12-13).
Get some pundits and scholars and cultural trendists together around a table and ask them what was going on, back then, in real time; they might have struck an optimistic tone and imagined that the long-awaited political messiah awaited by the Jews and feared by the Romans might have just appeared. This Jesus fellow had been building a movement for over three years, and he might just be coming into the swelling capital city during the biggest holiday period of their cultural calendar to present his agenda for Israel’s reemergence of independence.
The crowds were convinced of that, and the 12 men who had become a backdrop to Jesus’ public presence were, themselves, counting on it. It’s what they had traded their careers and personal agendas to gain; they saw the potential for personal power in the days just ahead. No one was clear about the details, but that didn’t matter: their dreams didn’t require line-item precision at that point. The blueprints would follow…
Everyone was upbeat… except the one who was being applauded. If you got close enough, you would see something unusual: he’d been crying. What did he have to weep about? Why, in the jubilance of the Jews, was “the king of Israel” despondent?
He could see the next few days unfolding… and he knew that this thing was going to hell in a handbasket. The term was 1,800 years future, but the path from the Triumphal Entry to the Executioner’s Cross was marked before him.
Why didn’t he just bolt? “… Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2) He was looking past the coming Friday, the weekend in death that followed, and to the real Triumphal Re-Entry into the Land of the Living, on Easter morning. Why does it matter?
“And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus… Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1-3)
You may be on the same course right now: on your way to hell in a handbasket. You have a Savior who knows what that feels like. His counsel: don’t miss Easter this Sunday. It’s the game changer…