Holy Thursday begins the series of events that will lead up to Easter. The fact that Jesus already knew He was about to be betrayed, arrested, beaten, and crucified makes the significance of all His actions even more powerful. His discipline and commitment inspire me, and it is in His actions and demeanor during the next two days that I wish to be like Him most. Most of us have a hard a time getting out of bed in the morning just to go to work, but not Jesus. He already knew of the terrible suffering He was about to experience, yet He still hopped up out of bed, turned His Holy swag on, looked in the mirror, and said “What’s up!”
I want to stop right here and say that I wouldn’t exactly call myself of a fan of Soulja Boy. I am not comparing him to Jesus, and certainly I am not trying to disrespect, blaspheme, or water down what Jesus did by quoting a Soulja Boy song. But if you let me, I would like to imagine that maybe Jesus would be singing *parts* of this song. The lyrics are too fitting with lines like “I got a question, why they hatin on me?” or “When I was 9 years old I put it in my head, I’ma die for this gold,” and of course “I know a lot of y’all thought I wasn’t coming back, I had to prove ’em wrong!” Back to the story…
The Gospel of John gives us the story of how Jesus took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and washed the disciples feet. Jesus did this to teach by example that we must all be servants and love each other. It was also a symbolic method of washing them clean. It’s interesting to note the similarities between this action, and the instructions God gave to Moses for Aaron to follow on the day of atonement.
“When Aaron goes back into the Tabernacle, he must take off the linen garments he was wearing when he entered the Most Holy Place, and he must leave the garments there. Then he must bathe himself with water in a sacred place, put on his regular garments, and go out to sacrifice a burnt offering for himself and a burnt offering for the people. Through this process, he will purify himself and the people, making them right with the Lord.” Leviticus 16:23-24 NLT
Washing and sacrifice were necessary for the people to be reconciled with God, and I think this it what Jesus was doing.
After the foot washing, came the Last Supper. One I thing I love about Jesus was that He liked to eat! Unfortunately on this night, John says that Jesus was greatly troubled. This is were we begin to see the human side of Jesus. All 4 gospel’s tell us that Jesus identifies Judas as the one that would betray Him. The Gospel of John says that at the moment Jesus handed Judas a piece of bread to identify Judas as the betrayer, Satan entered Judas, and Jesus said to him “Hurry and do what you are going to do.” Jesus is always in control, even during the time of his betrayal.
How many times have you said, or heard people say, “The devil made me do it.” I think this excuse started with Judas, but the truth of the matter is we cannot excuse what he did and blame it all on the devil. Judas already had the intentions, he put himself in the position to be overtaken by the devil, aka temptation/ sin.
Jesus also lets Peter know that he will do his own kind of betrayal. After Peter saying that he would die for Jesus, Jesus crunches him by saying “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter – before the rooster crows tomorrow morning you will deny three times that you even know me.” Ouch! These days, we have too much fear to say we don’t know Jesus, but we do it all the time by our actions. We are all like Peter.
After Jesus teaches over dinner, they leave to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus tells the disciples to sit and watch while He prays. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus admits to Peter, James, and John that His “soul is crushed with grief.” Of course, He grieved because of what was about to happen to Him but I also think that He grieved because He knew that some people would not accept His sacrifice, and some of us would take it for granted.This section has to be the most open and transparent view of Jesus that I have ever read. He pleads to God 3 times by saying “everything is possible for you. Please take this cup of suffering away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Jesus was so distraught that we are told He sweat drops as blood. I think about this and get mad whenever I see Christians look down on other Christians for feeling discouraged or worried about their situations. Jesus in His human form was troubled by what was about to happen, but he prayed and asked for help and trusted God to do what He said He would. Faith is not about being emotionless, its about accepting that the situation does not dictate the outcome. God will always deliver.
The time came when Judas shows up to betray Jesus with an army of men with swords and clubs. Judas identifies Jesus to the mob by kissing Jesus on the cheek. The Gospel of Luke tells us that one of the disciples, most likely Peter, attacks one of the angry mob members and slashes off his ear. But Jesus stops the fight and heals the mans ear. Now, of all of Jesus’ healing miracles, this one stands out the most. He stopped and healed a man that was there to arrest and kill him. Who does that? He was on a mission to heal and redeem, and He didn’t let His circumstances stop Him from doing what He needed to do.
The mob takes Jesus away, and Peter denies Him 3 times. After the 3rd denial, a rooster crows and at the moment, Jesus looks up at Peter. Can you imagine what Peter must have felt? He wept bitterly. Most of us don’t even recognize that we deny Him every day. We certainly don’t weep bitterly after we do it.
Jesus knew the whole time He would be betrayed by Judas, and denied by Peter. Yet He still washed their feet, prayed for them, shared food with them, and ultimately forgave them. The truth of the matter is that it didn’t really matter to Jesus because God’s plan could not be stopped. How many of us can sit at the same table as someone else that we know is about to do us harm, and still maintain our composure enough to serve them. Think about how that applies to people on your job.
Thank you Jesus! Thank you for being the example. Thank you for forgiving me no matter how many times I have betrayed and denied you. Thank you for your undying commitment and love. Thank you for praying for me, even when I fall asleep on you. Thank you for not treating me the way I deserve to be treated. Thank you for your unfailing love.
Tomorrow is Good Friday
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