Blog 27: The EASTER Series (Part 1) Before I Leave You

How would you choose to spend you last day?

If you knew you would die tomorrow—how would you spend tonight?

Thankfully few of us know the day and time of our death. It's something that God in His mercy does not share with us.

But Jesus knew. He knew when and how he was to die.

'Today is passover—and tomorrow Good Friday.' Photo by Lucidwater on CanstockPhoto

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Jesus has been preparing his disciples over the previous weeks, about his imminent arrest, mock trial and ultimate death, on a cross. From my reading of the Gospels I get the feeling that His message was lost on this band of mismatched, argumentative and self opinionated men and women.

That was going to change … tomorrow. Their world would change for ever. But that was still an unknown future.

We cant stand in judgement on these people. We have 2,000 years of history, hindsight and the New Testament to base our faith on. Back then the family, disciples and followers of Jesus had none of that.

This was just another Passover in a list of many Passovers. An assumption can be made that Jesus, His parents, brothers and sisters, (Mark 6:3) attended the Passover celebrations in Jerusalem annually (Luke 2:42)

Last Sunday many within the Christian faith celebrated Palm Sunday. Jesus had entered into Jerusalem in triumph—a popular hero and potential King of the Jews.

I wonder what had gone through the disciples minds over the past four days.

Verification that Jesus was the long expected messiah was reinforced yet again when Jesus sent Peter and John (Luke 22:8) ahead of the main group to prepare for the Passover.

It wasn't so much the instruction to prepare, but the specific instructions on how to find the venue that was miraculous. (Luke 22:7—11). It must have reminded them of the Palm Sunday incident. (Matthew 21:1-11)

Servant leadership

Jesus knew before the Passover feast began that this time tomorrow, his body would be sealed in a tomb. Cold as death.

He knew that all hope and joy would have been shocked out of his disciples. The joy and excitement of the past week would be a dim memory, replaced by fear, shock, incredulity and hopelessness.

He also knew that he had two more lesson to teach those closest to him. Lessons lesson in servanthood and humility.

Peter and John had done an outstanding job organising the meal.

The welcome smell of roasting lamb filled the venue of the upper room. The bitter herbs, the wine, the vegetables, unleavened bread, eggs, salted water. The table was prepared and seating arrangements finalised.

Perhaps Jesus' mother, brothers and sisters were there too, after-all Passover was a family affair. Where there nephews and nieces too? We don't know. The Scriptures don't mention anything about this. All we know is that Jesus' disciples are mentioned.

However … one tiny detail had been missed, and it had to do with feet!

Social niceties of the day demanded that all visitors should have their feet washed before reclining to eat. That hadn't happened—perhaps the servant responsible had been called away. So no one had been allocated to do the 'washing-up'!

If the disciples noticed, no-one let on. The towel was there … the water jug was there. The only thing missing was someone to do the washing. No one said anything!

One by one they reclined at the table (This was before chairs became popular)

Just before the meal began, Jesus excused himself and embarrassed everyone!

He stripped down to his underwear, wrapped a towel around his waist, poured some water into a bowl and one by one he washed his disciples feet.

You could have heard a pin drop. That is until he came to Peter. Peter wasn't having any of that nonsense. (John 13:1—17)

That single act of servanthood changed the atmosphere of the meal in an instant. It was the God the Creator humbling Himself to the level of a servant. If you think that Servant Leadership is a new concept think again. Servant leadership was displayed that Passover evening and has been resonating through time until the phrase “servant leadership” was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in The Servant as Leader, an essay that he first published in 1970.

The Last Supper

The disciples … and Jesus had shared Passover before, probably three times as a group, and previously with their families.

Everyone present knew the time honoured rituals and symbols, but this Passover would be different. Jesus took something common and familiar and turned the symbolism on its head.

This was no longer about history. This was very present and very personal.

the Matzo bread—“This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” (Matthew 26:26)

The wine— “Drink from it, all of you. 28 This is my blood of the[a] covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:27—29)

Death and dying intensifies your thinking

Jesus had lived as a human for thirty something years, the last three in ministry. He preached, he healed and he offered hope and tomorrow he would die.

Death and dying intensifies your thinking—What was going on in Jesus' mind?

Reading the gospels it appeared that Jesus was focused. He wanted to leave a lasting legacy, something to remember Him by, until He came again (1 Corinthians 11:26).

Passover

Jesus chose to spend his last evening before His death celebrating with his friends and possibly family too.

A time to remember how God had delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, 1,500 or so years before. It was a time to look back with thankfulness and singing.

Jesus transformed Passover—looking backwards with thankfulness and anticipation into 'The Lords Supper'—Looking forward with thankfulness and anticipation.

At the time little did the disciples of Jesus know that Good Friday would be a turning point. It would be a nexus. Linking the past with the future.

It didn’t make sense at the time and wouldn’t for another four or five days.

There would be submission, hatred, betrayal, violence, trauma, conflict, reconciliation and an ending that is still and will continue to change the world.

But more of that tomorrow.

What did this remind you of?
  1. Do you stop and remember?

  2. Is The Thursday before Good Friday a special time for you?

  3. Take a moment to reflect on the price that Jesus was willing to pay to reconcile us to Himself.

Over to You

I welcome any comments you may wish to share below.

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