In this Holy week I’ve been pondering the events of Jesus’ last two days, and remembering.
I remember how He celebrated Passover with His disciples that Thursday evening. How He ate and drank with them. How He gave thanks–the hardest eucharisteo. And then how He washed their feet.
I remember how they wondered–how they were confused and didn’t understand.
Why would He do such a thing?
Why would HE wash their feet?
Why would a King do that?
Jesus modeled a servant’s heart, and He began to explain His desire for them to serve too.
He predicted His own betrayal and told them what was about to happen—that His betrayal and death were near.
Still, they had no comprehension of what was in store.
I remember how they left the upper room and how they probably walked in the cool of that spring evening, down the hill of the Kidron Valley and through the vineyards.
I imagine Him pausing by the vines that were full of spring grapes and I can almost hear how he called them over.
I imagine Him leaning in close, just as you would talk to your closest companion before you died, how you would tell them the most important things–whatever you longed for them to always remember.
And in the cool of that Thursday evening He said to them,
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. This I command you, that you love one another. John 15:5,7-14,17 (NASB)
They were to abide in His love.
And I’m sure they wondered,
How do we abide?
And Jesus went on to explain that the abiding comes in the keeping of His commandments.
And what was His commandment?
To love. They were to love as He had loved.
And surely they knew of His love first hand. They spent the past years with Him, experiencing Him. And now He was asking them to love, to obey, to abide.
And it was then, after He asked, they all pledged their allegiance to Him.
Yet again, He predicted the betrayal, but Peter insisted it wouldn’t be so. He denied and dismissed the possibility. “Not me!” he said.
They continued on to the Garden of Gethsemane, with its dirt paths and olive trees. And Jesus prayed there, begging the Father for another way.
Then, the guards seize Him right there in the garden. And after one of those with Jesus chops a soldier’s ear off, Jesus puts it back on and heals that soldier. And He commands them to stop the fighting, to stop resisting.
They still don’t understand the Kingdom Jesus is establishing. They have no comprehension that He is bringing a spiritual Kingdom–a Kingdom that would conquer the sin of Adam and the spiritual death that sin had brought. Jesus is ushering in a new Kingdom–not a physical Kingdom–that will set all humanity free from spiritual death.
They arrest Him and Jesus appears before Annas and Caiaphas, the high priests.
Peter follows, lagging behind, and it isn’t long until Peter denies Jesus three times.
Then, in those early morning hours the rooster crows as Peter is in the midst of denying. Peter remembers Jesus’ words, and hangs his head in shame.
And while they have Him detained, they beat Him and flog Him. They mock Him and taunt Him, blaspheming him. And they crown Him with thorns that press sharp into His head.
Friday morning, Jesus appears before the Sanhedrin Council, then before Pilate, then Herod, and Pilate again. And Pilate offers to release Jesus, as was the custom during the season. But the crowd yells, “Crucify Him!” demanding the release of Barabbas instead.
Barabbas, which means, son of the father.
They release the ‘son of the father’ to the world, so that the Son of the Father could release the world from sin and death.
And so Pilate gives the order and delivers Jesus over to their will.
He carries His own cross down the Via Dolorosa–the way of suffering–with the help of Simon of Cyrene.
And during this Passover season–the very day the lambs are slaughtered–near the very hour the slaughtering traditionally begins,
Jesus is crucified. And the perfect lamb of God dies on Golgotha’s cross.
Jesus dies for the sins of the world.
Our Passover lamb is slain. The perfect spotless lamb, atoning for all time, the sin of all people.
And I’m remembering today…
How He endured.
How the most profound love of all time was manifested in Him.
How He really did come to serve and give His life as a ransom for many.
How His words to His disciples, are His words to me, to us all.
By this all men will know that you are My disciples,
if you have love for one another.
John 13:35 (NASB)
And I am longing to be more, longing for us all to be more, yearning for us to respond to His great love.
Unlike the disciples, may we understand Him.
May we not deny Him, but instead emulate Him.
And may we live our lives in a way that shows we are His, by loving as He loved.
In a practical way, how does loving like Jesus look in your life?
How is it your sacrifice of thanks?
What one thing can you do this week?