Jesus sends his apostles to make preparations for the passover meal and while they eat, he institutes a meal that my tradition commemorates every Sunday and every Christian church celebrates at some time. In the midst of what is to come and betrayal that is at hand, Jesus takes time to have a meal and share with his closest friends, all the while giving them something that they will be able to hold onto even after his death, after his resurrection, and after his ascension. The meal still holds today for the church. This is not a funeral dirge type meal. It is festive and meaningful. There is laughter at the table, stories being told. There is also anxiety and many questions. Jesus takes the opportunity to finally set up what God has been wanting to do this entire time. Jesus is being set as the savior and focus of God as the true Messiah that demands our attention and our worship forevermore. The bread is his body that will go on the cross as human. The cup is the blood that will be shed not to save himself, but to save all of humanity. This simple act of making something everyday, meaningful takes Jesus from head knowledge, something to be grasped, into a true savior that through his own flesh and blood becomes our gateway to God and a one-time sacrifice...our victor!
In an act of complete compassion and humility, Jesus takes the form of a servant, the lowest of servants, and gets down on his knees and picks up the dirty, nasty feet of his closest friends and disciples and begins with a towel and wash basin to change their souls from darkness and void to pure and Spirit infused. This one act of servanthood along with a command to follow this kind of way, gives us just what we need to know of Jesus. He did not come on Horse for war, he came on a donkey of peace. He didn't come to condemn and tear us down so we had no choice out of weakness to follow, but he came with tenderness and love to draw us into God's true nature. He came gently and would leave in brutality as a human. But as Divine he was in the beginning and would return for eternity. Life is not lived on a high and exalted platform, but on one's knees with the dirt of the world under their nose, so the stench of the world can be overtaken by the aroma of a perfect, compassionate, humble Christ. And only Jesus can wipe the nastiness of our life away, and yet finds us completely capable to do the same for others. That's the way of Christ, whether we can comprehend it or not.
Jesus is right where we would expect him to be as those come to betray and arrest. He is with His father in intimate prayer. This is a lesson to us all. Jesus in the midst of giving up his very own life for the salvation of humanity takes time to pray. It's pure. It's earnest. It's holy. If there were ever a call on our lives to pray, it is the example that Jesus leaves us before he left us. Pray and do it with your full being. Jesus prays for God's will, His obedience, His disciples, His enemies, and the world. What a humbling notion, to think that our very names were on Christ's lips before he gave his final breath up on the cross. That could change how we live for him. And well it should!
Maundy Thursday Readings: Matthew 26:17-27:26, John 13:1-38
Challenge: Rise up and show compassion to those "less" than you. Pray in great Earnest for the Kingdom of God and His will. Share a meal with those you love and let Jesus be the focus