As we read through the Scriptures, events begin to progress quickly beginning on Thursday. Jesus and His disciples observed the Feast of the Passover Thursday evening, marking the beginning of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. In Luke 22:15, we are told Jesus “eagerly desired” to eat the Passover meal with them. He looked forward to this intimate time with His disciples because He knew the suffering that awaited Him. He knew in 3 more days, they – and the world – would be changed forever.

 

Jesus’ Commands

When I was young, I remember this day being referred to as Maundy Thursday. I don’t hear that term much anymore, but the meaning still applies. “Maundy” is translated from Latin as “command.” In their final hours together, Jesus had many instructions for His disciples, and us.

When Jesus presented the bread and wine to the disciples, He instituted a new covenant between God and man, providing forgiveness of all mankind’s sins. This covenant would be sealed through Jesus’ blood sacrifice the very next day. He commanded His disciples – and us, now – to continually “do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19 NIV c1978).

After dinner, Jesus demonstrated the full extent of His love for His disciples by washing their feet. This was the lowest of jobs for a household servant, yet Jesus commanded they should follow His example and do this for one another. In fact, He said they would be blessed when they humbled themselves and adopted a servant’s heart toward others.

Jesus also gave the disciples a new commandment: Love one another. As followers of Christ, we should demonstrate God’s love by how we treat others. Jesus set no conditions of how to love, or who to love. He simply said, “As I have loved you…” That sets the bar pretty high, and leaves no room for exceptions.

All men will know that you are My disciples if you love one another. – John 13:35 NIV c.1978

Jesus’ Promises

In light of all the horrific things that were to unfold shortly, Jesus wanted to leave His disciples – and us – with words of hope!

Jesus knew the disciples didn’t really understand (or believe?) what He was telling them would happen over the next few days, and He had compassion for them. He told them not to worry, but to trust in God, and in Him. He was going to prepare a place for us….and He promised He will return to take us back there with Him.

…I will come bcack and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am. – John 14:3 NIV c.1978

He also promised that anyone who believed in Him would be able to to do even greater miracles than He had done – if they ask in His Name – that it might bring glory to God.

One of the most important promises Jesus gave was the promise of the Holy Spirit coming to live in us. He promised the Counselor will teach us all things, will remind us of everything He taught, and will guide us into all Truth.

Jesus told us all these things so that in Him we might have peace.

In this world you will have trouoble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – John 16:33 NIV c.1978

The Whirlwind

After their time in the upper room, Jesus took the disciples to the Mount of Olives, to the garden of Gethsemane. He asked the disciples to pray….that they wouldn’t fall into temptation. Unfortunately, “the spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” (Mathew 26:41 NIV c.1978) Three times Jesus went off to pray in solitued, only to return to find the disciples sleeping. In His hour of greatest need, the disciples who professed they would die for Him couldn’t even pray for one hour.  We should heed Jesus’ example of preparing through prayer….even if it means losing a little sleep!

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Shortly after this, Judas and hundreds of Roman soldiers and Temple Guard arrived to arrest Jesus. And how did His disciples respond? They all fled in fear! While we can relate to their response, it wasn’t a shining example of faith, was it?

Jesus was then taken from one trial to another: first to Annas (the ‘godfather” of the Jewish religious crooks), then to Caiaphas (the high priest that year), and finally before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish legal experts). And all the while, Peter was waiting outside in the courtyard….denying his Christ time after time after time.

Thursday was a day full of love and hope, disappointment and fear. We may not experience them to this magnitude…but we all have days where our emotions run this same gamut. Hopefully, reading these accounts again this Easter season will serve to remind us to follow Jesus’ example….and not the disciples. The only way to prepare ourselves is through prayer. The only path to peace in the midst of turmoil is through the Holy Spirit. And our only source of power against enemy forces is the Name of Jesus!

Today, let’s meditate on standing faithfully for Christ, no matter the circumstance. And let’s contemplate Jesus’ loving sacrifice: the Son of Man walking in obedience to His death….that we might live.

Thank You, Jesus.