Friday, April 22, 2011

The Time In-Between

I need the time in-between. I need the time in-between Palm Sunday and Easter. I need it because I don't want cheap grace. It is all too easy to jump from weekend to weekend and miss out on the depth and breadth of the passion of Jesus.

I need to hear that on Monday Jesus went into the temple and declared, "My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” God's house matters to Him and it matters to me. It is a place of prayer - deep intimacy with God. It is a place where there better not even be a hint of injustice or prejudice.

I need to hear that on Tuesday Jesus did some of the most intense truth telling of His life - signs of the end of the age, the widow's offering, paying taxes, and the parables of the wedding banquet, the tenants, and the two sons. It was also the day Judas sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver.

Scripture does not describe anything Jesus did on Wednesday. I don't need to speculate. Scripture stands on it own authority. It doesn't need my help.

I need to read that on Thursday Jesus made Himself nothing and took on the very nature of a servant as described in John 13:1-17...

1It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

2The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"

7Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."

8"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."

9"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"

10Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." 11For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.

12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. 13"You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them."

By washing the disciples’ feet, Jesus enters into an intimate relationship with the disciples that mirrors the intimacy of his relationship with God. It is an intimacy that discomforts Peter, because it overturns all his conventional assumptions about the role Jesus lives. Yet it is only by accepting Jesus in the surprising role of loving host and intimate servant that one has a “share” with him, that you can receive the love of God incarnate. Jesus asks nothing of the disciples other than they place themselves completely in his hands. That they allow their relationship with him be defined by God’s love and God’s love alone.

The Last Supper – Mark 14:12-25

12On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus' disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"

13So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14Say to the owner of the house he enters, 'The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' 15He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there."

16The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

17When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me."

19They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, "Surely not I?"

20"It is one of the Twelve," he replied, "one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."

22While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body."

23Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.

24"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. 25"I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God."

“This is my body” “This is my blood.” Jesus is not being literal, but in some holy, mysterious way Jesus is pointing to his death. The first Lord’s Supper was a remembrance of the Passover – celebrating deliverance from slavery, now we celebrate the Lord’s Supper as a deliverance from sin by Christ’s death and resurrection. Jesus invites us to join with him into a new covenant. The old covenant people went through priests and made sacrifices to gain access to God. With the new covenant offered to us through a relationship with Jesus we have immediate, personal access to God.

Garden of Gethsemane – Mark 14:32-42

32They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, "Sit here while I pray." 33He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 34"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death," he said to them. "Stay here and keep watch."

35Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 36"Abba, Father," he said, "everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

37Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Simon," he said to Peter, "are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? 38Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

39Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 40When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.

41Returning the third time, he said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 42Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

Here’s what we learn in Gethsemane:

· Spiritual battles do occur

· Loneliness is felt

· Honesty is expressed

· Submission is required

· Strength is received

I need the time in-between to right myself with God, to not cheapen the grace that has been given to me. Tonight we read of the crucifixion of Jesus. Darkness. Torture. Sacrifice. Death.

What does this Holy Week mean for you? Do the last days of Jesus change you and open your eyes to all that was done on your behalf? What does Jesus mean to you?