Holy week


Maundy Thursday Reflection


1st April 2021

...if it is possible...

39  He went a little farther and fell on His face,
   and prayed, saying,
  "O My Father, if it is possible,
   let this cup pass from Me;
   nevertheless, not as I will,
   but as You will."

.....Matthew 26:39

Thursday is another action-packed day
though things didn't really get underway
until the evening.

During the day Peter and John were sent
to make preparation for Passover meal;
being led to the chosen house by a man
carrying a water jug.
Now this was unusual for that time;
fetching water was generally done by women -
here was a sign.

If you have ever been to the Holy Land
you will find your senses assaulted by the sights,
smells, sounds, the people and the meals;
especially the meals.
Sharing a meal is one of the most ordinary
yet most profound things we do.

Jesus chose a particular meal to convey
the deepest meaning of all;
the reason why he was going to die.

At the beginning of the meal
Jesus washed disciples' feet;
It was a common practice for hosts
to have their servants (usually the lowliest)
wash the feet of their guests.
No matter how recently the guests had bathed,
they had been walking around in sandals
or bare feet on dusty, muddy roads.

Washing their feet was refreshing
and a way of welcoming them into the home.
How humbling it is to stoop to someone's feet,
hold them in your hands and wash them.
It's the kind of humility that's almost
embarrassing for those who receive it -
you can understand Peter's reaction to Jesus.
"You are going to wash me?"

Foot washing allows us to see one another as
full people, taking away the labels and masks
and see one another as we are.
In this act of humility, of service,
of intimacy, Jesus calls us not only
to serve one another,
but to allow others to serve us.

That's how Jesus was with his disciples,
how he knows us: intimately, humbly, feet and all.
It was the start to an extraordinary Passover meal!

For it was a Passover meal; but with a difference.
Passover meals looked back to remember
the Exodus from Egypt, to celebrate God
rescuing his people from slavery.
Jesus' special meal looked back like that;
but it also looked forward
to further events;
the coming of God's kingdom.

Jesus saw his approaching death as
the door through which God's kingdom
would be established here on earth.

It was after sunset that Jesus ate the meal
with the twelve; he was the host and made
astonishing changes to the words
a host should speak.
The bread they shared,
rather than being a reminder of the bread of
suffering in Egypt, was his body.
The wine was no longer the celebration
of God's rescue operation from Egypt;
it was his blood -
'poured out for many'.

Jesus declared that from that day
whoever shared this meal in his name
are God's new-covenant people.

It was during this meal that Jesus predicted
Peter's denial of him, and Judas left to go
to the chief priests and the officers
of the temple guard and arrange with
them how he might betray Jesus.

After the meal Jesus took the disciples
across the Kidron valley to the
Garden of Gethsemane.
When he arrived in the garden with his disciples,
he withdrew from them.
After asking them to stay awake and pray,
he went off by himself to pray,
separating himself even from his closest companions.

Three times he went back to them
and found them sleeping,
even at this crucial time they could not
be depended upon.
Christ's whole life is a prayer,
but this night before his passion was one
of several instances in which he
isolated himself to pray.
Doing so provides an example for us.

Jesus asked his heavenly Father to
"Let this cup pass from me".
He was bold in presenting his wishes and desires.
He did not hold back, but offered up his requests
directly and without shame.
We can learn from Christ.

We too should bring our petitions before
the Lord openly and honestly,
trusting him to provide.

As Jesus finished his prayer,
an angel from heaven appeared to strengthen him.
The Father heard the prayers of his beloved Son,
and he answers them.
He did not take away Christ's suffering
and death because they were part of his divine plan
for the salvation of the world.

Instead, he sent an angel to strengthen Jesus
so that he could carry out his difficult calling.
In the same way, God always hears us when we pray.
He may not answer us in the way that we want him to,
but we can be confident that he listens to us.

We are his beloved children,
and he will always hear us and answer us
according to his divine will,
which we can never fully understand.

Things moved very quickly after this.
The mob arrived to arrest Jesus
with Judas as their guide.
He came not to identify Jesus
for they already knew what he looked like.
His role was probably to locate
where Jesus would be.
He was part of the inner crowd.
In the enemy's hands Judas was a crucial weapon.

To their credit,
the disciples put up resistance to the arrest;
futile action in light of the fact that
what was happening was meant to be.
The power of darkness was having its hour.

Jesus was then led away.
His trial was to start in the night -
talk about the power of darkness -
right from the moment Judas
walked out into the night,
darkness has been operating.

Peter followed timidly behind the mob
taking Jesus away.
But we mustn't condemn Peter though;
many of us are timidly following
behind Jesus today -
too shy to identify with him in public.

Jesus was brought before Annas,
an ex-high priest and influential figure,
who subjected Jesus to interrogation.
Then Annas then passed Jesus over to Caiaphas,
the current ruling high priest.
Caiaphas subjected Jesus to
further interrogation.
Jesus never denies who he is
but rather he confirms it.

Meanwhile Peter was denying him outside;
what a contrast.
Thank God we have a High Priest
who is capable and able to defend us.
If Jesus could stand up before his
intended executors for us,
we should have abundant confidence
that he now stands up for us
before our Father in heaven.
Jesus was beaten and mocked by his captors
and then was lowered into a deep,
dark prison for the rest of the night.

Can we rest in that darkness with Jesus,
knowing what is about to happen
come dawn?

Often it is in the darkness and
distress than we can come closest to God.

It may be interesting to watch,
or just listen to a song
'Servant song -
Brother, sister let me serve you'
sung by Mkariobangi
via the link shown below.