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Holy Week: Thursday

Most all Christians know the events of the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples on Thursday and that after they went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was betrayed, and then led to his trial and crucifixion. But have you really taken time to look at these events and analyze them. I did once and it changed my entire outlook at the Passion of the Christ.

The Last Supper

Famous Da Vinci painting of the Last Supper

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples ask Jesus, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

Jesus told Peter and John, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and say to the owner of the house that he enters, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

The disciples went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them and prepared the Passover meal for Jesus and all the twelve.

When evening came they were gathered around the table and the Passover Feast was being served to them. Jesus, knowing everything, knew that Judas Iscariot had been prompted by Satan to betray Jesus. Jesus also knew and had full understanding that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and would be returning to God.

Knowing all this Jesus got up from the table, took off his cloak, wrapped a towel around his waist and poured water into a basin. He then began to wash the disciples’ feet. A beautiful picture isn’t it. Think of it this way, in this time there were no paved roads. Everyone got where they needed to go on foot. They didn’t have socks and shoes like we do today, they wore open sandals. Can you imagine all the dust and dirt on their feet?

It was customary at this time for the owner of the house to have a servant wash the feet of the guests. This was entry level job of servants; no one wanted to do this job. For some reason though there was no one to wash the feet of these guests. Jesus, wanting to show the full extent of his love, washed the feet of his disciples, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

He came to Peter who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

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

“No,” Peter said, “you shall never wash my feet.” Peter understood the position Jesus was taking and saw Jesus as “above” this lowly task.

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Jesus here was washing with water, much like baptism, but he was truly speaking of the washing of blood that he was facing the next day.

“Then, Lord,” Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”

Jesus 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.” For he knew who was going to betray him, but Jesus washed his feet anyway.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his cloak again and returned to his place at the table and said to them, “Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set for you and example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things you will be blessed if you do them.”

Jesus was telling his disciples that they will not be given as task that will exalt them, but humble them, and they should do it willingly just as Jesus willingly did this dirty job that no one liked to do. We are all given these same commands from our Lord Jesus. For Jesus said later that night, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

Jesus said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”

As the supper continued Jesus said, “Not all of you will obey my commands. This is done to fulfill the scripture: ‘He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.’(Psalm 41:6) I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He. I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.”

After he had said this, Jesus was greatly troubled in spirit and said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.”

They were all very sad and began to say one after the other, “Surly not I?”

Peter told John, who was sitting next to Jesus, “Ask him which one he means.”

“Lord, who is it?” John asked.

Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me.” Jesus then gave a piece of bread to Judas Iscariot and he dipped it in the bowl with him.

Jesus continued, “The 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. Judas, what you are about to do, do quickly.”

The disciples did not understand this. Judas was the treasurer of the group so they figured Jesus told him to buy something needed for the Feast, or to give something to the poor.

Then Judas Iscariot said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”

After Judas had taken the bread, Satan entered into him, and he went out. When he left it was night, darkness had set in, in more than one way.

Jesus then took the bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body which I have given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. Jesus said, “This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you the truth, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.

“Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.

“My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?”

Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.”

In John chapters 14-16 Jesus comforts his disciples, explains that he is the way to the Father, promises them the Holy Spirit, explains that the world will hate them and promises that their grief will turn to Joy. In chapter 17 Jesus prays with his disciples; he prays for himself, his disciples and for all believers.

After the supper they sang a hymn and then went back out to the Mount of Olives. While on their way out a dispute broke out among the disciples as to which of them was considered to be the greatest among them. They were all thinking in thoughts of military and political power.

Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.

“You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

“Simon, Simon (who is called Peter), Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail and when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

Peter replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!”

“I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.

Jesus continued, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” (Matthew 10:9-10)

“Nothing,” they answered.

“But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one, It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; And I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” (Isaiah 53)

“See Lord, we have two swords.” the disciples said.

“That is enough,” Jesus replied.

The Garden of Gethsemane

They went as usual to the Mount of Olives. Once they reached Gethsemane the place they would stay he said to the disciples, “Stay here while I pray, and pray that you will not fall into temptation.”

Jesus took with him Peter, James and John. Jesus was deeply troubled and full of sorrow and said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me”

He went a little further and fell to his face in prayer, “Abba, Father, everything is possible for you, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

He went back to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Peter, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing bit the body is weak.”

Jesus went away again to pray. This time an angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. He again returned to his disciples and saw them once again sleeping. He left them and returned to pray once more. He was in such anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

When he rose from prayer he went back to the disciples, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Jesus Arrested

While Jesus was still speaking Judas Iscariot arrived and with him was a detachment of soldiers and some officials armed with swords and clubs, and carrying torches and lanterns. They were sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Judas knew where Jesus would be because Jesus had often met there with his disciples.

Judas had arranged a signal with them: “The one I greet with a kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. A kiss was a customary way to greet one another at this time and is still used today.

Jesus replied to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? Do what you came for.” Then the men stepped forward, Jesus went to them and asked, “Who is it you want?”

“Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied.

“I am he,” Jesus said. When he said this they drew back and fell to the ground for he used the name of God given to Moses from the burning bush (Exodus 3).

Again Jesus asked, “Who is it you want?”

And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

“I told you that I am he,” Jesus answered.

Seeing what was going to happen, the disciples asked Jesus, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” While asking Peter struck a servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword away!” Jesus then touched the man’s ear and healed him. “All who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?”

This surely confused the disciples greatly for they thought that Jesus would rise in military and political power and overthrow the Romans and liberate the nation of Israel once again. But now this man they believe is the Messiah, the one to save them, is telling them to not fight. They are at a crossroad because what they thought they were getting involved in was the exact opposite of what Jesus was telling them.

Jesus said to the mob there for him, “Am I leading a rebellion that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I was with you, teaching in the temple courts and you did not arrest me or lay a hand on me. But this is your hour – when darkness reins and the scriptures must be fulfilled.”

At this, the disciples all deserted Jesus.

Then the soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and took him to Annas, the father-in-law of the High priest, Caiaphas.

I can imagine Judas, who orchestrated all this, hoping to press Jesus into a fight to begin the political liberation of the Jews. Yet when faced with a mob carrying weapons and even after telling his disciples to arm themselves, Jesus does not fight but goes quietly with them. Judas just can’t figure this out. But neither can the other disciples. They go into hiding, questioning what they had just spent the last three years of their lives involved in.

Many times God does not make sense to us either. We know the end of this story so we know that the promise of Romans 8:28 is true, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Do you trust God? Or are you finding yourself like the disciples right now, questioning what it is you have gotten yourself into? Take courage! We have all had moments like this in our lives. God the loving Father loves us and has our best interest at heart. When you doubt Him, don’t turn from Him, but to Him. Question him; his shoulders are big enough to take our questions and doubts. When you pray take the word of God, the scriptures, and pray them back to him: “Lord, you promised me that all things will work together for good; this doesn’t feel good right now.” I have even begun to ask him for hope, just to know that I am within his will.

Discouragement is not from God, but from Satan. So when you are faced with discouragement don’t desert God, draw closer to him. Another promise in James 4:7-10, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”