Holy Thursday

By now the leading priests had heard and seen enough and they began to secretly devise a plan to have Jesus arrested and killed. Surely this would put an end to all of this — or so they thought. One of the disciples, Judas Iscariot, had apparently not allowed Jesus to truly change his heart and thirty pieces of silver was all it took for him to agree to betray Jesus. Now he waited and watched for the right opportunity.

As was customary, Jesus and his disciples would be sharing in the Passover meal together. And although the disciples had no idea, Jesus knew it would be their last meal together. Of course, Jesus, being fully God, was prepared for what was to come…but being also fully man, he was “anguished and distressed”. (Matthew 26:37)He was going to be betrayed by his friend. He was going to suffer and die. His friends whom he had spent every day with for three years were going to be sad and confused. But he also knew that the despair would be temporary and that he would be back for them in a big way!

So as they gathered around the table Jesus did a couple of things that wouldn’t fully make sense to his disciples until after his resurrection.

First – he washed their feet. And whether you still didn’t understand who he truly was and saw him as a man that was about to be anointed as your earthly king, and certainly if you did realize that he was your Savior, the Son of God, – having him kneel before you to wash your feet would’ve likely made you uncomfortable. But even as Peter protested, Jesus explained.

I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them. (John 13:15-17 NLT)

That night Jesus also gave the first Communion. And before he offered up the bread and wine as his body and blood, he told his friends this would be his last Passover meal here on earth.

Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15, 16 NLT)

Then he exclaimed that a new covenant between God and his people was coming and that the sacrificial blood to be poured out to confirm this covenant would be his.

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29 NIV)

The rest of the evening must have been a blur to the disciples. Judas had disappeared only to show up later with a crowd of armed men. Jesus was seized and arrested like a common criminal. Peter attempted to defend him with the sword and Jesus told him to put it away. The disciples took off, deserting their Lord and friend. Even Peter denied knowing him. All through the night and into the next day, Jesus was interrogated, mocked and assaulted. The suffering was underway.

He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7 NIV)

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