Wednesday, Day 4
Scripture records nothing on Day 4 of Holy Week. The day ends with a night of rest, the last Jesus would have before he died.
By the time I am writing tonight, Jesus would have already completed a day weighted in significance—a last meal, last words, a final prayer over his disciples, a last visit to a favorite garden. He has now been arrested, incarcerated, and shuttled between interrogators.
Maundy Thursday, the fifth day of Holy Week had dawned on Jerusalem swelling its normal population of 30,000 with an additional 150,0000 Passover pilgrims. The sheer press of the numbers exacerbated the tense atmosphere brewing with the conflict between Jesus and the Jewish leaders.
Of the all that happens on this day and all the words that are said, two specific events stick in my mind.
“One of you will betray me,” Jesus’ announcement disturbs the Passover meal. The disciples begin discussing among themselves. “Surely not me, Lord.” Who would do such a thing?
On the heels of that discussion, they pick-up an ongoing argument, “Which of them would be regarded as the greatest” in God’s Kingdom.(Luke 22:24 NET)
Jesus has just said, “…the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like to one who serves.” (Luke 22:26 NET) He got up from the table, took off his clothing and wrapped himself with the towel which lay beside the basin and the water pitcher. Taking the role of a slave, he began to wash the dirty feet of all those seated at the Passover table. Stunned silence came over the room. Jesus, Messiah, Son of God washed the feet of his bickering disciples.
“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and do so correctly. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you too ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example…” (Luke 22:13 – 15 NET) His example brought his words in sharp focus. Later St. Paul would say, “Don’t do anything out of selfish ambition or vain glory.” We are not greater than our Master, so we should serve others as he served us.
I have often thought about Jesus prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. The real battle for redemption took place in the Garden. As the cross crowded out all other considerations in Jesus mind, he had to deal with his surrender to the Father’s plan. The word in the original language that describes his anguish here means terrified. Jesus was terrified at the prospect of becoming sin for all mankind. He fought the battle there, prostrate on his face. He determined, “Not my will, yours be done.” (Luke 22:42) He got up from that place of surrender and walked with unwavering purpose and without hesitation to the cross.
Jesus knows what terror feels like. He knows what submission requires. Brave in the face of fear, he humbled himself and served me by his death on the cross. He is the champion of my faith because he submitted to the Father’s plan in every way. Because he did, I, too, can submit to the Father’s plan through the life of Christ in me.
I’m forever grateful.