Continuing my Easter theme...

Wed, 04/20/2011 - 14:41 — Carrie

  I'm gonna skip ahead a day in Easter week and address the last supper. Some people would say that the last supper actually took place on Wednesday evening, and I've got the correct day, but since tomorrow's post will be about the same evening as the last supper, than one of my posts will necessarily be off. Anyway. 

So it's passover time. Jesus knew that the end had come. He knew that this was the last meal he would eat with his friends before his death. And he wanted to impart some final lessons. The gospel of John gives the fullest account of the things he shared with them that night. But I'll start at the beginning. 

So Jesus is getting ready to share this special passover supper with his disciples. The twelve people he is closest with in all the world. And just like he did with the Triumphant Entry, he sends his disciples to get what he needs, and again just as before, everything is ready. He tells them to find a certain person, who will be carrying a pitcher, follow him to his house, ask if they have a room, and there will be a perfect room, in the upper chambers, just waiting for their group. How coincidental. Tongue

And so the disciples get everything ready, and Jesus arrives, and they all sit down, and they eat. Whatever is said at the meal, it wasn't important enough to make it into the bible. What was important is what was said and done after the meal was over. 

What follows is one of the most well known stories in the bible. Foot-washing. All sorts of theological import has been attached to this event, but I'm not going to discuss it here, or expound upon the pros and cons of foot-washing in today's world. What I am going to point out is the extreme contrast going on here. 

Jesus had just entered Jerusalem a king. The disciples knew of him as a king, as a conquerer. They may still be expecting him to overthrow Rome. Whatever they expected, they certainly knew him to be a person of great importance. Someone definitely sent of God. On the other end of the spectrum, we have the lowly servants who's job it is to wash peoples feet when they've come in from wherever they'd been. Dirty feet. Feet that had walked miles and miles in dirt and mud and who-knows-what-else in their sandals. Feet that never showered, and rarely bathed. Feet that only probably got cleaned when they entered a house where foot washing would take place. Point being, feet are kinda gross. And I sure wouldn't want to be the servant who had to wash them. In fact, it was a job probably left to the lowliest servant. The one who didn't have anyone under his command to delegate the job to. 

And here we have Jesus, the king, taking a bowl and a towel and kneeling down to wash Peter's feet. I'm sure I would have acted no differently than Peter did when he pulled his feet away in an exclamation of surprise and refusal. Jesus doesn't act terribly surprised, he just looks up at Peter and says, "If I don't wash your feet, you have no part with me." 

I gotta give Peter points here. He still didn't fully understand what Jesus was doing, but he knew when Jesus was being serious. Upon hearing these words, Peter makes up his mind. No way is he going to be found having no part with Jesus. "Lord, not just my feet, but my hands and head, also!" 

But Jesus just shakes his head. That's not necessary. Washing the feet was good enough. 

I have to admit to not fully understanding this. Why the feet? Was it because it was the dirtiest part? I don't really know. What I do know is that Jesus was clearly showing a picture. A picture of the servanthood he was taking on himself in order to cleanse his people. The rest of the disciples get the same treatment, and all are wise enough to say nothing. Or perhaps just too surprised.  

When Jesus is done, he sits back down and looks at the disciples. "Do you know why I did that?" He asks, and then goes on to explain, since I'm sure he knew that none of them had much, if any, of an idea why on earth he had just lowered himself to wash their feet. 

Shortly after the foot washing episode, and before Jesus imparts his final words to his disciples, he reveals one more thing. One in that room was to betray Jesus. And when the disciples begin to exclaim in disbelief, and ask fearfully if it was them, Jesus reveals the truth when, after Judas asks, Jesus says "it is as you say." And again, when John directly asks Jesus who it will be, he says whoever he hands the bread to, after dipping into the soup in the middle. And then he hands it to Judas. I can't imagine what the other disciples were thinking. Did they get it? Maybe not. None of them seem to do anything when, at this point, Judas gets up and leaves, with Jesus final words "What you're about to do, do quickly." They even wonder why Jesus would have said this to him. 

I won't go into everything that Jesus said after that, but I will tell you that it takes up just about four chapters in the gospel of John. (John 13-18) That's really not much when you consider how much teaching Jesus did over the course of his three years of ministry. Maybe a half an hour, perhaps as long as an hour. Shorter than most sermons you'll hear on a Sunday morning, in fact. Yet there was more wisdom and learning packed into those few words than in many things. It  was, after all, the last time Jesus would teach his disciples before the climax of his entire ministry. Many of the oft quoted verses are spoken during this time. Things like, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another as I have loved you, that ye also love one another." and "In my Father's house are many mansions." and "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you. Not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." and "I am the vine and ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit."

Many times he told them to love. Many times he told them to keep his commandments. Many times he told them that they would be comforted. If I were the disciples, I think I would have started to get the idea that something big was about to happen. They did. Yet they didn't understand it. And when they asked Jesus what he meant by saying after a little while they wouldn't see him any more, he expounded further, and explained some other things that they still didn't fully understand. 

And then he prays for them. He prays for their comfort. He prays that they would be like the Father. He prays that they would be found in himself. He prays for them and the things they will have to face in a world that hates them. Earnestly, passionately, he prays for them. As a mother or father prays for their new child, that that child would grow to embrace the Christ they know and love, so Jesus prays for his disciples, that they would grow and endure in the love Christ has manifested toward them, through the Father. I only wish I could have heard it.  Heard the passion. Heard the earnest petition. What an amazing prayer it must have been to hear prayed for you.


When he was done speaking, they left the house and head to the Garden of Gethsemane. 



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