Why we celebrate this week – Day 4

Thursday, day 4 of Holy week. Have you learned something new? Have you read these posts and remembered something that you may have forgotten? Have they sparked something in you?  I hope so.

Every time I read and re-read a piece of scripture I learn something. I pull a little bit of information out of it than I did the previous time I read it. There are AH-HA moments as well as times of confusion. 

I hope that you’re enjoying these posts as much as I have and take a moment to stop by Vicki’s website too. She is a wonderful speaker and teacher and a force to be reckoned with!

During the week of what we call ‘Easter’ another holiday (Jewish feast) was held. That holiday is called the Feast of Unleavened Bread or more commonly the Passover and was a time of remembrance for God’s provision and deliverance of His children in the days of Moses. (Learn more by reading Exodus 12) Many people forget that Jesus was a Jew. He was raised in all the Jewish traditions and celebrated the mandatory feasts and festivals just like His Jewish brethren. John 13 opens with preparations being made for Jesus to celebrate the Passover with His disciples.
Jesus added teaching, some new customs and His special prayers to the traditional events being celebrated throughout the Jewish world. The first variation came when He arose from the table, girded Himself with a towel and began to wash the feet of His apostles. Peter—always ready with a comment—tried to stop the Lord from performing the work of the lowliest household servant on his feet. Jesus made it clear that this was more than simply an act of cleansing dirty feet but was a word-picture of unhindered service to the needs of others. Jesus wasn’t ashamed to wash their feet… and they mustn’t be afraid to be servants after He was gone.

Adding more depth to this story is the fact that Jesus washed the feet of ALL of His apostles—and that included the feet of Judas Iscariot who would in a matter of hours betray Him to Jewish leaders in exchange for the price of a common household slave. Just as He was fully aware of His quickly approaching suffering… He was aware of Judas’ part in it. Jesus chose Judas knowing full well he would betray Him. God’s plan was set in place and nothing would stop it from coming to completion. During the Passover meal Jesus began to explain more carefully what the events of the coming days would hold for Him as well as for them. When Judas stood from the table and departed from the gathering, none of the apostles knew what he was about to do… betray the Man who moments before had washed his feet!

Jesus then proceeded to make the most of every last moment He had with His friends. Some of the topics of their conversations (John 14-16) included:
• Jesus was about to leave them for a place where they could not travel with Him. (They didn’t understand that.)
• He made the very exclusionary statement that He was THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE and the only way for them to ever enter His heavenly realm was through faith in Him. (The world still doesn’t understand or accept that.)
• He then promised them a ‘Gift’ He would send to them. He was referring to the Holy Spirit to guide, lead, teach, give revelation and cause them to remember His words. (They didn’t understand that part either.)
• He showed them they were Branches coming off of Him the Vine. Those Branches drew all nourishment from the Vine and would die apart from it. This was a warning that they could try forever to be ‘holy in their own power’ but that apart from Him their works would be fruitless. (They didn’t understand… and most of us don’t either.)
• He chastised boastful Peter who was willing to ‘lay down his life for Jesus’ by telling him in actuality, he would soon deny him three times. (Peter didn’t understand that; but later would be haunted by Jesus’ words… and his three denials.)
• He spoke of coming persecution for the church. (They didn’t understand then… but ten of the twelve apostles would become martyrs for Christianity!)

That very eventful evening held two more important moments between the Lord and His dearest friends. Jesus shared the bread and the wine with them in a way they had never witnessed before. He broke the bread—and told them it represented His body—soon to be broken for them. He then shared the cup of wine with them—telling them it represented His blood—about to be poured out for them. Jesus told them that whenever men gathered and shared these elements together they would remember what He had done for His children. Today, we call this event Holy Communion or the Lord’s Supper and celebrate it as a rite within the Church called by His Name.

Finally, Jesus prayed for His disciples in a deep, heartfelt, loving and reverent way. John 17 contains what is called the High Priestly Prayer. Jesus stated that all the Father had given Him to do… He had done. He prayed for the apostles, disciples and future church—wishing He could take them with Him out of this evil world—but entrusting them into the Father’s hands. He prayed they could be ‘in’ the world but that they not be ‘of’ the world. Sobering isn’t it? He prayed for unity in the church, strength in the face of tribulation and a saturation of them from the Word of God.

Jesus, as always, focused on others just hours before He would be arrested, tried, crucified, buried and resurrected. No Wonder We Celebrate This Week…

SCRIPTURE: “O righteous Father, although the world has not known You, yet I have known You; and these have known that You sent Me; and I have made Your name known to them, and will make it known, so that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.”
–John 17:25-26

Check out Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 too!