Awakening to the Power of God: Events of Holy Week

On Thursday night Jesus celebrated Passover Seder with his 12 disciples, also known as the Last Supper.  In the Church calendar year this day is called Maundy Thursday.The name “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means: “command.” It was during this meal on Thursday evening that Jesus got up from the floor, took off his outer garment, grabbed a basin of water and towel (used for the washings during the meal) and began washing his disciples feet.  The most demeaning task reserved for slaves/servants was to wash another person’s feet; feet that were dirty, cracked and gnarly from the pounding they took from rough and dusty terrain.  After he finished washing his disciples’ feet (including Judas), he said, “A new commandment [Maundy]I give to you: Love one another.  As I have loved you love one another.  By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.”(John 13:34-35). Will we awaken to the power we have to serve others?

After Jesus finished the Passover meal they went to one of their favorite spots on the Mount of Olives, near an olive press: Gethsemane.  Meanwhile, one of his best friends was taking matters into his own hands, thinking he would stop this Messianic madness from spinning out of control.  Judas had met with the Sanhedrin – the spiritual leaders of the Jewish people.  He agreed to deliver Jesus into their hands, probably thinking they would never be able to carry out their threats against Jesus.  After all, only the Romans could put someone to death.  Besides, it was Passover and the religious rulers were busily engaged with the weeklong Passover feast. Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.  His greedy and manipulative heart was more interested in controlling Jesus than following him.  Father, forgive us for denying your power and using our own to control.

Jesus then began the agonizing road of loneliness and separation, first from his friends and then from his Father. Sitting in the garden of the olive press he became desperate for his Father’s presence.  He had learned to do only what his Father told him, a constant nearness that had become as necessary as the air he breathed.  Jesus came face to face with the reality of what he would experience, not just death, but separation from the eternal presence of His Father – hell in all it’s horror.  And he would do it alone.

Betrayed by one who walked near him for over 3 years, the other disciples would flee, letting their faith succumb to fear.  The thousands of mouths he fed were silent. Those whose sight he had restored would look away.  The lame now walking would run on miraculous legs in the opposite direction of their Savior.  It was a day for demons.  God held quiet to the pleas of His only Son, giving no options but that which was unfolding in the apparent power of sin.  Heaven held its breath in stunned silence, hoping the Father would not go through with this injustice toward the Prince of Peace.  Could the Father even work injustice and betrayal into His good plan? He could – and did -through the willing obedience of Jesus. “He became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21)– Awaken to the power of God…

After an all night sham trial, Jesus hung on the cross from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon. But the eternal significance is hard to grasp.  During this time Jesus spoke seven times, words of a man and words of God, physical suffering mixed with divine forgiveness of his enemies.  Between noon and three o’clock, darkness fell over the land, a manifestation of the heart of God toward humanity for the ruin and rebellion of His good creation.  A reckoning redirected toward Jesus.  It was finished in Jesus.  It was enough.

You may be a believer in Jesus.  Maybe you’re not.  Either way, you may not understand the power connected to what you may or may not believe.  That God went through all the trouble to come down to earth and live among us is something that cannot be ignored.  The fact that Jesus said the things he said and did the miraculous cannot be casually dismissed with such a great cloud of witnesses.  The reality that the power of God raised Jesus from the dead and offers you the same power is a mysterious offering too good to pass up.  Will we come to terms with our resurrection?  Will we awaken to the power of God?

 

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