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Holy Week Messages

MAUNDY THURSDAY

John 13 1-5

1.) Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.

2.) And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son to betray Him,

3.) Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God,

4.) rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.

5.) After that He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

 

Luke 21:15-20

15.) Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;

16.) for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.”

17.) Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves;

18.) for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.”

19.) And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”

20.) Likewise, He took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

 

Luke 21:24

24.) Now there was a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest.

 

MAUNDY THURSDAY:

 

Earlier in the day, Jesus had sent Peter and John to prepare for the Passover feast. Jesus had been in the temple all day teaching His last to the pilgrims.  He arrived at the place where the feast was to be held.  It is known in Christian circles as the upper room. It was located in the lower section of the city of Zion.  Today it is a mosque, but Christians are allowed to go inside.  It is one of the places I want to revisit.  Our group was supposed to go, but because of time constraints we just got to view it from a distance.  I was told by a member of another group that there are no Christian symbols inside the building, only Islamic.  Yet compared to many older buildings we had seen, it was relatively large.  Well, it had to be large enough to handle 12 men comfortably!  The tables would be about 18” tall and set up in a U shape.  The attendees would have gathered around the outside edge of the U with space enough to stretch out on cots, lying on their left side so as to be able to reach food with the right hand.  I was told the real reason for this, and you really don’t want to know the real reason for this. Trust me, you really don’t.

Anyway, according to the law, the children of Israel were supposed to eat the Passover standing up, in recognition and celebration of the very first Passover.  The Romans, however, claimed that the Jews were slaves when they did this because in Roman society only slaves stood up to eat.  The Jews, in stubborn opposition to this, declared, “We are not slaves!” and began celebrating their feasts in a reclining position

 

In verse 15, Luke expresses Jesus’ desire to celebrate Passover one last time with His disciples.   He knows that tonight is the last night He will be able to be with them before His resurrection.  He imparts to them and to us the Lord’s Supper.  The loaf that He took was Elijah’s loaf.  At the beginning of the feast, the loaf would have been split, with half would remaining for the Seder and the feast.  By tradition the other half would have been given to a child to take and hide.  It would not be eaten that night.  The scripture does not tell us what was done with Elijah’s half and there were no children, so your guess is as good as mine.  We westerners tend to think of a regular loaf of bread, but this was unleavened bread, and it could be very flat and very large in diameter, being baked according to the size of the crowd.

 

The wine Jesus used was Elijah’s wine.  By tradition, before the feast, the master of the feast would take a container of wine and place it outside of the place of celebration.  For most people, this was outside the door of their home.  It was not used but was there as an invitation for Elijah to come. For you see if Elijah did come, that would mean the coming of the Messiah was near!  During this particular Passover, Jesus issued one of His few commandments: “Do this in remembrance of Me.”  The establishment of the New Covenant.  As you read on past verse 20 you can sense the tension in Christ’s Spirit.  And what do our future church leaders do?  Verse 24 say they started to argue about who was the greatest among them….

 

In Luke’s writing, Jesus verbalizes what is true greatness. In the Gospel of John, He exemplifies it.  You see, Jesus had sent Peter and John to prepare the feast.  This they did.  They did it themselves. When everyone arrived, there were no servants, so there was no one to wash anyone’s feet.  They didn’t stand on ceremony and went ahead with the supper.  But if proper etiquette had been followed, Peter and John should have washed everyone’s feet when they arrived.  The disciples began to argue over who was to be the greatest – even as the One who was the greatest got up, took off His outer garment, wrapped a towel around His waist, got a jar of water, and began to wash all their feet, even the feet of Judas.

Have you ever been faced with an ordeal that to you was going to be a real test, a moment of truth, a time when you really needed the support and help of your family and friends to survive?  And those closest to you didn’t seem to understand or weren’t taking it as seriously as you thought they should?  We’ve all been there, except as Christians we know we are not alone.  Through the presence of the Holy Spirit, we know that our loving Heavenly Father is with us.  He fully understands where we are and what we are about to go through.  But Jesus knew there was going to be a point where the Father was going to have to turn His back on the Son, when God would have to cease being His Father because of the world’s sins which Jesus would have to bear on the cross.  Because a holy, righteous, and just God cannot look upon sin.

 

Jesus handled this all so much better and differently than I would have….

 

Now let us recall that promise found in Hebrews 4:15, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.”  Even on the night Jesus was betrayed, His disciples didn’t understand; but we can live with the confidence of faith that in our times of trial, if those around us don’t understand, our Lord and Savior does.

***********

 

I want to share the lyrics of two songs with you.  They both come from an anointed singer and songwriter from the 90’s.  His name is Michael Card.

 

How Much More Servant Could He Be?

 

On this final night, they bicker and they fight

Still they are slaves to men, but not yet slaves to Christ.

He would give up on words, too tired to speak,

So He took up the towel and washed their filthy feet

 

The arguments just melt away,

And there was nothing more that they could say;

A wordless lesson that would set them free.

Tell me, how much more a servant could He be?

He took a loaf of bread, He broke it and He said,

“Take this my body, and remember Me.”

He took the final cup and as He raised it up,

“This covenant is new, My blood poured out for you.”

 

The arguments just melt away,

And there is nothing more that they could say;

A wordless lesson that would set them free.

Tell me, how much more a servant could He be?

 

He is the slave that always serves Himself

And makes of Himself the final meal,

Lived out in flesh so we could see.

Tell me, how much more a servant could He be?

 

He is the wine and bread, too much to comprehend!

He leads from His knees and serves us as a friend.

In time they’d finally hear the message made so clear.

Who is the greatest One? It is God’s Servant Son!

 

******************

 

This second song comes from Michael’s third album of his trilogy about the life of Christ.

 

Come to the Table

 

Come to the table and savor the sight,

The wine and the bread that was broken.

And all have been welcomed to come if they might

Accept as their own these two tokens.

 

The bread is His body, the wine is the blood,

And the one who provides them is true.

He freely offers, we freely receive,

To accept and believe Him is all we must do.

 

Come to the table and taste of the glory

And savor the sorrow, He’s dying tomorrow!

The hand that is breaking the bread

Soon will be broken.

 

And here at the table sit all those who have loved You,

One is a traitor and one will deny;

But He lives His life for them all

And for all be crucified

 

Come to the table He’s prepared for you:

The bread of forgiveness, the wine of release!

Come to the table and sit down beside Him –

The savior wants you to join in the feast

 

Come to the table and see in His eyes

The love that the Father has spoken,

And you are welcome, whatever your crime,

For every commandment you’ve broken.

 

For He comes to love you and not to condemn,

And He offers a pardon of peace;

If you come to the table, you’ll feel in your heart

The greatest forgiveness, the greatest release!

 

Come to the table and taste of the glory

And savor the sorrow: He’s dying tomorrow!

The hand that is breaking the bread

Soon will be broken.

 

And here at the table sit those who have loved you,

One is a traitor and one will deny;

But He lives His life for them all

And for all be crucified.

 

Come to the table He’s prepared for you:

The bread of forgiveness, the wine of release!

Come to the table and sit down beside Him –

The Savior wants you to join in the feast

 

********************

 

Remember to pray and claim in first person each day the 91st Psalm.

 

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