Holy Week Thursday: Getting ready to say Good-Bye
Scripture Reading: Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-39; John 13:1-17:26
Events of the day: Preparation for Passover; Passover meal and Last Supper; Farewell discourse;
Have you ever had anyone in your life move away? We know that even though they can
call and occasionally visit, it’s not the same as if they were still here. That final “good-bye” is a
difficult one. We would probably cry, as well as encourage the other. Good-byes can be tough,
and most of us don’t care for them. But the way Jesus tells his disciples “good-bye” is different.
Jesus knows that while things will change for them, His disciples will still have the Holy Spirit as
a helper. Just as with everything, Jesus does not waste any opportunities in His final days to
provide His disciples with instruction and encouragement.
Most of us are familiar with the last meal that Jesus has with them. We call this, “The
Last Supper.” During this meal, every word and interaction matters. Jesus does not waste a single
letter. He not only provides teaching by instruction (words), He also teaches them through service
(foot-washing). Jesus wants His disciples to know His love, joy, and peace that will sustain them
through the times to come.
The meal starts off with another unexpected move on the part of Jesus. Normally, a
servant would wash the dirty feet of the guests (after all, they didn’t fly or drive in). But no
servant is there to do this. Jesus uses the opportunity to wash their feet to drive home some
important truths. For one, even believers need continual spiritual cleansing. Not resaved, but a
daily cleansing from the sins we pick up. Secondly, Jesus' sacrificial example models how we are
to love others. The humble, selfless foot washing that Jesus does to the disciples directs us to the
theme of the cross-God’s sacrificial love for His people.
Jesus points out how one of them is not clean. He continues to explain what He means as
the night goes on. One of them, Judas, has an evil heart that was inspired by Satan. Jesus
demonstrates the cleansing of His community through not only the foot washing, but also the
removal (leaving) of the betrayer. Now, Jesus can give His final instructions to His followers.
John 13-17 describe these instructions. Jesus ends with a prayer: known as the high priestly
prayer for his followers, and for Himself. This is the longest recorded prayer of Jesus in the New
Testament. His prayer is filled with truth and encouragement for His followers.
After His prayer, Jesus speaks of the betrayal of the disciples, especially Peter. They deny
that they will betray him. The group leaves and heads to a place called Gethsemane. Jesus asks
His disciples to pray for Him, and He Himself cries out to the Father. The disciples fail the test, and
as a result, will not be prepared to withstand temptation. As the night grows late, Jesus enters the
garden. He cries out to the Father to see if there is another way that He will not have to drink
from the cup of God’s wrath. Even though the disciples have failed Him, God sends an angel to
strengthen Him. Jesus is in such agony that He begins to sweat blood. Even so, He knows the
Father will help Him. The night ends with the mob approaching, ready to take Jesus in.
The explanation of Thursday’s events could fill the volumes of books. But what we want
to see is that even though things appear out of control, they are not. Jesus is not panicked. He
uses every word and opportunity to model to His disciples His selfless love and sacrifice.
Thursday is a day to soak. Soak and savor the love that Jesus has for you, the love that He
demonstrated on the cross. Perhaps today it’s the high priestly prayer that you need. Or maybe,
it’s the example of the way He washed feet, even those of Judas. No matter what it is you need
the most, I’m praying that you remember and reflect on the depths of His love for sinners such as
us. How can your interactions with others be different today as you reflect on the way Jesus has
loved you so deeply?