As we follow the events that led to Jesus’ death, we have to be dismayed by the dramatic change in circumstances from Sunday to Friday. Sunday Jesus was hailed as Savior and heir apparent to the throne of David. Overnight Thursday into Friday he has been betrayed, arrested, abandoned, lied about, beaten, whipped, and mocked. Friday he was nailed to a cross for public humiliation and execution.
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6–8)
Why did Jesus allow all this to happen to him? These events came as no surprise. He foresaw them, and warned his disciples four times that these things would happen to him when they went up to Jerusalem.
Cyril of Alexandria, a theologian and bishop who died in 444 AD, give us some insight.
Christ’s Human Nature Had to Feel What We Feel
Only the death of the Savior could bring an end to death, and it is the same for each of the other sufferings of the flesh too. Unless he had felt dread, human nature could not have become free from dread. Unless he had experienced grief, there could have never been any deliverance from grief. Unless he had been troubled and alarmed, there would have been no escape from these feelings.
Every one of the emotions to which human nature is liable can be found in Christ. The emotions of his flesh were aroused, not that they might gain the upper hand, as indeed they do in us, but in order that when aroused they might be thoroughly subdued by the power of the Word dwelling in the flesh, human nature as a whole thus undergoing a change for the better. Commentary on the Gospel of John 8.
These things happened because of God’s love and plan to deal not just with our sin, but with every aspect of what it means to be human.
Thank you, Jesus, for your courage and love. Change us from the inside out by the power of your love for us. Amen.
The events of Thursday of Holy Week start quietly, but are part of a series of events that changed world history.
Jesus gathered his disciples, and gave them an object lesson, a multi-sensory learning exercise. He washed their feet!
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. (John 13:1–5,12-17)
There is no question about the point that Jesus is making about the priority of sacrificial love among his followers. He pronounced, "Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them “ not from the elevated pulpit of a cathedral but in a room where all sat together. There is no position among those who follow Jesus that exempts us from serving. There is no other priority that excuses us from loving each other.
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34–35)
Our lives, families, congregations, and communities are all better off because we attempt to live in response to this gracious command. "We love because he first loved us." (1 John 4:18–19)
Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us so completely! Help us to love like you love. Amen.
Pastor Mark loves his wife and grown children, the Word of God, and words. And coffee, chocolate chip cookies, Apple products, small video projects, and the New England Patriots.