Pastor’s Corner: “Passion Week”
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. John 13:1
Passion Week, which is also known as Holy Week, starts on Palm Sunday and continues until Resurrection Sunday. It covers the major events of Jesus’ last days on earth before His crucifixion and resurrection. It is a great week to slow down and observe the last moments of Jesus’ life.
- What did Jesus do during His final week?
- What was He like?
- What was He teaching about?
- How were other people treating Him
All of these things help us get a fuller picture of those last days, and help us understand what it was really like for Christ.
MAUNDAY – THURSDAY: “Dirty Feet and The King’s Meal”
John 13:1-9 (MSG) – Washing His Disciples’ Feet – 1-2 Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime. The Devil by now had Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, firmly in his grip, all set for the betrayal. 3-6 Jesus knew that the Father had put him in complete charge of everything, that he came from God and was on his way back to God. So he got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.” 8 Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!” Jesus said, “If I don’t wash you, you can’t be part of what I’m doing.” 9 “Master!” said Peter. “Not only my feet, then. Wash my hands! Wash my head!”
Israel can be a dusty place, and sandaled feet get extremely filthy. In ancient times, a person entering a home removed their sandals and clean their feet. If the homeowners were wealthy, servants would do the washing. This distasteful but necessary task fell to the worker of lowest position in the household. Imagine the disciples’ surprise when the Son of God put Himself in the role of a lowly servant and knelt to wash their feet. The need for such this was great as they had been traveling for some time. But not one of them offered to do it.
One grimy foot after another, Jesus works His way down the row. In this case the One with the towel and basin is the King of the universe. Hands that shaped the stars now wash away filth. Fingers that formed mountains now massage toes. And the One before whom all nations will one day kneel now kneels before His disciples.
Hours before His own death, Jesus’ concern is singular: He wants His disciples to know how much He loves them. You can be sure Jesus knows the future of these feet He is washing. These feet will dash for cover at the flash of a Roman sword. Only one pair of feet won’t abandon Him in the Garden… Judas will abandon Jesus that very night at the table. What a passionate moment when Jesus silently lifts the feet of His betrayer and washes them in the basin. Jesus knows what these men are about to do. By morning they will bury their heads in shame and look down at their feet in disgust. And when they do, He wants them to remember how His knees knelt before them and He washed their feet…He forgave their sin before they even committed it.
Luke 22:14-20 (NLT) The Last Supper – 14 When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table. 15 Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. 16 For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” 17 Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves. 18 For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” 19 He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.
Through the celebration of the Passover, Jesus reminded His disciples of God’s past provision – during Israel’s time of slavery, God made a way of deliverance and protection. By instituting the Lord’s Supper at that same feast, Jesus pointed toward God’s future provision. Jesus was about to become our “Passover Lamb.” He, and He alone, would provide for all our needs – physical and spiritual.
The dinner typically involved Seder bread, which was unleavened to commemorate the Israelites’ hasty departure from Egypt; a lamb bone, signifying the Passover lamb that was slain and whose blood marked the threshold of Jewish homes; and bitter herbs, used to prepare the meal and to remind the Israelites of the bitterness of slavery from which God had rescued them.
AMAZING LOVE: Contemplate the Seder bread that reminds you of how God provides for your needs, even in times of crisis. Imagine the lamb bone & how you had to hold the head of that lamb still while a priest sacrificed that animal to atone for your sins and those of your family. Think about how the bitterness of the herbs can remind you of your slavery to sin.
More than a mere meal, Jesus turned this Passover into a memorable moment to show His followers the “full extent of His love.” “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” — John 15:13. Jesus passionately loved his disciples (us) as they were and intensely desired to be with them (us).
Even though the disciples were with Jesus in this place of deep anguish, unfortunately they didn’t really hear what he had to say. They were more focused on themselves and what they perceived as their needs. They seemed to be more worried about which of them would betray Jesus rather than the fact that Jesus was going to be betrayed. During their last hours with the greatest human who ever lived, they were arguing about which of them was the greatest. When Jesus asked them to pray while he was alone with the Father, they fell asleep. With momentous events of eternal consequence taking place around them and in the presence of the one at the center of these events, the disciples seem to be missing the significance of Jesus’ words and the privilege of Jesus’ presence.
It can sadden us to realize that we are welcomed into the presence of Jesus, who earnestly desires to be with us, and all we can do is think about and talk about us. We can miss what He is saying and doing, which is of much greater, deeper, and lasting significance than what we are saying and doing. Jesus gave his body for us and poured out his blood for us; He willingly sacrificed all for us. Shouldn’t that motivate us to recognize the eternal, incalculable value and privilege of enjoying His presence and closely watching for what He is saying and doing while we are with Him?
In His Grace,