Blessed Are You If

 

           

Today is Maundy Thursday. A day recognized throughout the Christian world as a day where we commemorate the Lord’s Supper. This is the day where we, as God’s Good and Faithful, get to reflect on the night our Master sat at the table with His disciples one final time before willingly giving Himself up to be sacrificed on our behalf. Such a special night. There are not enough words to really convey the significance of that.

On the night that we celebrate, so many years ago, our Master sat at a table with His disciples. He Himself stated, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”[1] He looked forward to breaking bread with them, one final time before He was handed over to sinners to die a death He didn’t deserve. Knowing what was to come, He contextualized His upcoming suffering by instituting what we now know as Holy Communion. Luke explains in his account,

And [Jesus] took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.[2]

Jesus spoke these words to all who were seated with Him that night. Everyone who had been invited to that table. Everyone, including Judas Iscariot. The man who would go on to betray Him.

One of the many moving things about our Master is His capacity for mercy. As you read through the various Gospel accounts, you find that Jesus was always aware of what would take place that night at supper. He was not caught off guard by Judas Iscariot’s betrayal. He wasn’t in disbelief. It was His disciples who were. They could not imagine that at the very table of grace and generosity that they were sitting at that night, sat the one who would betray their beloved Master.

“Is it I, Lord?” everyone asked. Everyone, including Judas. And what’s also interesting is that Jesus says that one of them will betray Him, when in fact He knows that before the night is over, He will be left abandoned by all:

Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”[3]

The truth is, Jesus was surrounded by unfaithful traitors at that table. He was always surrounded by unfaithful, unworthy, traitors. Even John, the self-described “one whom Jesus loved”[4] was among those who scattered when their Shepherd was struck. Every last one of those who claimed to love Jesus turned their backs on Him when He needed them. And yet, it was to them that after breaking the bread He said,

“This is my body, which is given for you.” (emphasis added)

It was this group of traitors that Jesus served through the washing of their feet.[5] All of them. Judas Iscariot included. It was them He gave the power to to cast out demons in His name.[6] All of them. Judas Iscariot included. Jesus did not withhold His blessing from any of them. He did not withhold His grace or His mercy from any of them. Despite always knowing what they would do during His hour of greatest need.

But it was on that night that Judas stepped away to betray Jesus into the hands of sinners. He left the table before He could receive the most important set of instructions Jesus would give His disciples that night:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”[7]

Maundy Thursday is special for sooo many reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that on that night, Jesus washed the feet of His traitors, broke bread with them, and then told them that in the same way that He has loved them, they too must love each other.

You see, there is a call over the life of the Good and Faithful to be like their Master. In fact, the ultimate purpose that we live for is to be conformed to image of the Son of God.[8] There is no greater aim. There is no greater purpose. Blessing the nations and advancing the Kingdom of God is another way of saying, “be like Christ to those around you and let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.”[9]

God has not withheld anything from us. He gave us His best. He gave us His Son. Not only that, but He also then went on to give us His own Spirit who is the guarantee of our future inheritance with Christ![10] God has been rich in His mercy towards us, in every way. Should we not, as His Good and Faithful, be willing to do the same?

This Maundy Thursday, as we reflect and celebrate that rich love of our Savior, as we contemplate the words He spoke the night of His betrayal, let us take to heart the call He has placed over our lives. To love each other as He has loved us. Without restraint. Without qualification. Not because we think someone deserves it. But to love because He first loved us.[11] And when it gets hard, because it definitely can be challenging, keep His words in mind,

“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”[12]

 

[1] Luke 22:15b ESV
[2] Luke 22:19-20 ESV
[3] Matthew 26:31 ESV
[4] John 20:2
[5] John 13:1-11
[6] Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, Luke 9:1-6
[7] John 13:34 & 35
[8] Romans 8:28-30
[9] Matthew 5:13-15
[10] Ephesians 1:13-14
[11] 1 John 4:19-21
[12] John 13:17 ESV

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