The night Jesus was betrayed

Pastor John’s Easter Message:

There’s going to be another crop of first communion students. I thought I would share a reminder to us all, how the events of Holy Week contribute to the story of communing with Christ’s church.

Holy Week begins with Palm Sunday and ends with the most important three days in Christendom: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday.

We know Easter Sunday is when Christ rose from the dead. We know the Friday before Easter is Good Friday, when Christ died on the cross. The First communion class will begin by remembering Thursday. What happened with Jesus on Thursday night of Holy Week.

After his triumphant entry on Palm Sunday, Jesus did a few things that got some attention. He drove the moneychangers out of the Temple. He angered the chief priests and religious leaders. By Thursday evening, the crowd is no longer shouting hosana, the crowd is preparing to shout crucify him. 

As evening approached on Thursday, Jesus prepared and hosted one “last supper” with his disciples. Here the words, body of Christ given for you; and the words, blood of Christ shed for you, have their origin.

IN this special meal, Jesus also did something that was without words. During course of supper, knowing all that was to come, Jesus got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet. At the time, this made no sense to the disciples. Peter tried to refuse it, but Jesus told him, you will one day understand what I am doing.

Jesus had this opportunity to escape his enemies. He had this Thursday evening, to let Judas have it and to plan his attack before he is crucified, or perhaps plan his revenge once the crucifixion is over? Jesus, as the messiah and savior of the world, seems to make an odd choice, when he chose to spend his last night of freedom, talking about and modeling God’s love for the whole world.

According to the author of John’s gospel, before the last supper began: “Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father, having loved his own, he loved them to the end.” He knows it’s the last meal with them before the cross and he knows the temple police are probably on their way by now, and still, he chooses to wash the disciple’s feet in those final hours.

After Jesus rose from the dead, the disciples and apostles began to reflect on what Jesus did “in the night in which he was betrayed.” They marked it down as one of Jesus’ greatest moments and grand modeling of all his teachings about serving God and our neightbors.

What a Savior and Lord like no other. When Jesus was surrounded by evil, violence, and corruption, Jesus responded with a gesture of loving toward his friends. No matter what else is going on in our lives, we can try to love one another, as Jesus loved us.

IN Jesus, God has sent the world a Son who teaches us a new way of dealing with evil, hatred, and violence. We can retaliate with simple acts of love. We can fight back by trusting God with our futures, and believing in the power of the Resurrection.

Let us pray,

God of all people and nations, help us to remember the life of Christ, the way he loved his friends until the end, and how he forgave all who offended him. Give us courage and perseverance to face our fears and trials, that we may forgive our betrayers and the bullies who seek to do us harm. In the name of Jesus we pray.