Throughout this Easter Holy Week, we continue to walk with Jesus towards the agony of the cross on Good Friday and the glory of his resurrection on Easter Sunday.
On Good Friday, we will have a worship service with scripture readings and prayers. We will remember the trials, the betrayal, the crucifixion and the death of Jesus. We will remember his faithfulness and commitment despite the mocking and anguish. We will tell his story.
On Easter Sunday, we will celebrate with two services – an early “Son-Rise” service for those who honour “at dawn on the first day of the week,” (Matt. 28: 1), and we will celebrate our regular Easter Sunday worship service together at 10 a.m. We will remember with joy and rejoicing Jesus walking out of that tomb! We will remember the miracle of his resurrection.
With Good Friday only two days away, I find myself thinking about Jesus’ last words and his last actions before he faced his death. He knew his time was short. What was important to him? What did Jesus say? What did Jesus do? What did he want to convey to his disciples (and us) in those last days?
At the Last Supper, the night before his death, Jesus tells us to remember him with the bread and the wine, which we have continued to do throughout the centuries, but Jesus does an action which we don’t do and which is important. He washes the feet of his disciples.
“Jesus 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.” John 13: 4, 5.
It is the act of a servant. It was a custom in Jesus’ day to wash your feet before you entered a house because the roads were dusty and you wore sandals for shoes. This great act of humility and humbleness from Jesus spoke volumes. He tells the disciples:
“The greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves… I am among you as one who serves.” Luke 22: 26, 27.
In our day, we don’t have to wash our feet entering a house, but this action of Jesus is symbolic – how do we serve each other? With humility? With humbleness? With love?
Even in the garden of Gethsemane when he is arrested, Jesus heals a servant of the high priest. Soldiers and chief priests have come to take Jesus away, and one of Jesus’ disciples strikes out with a sword, cutting off the ear of the servant, but Jesus touched the man’s ear and healed him. What does this say about Jesus? In the midst of terrible conflict, he is filled with compassion. He heals in the midst of this turmoil.
Rev. William Barclay in his Daily Study Bible has this to say:
“Jesus knew that He had come from God and that He was going to God. He might well have thought that He was finished with the world now, for He was on the way to God. It was just at that time when God was nearest to Him that Jesus went to the depths and the limits of His service of humanity. The wonderful thing about Jesus was that His nearness to God, so far from separating Him from men and women, brought Him nearer than ever to them.
“Jesus knew one other thing. Jesus was well aware that He was about to be betrayed. Such a knowledge might so easily have turned Him to bitterness and to resentment and to hatred of men; but it made His heart run out in greater love than ever. The astounding thing about Jesus was that the more men hurt Him, the more He loved them. And it is so easy and so natural to resent wrong, and to grow bitter under insult and injury. But Jesus met the greatest injury, the supreme disloyalty, with the greatest humility and the supreme love.”
As we remember Jesus going to the cross this week, can we remember his supreme love? And forgiveness? And mercy? And kindness? And gestures of compassion and care for us?
Can we remember the supreme gift of love, of Jesus, given to our world?