My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, April 4, 2019

It seemed like a dream.  I had accepted an invitation to eat an important meal at a gentleman’s house in his upstairs room.  The host explained to me that this event would be a once in a lifetime experience.  I would be sharing the table with very important guests.  I suddenly realized that I could understand my host’s speech although it was not in English.  I heard a voice outside.  I could not put a name or face with it.  Other voices accompanied the first one.  The guests had arrived together.  They came up the stairs.  I immediately was overwhelmed by his appearance.  Somehow, I knew who he was.  It was the Galilean and his dozen plus one students.  His greeting was unforgettable.  His disciples warmly greeted me.  Several completed the last-minute preparations while the rest of us seated ourselves.  I was invited to sit a couple of apostles to the right of Jesus.  I had a huge advantage.  I knew what was going to happen but wasn’t permitted to divulge that information.  I could only observe, and did so, but in awe.

We had not been seated long, Judean style, until Jesus stood up, took a towel, a basin of water, and announced he would wash everyone’s feet.  His announcement shocked the group, but I knew what was going to happen.  I was a participant in history being made.  The fisherman called Peter objected, but the Messiah negated it.  I knew I must be dreaming, and I was afraid I would wake up.  The Master washed the feet of all.  I could not believe he was washing mine.  Then he explained what he was doing and why (John 13:4-12).

A custom prevailed which featured four servings of wine during the Passover meal.  This cultural and traditional addition had been added to the Passover meal beginning with the Babylonian exile.  Each participant’s cup was filled and consumed at specific times.  They had already partaken of two when Jesus announced, “I wanted very much to eat this Passover meal with you before I die.  I tell you, I will never eat another Passover meal until it is given its true meaning in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:15-16).  Then he offered a prayer of thanks (v. 17).  He continued with the third cup saying, “Take this cup and give it to everyone here.  I tell you, I will never drink from the fruit of the vine again until God’s kingdom comes” (v. 17-18).   When finished, “while they were eating, Jesus took bread and gave thanks to God.  He broke off some of it and gave it to them.” (Mark 14:22).  Then he stated, “Take it.  This bread is my body which I am giving for you.  Eat this to remember me.” (Luke 22:19).   I had observed the supper hundreds of times but this one was unique and special!  I could not believe I was there.  We were reclined around a table that was not designated as “the Lord’s table,” while today we substitute a small table referred to as “the Lord’s,” but don’t recline around it.

For the fourth time each participant’s cup was filled.  “After supper, Jesus took a cup and said, ‘This cup is God’s new covenant sealed by my blood, which is being poured out for you” (v. 22).  After this was completed Jesus shocked his students with an announcement.  “I am telling you the truth: One of you will turn against me!” (Matthew 26:21; Luke 22:21-22).  That announcement motivated a unified question, “Lord, I am not the one, am I?!” (Matthew 26: 22).  Jesus’ reply was, “The person who dipped his hand in the same dinner bowl with me will turn against me” (v. 23).  He ended by saying, “It would be better for that man if he had never been born!” (V. 24).  I turned and watched Judas Iscariot because I wanted to see what kind of expression his face would portray.  I was shocked.  He would have passed a lie detector’s test without a problem!  He replied, “Rabbi, I am not the one, am I!?”  Jesus answered, “Yes, you are” (v. 25; John 13:21).  There was no denial offered by the accused.  He displayed nothing to alert the others to what he planned to do that evening.  To answer their “who” question, Jesus plainly stated, “After I dip this piece of bread in the sauce, I will give it to that person” (John 22:26).  I knew they would be as “blind as a bat.”  Jesus dipped the bread and gave it to Judas.  No recognition crossed anyone’s face.  Judas left with them thinking Jesus had sent him to “buy what we need for the feast” or “give something to the poor people” (John 13:29).  In spite of Judas’ character, the others refused to visualize him as a turncoat.  Neither could anyone see Peter denying Jesus three times before the rooster finished his morning habit.  The rooster’s second crow did jostle Peter’s memory (Matthew 26:75; Mark 14:72; Luke 22:61)!  None believed they would forsake Jesus.  When the mob appeared, twelve men (which included Mark), evaporated into the night’s shadows (Matthew 26:56; Mark 14:50).  Scripture was being fulfilled.

How far John ran before his loyalty kicked in, only John knew.  His friendship with the high priest’s family would allow him to follow where Jesus had been taken.  He took Peter with him.  If Peter had only known and paid attention to Jesus’ warnings, he would have remained outside (John 18:15-18, 25-27; Matthew 26:58; Mark 14:54; Luke 22:54).  He didn’t, so the rooster crowed twice!  Jesus had known Peter’s disposition better than Peter knew himself.  Are we all not guilty of possessing Peter’s weakness?  Doesn’t the Lord know ours as well as he knew Peter’s?

No, I wasn’t there.  I never smelled the roasted lamb on the Passover table.  I never heard the arguments engaged in by the apostles.  I never felt the Lord wash my feet nor dry them.  I never had a cup to be filled once, much less four times at that table.   I never heard their questioning denials.  I did not see the mob’s torches as they came to arrest Jesus.  I did not see that betrayal kiss.  I did not hear Peter’s blade when it separated Malchus’ ear from his head.  Nor did I hear that slave’s painful cry nor see him feel his restored ear.  Neither did I hear Jesus on the cross utter, “It is finished.”  No, I wasn’t there, but my sins were, and Jesus paid it all!

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 KJV).

For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (NKJV).

For God took the sinless Christ and poured into him our sins. Then, in exchange, he poured God’s goodness (righteousness) into us!” (TLB).

Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?  Thank God! It has been done by Jesus Christ our Lord. He has set me free” (Romans 7:24-25 NLT, TLB).