We are in Holy Week which is our way of remembering the final week of Jesus before his death on the cross. (While it is important to note that Jesus death wasn't the end of the story it was in essence the end of his earthly ministry. When I refer to Jesus' last week I am not implying that it was his last week but simply it was the last week leading up to the cross.) I know that facing certain death would cause me to focus on those things that were truly important. So what did Jesus focus on in his last week?
On Monday Jesus reclaimed proper worship of God. On Tuesday Jesus made it clear that we belong to God and should give ourselves to him. On Wednesday Jesus took the time to be with friends. Thursday must have felt somewhat like the last full day of vacation. It is a wonderful day where you still get to do those things that you want to do but you do them knowing that tomorrow you have to go back to the real world. Except Jesus didn't face going back to the daily grindstone of work. He faced multiple trials, ridicule, torture and eventually one of the most excruciating forms of death ever invented by man.
On Thursday Jesus and his Disciples make the necessary preparations for the Passover meal. And while they are eating the meal Jesus takes two actions that focus not just on the people at the meal but upon all future followers of Christ as well. It needs to be pointed out that the Passover meal was eaten after sundown on Thursday which would technically make it Friday. But for this discussion we are going to call it Thursday.
On that last evening together Jesus took the time to wash his Disciples' feet. It was a menial task that was usually relegated to a servant. Walking everywhere in a dry environment wearing sandals meant that your feet would get pretty dirty. And Jesus took the time to perform a task for his Disciples that would normally be beneath the teacher to do. Peter voices his objection strongly:
"(Jesus) came to Simon Peter, who said to him, 'Lord, do you wash my feet?' Jesus answered him, 'What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.' Peter said to him, 'You shall never wash my feet.' Jesus answered him, 'If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.'"
What Peter failed to see was that Jesus was setting a precedent for how the disciples should treat each other that should extend far beyond that original group:
"When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, 'Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.'"
Jesus also took the time to start the practice of what we now call Communion or the Lord's Supper.
"And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, 'Take; this is my body.' And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, 'This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.'"
We now celebrate Communion to remember the sacrifice that Jesus willingly paid for our sins. Jesus took the time to focus not only on those that were present but also those that were to follow them as well. Jesus had his focus on the church. This sentiment is easy for us to understand when we think about how parents can very easily be concerned with the well being of their children's children and beyond. Jesus was thinking about you and me that night. I find it very humbling that he thought that I was important enough to focus on the night that he would be arrested.
That night Jesus took time to pray:
"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them."
We were on Jesus mind that night. We are important enough to be a part of his focus in that last week.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.