Easter Week: The Last Supper

IMG_2683 edit“It was now just before the Passover Feast, and Jesus knew that His hour had come to leave this world and return to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the very end….Jesus knew that the Father had delivered all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was returning to God. (John 13:1, 3)

“When evening came, Jesus was reclining with the twelve disciples. And while they were eating, He said to them, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray Me.”

They were deeply grieved and began to ask Him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?”

Jesus answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with Me will betray Me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed. It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

Then Judas, who would betray Him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”

Jesus answered, “You have said it yourself.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, spoke a blessing and broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is My body.”

Then He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matthew 26:20-30)

IMG_2684 edit.jpgI can only begin to imagine the range and depth of emotion coursing through Jesus on this night.

Urgency?  This was His very last chance to teach and instruct His disciples, and prepare them for what lay ahead.

Love?  He tenderly washed their feet.  He comforted them.  He prayed for them, and for all who would believe in Him thereafter.

Dread?  He knew that by morning, He would be arrested, betrayed by one of His own inner circle, turned on by the fickle crowds of Jesusalem, sentenced to cruel death.

Anxiety?  Later in the night, we know that He shed His first drops of blood not on the cross, but in Gethsemane as He agonized over what was coming.

Sorrow?  He told Peter, “My soul is consumed with sorrow to the point of death.” (Matthew 26:38)

Fear?  In His humanity, He asked His Father that He might be spared the agony that He knew awaited Him.

Abandonment?  He watched one of his inner circle walk out the door intent upon betrayal.  He asked his remaining eleven friends to pray with him; he found them sleeping.  Later, they would all run away or claim they never knew Him.

And yet, determination?  He told His Father, “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)

“Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? No, it is for this purpose that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify Your name!” (John 12:27-28)

A Place to Still Your Heart

icy water dropletSometimes, in all the wonderful hustle and bustle that December can be, it’s good to take a walk alone in the woods to listen to the stillness…

to quietly admire the strange and wonderful effects of melting and freezing snow and ice…ice on branchto be startled and then delighted when a deer goes leaping across the trail mere feet in front of you…IMG_1714 editto stand and watch the late afternoon sun glint through bits of ice on twiggy branches, like hundreds of cut glass ornaments hung for Christmas…ice on twigsto deeply breathe in crisp cold air and be glad for warm new mittens…IMG_1776

and, as the still permeates your soul, to think about the One who said to “be still and know that I am God”,

the Prince of Peace whose purpose was to bring ultimate and perfect peace on earth, whose first humble coming to earth we will celebrate very soon—and be glad.

And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace…to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.”  (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Sometimes in the midst of the busyness, it takes something as far removed from the tinsel and packages as a woodland cathedral robed in winter white, where no instrument plays but the wind whispering through the branches and no voices speak but those of chickadees and squirrels—

to bring your heart back where it needs to be.