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)

Pasque Flower

IMG_3562One of the earliest, loveliest flowers of spring is the pasque flower.  While it doesn’t appear naturally up here in the northwoods, you have only to drive west to the prairies to find it growing wild and free in its native habitat.  It’s also known as ‘wild crocus’—but I have to say I prefer it’s French name.  I like the appropriate sophistication it lends to such a lovely bloom—but even more, I appreciate a deeper significance to the name that is likely lost on most people.

And what’s the significance?  ‘Pasque’ is a word derived directly from the word ‘Passover’, making its name, literally, ‘Passover flower’—and at least this year, it seems to be quite appropriately named.  On the very weekend I knelt on the brick walkway of my parent’s flower garden to photograph its first blooms, the actual Jewish celebration of Passover was in full swing (April 22nd-30th).

For the Jews, it’s a celebration to commemorate the night of the tenth plague in Egypt, some 4,000 years ago, when the angel of death passed over their homes, sparing their first-born children at the sight of the blood of an unblemished lamb painted on their doorposts.

For me, it’s a celebration that reminds me that Death has passed over me, also, having seen that I, too, am covered by the blood of the unblemished Lamb of God.

“…and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 12:13)

“…you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.  Let us therefore celebrate the festival… (1 Corinthians 5:7-8)IMG_3558Dare I say that the celebration of Passover holds even more significance for me as a Christian than for any Jew?  Hallelujah!