Sunday Reflections - Jesus' Last Night
In the run-up to Easter we’ve taken a bit of time on Sundays to look at some of the events in the week leading up to Good Friday. Today we look at how Jesus spends the
evening before his crucifixion.
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging.
Take a moment to be still.
Listen to this version of Psalm 46.
It’s perfectly understandable that we feel anxious and stressed right now. Because of the circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic we may feel as though everything has come crumbling down - perhaps we have found that our job, money, home and family are not the secure places we thought they were. Everything we have depended on has been thrown up in the air. Where can we go?
God is our refuge and strength.
Read the Psalm again, pause and reflect.
God is with you.
Today’s reading is Matthew 26:17-46
It was Jesus’ last night with his closest friends before he would face the worst day of his life. What would you do? What are you doing? Perhaps you feel like you are facing the worst day of your life?
At the risk of sounding like the cheesy film, “Eat, Pray, Love,” I want to look at three things Jesus did that may also be helpful to us; serve, eat and pray.
When the disciples arrived at the place they would have the last supper together he was the one who washed their feet. This was usually the job of a servant and the disciples, Peter at least was very vocal about this, struggled with the idea of Jesus humiliating himself in this way. At a time when he could have been demanding that his disciples look after him because he had a big day coming up, Jesus is down on his knees wiping their smelly feet.
In these times of stress and worry it is right that we exercise self-care. But this story of Jesus reminds us that it is in dying to ourselves that we find true life. Sometimes part of exercising self care is to look outside of ourselves and see how we can serve others. It may be hard to judge but let us be aware that our self-care does not cross over into selfishness.
Jesus did not come to be served but to serve. And he is still serving - he is with you today to serve and bless you.
I use “eat” as a metaphor for fellowship. Jesus shared a meal with his friends. We know that this meal has extra significance but I just want to focus on the fact that Jesus takes the time to have a meal with those he loves. Even in the garden of Gethsemane when he poured his heart out he took three of his most intimate fellows.
This time of being stuck at home has suited the more introverted among us. An introvert may get energised from being quiet and time spent alone while the extrovert gets energised through chat and time with people. However, we all need to be with other people in order to survive and thrive. We’re human beings before we're introvert or extrovert and it has never been good for any of us to be alone. That’s why solitary confinement is such a terrible punishment. Let us make sure that we continue to foster the friendships that we have. We recognise that they're not what they were - digital may be great but it's not the same as physical presence, but we need to make sure that we keep and develop them.
And we see in the fellowship that Jesus shares with his disciples the fellowship that he shares with us as well. The prayer of Jesus in John 17 speaks of an incredible unity between us and him and his Father. In Jesus we are invited to share in the fellowship and love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. You are not, and never can be, alone.
In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus pours out his heart to his Father in heaven. There are no easy answers for him but he finds in prayer a renewed strength to face the trials to come. When he is dying on the cross he cries out to God that he is forsaken. It’s ok that we don’t have easy answers to the difficulties we face at the moment. But we should know that we have a God who cares, who listens and who is big enough to deal with our confused and anxious heart. Take some time to let it all out in prayer to your Father in heaven.
Jesus prays for his disciples and he prays for those who would come afterwards - us. Be encouraged when you pray that Jesus has already prayed for you and is still doing so now. So if you don’t know what or how to pray, that’s ok - he’s got it.
Ask God to show you:
Who can I serve? What can I do that will make someone else feel blessed?
Who can I be a friend to? How can I energise someone who may be alone?
Who can I pray for?