On Thursday afternoon Jesus emerged from the silence of Wednesday to prepare for the Passover meal. There were two important things Jesus experienced that evening – a last meal with his disciples, and an agonizing prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. What do these two events teach us today?
The Last Meal
The Passover meal memorialized the salvation of God in the Exodus from Egypt.
In Exodus 12, God instructed the Israelites to sacrifice a lamb, and then eat the lamb with unleavened bread and bitter herbs.
The lamb’s blood was placed on their doorposts as a sign to God, who would “pass over” the houses of the Israelites (Exodus 12:13), while smiting the Egyptians with the tenth plague, the killing of the first-born sons.
This was the divine act that finally liberated the Israelites after 400 years of slavery. God then commanded them to repeat this practice every year.
This is exactly what Jesus did with his disciples. However, Jesus would give it all new meaning.
As Jesus gave his disciples the unleavened bread he told them that it now represented his body; and the wine, his blood.
What was he asking them (and us) to remember?
1. His body as a sacrifice.
Jesus was the final sacrificial lamb. No other is needed.
2. His blood shed for our salvation.
The blood was smeared on the cross as a sign for God to “pass-over” our sins.
3. His exodus.
Jesus was the ultimate deliverer, preparing the way for our Exodus from this world and entrance into the Promised Land of heaven.
Reflection: When you think about the ramifications of what Jesus did for you on the cross, what does it make you feel? What response does it call for? How does it change you?
The Agonizing Prayer
After the meal, Jesus led his disciples up the Mount of Olives, just outside the walls of Jerusalem. They entered the Garden of Gethsemane – really more of a dense orchard. There, hiding in the trees, Jesus asked his disciples to watch his back as he fell to the ground and prayed.
His prayer was an agonizing plea with God. Jesus was in deep emotional pain. Sweat poured off of his head in buckets – like blood pouring from a head wound. His face was twisted and his eyes squeezed shut as he pleaded with God for a full hour.
Obviously, Jesus was terrified at the prospect of crucifixion. Who can blame him?
Three Things to Ponder
1. Jesus was human and totally transparent in his prayers.
2. Sometimes God’s answer is to not answer.
3. More than anything, Jesus wanted God’s will (even if he didn’t like it).
Reflection: What does Jesus’ example change about the way you pray and the way you respond to God in prayer?
READ DAY 1 — TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
READ DAY 2 — CLEARING THE TEMPLE
READ DAY 3 — CONFLICT & CONTROVERSY
READ DAY 4 — SILENCE & SOLITUDE
READ DAY 6 — JESUS IS CRUCIFIED
READ DAY 7 — THE GRAVE
STAY TUNED FOR DAY 8 — HE’S ALIVE!