Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Gift of Presence - Maunday thursday

Read: John Chapters 13-17
“It was just before the Passover feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” 13:1

It may be four complete chapters, and, yes, we have already covered it a passage at a time. But today, Maunday Thursday, I recommend a reading of the entire Last Supper narrative in one sitting. It is the only way to get a feel for the collective weight of all that Jesus said, all that transpired there.

Imagine the scene. A group of close friends getting together for dinner. The participants certainly included all twelve disciples, and probably the women who were a part of the group too.

Good supper conversation is one of my favorite experiences. Friends together, good food, and heartfelt dialogue that reflects our shared history as well as the mutual love that we all feel. We have been privileged to share many such meals with our family here at First Presbyterian church.

This particular occasion turned into another one of those experiences where the disciples learned from the Master. He was pensive, thoughtful, more reflective even than usual. He shouldered the load of the world’s cumulative guilt on his heart, and it was beginning to show.

No fear, but certainly uneasiness at what was about to transpire. If you read between the lines you can almost feel Jesus reaching out to his friends and inviting them to help share this tremendous burden. But they were not able to. They were not able to fully grasp what was beginning to happen, and they could only follow him, as they always did, when he went to Gethsemane later that evening, pulling tentatively at the edges of his experience, just a couple of beats behind.

The result, or course, was that Jesus went to Gethsemane alone that evening. Physically, they were there, but he bore the heaviness of the coming horror without the conscious support of his friends, because they just couldn’t bring themselves to believe.

I hold that it hurts Jesus today when we take the position of his friends and skirt around the periphery of what he is really up to. This is a serious observance, and Christ knowingly went into Good Friday for each of us personally. Let us at least give him the gift of our devotion and the evidence of our love.

PRAYER: Allow us to watch with you in the garden tonight. Amen.

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