Thursday, April 13, 2017

The Missing Part of Maundy Thursday and the Greatest Prayer That Can Be Prayed


We've reached the day in Holy Week known as "Maundy Thursday." 

Jesus did His usual teaching and healing work during the day and and spent all night in prayer, every single night during His last week. He had redemptive work to do, and He had already determined that it would be done. 

By Thursday, Jesus must've been about to drop with exhaustion, yet He pressed on. 

Late in this day, He and the disciples assembled in the Upper Room. There was no servant to wash their feet after their dusty walk, and none of the men offered to do it, either. They took their places on the floor, table in the center, dirty feet behind them.

John tells us that Jesus laid aside His garments, wrapped a towel around his waist, and picked up the basin of water. He walked over to the first of His disciples and began to wash his feet.

Shock probably ran through the room, but they let Him do it. 

Only Peter argued with Him, but, in the end, even he allowed Jesus to wash His feet.

After that, they ate the "last supper," during which Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Communion or Lord's Supper, for the church. 

Our Maundy Thursday commemoration usually stops there, but something else happened that night. Maybe we ignore it because it's less appealing, but it's no less important.

Gethsemane.

After the meal, Jesus and the disciples walked across to the olive grove where He often went to pray. 

This is the moment in time that made our redemption possible. It was the surrender in Gethsemane that allowed our Lord to go to the cross. Jesus didn't want to go. He made that clear in His prayer. 

The important truth is that, even though He didn't want to face the cross, He was willing to choose the Father's will over His own. 

"Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done."

Those eight words make up the greatest prayer that can be prayed. It's the prayer that never fails. When we give our desires to God and choose His, we surrender to His perfect will. 

We guarantee His answer, because when we want what God wants, we can be certain we'll receive it.

That night, Jesus knew what God wanted. Arrest. Trial. Beating. Shame. Crucifixion. Death. The Tomb. Resurrection. In His humanness, the only part Jesus was likely to "want" was the resurrection. Rising from the dead was critical to redeem the world, yet it was only possible if all the other horribleness came first. 

The arrest, trial, beating, shame, crucifixion, death, and tomb weren't optional if  redemption was to be accomplished, so Jesus chose the hard part, too.

There's another part of His beautiful High Priestly Prayer that we need to remember, as well. Jesus prayed that all the disciples to come (which means you and me) would be "perfected in unity." He prayed that our unity would be so perfect, so filled with love, that the world would look at us and understand our Lord.

We're not there yet. 

When believers around the world are slaughtered for their faith and the church fails to respond, we deny the unity Jesus prayed we'd have.

When we argue, complain against each other, hold grudges, refuse to forgive, we deny the unity Jesus prayed we'd have. 

We also deny the world a living portrait of Jesus and His Father, of their love, of the redemption that's possible.

The work of the Great Commission begins here. With unity. If we don't get that part right with our lives, what we say with our mouths won't matter a bit to a dark and perishing world.

Today, let's do that for which Jesus spent His last hours praying. 

Love one another. Live and work in unity. 

"Love one another as I have loved you." John 15:12 

Photo (top) of the Garden of Gethsemane. Photo above of the Rock of Surrender where Jesus prayed in the garden. 
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