Last night, Maundy Thursday, I had gone to bed as soon as I arrived home in the evening, exhausted. I slept a long night’s sleep, enjoying the rest. But as I woke up this Good Friday morning, I reflected on Jesus’ long night, knowing that, years before, He had spent the whole night after the Passover meal and His time praying in the Garden of Gethsemane being humiliated, mocked, spat at, beaten, whipped, taunted, interrogated, challenged, ‘crowned’ … Such injustice.
For Jesus, it was His last night on earth as a man. He was probably exhausted, too, being made to stay up all night by the Pharisees. Not only that, so many people had been demanding His attention, expecting Him to rescue them from the tyranny of the Romans, set them free from the harsh religious rules of the Pharisees, heal their bodies (which He happily did), perform miracles like a show pony, prove Himself over and over… He was misunderstood in His purpose and some were not happy with Him at all. He was a threat to their way of life. Others followed which ever voice was the loudest. One day it was “Hosanna!” The next week it was “Crucify Him!”
Yet He faced this final night with joy and courage, with love for His disciples and expectation for the future. He was happy to eat this last Passover meal with those who had followed Him.
“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.”Luke 22:15 (NIV)
“…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame…”Hebrews 12:2 (NIV)
He had the weight of the cross on His heart – the joy, the faithfulness to His Father – but also the pain and suffering to come – the physical agony, nakedness, the spiritual pain, carrying the punishment for all sin, taking on the curses, sorrows, griefs, shame and disease, and the separation from His Father. He faced the cross and the grave, the demons in hell, to win us back to the Father. Such love.
I wondered if He thought He might fail. This was hard.
“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”Matthew 26:75
He asked for a reprieve, at the same time knowing He had to do this. Such faithfulness.
And this faithfulness spoke to my heart, as I am one who fails often: who fails out of fear, procrastination, or avoidance altogether, and who fails due to my flesh rising up – sin. His faithfulness to His Father, and to me, sparked a courage in me again to seek to follow Him well, with a cry in my heart, ‘Lord, help me to be faithful. Help me follow You’.
The week before the Passover meal, after being welcomed to the festival by the great crowd crying, ‘Hosanna!’, Jesus speaks to the people,
“Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.”John 12: 24
I believe He was referring both to Himself dying to produce a harvest of eternal life, as well as to those who would follow Him, that we would lay down our lives to serve Him (v25-26).
Jesus then speaks His heart, “Now my heart is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your Name.” (v27-28)
Even in this week of anguish and trouble, leading to His death on the cross, Jesus’ focus was to bring glory to His Father. I’m sure there is much more to be said about this, but my heart wondered what God’s glory looks like. I thought of His love, mercy, salvation and redemption; His forgiveness, power, hope and victory! Is this what Jesus was referring to? Are these not glorious?! What a gift we have been given in these. Or perhaps, if I can appear bold, are we His glory? I wondered this and felt it as a great humility -that we might glorify God, bring Him glory in our believing, in our love and devotion, and even, in the sense of a child to His Father, be His glory, His precious children, His treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; 26:18) Please don’t misunderstand me. Just as ‘grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged” (Psalm 90:16), are we like that to God? I know that’s how I feel about my children. For God to allow His precious Son to die that we might be brought back, bought with His shed blood, redeemed by the power of the cross and resurrection, does not that tell us how much we are loved and valued? Like the man who found treasure hidden in the field (Matthew 14:44) and sold all he had for it, are we the treasure that the Father bought? In my morning meditation I sensed His joy, His deep passion for us. I was reminded again how great the Father’s love is for the sinful, broken, shamed, prideful and weak soul. That our Father would choose us to be His, love us enough to send Jesus to die a gruesome death, and rescue us from an eternity worse than death, is a wonderful gift.
And I pray with the Apostle Paul, that
“you will be empowered to discover…the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is His love! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding – this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God!Ephesians 3:18-19 (TPT)