Holy Week- Maundy Thursday- What’s For Supper?

We have now reached Thursday of Holy Week, or as some know it by Maundy Thursday. Today is the day that Jesus shared his Last Supper with his disciples.

Jesus was the host, he made the arrangements, and he had a lot to do any say in a very short window of time. The last supper may well be the most important dinner party the world has ever known.

I really enjoy the way Matthew tells the story. Things unfold as we come to expect. Bread is broken, wine is poured, Jesus predicts his death, and everyone swears their loyalty to Jesus up to and including their own deaths.

But buried in this familiar passage is some of the most amazing news humanity has ever been given; a new covenant.

During one of Israel’s lowest points, when their very survival seemed to be threatened, God promised that he would one day make a new covenant, a different covenant with his people. This covenant would be internal, not external. They would not be given a new set of rules to follow but a heart ready to serve God.

And a new heart is something that we desperately need. If we were to scan the our news feeds on any given day and what would we find? We find stories of poverty, of sickness, of war, of violence, of greed, of injustices of all kinds.

It seems obvious that humanity has a heart problem. And Jesus is offering a heart solution. Not more rules. Not more rituals. Not even more religion. Jesus is offering more of himself, he is offering more God.

The promise of the new covenant is one of the most beautiful verses in the bible, ‘I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbour, nor say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

As Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine he said that this covenant begins now, and that it begins with him. He would make it possible for us to have new hearts, and he would make it possible for us to be made right with God.

As you go about your day today and your stomach inevitably reminds you that you are hungry, take time and reflect on all Jesus said and did at the Last Supper. Likewise next time you take communion remember how much more was given that night then a little bread and wine.

Recieving Communion #2

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Holy Week- Wednesday- Time For A Rest

For the last few days I have noticed that people have found their way to my little corner of the Internet by asking questions to Google. Something like ‘What did Jesus do during holy week Monday/Tuesday?’ So you may have found you way here today asking; ‘What did Jesus do during Holy Week Wednesday?’ I can sum up Jesus’ activities in one word.

Nothing.

That’s right all is quiet in the Gospels about the Wednesday of Holy Week. It seems like Jesus took the day off. When we consider the week Jesus has had so far, and when we think about what the rest of the week will be like isn’t it interesting to think about Jesus having a down day with his friends.

What would you do if you had only a few days left to live? Jesus knows the path he is on is heading straight for the cross. He knows the coming pain and suffering. He knows that when everything is said and done the life he is currently living will be over.

If you knew that your time was coming to an end very soon wouldn’t you want to make every moment count? Maybe you would want to say everything you always wanted to say. Profess love to people you never could. Forgive the difficult people in your life. Maybe you’d take the time to impart some parental wisdom to your child, or make extra sure your spouse knows how you feel. Maybe you’d write a letter, or a book, or record a video. Whatever your method you’d make sure you said everything, taught everything, kissed, hugged and visited everyone you could.

Maybe we should expect the same from Jesus.

Jesus after all was running out of time to teach. His disciples still didn’t seem to understand a lot of what he was telling them. He could have healed more people, performed more signs, told more parables. Jesus could have spent Wednesday clearing out the nearest hospital, or writing down some things he knew the disciples needed to remember.

He could have done all of that. But he didn’t.

As far as we know Jesus rested. He took the day off. Amazing isn’t it. It defies conventional wisdom. Everyone knows when you are running out of time, you don’t stop for a breather, you speed up.But not Jesus. He stopped and rested.

I think he rested because he trusted that God had everything under control. Yes the last few days were hectic. And remaining few will be chaos. But Jesus knew God had everything under control, which gave him the peace rest.

Couldn’t you use a little of that peace right now? Couldn’t you use a little rest? Was yesterday crazy? Does today seem worse? Do you have too much to do too little time to do it in? That’s the mindset that says ‘it’s all up to me’.

But Easter should remind us that it is not us against the world. It is God and us against whatever comes our way. So as you continue to prepare yourself for Easter take some time today to rest. Rest, even if you are in the middle of the most important week of your life.

Jesus Did.

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Holy Week- Tuesday- The Battle Of Words

After Jesus received a kings welcome when he arrived in town, and created a prophets scene at the temple the ruling religious leaders were unhappy. They were in charge of one of the greatest temples, in one of the greatest cities, during the most important celebration of the Jewish calendar. But who was getting all the attention; some back woods preacher who didn’t seem to have enough sense to know whom he was messing with.

But Jesus wasn’t in Galilee anymore he was in their play ground and the time had come for them to show Jesus who really ran the religious show in Israel.

I find Tuesday to be such an exciting day in Holy Week. Jesus lets the parables fly left and right, he predicts the destruction of the temple, and the end times and of course he has a show down with the religious elite. I know some people zoom right into the end times prophecy, but I just can’t turn away from a good debate.

The Sadducees, the Pharisees and the Herodians were all out to get Jesus. But before they turned to violence they tried to use words. Jesus had brought the fight right to their front doorstep, and they wanted to discredit him in front of the crowd.

So they had a line up of theological puzzles for Jesus to solve. First it was a question concerning Jesus’ authority, the next question involved paying tax to Caesar, then it was marriage and the resurrection, and finally Jesus was asked about the greatest commandment.

Each time a question was asked, I am sure the questioner had a look of smug arrogance. They were sure that they had Jesus backed into an intellectual cornered. They were sure, if he could answer at all, that there was nothing he could say that wouldn’t either infuriate the crowds, or allow them to charge Jesus with blasphemy.

But that didn’t happen. For every question asked Jesus was able to readily supply an answer. The crowds were delighted, it was the Sadducees, Pharisees and the Herodians that left infuriated.

As I reflect on this story I cannot help but wonder if the same can be said about Jesus’ followers now. Are we equally up to the task of answering our critics puzzles? Are we ready at a moments notice to debunk myth, to show where scripture is being misinterpreted, and to unravel theological puzzles?

Is there any question right now that you dread the thought of a non-Christian asking you? I bet there is at least one. How could there not be. There are so many hot topics out there right now when it comes to faith and religion. If it is not science, it is womens rights. If it’s not womens rights, its use of money. If its not money, its the environment. If it is not the environment, it is sexuality. And on and on we can go.

So as you settle into Holy Tuesday take some time and look up the answer to that one question you’ve always wanted to know. Who knows the answer may surprise you.

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