Thursday, April 13, 2017

HOLY WEEK - THURSDAY: "TWO TRANSFORMATIVE EVENTS"

On the day which some call “Maundy Thursday”,  a series of significant events occurred which brought a new paradigm and way of thinking to those who aspire to be both leaders and servants of the Lord.  It was Passover, just as it is now, in 2017 around Good Friday. On the biblical calendar (which is different from the Julian calendar we used in today’s world – the one created by Julius Caesar), Passover is always on 14 Nisan 5777 (not the automaker Nissan, but Nisan – which was April 10th 2017 this year). Jesus had sent Peter and the disciples ahead to prepare the Upper Room for the Passover Seder.

The Passover Seder is much like what some of us, who are versed in these things, have done in various venues for years, with all the required elements. Except when Jesus is doing the Passover remembrance, it is the real deal! He is not just the actual Passover Lamb Himself, metaphorically speaking, but it was Christ Who led the Exodus out of Egypt all the way from when He met Moses on Mt. Sinai in the Burning Bush...and created the original Passover at that time.

Apart from the physical preparations for the meal, the strong undercurrent and tension of the previous few days events in Jerusalem, now packed with up to one million people for the Passover, weighed heavily in the air. Jesus, the Man Who preached peace, love and forgiveness was starting to reassume His eternal title of Divine Judge and had overturned not just the tables, but the same corrupt and evil order who had existed since the time the Magi (the Wise Men) visited Herod looking for the Christ Child. These Magi had seen the Star of Bethlehem in the East and followed it to find the baby Jesus in the Manger. Jerusalem was in uproar, knowing the prophesied Messiah had come to mess up their evil world order and now, 33  years later, nothing had changed. The worldly powers had seen first-hand, what a Righteous God can do. They still did not believe. The question is, if we were alive in Jerusalem, would be part of the uproar against Christ, or would we stand on the sidelines or would we have been all in? These are serious things to ponder, even now! Please do not think modern day Christians are incapable of acting just like some of these folks from Bible times! 

What happened during the meal carries deep significance for us Christians, and Christian leaders, alive today.  The one that is most talked about and emulated, is the actual “Washing of the Feet”.  I have been honored to be asked to be the recipient of this act of selfless humility and service, decades ago while attending a church in Hartford, Connecticut.  It shakes one to the core. It makes you feel completely unworthy and it brings home not just the symbolism of what Jesus – the CREATOR OF THE WORLD – did for this rag tag group of men who would abandon him less than 12 hours later, but what He actually did for us on the Cross.

The Ultimate Life Coach – King Jesus – basically did what He came off the Eternal Throne of Heaven to do. He did the job Himself. But in this act of washing the disciples’ dirty feet, He instituted the only acceptable form of leadership which is fit for the Kingdom of Heaven. Listen to what He said here in John 13:12-17:
12 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. 

Jesus surely made these men uncomfortable by this act and they should have been. Just as Jesus shook up the world order for the sons of perdition, He was even more intentional about Kingdom Order for the few who are chosen then, and the many who will be chosen in the Kingdom to come.  When Peter recoiled, as maybe a lot of us would have,  He was told in no uncertain terms, that this is how it was going to be. In our own way of thinking, how would we have reacted to Jesus washing our feet? In a sense He already did. He washed us clean with His Supernatural Blood if we are born again and have accepted His Lordship in our lives!

The other significant event that night was the betrayal.  It was particularly noteworthy that everyone or most of the disciples thought that he was the one who was going to betray the Lord! In a sense, most of them did. They scurried away and headed for the hills as soon as King Jesus was captured by the bad guys, after their crooked treasurer Judas betrayed Jesus. 

All the disciples, from the rambunctious Peter who literally cussed up a blue streak while denying Jesus Christ three times to the fabulous sons of thunder, (minus John who wrote the Book of John), ALL abandoned the Lord. The beloved John the Revelator not only showed up at the Crucifixion, but stood next to Mary, mother of Jesus, James, Jude and other sisters and a brother. He was the only one spared an early death, but not persecution.

In a sense, we have all betrayed Him.  When one sinned – all sinned. There is no difference between Adam, whom God had personally instructed face to Face, standing next to his wife while she negotiated with Satan and then joining her in her sin….and the daily sin we commit, even as Christians. Sin is sin and missing the mark, big time. 

We also miss the mark when we do not stand up for Christ in the marketplace. A person very close to me and a group of new recruits of over 50 men and women stood before the local Colonel at their first military drills.  Out of the blue, the Colonel asked if anyone in the group was a Christian. Only one person put his hand up and it was that person whom I knew very well. Then the Colonel explained the reason he asked. He just wanted to inform them that chaplains were available for Christians and others if they needed.  It was as simple as that and not a call to join the Crusades. Still, while others may have said they were later on, the reluctance to even identify as a Christian in so-called “Christian America” is absolutely stunning.

When we pass on even stating who we are, in the marketplace, alongside our co-workers or even the classroom, because in the world’s opinion it is not the “cool thing” to do, we too run from Christ and hide like His disciples did. We are not saying that any of us would have sold out Jesus to the enemy for 30 pieces of silver or bitcoin. No real Christian would ever do that, but we have all kept silent when Christ has been blasphemed, maligned and/or worse. Most Christians – professing or authentic – are incapable of even explaining one substantial answer for the Hope that is within us, as Scripture prescribes because only 9% of Adults even know the Bible or have a worldview which encompasses the Real God of Heaven. Even less millennials are Biblical literate – 4% and declining (all current George Barna figures).  Within two generations, most young people will be completely lost to the world. There is absolutely no difference between any of this and what the disciples in scattering to the four winds. 

These are two of the most significant things which occurred in the hours (on the Thursday of Holy Week) leading up to the arrest and six illegal trials of the Lord Jesus.  Both have had significant impact, on not just the church, but has affected each and every authentic follower of Christ. Those who are wise, will rise and learn from this one incredible act of Jesus (washing of the feet) and the betrayal (the acts of men). May we be found wise in His Eyes and may our Lives be continually transformed into HIS Likeness and not the one which reflects this quickly perishing and fleeting age. Amen.

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