Passion Week Musings: The Last Passover Supper

After the Olivet discourse the events documented in the Gospel’s really focuses on events of preparation leading up to the Last Supper which was a Passover meal.   Prior to that meal there are two other significant documented events.  Jesus was anointed with perfume by some woman, which Jesus described as his being prepared for burial.  During this same time the other event described in the Gospels is Judas making a deal with the religious leaders to betray Jesus.   Up until the last Supper all the tensions were mounting and the crescendo was building.   As Jesus spent time preparing both himself and his disciples for what is coming there had to be an emotional storm building in Jesus.  The anticipation of what was to come had to far more intense than anything any of us have gone through.  Tomorrows post on the Garden will touch a bit more on the emotions of Jesus.  Here the focus is really about the preparation and Jesus pointing ahead and trying to prepare his disciples for what is to come while the pieces were moving and being set into play.  Jesus focus during that last Passover supper was all on what is to come.

After all the pieces were in place, Jesus and the disciples had the Passover meal and celebration. Now if the reader is not aware, the Passover points to the night Israel was delivered from Egypt with the tenth plague, the death of the 1st born males in Egypt.  There was instruction to sacrifice a lamb and place the blood on the doorpost, resulting in being spared having the first born killed.   The Passover meal reminds us of sin and bondage and points to God’s once and for all sacrifice in Jesus.  Jesus declared himself the “Afikomen” when he directed his disciples to eat the bread. He declared himself “salvation” when he drank the third cup.  He really told the disciples about what was coming and it would be for salvation.   Jesus also spent time giving the disciples words to remember and a significant object lesson of serving and loving one another.  His actions were all about preparing the disciples for what was ahead, even though he knew they did not understand that they could not possibly understand. When Judas left the meal, after likely dipping the parsley at the same time as Jesus and announced as a betrayer, imagine the confusion and shocked the disciples experienced.  I can imagine the indignation the disciples felt as they were told that they would all falter.  Imagine after the resurrection, the disciples talking and discussion the events of the Last Passover Supper with a new grasp and understanding that had failed them in the midst.  The point that really hits home today thinking about this, is the Jesus and the Father both spent a lot of time preparing the disciples and those around for the events that were to unfold.  The essential point here is God does prepare us for what is ahead. 

Now our being prepared is not something that we are fully aware of at the time.  We like the disciples may be confused and lost in the midst.  We wonder the who, what, when, where, and whys of things we do not grasp. Yet, God does go before us and prepare us. God is in control.  Sometimes many pieces come into play that converge, but God is not caught off guard or surprised by anything and he gives us what He knows we need, which is often different than what we think we need.  Jesus spent personal time with his disciples during an important and meaningful time to prepare them for what is to come.  As what was to come in the next few days was an apex of darkness before the point of victory occurred.  The time leading up to the Last Passover supper was all about preparation,  it was the “middle” part of the story that at the time seems insignificant and can even get  bogged down but really is the essential time as it was the time the pieces moved into place, the character moments established that build to the climax, which in the cause were the death and resurrection to come. 

In this day and age, when pieces and events seem to be moving us ever closer to the second coming, it is important to know that God has us undergoing times of preparation. Whatever we are doing and going through, it really serves to build us up and prepare us for what is yet to come.  God is working in each of our lives to give us the teaching, training, and growth needed for what is yet to come.   Each day is a day closer to Jesus return.  Just like the cross, the moment of victory will be preceded by a time of great darkness and the appearance of victorious darkness. Yet, Jesus is coming and Victory is assured.  God has prepared us for what is ahead and will go before us and lead the way.  We just need to stay the course, be sober, be alert, and remain awake.  God is and will test all claiming to be in the faith. Lines are being drawn, pieces are moving, and we are nearing the end.  It is both a terrible and glorious day.  But worry and fear not, because it is God that prepares our hearts and minds, it is he that enables us to stand firm.  Just seek and pursue truly loving God and others, walk the path God directs and points you and trust that God will prepare you for what is ahead.

Musings on Cures for Suffering

Suffering is awful. I see suffering every day. There are many diseases and global problems that really seem to be giants and the world would be better off if we had a solution to them and that suffering eradicated. Yet, it is worth noting that Jesus once stated, “the poor will always be with us.” (Matthew 26:11) The fact is suffering exists because of the sin of man. The first sin resulted in the twisting of all creation the proper order was displaced. Therefore, suffering is ongoing. Today thought about things such as praying that humanity develops a cure for cancer and other such issues. The reality is once one disease and suffering defeated, there is always something more discoveries. It is an ongoing process; it is death released by the separating from God and emphasizing self. There is only one answer to suffering, and that is the Kingdom of God. That Kingdom is not about removal of suffering in this life, but rather being content, at peace, and whole. Ultimately, all suffering has been defeated at the cross. There will be an end to suffering and it comes at the cross. It comes in what is yet ahead. The return of Jesus will lead to the final defeat of the tyranny of suffering.

Now, it is very easy to say that but for those in the midst of suffering, it may seem shallow. Yet, the only true hope is hope placed in God and a reconciled relationship with the creator. The answer to personal suffering is recognition of God’s love for us and following his ways. Such a mindset does not alter the circumstances of situations of suffering rather it changes our perspective. Then when in right relationship with God and showing genuine response, we can reach out to those suffering in love, even at times meeting needs and touching those who are suffering. Ultimately, we are all suffering, every one of us. Our suffering diminishes with love. Only God’s love truly touches the deepest levels of suffering. The only real cure is to suffering is the return of Jesus which will restore all things from their twisted, decaying state and bring true wholeness. Therefore, there is a true cure for suffering. All suffering will end. It comes at the end of this world, when all the sources of evil and suffering are defeated. In the meantime, we have the ebbs and flows of life filled with trials and difficulties. Suffering is a cruel master and the world is in its grip. Yet, it is a defeated master whose time will come. All suffering only lasts a season.