Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Bewildering Dinner - Maundy Thursday - John 13

It must have been quite a bewildering dinner. It started with him taking a basin of water and a towel, taking off his robe, and kneeling in front of each of them to wash their feet.

Their Rabbi! On his knees to serve his own students! And then, he followed that with an instruction to follow his example.

As if that wasn’t bewildering enough, the very next thing he said was that one of them would betray him. They were stunned!

But instead of wondering how he knew, they wondered to whom he was referring. Apparently they trusted him enough such that they were sure what he was saying was true, but were not confident enough to refrain from harboring selfish thoughts.

Thankfully, he meant Judas. That must have been such a relief! And now Judas was gone, so they could relax again. Maybe even with a snide chuckle and under the breath, “I never really liked Judas, you know.”

But he wasn’t done. Next he told them that he was leaving and that after he went away they must love one another the same way he loved so that people would see that they were his students. And it was Peter who asked the question that was begging to be asked.

“Wait, what? Where are you going?” An honest question, simply gave voice to what the others were thinking.

And then he landed another blow. “You can’t come, Peter. Maybe later, but not now.”

All eyes turned to Peter, who was suddenly very aware of himself.

With a bewildered laugh, Peter asked, “What? What do you mean? I’d lay down my life for you.”

I – would – lay – down – my – life.

“Would you, Peter? Would you?” And he didn’t even really need to go on from there, but he did. “Before morning, you will have pretended not to know me … three different times.”

(And you have the audacity to claim you would lay down YOUR life?)

By this point they must have been utterly numb. The pendulum swings of emotion in these last ten minutes! Jesus Christ!

And so, the very next thing he said was a word of comfort. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” He saw their bewilderment, he heard their concern, he sensed their worry. And he responded with love.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled,” he said. He knew they wouldn’t lay down their lives for him, but that did not prevent him from laying down his for them.

Which is exactly what he did. It must have been a bewildering dinner.

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