Thursday, April 1, 2010

Maundy Thursday Thoughts ~ Preparing my Heart for Easter

Today is Maundy Thursday. As I have been preparing my heart for Easter and thinking of all that happened during Holy Week, I pause tonight to think about the Last Supper. Jesus and his disciples were celebrating the Passover Feast, a meal amongst friends. It was to be the last meal they'd all have together.
"When it was time, he sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, "You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It's the last one I'll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God." (Luke 22:14-16 The Message) What must it have been like for the disciples to hear that their friend and teacher would not be with them anymore? How would I feel if my dear friend, with whom I spent most of my time told me this would be our last meal together? I can feel the sadness, the fear of not knowing what would happen to him, what would happen to them. I imagine how they must have felt to hear Jesus tell them exactly how things would play out and then throughout the evening and into the next morning as it unfolded just as he said.

"Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, "Pray that you don't give in to temptation." He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face." Luke 22:40-44 The Message

My heart feels heavy when I think about Jesus praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew the plan and he knew what he had to do but there was that moment when (as my 5 year old said it) "Jesus was scared so he prayed to ask God to help him but he had to die." I think Prince is right. Jesus, fully human and fully divine, had human emotions and this was a scary time. An angel came to give him strength. While he was dealing with these thoughts and emotions, where were the disciples? They were "asleep, drugged with grief." While Jesus was thinking of all humanity, the disciples were unable to be there for him or to even do the small thing he asked them to do, pray. Not that I am being hard on them or passing judgement, I'd be grieving too. It just reminds me that there are times in my own life when I am unable to get up out of my own wallowing,self-pity, and grief to do what Jesus asks me to do. Pray.

It should be easier for me. The disciples didn't have the benefit of knowing the rest of the story as I do. I know that come Sunday morning, Jesus is alive. Yet somehow, it's hard for me too. Tonight my heart is heavy because I know I am a sinner and that I don't do all that is asked of me. I know that Jesus suffered and died because I am a sinner and that he did this willingly. I also know that Jesus did this because of his great love for me. He loved me before I was ever a thought. He knew me and loved me and my name was written on his heart. That is so overwhelming and just awesome to think about. Romans 5:8 says, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were sinners, Christ died for us." I love The Message translation which says, "But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him. Now that we are set right with God by means of this sacrificial death, the consummate blood sacrifice, there is no longer a question of being at odds with God in any way. If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we're at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah! Romans 5:8-11

There is a popular worship song that has a special place in my heart, Amazing Love. Whenever I hear this song, it doesn't matter where I am. I just have to sing it. It is a reminder of Christ's Amazing Love for me and the peace that washes over me as I sing and enter into that true worship whether I am in the car or in a crowded room with other people. For those few moments, it's just Jesus and me as I sing this love song to Him and feel His presence and His unconditional love that holds me tight and keeps me going.

Amazing Love

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love,
How can it be
That You, my King, should die for me?
Amazing love,
I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.

I do hope that I can live a life that brings honor to Christ. I hope that others will see Christ in me and that I can show his deep, unconditional love to them.

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