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  • Joseph Stringer

Passion and Easter

The Passion: A Meditation from Maundy Thursday

This day. This is Maundy Thursday, the day on which we commemorate the beginning of the Passion of Jesus Christ; the eve of Passover, the Last Supper, the washing of the disciples’ feet, the prayers in Gethsemane.

Jesus did not just leave us as students of his teaching, or followers of his word. He did not call us only to hear, to believe or even to do his word. He is God Incarnate, who became flesh for us. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us…” (John 1:14) He calls us to partake. Jesus calls us to be his body, the Church here on earth. “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” (John 6: 56)

Jesus feeds us.

“This is my body. This is my blood.”

Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” (Matthew 26: 26-28)

The Psalmist says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:5) If we are to know our Lord, we do not experience Him from a distance, seeing or hearing. We are drawn by His Spirit even closer than scent or touch. We partake. We eat and drink, bringing Jesus into the center of our life, wherein He infuses us with Himself. He purifies us, refreshes us. Our Lord calls us into an intimate union, one which transcends our separation from Him. We are the members of His body, a temple of the Lord, called to be a holy priesthood.

Jesus Washes us.

Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet.” (John 13:5) This eve, we are washed by the hands of Jesus.

“Put off your sandals for you are standing on Holy ground.” (Exodus 3:5) We are Holy ground, made so by Jesus. “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3.16) Yet we still dirty our feet in the mud of sin, so today… We remember that this eve is when Jesus washes the feet of his disciples. Our God comes to serve and to save. And, washing the disciples’ feet—and ours—He symbolically washes our sins away with His precious blood.

Jesus pours out His body and blood for us.

“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…” (Matthew 26:39) This night begins the way to the cross. Jesus will not allow sin and death to conquer. There is no sin which He has not taken upon Himself on the cross. “This is my blood, poured out {for me, for you} for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

This day begins the Passion of God, for our God is passionate…about us! “For God so loved the world…” In loving others, we barely touch the surface of an ocean which is the love of Christ. This Passion, this Love drives Jesus from the sharing of His body at the Last Supper directly to the pouring out of His body upon the cross. In the garden, Jesus prays “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me…” Yet it is the Father’s, will and Jesus’ purpose, to endure death, “even death upon the cross”—for me, for you.

This day. Today. How do we honor the depth of that Passion? How do I repay Jesus for what He has done for me? I sin. I am Peter, denying Him three times. I am in the crowd, crying, “Crucify Him!” I am the Roman soldier driving in the nails. I am the sneering Pharisee: “If he truly is the Son of God, let him save himself.” I answer His love with my own brokenness. I do not deserve God’s love. I never will.

Yet, against the horror at the knowledge of my own guilt…stands the empty tomb. The cross, no longer an instrument of terrible death, now stands as the symbol of death’s destruction and of eternal life with the Father. In three days, the tomb will be empty! And we will cry, “Jesus is Risen! He is Risen indeed!”

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