Passion Week: Thursday

I want to preface the events of Thursday by noting that there are three different schools of thoughts regarding on exactly which day Jesus was crucified. The traditional, accepted school of thought is that Jesus was crucified on Friday. Some, however, hold that Jesus was crucified on Wednesday and some hold that Jesus was crucified on Thursday. This is all complicated by the fact that the Jewish day did not run from midnight to midnight like we are used to today. The complication is compounded by the fact that the Galilean and Judean calendars were slightly different. While I recognize that there can be aspects of validity from scripture for each of the three schools of thought, I have chosen to honor the traditional Christian view that Jesus was crucified on Friday. My purpose in presenting these synopses of each day is to bring alive for each of us the suffering, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus in a very real and intimate way. The traditional belief in a Friday crucifixion serves this purpose well.
Thursday opens with Jesus’ disciples specifically asking Jesus where he desired for them to prepare for the Passover (Mark 14:12). Jesus instructs his disciples to go into the city and follow a man bearing a pitcher of water; to then follow this man to the house where he went and ask if they could use the guestchamber for their preparations and Passover meal (Mark 12:13-15). This seems bizarre to us but is completely in keeping with the tradition of Jesus’ day. First, a man getting water for the household would have been easy to spot because it was the women’s job to go fetch the water. Second, all of Jerusalem opened their houses to complete strangers at the time of the Passover because the thousands that flooded Jerusalem each needed a place to eat the Passover.
The evening of the Passover meal is packed full and every detail is highly intentional and worthy of consideration. While I would enjoy delving deeply into the significance of each of these details, for the sake of time and succinctness, we must simply glance across the occurrences. Likely at sunset, Jesus came together with his disciples to eat the Passover meal (Luke 22:14). Moving into the Passover meal, Jesus foretold that he would not eat again until “it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (Luke 22:16), and then proceeded to bless the bread and the wine, then serve them to his disciples, thus instituting the ordinance of Communion (Luke 22:17-20).
Jesus then moved into the event that would occur, breaking the news to his disciples that one of them would betray him (Mark 14: 18-21). Peter inquired who this betrayer was (John 13:23-25) and Jesus identified the betrayer (John 13:26) and pronounced woe upon the betrayer (Matt 26:24). The sop being given, Judas arose from the table and went out “and it was night” (John 13:26-30). No darker night ever existed in the history of the world. Supper being ended, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet (John 13:1-20), and then gave the New Commandment of Love (John 13:31-35) after which he predicted the denial of Peter (John 13:36-38). Jesus then spent some time teaching the disciples, but for the sake of time and space, we will not delve into each of these last-minute teachings. Jesus offered his intercessory prayer (John 17:1-26), and sometime later, Jesus and his disciples stepped out of the little house and entered into the darkest night in all of history.

We then move into the part of the story that we probably know the best. Jesus went out into the little Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples (Mark 14:32-42). We know well the famous agony of Jesus, the sweating of blood (a medical condition known as hematidrosis) (Luke 22:44), the disciples who would not watch with their Lord one hour, and the heart-rending cry from the depths of Jesus’ heart, “nevertheless, not what I will, but what thou wilt” (Mark 14: 36). We know well Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ arrest (Mark 14:43-46), the amputation of Malchus’ ear (Mark 14:47-49). Tonight, it is swords, not hammers that are swinging. And though there are no stones to roll back yet, there is still the healing power of Jesus.  Then the disciples flee (Mark 14:50-52), a very cowardly deed, but I would have likely done the same. Very likely the time at this point was about midnight, and so we will consider the rest of the night’s events with our Friday synopsis. 

There are many lessons we can take from this day. First, is my and your guestchamber ready for Jesus to use? Jesus desires to enter the guestchamber of your heart and my heart. Jesus would love to reside in that guestchamber and not simply eat the Passover there; Jesus would like to fulfill the Passover within the guestchamber of my heart and your heart through working out the cleansing power of the Paschal Lamb within that guestchamber. Is your and my guestchamber hosting the Paschal Lamb now?

Second, are you and I willing to watch one hour with Jesus? Jesus’ request to his disciples that they would watch with him one hour (Matt 26:40) was much more than a request for a physical presence. What Jesus truly desired was that those whom he loved deeply would enter into his agony with him. This request to enter one hour into Jesus’s suffering is a request that stands throughout all ages for all Christians. Jesus is asking you and me to enter into his agony still today. Would you, with me, take one hour to stop and ponder the agony, the sacrifice, the suffering of Jesus? Would you, with me, take one hour to truly and deeply watch with Jesus?  Would you, with me, tonight take one hour to read the story of Jesus’ agony in Mark 14:32-42 and take time to enter into prayer in thanks to Jesus for enduring this agony? Is it too much to ask?

The hour is dark. The spiritual courts are engaging for a battle even greater than that recorded in Isaiah 14. The angels of heaven are preparing for what is coming. The only heart that is heavier than Jesus’ heart is the Father-heart of God. Is it sacrilegious to say that the eyes of God were beginning to fill with tears? Is it sacrilegious to say that God was already turning his face away? Is it sacrilegious to say that the lump in God’s chest was almost more than even He could bear? Is it assuming to say that the harps in heaven were already muted and possibly silent? Is it assuming to imagine that the angels were already down upon their faces in the majestic courts of heaven? Is it assuming to say that the eyes of the angels were averted from the scene below? And yet the heaviness of Jesus’ heart and God’s heart is exactly what will enable the removing of the heaviness of sin from my heart and your heart a mere nine hours from now. These greatest depths of heaviness shall soar to the greatest heights of joy in a few short days, enabling the entrance of joy into my heart and your heart.

In this synopsis, “Hallelujahs” are not appropriate.  What is appropriate is silence-silent watching with Jesus. Are you and I willing to watch one hour with Jesus tonight?

Blessing to you as you Watch! 

Author: Curvin Gordon