Prayer 556 - Thursday of Holy Week
Holy Week - Thursday
But there is one part of this story that is so profound and challenging to me every Maundy Thursday. Judas has already agreed to betray Jesus, and Jesus knows it! Even still, Jesus sits down for a meal and celebration with both the man who would turn him over to death, the man who would deny him publicly, and the ones who would desert him.
Jesus did not need to do that, he knew what was happening and still chose to "prepare a table in the presence of His enemy."
Matthew 26: 20-25 & 31-35
When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve.
And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”
Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“Truly I tell you,”Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
In today's world we are often so concerned with being "right," or with our own personal safety, that we refuse community with those who don't look, sound, live, or think like us.
But this is not the way Christ lived, he very literally laid down his life in favor of loving the very people who would have him killed, deny, and desert him.
Take inventory this morning, ask the Holy Spirit to show you people or groups that you have refused community with.
Do you hear God asking you to sit at the table with them?
This might be hard for you, ask God to give you the opportunity to put it into practice.
Jesus didn't just dine with his enemies, he also offered forgiveness for his executioners from the cross.
Are there people and situations in your life that you have refused to forgive? (Before we go on, I want to remind you that forgiveness doesn't relieve someone else of their responsibility!)
Ask God to walk gently with you through these areas of unforgiveness.
Can you begin to hand these hurts to God and start walking toward forgiveness today as we follow Jesus' example?
God, please show me the ways that I have refused to dine with my neighbor. Soften my heart that I might keep my eyes to you instead of placing my own comfort and safety above your Kingdom. Show me how to love even those who would betray and deny me. Help me to forgive those who have meant me harm. Humble me so that I might be the servant of all. As we walk with you toward the cross today, give me your heart. Amen.
The call is to community-even with those with whom we disagree. We are told in Scripture that insofar as it depends on us we are to be at peace with all people. That is my desire. Another place in Scripture we are told that if we can’t love our brother or sister whom we have seen, we can’t love God whom we have not seen. I want to heed Jesus’ command to love as He has loved us. I want love and forgiveness to flow through me. At this point in my life, I don’t know of anyone for whom I hold unforgiveness . I believe there is at least one person who has not forgiven me. I have tried to reach out, but they have not responded. I would love to talk to this person. The Kingdom calls us to a life where our enemies are never flesh and blood, but rather the principalities and powers of this present darkness.
Of all of Jesus’s teachings this one is the hardest for me and one particular area of my life! I can dine and open my heart to anyone, those Who have hurt me , those that I disagree with on fundamental issues. Many, many people have hurt me throughout my life and I have found forgiveness for them, But there’s one who has done harm to me and my family and I struggle with that forgiveness. I wish no harm to them, I have prayed for them and for their hearts to change, for them to find Jesus. But that has been where I felt it’s all I can give, I can’t imagine ever sitting down at a table with them. I will continue to pray for myself to have a heart like Jesus.
Honestly? I've tried to "kill them with kindness" plenty of times. If someone seems to hold a grudge against me, or seems particularly critical of me or my ideas, I typically make sure to include that person in anything I'm doing for others. I'll go out of my way to be nice to them.
However-- my motivation is not clean in this. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm thinking of that scripture that says to be kind to your enemies and "heap burning coals" on their heads. I'm hoping that my kindness will make them uncomfortable, will give them a guilty conscience.
My prayer today is that God will use those burning coals to purify my heart, so that when I do the right thing, it's for the right reason.
No one comes to mind that I haven't forgiven and I would sit with the lowly of lowlies. However, the scripture that stood out very clearly to me was vs 24 "....how terrible it will be for the one who betrays him. It would be far better for that man if he had never been born". Lord Jesus may I never betray you. I think of this often...what would I do if I were to be persecuted. Help me Lord to always be true to you no matter the situation. I love you Lord Jesus.
Oh, this one hits very close to home. This Sunday, my ex-husband will be here, in my home, celebrating with my daughter and me. The man who walked away from me and my kiddos because, "...it's just too much to handle all the time." The man who would deny any fault to his family and allow them to insult me not only behind my back but in front of him, and our children, at a family gathering. His frustration with me, and my job and career I developed in our community supporting families living with disabilities, caught my teenage kids off guard, but I could feel it building. Now, after nearly 5 years of him visiting his daughter for court-mandated long weekends twice a year while nearly ignoring our older son, he has moved within driving distance to us and, a blessing, has been spending more time with his daughter in the pandemic. He is her only safe space outside of our home. While my daughter would rather be with her brother, she wants to be surrounded by family. We started with Thanksgiving, then Christmas. I'm finding my way to forgiveness, and it's a daily journey. It's hard not to think about the lovely home I left behind, the friends, and my career. But, I know that my assignment with God is to care for my daughter. Having this faith community reminds me of the beauty of the passion of this weekend. To paraphrase Nadia Bolz-Weber this week in The Corners, the mess we see in today and tomorrow is what we get when we think the cross is about Jesus doing this for us and not about our God. From the cross, Jesus looks down at us all, judges us all, and then pronounces ...forgiveness. He still loves us all, and we are all still invited to His banquet of Easter...of forgiveness. He died for me, my kids, my ex, the people in the garden church, and for all of us...not just me. He lives every day, for all of us.