I have been giving a lot of thought to the last week of Jesus’ life. His actions, his demeanor, and his final moments. Prophecies had been made and were being fulfilled. Jesus knew his final moments were near. He knew he would be betrayed, and yet, he spent his last week sharing hope, wisdom, and of life. Even to those who would betray him.
Read that last sentence again. He spent his last days with those who he knew would betray him, and yet his heart wasn’t hard. He still spoke of the Great Commandment — loving others. Loving those who love you; but also, those who betray you and those who persecute you.
I think about the Last Supper. Jesus knew that Peter would deny knowing him. Not once. Not twice. But three times. He knew that this person who he had spent so much time with, would deny ever knowing him. Yet, he sat with him at the table.
Jesus knew that Judas was going to betray him. It has been predicted in Psalm 41:9 “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” Yet, Judas had a seat at the table.
We know that Jesus wasn’t opposed to flipping tables. He did so in Matthew 21:12. Yet, here he sat at a table with people he knew would wrong him, and he ate. He served them. He spoke to them of the new kingdom. He didn’t allow anger to fill his heart.
If ever there were a time to flip a table, I would think it would be while sitting with someone who would deny you, and someone who would betray you and cause your death. Yet, Jesus showed love, grace, and mercy.
Can you say the same? Could you sit at that table, and serve those who you knew without a doubt would wrong you? Could you do so without any hate in your heart? I know, without a doubt, that I would struggle. I would hold a grudge. I would fixate so much on the betrayal, that the meal would have lost its value. Its purpose.
After he was arrested, Jesus was crucified. Beaten. Whipped. Hung among thieves. He was spit on. Stripped naked. Humiliated. As he suffered, who was there with him? His mother, friends, and a disciple — probably John. A disciple. One. Of Twelve. Jesus had twelve followers, and when he died, only one remained at his side. These disciples had witnessed his miracles, heard his parables, broken bread with him, and yet when he died, they watched from a distance. Fear of being caught led them to desert Jesus in his final hours.
This is the first time that I have ever really given thought to the week before his death. The feelings that he must have felt. There is a lot for me to learn from his actions.
First, we are going to sit at the table with people who will lie about us and betray us. Let them eat anyways. Serve them. Love them. Their actions will say everything about them, and nothing about us. I’ll admit it — I have some growing to do.
Secondly, every moment could be our last. We should use every moment to spread love and not hate. Even as He hung on the cross, He said “Forgive them, for they know not what they do”. In His final moments, He proclaimed grace and forgiveness. We should strive to do this. I’ll admit it–I have some growing to do.
Lastly, in the end, not everyone that you have invested time and energy in will be there for you. Some will run away. Some will betray you. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest that time and energy in them. Their actions will speak for themselves, as will yours. I’ll admit it — I have some growing to do.
Amid the Easter holiday, I have found I have some growing to do. Maybe, hopefully, someday I will love as Jesus did. I will be able to look at those who I know have and will wrong me, and I will give them a seat at the table. Just like Jesus did.