Passion Week Meditation – Thursday

What we eat is often of little consequence, except when it’s our last meal.  What we say is often rather ordinary, except when they are our last words.  Thursday of the Passion Week was the day of Jesus’ last meal and His last words, at least His last extended discourse.  Jesus and His disciples observed the Passover in an upper room; known as the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-29; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-23; John 13:1-5).  Following the supper, Jesus gave what is known as the Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17:26).  Jesus taught on His departure, i.e., return to heaven, and the coming of the Holy Spirit.  He concluded His instruction with a poignant High Priestly prayer in John 17.  Then they sung a hymn (probably Psalm 118) and went out to the Mount of Olives.

Jesus never lost sight of His mission or ministry.  John 13:1 tells us that “Jesus knew his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father.”  Jesus was fully aware that unspeakable agony was just hours away.  But the reality is that His anguish began in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42).  Jesus transparently shared, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death” (Mark 14:34).  The intensity of Jesus’ prayer is palpable.  Luke the physician recorded a unique but important detail, “And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly; and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44).  Blood-mingled sweat is a rare but real condition during extreme levels of stress known as hematidrosis.  The cross before Jesus was a more than adequate reason for this physiological expression.

It is right to call this Passion Week.  Jesus suffered immensely.  He tasted anguish not only on Friday but throughout the week, including on Thursday, the day before His crucifixion.  He was rightly called a man of sorrows by the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 53:3).  Not only did He bear His own sorrow but He also carried ours (Isaiah 53:4).  The last meal and the last words of Jesus are momentous.  He experienced all of this enormous distress for you and for me because of your sin and mine.  What a Savior!

Man of Sorrows what a name
For the Son of God who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim!
Hallelujah, what a Savior!
(Philip Bliss, “Hallelujah, What a Savior!”)

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