Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. - John 13: 17 (NIV)
As we enter into the most important weekend in our faith we need to reflect properly to what this time should mean to us as Christians. It is not about bonnets and feasts. It is not about bunnies and eggs. It is about the cross. It is about the blood of Jesus Christ poured out for all of us. The blood that cleanses us from all unrighteousness. The blood that covers us so that we might again have true fellowship with our Creator. The blood that assures us we are written into the Lambs Book of Life. For those who are perishing it is pure folly. The story, like much of the Bible, makes no sense to someone who has not placed their faith in Christ. Resurrection Sunday (not Easter) is the day that we no longer have to seek the living among the dead! It is the day that Jesus Christ defeated death and overcame this world - thus allowing us to do so as well; through Him. The work on the cross is the greatest blessing God can ever give us and if He never gives me anything else - He has already given me everything.
But we do not get to the empty tomb except through Calvary and we do not get to Calvary except through Gethsemane. You do not get to Resurrection Sunday except through Good Friday and we do not get to Good Friday except through Holy Thursday. On this Holy Thursday let us turn to the story of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples.
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. - John 13: 1 (NIV)
It is only appropriate that we start our look into the holiest of weekends by examining the love of Jesus. Not the sappy conditional love the world sells but true Godly love. We see two facets here about the love Christ has for us. The first is that it is selfless. Jesus knew full well that the hour had come. He knew the cross lay directly before Him. The scourging. The crown of thorns. The nail pierced hands and feet. The spear into His side. The sense of abandonment from the Father as He took on the sins of the World. If we knew we had mere hours left before a most gruesome death awaited us - how would we spend it? My sense is we would probably make it to be more about us. A little woe is me. Not Jesus. Sure He would have His moment in the garden when He asked if the cup may pass from Him but it was a moment and it was quickly followed up with - not my will but yours be done. The second thing we notice here about the love of God is that it extends right until the very end. Having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. He chose the last night He had on earth to spend with those who believed in Him. He used this time to continue to teach them and to love them.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him. - John 13: 2-5 (NIV)
There was no doubt on His part who He belonged to and what the eventual outcome was going to be. Jesus is once again modeling behavior for us. I speak to many Christians who simply do not feel the assurance of their own salvation. What a terrible place to be! Given the receding away from the true Gospel, it is not surprising that many would feel this way because of the very real possibility that they never were saved. If there is any doubt at all, then Resurrection Weekend is the perfect time to turn from our sins and place our faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of those sins. It is not enough to believe in Jesus as an historical figure. We must have penitent faith that He was the Son of God who died for our sins on that cross. That He rose on Sunday, defeating death itself for us, and now He is at the right hand of the Father. We see here that Jesus already knew that Judas would betray Him. He already knew the upcoming order of things. He knew He had come from God and was returning to God. This is the same assurance He died for. So that we too would know that we know that we know - that we came from God and when our brief time on earth is over - we will be returning to God - hallelujah! When I think about this assurance I think about the three Hebrew boys about to be thrown into the fiery furnace, heated seven times hotter than normal. Yet they understood their assurance: