Holy Thursday

washing of feet1Jesus had instructed two apostles, Peter and John, to meet a certain man who had the upper room to make ready for the Passover meal. They were to ask him for the room and tell them the Master needs it. There, Jesus and the apostles ate the Paschal lamb. After they finished the meal, Jesus gathered with His 12 apostles in the room, prepared a basin and with a towel began to wash their feet. When He came to wash Peter’s feet, Peter did not understand why Jesus was doing this. The act of washing another’s feet was one that could be required of the lowliest Jewish slave. It is an allusion to the humiliating death of the Crucifixion. Peter asked “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” (John 13:6) Jesus went on to explain that if He did not wash his feet, Peter will have no inheritance with Him. He also explained to him that He did not need to wash Peter’s whole body because it was already clean. Jesus only washed their feet and told them “I have given you a model to follow so that as I have done for you, you should also do. Amen, amen, I say to you, no slave is greater then his master nor any messenger greater than the one who sent him.” (John 13:16) It was understood that by Jesus washing the feet meant a spiritual cleansing from daily imperfections from the world. Our feet are continually in direct contact with the earth.

bread of life

It was a Jewish custom, after they ate, to finish the meal with bread and wine. So after they finished getting their feet clean they sat at the table. Jesus explained to them that He was about to give himself up for mankind. Jesus also gave them a new commandment “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34)

He instructed the apostles on many other things. “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it, all of you , for his is my blood of the covenant , which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. (Matthew 26:26) Jesus had just said the first mass where He instituted the Holy Eucharist.

jesus in garden

After they all ate, Jesus led the 11 apostles out to  Gethsemane. There He asked Peter, James, and John to come with Him a little farther and to pray with Him.  Jesus was now in anguish and heavy hearted realizing what He was to endure. While they were praying they saw how Jesus was in deep sorrow and anguish. Jesus was taking on His shoulders all the sins of the world. So much so that He sweat blood. How could someone sweat blood? I am not a doctor, but I understand that if someone is under extreme grief and stress, the tiny capillaries around the sweat glands can burst and cause blood to exit the body through the sweat glands. Jesus’ heart was so heavy that He asked God to take the cup from Him, but that not His will but God’s be done. Jesus must have had a vision of what was about to happen to Him. A person with this much stress would have died right there. But somehow He gained great strength to get through all the torture  of His agony in the garden and His Passion. Perhaps God sent Jesus angels for comfort in His terrible pain.  He went back to the apostles just to find them asleep, and He awoke them and when they saw the condition of Jesus, they were afraid and returned to prayer once again.

treason

In the distance Jesus and the apostles saw many soldiers who were armed coming near them. Judas was with them. “Immediately he went over to Jesus and said “Hail, Rabbi!” and kissed Jesus.” (Matthew 26:49) Jesus responded “Judas are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48) Then the soldiers arrested Jesus. It’s interesting how Judas always called Jesus with the name Rabbi, which does mean teacher. But the rest of the apostles called Jesus Master, and Lord. Perhaps Judas never believed that Jesus was the Son of God. It seemed that Judas was absorbed with the love of gain and wanting to become friends of people in high places. Perhaps Judas was thinking that Jesus would establish some temporal kingdom, and he would be a part of it. But when hearing Jesus talk about His death, Judas’ fantasy was not going to come about. He turned toward other ways that took hold of his attention.

peters denial

The soldiers took Jesus, tied Him up, and lead Him to the high priest and scribes. Peter followed at a distance. Peter’s love for Jesus kept him wondering what would happen to His beloved Master. In the courts, the chief priests and Sanhedrin and many others accused Jesus. Exhausted by fear and grief, Peter stood outside the gate from the city, by the fire, warming his hands. The maid of the gatekeeper asked Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples? Peter said “I am not.” (John 18:17) Two more times Peter denied Jesus when someone asked. Then a cock crowed the second time, and Peter remembered what Jesus told him the day before that he would deny Jesus three times before the cock crowed twice. Peter caught Jesus’ eye looking at him as Jesus was pushed across the court. Peter was so sorrowful he fled and wept bitterly.