“How would you spend the last 24 hours of your life?” I suspect in a flurry of activity, trying to put final wishes in order for loved ones. Jesus in his last hours, with his Disciples, shared a meal together; a humble, tender teaching moment through a group activity; followed by walk through a vineyard which culminated in the Garden of Gethsemane. The following excerpts from chapters 13-17 in the book of John tell of those precious last hours.
“Having loved his own who were in the world, he (Jesus) now showed them the full extent of his love. He and the Disciples are gathered around the table to enjoy a meal (known as the last supper). “The meal was being served. Jesus got up from the table, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciple’s feet, drying them with the towel he had wrapped around his waist”. The very Son of God with complete humility and love washes his friend’s feet. (Those feet were yucky, dusty, stinky and sweaty from walking around the dirt covered roads and paths all day for sure). You can feel the tenderness in the moment. Jesus washes all the disciples feet; including Judas’ whom he knows is about to betray him. Imagine loving your enemy as completely as you love those whom you adore. Jesus models love through humility; expecting we too will show the same for others.
Seated back at the table Jesus prepares his Disciples for life without him. My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come. A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” “Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these…” “I will not leave you as orphans…” “The Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you”. Jesus reiterates, “Do not let your heart be troubled and do not be afraid.”
The evening meal complete they leave the upper room and head to the Garden of Gethsemane. The conversation continues. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” My command is this; Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this – that he lay down his life for his friends. All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. I tell you the truth; you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. Now is your time for grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. The Father himself loves you because you have loved me and believed that I came from God. I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
They come to a vineyard and Jesus chooses this moment to illustrate a beautiful word picture. Place yourself in the moment. Picture the vineyard. Feel the cool, crisp night air; the smell of the earth, moist and fragrant with the scent of grapes. Hear the silence, as conversation has ceased momentarily. See Jesus as he reaches out, carefully lifting a branch laden with grapes. Hear his voice, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. I am the vine you are the branches”. Jesus wanting the Disciples and us today, to understand the key to living without his physical presence, is to abide in his Word; staying forever connected to the one true God.
Having reached the Garden of Gethsemane, conversation between him and the Disciples is all but complete. Jesus prays! 1st he prays a prayer of surrender asking that God would be glorified, through the events which will soon unfold. Jesus is about to fulfill God’s ultimate purpose and his destiny. 2nd He prays for his Disciples . 3rd he prays for all believers. In these prayers the heart of Jesus and God the Father are revealed.
I hope you will take time to read all the chapters from which these excerpts were taken. They are beautiful and tender, filled with concern and passion for those whom Jesus loves.
You know you are about to die and time is of the utmost importance. What would you share? How would you prepare your loved ones to carry on without you? What words, last instructions, would you give?
Until next time,