God’s will and Joyful service

March 29 – Maundy Thursday 

by Pastor Pete Scheele

Read John 13:1-17 & 15:8-12          

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Grace and peace to you as you let God’s will go to work in your life, from God, our Father, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

My name is Simon, but Jesus called me Simon Peter. I have to admit that this day, Maundy Thursday, was not a good day for me.  Let me explain, the day started out quite usual.  I asked Jesus, “Where will you have us go to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”  He told John and me, “Go into the city and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us,” (Mk.14:12 – 16) Though it sounded a little strange, to looking for a man carrying a water jar, we went and we found it just as Jesus had told us and we set up everything that was needed for our Passover meal.

As everyone arrived to take part in this Passover meal Jesus got up and laid aside his outer garments, He tied a towel around His waist and then poured water into the basin and began washing our feet.  This is not what the leader or teacher of a group is supposed to be doing for His disciples and yet that was what Jesus did on that evening for all of us.  When Jesus came up to wash my feet I said to Him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus said to me, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” I then said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus said to me, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” I said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”  Jesus said to me, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 

That was mistake number one, for that night and the lesson that I learned was, Don’t think that you know what the Son of Man is doing by His actions until He explains them to you.  Jesus told us, “You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you.16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

That night I learned from my mistake, that as a leader of God’s church we are to be servants to those who are just learning about God because God sent His Son not to be served but to serve us so that we would come to know the greatness of God’s love, peace and joy for each of us.  In the days following that night, we would learn just how great the love of God is for us as He would take all our sins to the Cross of Calvary for us and there made the full and final payment for them and rise again after three day in a grave to give us the new life that He wants us to have in His love, peace and joy.

That was just the start of many things that Jesus did that night that were quite different from any other time we were in Jerusalem for the Passover.  As we were partaking of the Passover meal Jesus said that one of us would betray Him and that made us sad. We also wondered whom He was talking about.  Since John was sitting right next to Jesus I motioned to him to ask Jesus who it was.  John asked Jesus, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is he to whom I will give this morsel of bread when I have dipped it.” So, when he had dipped the morsel, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 Then after he had taken the morsel, Satan entered into Judas. Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”

Now this whole incident made us all unsure of what was going on that night and then Jesus said to us, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. 32 If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

I asked Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?” Jesus answered me, “Where I am going you cannot follow me now, but you will follow afterward.”37 I said to Him, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.”  I decide that I should stop talking and listen more before I make another mistake, because I didn’t really understand what He was talking about, so we all listen to Jesus tell us about how He was the way, the truth and the life for all people.  He told us about the Holy Spirit, whom he would send after He departed from us so that we would remember all that He had told us.  He told us so many things about the Heavenly Father’s love and His love for all of us that it was very confusing, so it’s good that the Holy Spirit has come down to work in us and help us to understand all that He has told us.

 At the end of the Passover meal Jesus took the bread that had been hidden and brought back to the table, just like Jesus said it would happen to Him.  After giving thanks to God for the bread He broke it, giving the bread to us and said, “Take and eat this is my body broken for you. This do in remembrance of me.”  Then Jesus took the last cup of wine at the end of the Passover and gave thanks to God for it and then gave it to us and said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the forgiveness of all your sins. Truly, I say to you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.

This too was strange to us, what did Jesus mean when He said that He would be broken and that He would shed His blood as the new covenant of forgiveness for all our sins?  As we all pondered what Jesus was saying to us we sang a hymn and then we set out for the garden of Gethsemane, where we often met in the evening to pray when we were in Jerusalem.  As we were walking along the way Jesus said to us, “You will all fall away for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” I said to Jesus, “Even though they all fall away, I will not.” Jesus said to me, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.”  I said emphatically, “If I must die with you, I will not deny you.”  And the other disciples all said the same.

That was mistake number two, don’t ever think so highly and mightily of yourself that you would fall short of letting God’s Will be done in your life, for it will happen, especially if Jesus, the Son of Man, tells you that it’s going to happen. We all did scatter after the temple guards came and arrested Jesus. They took Him to the High priest house for questioning. Oh, I tried to stand up for Jesus, for I had taken along a sword as we headed for to the Garden of Gethsemane, even though I wasn’t very good at any form of combat. I cut off the High priest servant’s ear and Jesus heal it as He told me to put my sword away.  Jesus let them taking Him away and we all scattered. John and I followed them from a distance to see what they would do to Him.  John got me into the High priest house and I was trying to hide in the court yard with the servant and other people. But I was asked three times if I was a disciple of Jesus Christ and I denied even knowing Him three times, just like He said I would.  After I denied Jesus the third time I looked over to where they were questioning Him and He looked right at me, as the rooster crowed for the second time in that early morning and I remembered what Jesus had told me, both in the room and along our way to the Garden of Gethsemane.  I hung my head in shame, ran out of the courtyard and wept bitter tears of sorry, as I asked God to forgive me.

Oh, now I wished that I would had listened to Jesus back in the Garden of Gethsemane when He told us all to pray with Him, because the tempter was going to be tempting us that night. James, John and I wanted to pray with Jesus, but it was late and it had been a very long and confusing day.  We had prepared the Passover meal and now we had eaten it. Oh, you can always come up with excuses why you don’t pray, but it’s always a big mistake.  That was my third mistake that day.  I should have been spent more time praying and less time questioning and bragging.  God knows what needs to be done in our lives so that we will be ready for those times of temptations and trials. Prayer is always the way to start the day and to end the day, but it also needs to be done during the day when you need the strength to meet the trials and temptation of the day.  With prayer God’s will is being done in your life so that you can joyfully serve one another as Jesus showed us  how to serve each other that night.

You see, the washing of our feet was only the beginning of His joyful service to us that night.  For thought we didn’t understand it at the time, He gave us what we all needed, His body and His blood in the bread and wine and on the Cross of Calvary the following day for the forgiveness of all our sins so that we would be strengthen in our faith to meet all those trial and temptation that we often make the mistake of falling into.  When you fall into one or three of those mistakes like I did, remember your baptism and how Jesus washed away all our sins, remember what Jesus joyful gives to you at His table and ask the Holy Spirit to pray with you so that you will learn from your mistakes and grow in your faith in Jesus Christ, so that you can be joyfully serving others with God’s Love, peace and joy.

Mistakes, you will make them, just like I did many times, but Jesus will always be there ready to joyfully serve you and give you that helping hand you need to get out of those mistakes and back joyfully serving other with His Love, peace and joy. Amen.