Attending last night’s Maundy Thursday Service was deeply moving and challenging. The intimate setting of our sister church and the smaller crowd enhanced the deeply personal story. It was almost as if being there, stepping back in time, experiencing Christ our King, our redeemer, our Savior serving me the wine and bread, washing my feet. There are no words to describe unless you experience it. Humbling is far too inadequate a word. And with the soberness of that moment firmly in my mind, this morning I was greeted with an unexpected scripture for my devotion.
Anticipating a few verses highlighting the events of Good Friday I was instead challenged with I Thessalonians 5: 12 – 15;
“12 Now we ask you brother, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the LORD and who admonish you. 13 Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone.” (NIV) Emphasis my own.
What an appropriate scripture for this Good Friday. While not the typical message, it focuses on Jesus’s mission on earth; not only to save us from sin but to save us FOR a better life. One full of compassion not competition. One of respect and honor to all (even our enemies). Not divisiveness and hatred. One of encouragement not criticism in order to elevate our own status.
Jesus endured all this and more on Good Friday: humiliation, physical abuse and torture, rejection by the previously adoring crowds and worst of all -abandonment and denial by those closest to him. And in this, all this, not once did he cry out in anger or rebuke. Not once did he climb down from that cross as challenged to do. Neither did he call down the legions of angels available to him.
He did none of this. No retribution, no curses, no final words of revenge. Only words of forgiveness. He quietly completed this part of his mission just as he began it. In love, compassion and utter humility – so that through out acceptance and faith we could live in that same way for the Kingdom of Heaven. In our current era of making to the top at all costs and mud-slinging politics at its worst; his message needs to be told, lived out loud for a lost and dying world to see and experience.
On this Good Friday reflect not only on what Jesus saved us from, but what he saved us to become. A good place to begin in Romans chapter 8. Seventeen power packed verses. Here are just a few to contemplate.
Romans 8: 1, 2; Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
Romans 5, 6a: Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace . .
Jesus died to give us LIFE. Abundant, peaceful, loving, eternal life that begins now.
“I have come that they many have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10
Good, very good Friday.
In Christ, Mimi