We began our time together on Tuesday with a look at this video clip:
Are you thankful for the gift of NOW?
Are you counting down the days, crossing out the ones you’ve survived, in hopes that you’ll get to ______________? (fill in the blank with your heart’s longing).
Jesus learned firsthand about this waiting room addiction, didn’t He? I’m pretty sure, He never experienced waiting until He put on human flesh. People are all about waiting but not God. The Great I AM is all about the gift of NOW.
Jesus came into a world that had been waiting for a promised Messiah; a promise that God would dwell with people again. The cry of baby Jesus broke the silence of God to His people. Apart from Mary and Joseph, very few understood that the waiting was over–a few shepherds, some eastern mystics, an old rabbi & his wife, Simeon & Anna.
Then the whole earth waited for the baby Messiah to grow into the One who could redeem a broken people and restore a sinful earth. They waited for the kind of Messiah who would crush the head of the serpent and usher in a kingdom of peace.
John the Baptist was first to realize the waiting was over, then some fishermen, a tax man, a doctor. As the good news travelled across Galilee, Jesus gained followers and His influence spread. The waiting rooms of suffering cleared out as He healed the blind and lame, cast out demons, even raised the dead!
No one would ever need to wait again, right?
On the last night of waiting, Jesus gathered with His closest friends for their annual remembrance of Passover. Passover, you recall, was the celebration of how God delivered His chosen people from slavery in Egypt – they had waited so long to be free, and God made a way for them. On the night they were to leave Egypt, an angel of death passed through the country in a final plague of rebellion. God’s people were instructed to sacrifice a lamb and cover their doorposts with blood so the death would “pass over” their homes.
Traditionally, Passover supper included many detailed traditions, specific rituals that stirred their hearts and led them to be grateful. We don’t learn about each dish in detail or the prayers of remembrance in the gospel account, however. Instead, rather than keeping ancient traditions, Jesus started some new ones.
As I read about this last Passover supper last week (in all the gospels), it was as if Jesus cleared the table and got down to the basics of grateful living.
Let me read what Matthew said…
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ (Matt 26:26)
Passover bread was a reminder that when the Jews left Egypt they did not have time to let the bread rise, so it was flat bread. Bread was such a basic part of their lives that it meant sustenance itself. When they were in the wilderness, God provided manna – bread from heaven.
So, Jesus clears the Passover table of all but the basics of life – bread – and He tells them that His body was life itself. He gave thanks and broke it.
Are we thankful for what is broken in our lives?
Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.
‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (Matt 26:27-28).
Passover wine is served 4 times throughout the meal. This is a staple of the meal and it ties everything together.
Jesus attaches new meaning to the wine. He makes the wine represent His own covenant of blood. Now it’s not just about the lamb’s blood on the doorposts in ancient Egypt, it’s about the blood of their dearest friend, their Messiah … poured out for many.
Are we thankful when we live a poured out life?
At that final Passover meal, Jesus shows us we’re not bound to give thanks for God’s deliverance merely once a year. We’re to remember His broken body and shed blood in the basic, daily parts of life when we eat, drink and share life with one another.
We can be grateful even in our most broken and poured out moments because of Jesus and because of His covenant promise to us in John 14:25-28:
The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left – feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.
You’ve heard me tell you, ‘I’m going away, and I’m coming back.’ If you loved me, you would be glad that I’m on my way to the Father because the Father is the goal and purpose of my life.
I wonder if we can agree with Jesus that the Father is the goal and purpose of our lives. Living grateful in the moment shows that He is.