Today is Maundy Thursday. Its a day not often talked about or commemorated, but an important day nonetheless. Its the day Jesus had the last supper with His disciples and then was arrested. On Friday He would condemned, flogged and crucified. Everyone knows the physical agony he endured on Good Friday, but the mental and emotional anguish He must have felt on this day would have been almost overwhelming.
The last supper would have been a powerful, emotive time. The disciples would have been able to tell by Jesus demeanour and language that this was the beginning of the end. That things were not going to go on as they had been, that pain lay ahead. Jesus knew that this was the last time He’s be able to properly speak to His disciples before His death – and He would have wanted to make sure , like we all would in His situation, that what He said counted.
Jesus though, had no one to talk to about His own turmoil than God Himself. There was a battle fought on Maundy Thursday which was crucial to Good Friday. Jesus had to face the temptation to step aside from His responsibilities, from His calling, from God’s will. He had the choice. Part of Him didn’t want to go – we can see that from His own words.
“Father, if it is possible, let this cup be taken from me…” (Matt 26 v39)
Jesus is in agony here. In the previous verse He says “my soul is overwhelmed to the point of death”. Jesus is going through hell here. He is facing up to the pain, suffering and agony to come, the death to come, the humiliation and abandonment by His friends, His followers and being cut off from God, and its getting to Him. He is so overwhelmed He is sweating blood. This is a natural condition called hematidrosis, and only happens if someone is under extreme stress, or possibly facing their own death – much like Jesus was.
This is not someone who knows for sure what is going to happen after His death. This is someone who is having to trust God with His very life, who is going to have to submit Himself, by choice, to the worst kind of suffering one person has ever gone through - emotionally, spiritually, physically and mentally – and is overwhelmed by the reality of it.
This is Jesus entering fully into our humanity.
This is Jesus saying ‘I know how you feel’
Jesus has a choice here. He can take the easy route and leave this behind, or He can embrace His calling & identity, He can submit Himself totally to God’s will without complaint or protest, and allow what will happen to happen, trusting God with what He has said, trusting in God’s will completely and fulfilling His destiny.
Immediately He asks if the cup can be taken away from Him, He says this.
“Yet not my will but yours be done” (Matt 26 v39)
Jesus makes His choice. The battle of Good Friday, for me, was effectively decided here. In Jesus’ heart there was no way back after this. Even though at any time He could have called angels down from Heaven, in His heart the decision had been made. The battle had been won.
And on Good Friday, the battle already won in His heart, was won on the cross.
So this Maundy Thursday, remember that although the battle of the cross was physically won on Good Friday, that it was on Thursday, as Jesus went through emotional, spiritual and mental agony which brought Him to near death and caused Him to sweat blood, that the battle for our souls was won in Jesus’ heart.
On Maundy Thursday – and indeed, Good Friday – Jesus claims the authority to say
“I know how you feel, and I have the experience and the scars to prove it.”
This Easter, let Jesus heal your scars. He does know how it feels.