Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Last Supper: A Servant Girl

My name is Miriam. I am a lowly servant girl. I had served this group of men before. When one of them needed something, he merely called, “Girl!” and I fetched what he wished. They didn’t call me by name, nor did I expect them to, for I am merely a servant girl. I perform menial tasks: washing the guests’ feet, carrying the platters of dried dates and apricots, bringing them bowls of nuts, and keeping the cups filled with good wine.

The leader of this group stood out. From the very first time I served him, he called me by name. “Thank you, Miriam,” he said as I placed a fresh loaf of warm bread on the table. I have to admit, this startled me at first. I wondered how He even knew my name and why He would thank me for doing my job. After that, I listened to His words as he spoke to His disciples. Clearly, He spoke with authority and knew the ancient scriptures. Fascinated, I listened to His words while carrying food for the table. His words provided nourishment for my soul.

On this day, this “last supper,” the man Jesus waved me away when I brought out the basin and fresh towels to wash the men’s feet. When I hesitated, he quietly said, “We won’t need this today, Miriam, thank you.” It felt strange not to wash their feet, but what else was a servant girl to do? I placed the towels on the floor next to the basin and went to get the first platter of food.

After I’d served for some time and the men appeared satisfied with their food, the leader, Jesus, did the strangest thing. He got up from the table, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped one of the towels around his waist. He poured water into the basin and began washing his disciples’ feet. I was horrified! This was my job, the job of a lowly servant, not the job for a leader of men! When he saw me move toward Him, he looked up and caught my eye. One glance was all it took to reassure me:  all was well. I stood silently and watched Him wash his disciples’ feet.

One of the men loudly protested, and almost didn’t allow Jesus to wash his feet. But Jesus taught him and the others; he explained that “no servant is greater than his master.” He told them he was setting an example for them, that they too should be willing to serve others and not be concerned about their own greatness. I listened carefully to every word.

Because of him, I now view myself differently. I’m still a humble servant, but I realize I have value in the eyes of Jesus and am proud to call myself Miriam, faithful servant.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Last Supper: A Disciple

On Maundy Thursday you celebrate and remember this meal, calling it “the Last Supper.” Strange, isn’t it? To us it was just another supper. True, Jesus taught us many things at that table, but we really didn’t understand their significance. We didn’t truly understand who He was until after…but I get ahead of myself. That night Jesus drank from the cup and said He wouldn’t drink again until the “kingdom of God comes.” I caught the looks on some of the other disciples’ faces when he said that. Some looked eager, for they longed for a confrontation. They wanted their king to take His rightful place and overthrow the hated Romans. Others just looked confused.

All of us were confused when he broke the bread and said it was his body. We looked at each other and wondered what he was talking about. Had he been out in the sun too long that day? He really wasn’t making any sense.

But we frequently didn’t understand many of the things he told us. We shrugged it off and ate the meal while reclining by the table and talking among ourselves. If we had only listened more carefully, we would have understood, for Jesus prepared us for the future. Instead of appreciating what we had, we chose to argue among ourselves.

“I’m greater because I followed Him first!”

“No, I’m greater because He spends more time with me!”

“No, me! I’m greater.” We argued with puffed up chests just like adolescent boys trying to impress. If we had only known, we’d have spent that last supper together differently.

You have an advantage over those of us who spent this time with Jesus. You know what happened after this “last supper.” Yet, when you take the cup and the bread, you sometimes keep grudges against your neighbor and wonder who is “the best.” I have regrets over the way I spent my “last supper” with Jesus.  When you sup with Him, make sure you heed His voice and have no regrets.

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Last Supper: Judas

You may have heard of me: my name is Judas. Yes, I attended the “last supper.” But my mind was elsewhere. Three years ago I’d been drawn to Jesus. I was so tired of the Roman rule I was ready to do anything to foster rebellion. How desperately I wanted our land back! Jesus seemed such a great candidate for rebellion. Everywhere He went people followed Him. They listened to His every word, ready to follow wherever He might go.
But He didn’t go where I wanted Him to go. I didn’t hear anti-Rome speeches. I didn’t hear calls to arms and action. I wondered if I had followed the wrong man. But He trusted me, putting me in charge of the groups’ treasure. Dutifully I gathered all the coins donated for His cause. I bought the food and other necessities for the group. 

But as I carried the money bags, something changed. With every step I took that money jingled. It called to me. “Jingle…jingle…jingle. Judas, just think what you could do with all this money!” No longer would time be wasted healing mobs of people who followed Jesus wherever he went. The longer I managed the money, the more it called to me. I began stealing from the group treasury, just a few coins at a time. A few coins here, a few coins there, and suddenly I had acquired a great amount of money.

No longer did I hang on every word Jesus spoke. All I heard was the jingling call of the coins. “Judas, Judas, take me. Take me! Think of all you can do with just a little more money.” Before long I had gone to the high priest and offered to betray Jesus. In exchange, he would give me thirty beautiful, jingly silver coins! I couldn’t wait.

During that “last supper” I had trouble concentrating. My mind kept wandering to the clink of the 30 pieces of silver dropping into my money bag. I knew just the place and time to betray Him, when no crowds would surround and protect him. Oh I could almost hear the clink of that money falling into my hands.

Jesus’ voice pulled me from my reverie. He was saying something about betrayal. All the other men started babbling at once. “Is it me?” “Not me, Lord?”

He looked at me and I quickly said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”

He answered, “Yes, it is you.”

Clearly, Jesus knew. I gathered my money bag and left the room, hurrying toward my silver and my future.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Palm Sunday

One sleepless night not too long ago, I lay awake, imagining what it must have been like to watch a king enter the ancient city of Jerusalem.

I can still see it vividly in my mind’s eye.  Before I can even glimpse the king, trumpets herald his arrival.  Soon 40 soldiers enter the crowded city, each proudly straddling a high-stepping stallion.  Eyes staring at the road ahead, the men ride ramrod straight, armor and weapons glinting in the sun.  Between the two groups of mounted soldiers rolls an ornate carriage, resplendent with gold leaf.  Four perfectly matched black stallions, crimson ribbons braided into their manes and tails, pull the carriage effortlessly.  In that carriage sits the perfectly tailored king, his brocade coat trimmed in ermine.  Rubies and emeralds adorn his fingers.  The golden crown, encrusted with precious stones, reflects the bright sunlight.  As he passes, the cheering throng bows low, each man hoping the king will scatter some coins his way.

How different was our King’s triumphal entry!  No trumpets heralded his arrival.  No soldiers, no horses came before Him.  Instead of an elaborate entourage, He was accompanied by a few simple men, broad shouldered and tanned from hard, outdoor work. They walked alongside Him, wearing roughly woven clothes.  Jesus sat astride a young donkey.  He wore no gold nor gems, but only a simple cloak and sandals.  Although Jesus had no coins to throw to the people, His intangible gifts were far more costly than gold.  A slight smile played at the corners of His mouth, but the dark brown eyes filled with sorrow.  In spite of His poverty and ordinary appearance, the people sensed something special about this man.  They loudly cheered, “Hosanna, King of Kings!” and lay palm branches at His feet.

How quickly the cries of the crowd changed!  A few short days later the cheers of “Hosanna” changed to jeers and shouts of “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”  Many of those who had proclaimed Him king now clamored for his death.  Even his closest friends ran away and denied they even knew him.

How, I wonder, could these people change so quickly?  How could they proclaim him king one day, and not even acknowledge his existence the next?  As I sit quietly and think, I realize, with humility and shame, that I have done the very same thing.  How many times have I gone on my merry way, never acknowledging Christ as the king of my life, never seeking His divine guidance?  How many times do I denying His existence by failing to speak out against injustice or not sharing His good news with another?  If He is truly king of my life, why do I not get down on my knees every day and praise my spiritual king?

Jesus, king of my life, help me to bow in humble obedience and recognition of your lordship in my life.

John 12:14 “Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.’”