Wednesday of Holy Week 2008

March 20, 2008

Good morning, church family…


This painting is by Anthony Falbo, and is a “cubestraction.” I guess that’s his way to work cubism and abstraction together. If you get bored this week, Google the “last supper.” I found many different character interpretations including Star Wars, Donky Kong (video game) and the Justice League (super heroes)… hmm.

Our passage is a deep one, with many streams of thought, and something about Falbo’s style helped me enter the scene. So much is happening to Jesus at this time that it fits the artist’s “surreal” interpretation.

One of today’s passages in the lexicon is John 13:21-35…

“Now Jesus was deeply troubled, and he exclaimed, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me!” The disciples looked at each other, wondering whom he could mean. The disciple Jesus loved was sitting next to Jesus at the table. Simon Peter motioned to him to ask, “Who’s he talking about?” So that disciple leaned over to Jesus and asked, “Lord, who is it?”

Jesus responded, “It is the one to whom I give the bread I dip in the bowl.” And when he had dipped it, he gave it to Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. When Judas had eaten the bread, Satan entered into him. Then Jesus told him, “Hurry and do what you’re going to do.” None of the others at the table knew what Jesus meant. Since Judas was their treasurer, some thought Jesus was telling him to go and pay for the food or to give some money to the poor. So Judas left at once, going out into the night.

As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will soon give glory to the Son. Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

Stop and think for a moment about the emotions that must be swirling through Jesus’ heart… he’s about to be betrayed, he knows who will do it, his disciples are too thick to simply understand what he’s saying and offer a little empathy, and he’s right there on the eve of his crucifixion. That’s enough to take your appetite away. Read a little further in John 13 and he even knows that another of his followers is going to deny him in not too distant future.

But he’s got this focus… he doesn’t give into the feeling of being alone in room full of people. They may not totally be on the same page he’s on, but he loves them. And that love is the point… it’s the thing to be emulated, it’s the “proof in the pudding.”

His “new command” is not so new in its essence… “love your neighbor” has been around for a quite a while by then. It’s new in its basis of authority and example: love as I love. Jesus calls on them to love one another as he has loved them, which is love irregardless of their inability to understand what’s happening around them, their inability (and maybe a little bit of refusal) to understand his coming death, and all the other short-comings they’ve so famously put on display: constantly arguing about personal supremacy, haughtily turning away mothers and their children, etc.

When we expand that understanding of his love to all the folks he’s loved along the roads and byways for their last three years together we find that he loves in spite of a myriad of sexual sins, thefts and dishonesties. He loves enough to welcome and touch the least deserving and to eat with the least appetizing… he has loved them enough to have earlier in John 13 took the demeaning role of a foot-washer to make their meal more pleasant.

His displays of love oscillate from momentous expressions that change people’s lives to little moments of hugging a child or wiping someone’s feet before dinner. His love encompasses life, and it becomes the standard, the mark of belonging. It is the expression of that kind of love, his love, which proves his presence in the life of anyone claiming to follow after him. May we be driven by that kind of focus, driven to emulate the One who loves even when in the midst of gut-wrenching betrayal and aloneness. May we have the strength to carry such a burden.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: