One evening in December of 2015, Zaevion Dobson was
walking home with friends after playing basketball at a
neighborhood recreation center. The four stopped on the front
porch of an apartment to visit when two men drove by in a car.
The passenger fired a gun into the group of teens. Rather than
fleeing, Zaevion jumped into the line of fire to shield his three
friends from the bullets. He was shot and died instantly.
Jesus rises from the table, ties a towel around his waist,
pours water into a basin, and washes his disciples’ feet, even
Peter’s. The Lord and Teacher teaches by example. “By this
everyone will know that you are my disciples,” Jesus says, “if
you have love for one another.”
Maundy Thursday teaches us the meaning of costly love.
If love were merely a concept or a theory with which we only
had to agree in principle, this commandment would be easier to
swallow. But the truth is that the kind of love Jesus speaks of
involves people—real people with quirks, problems, and flaws
that trouble and irritate.
As one writer puts it, “I tend to love with my fingers crossed.
I’m ready to love almost everyone, but surely I can’t be expected
to love the person who has harmed me. Or who does not wish
me well. Or who seems hopelessly wrongheaded. Surely I am
allowed one holdout. But this commandment has no loopholes.”
Jesus calls us to the ultimate tough love. Not just a warm
feeling but a willingness to give ourselves away for the sake of
another, for the benefit of others. “Just as I have loved you, you
also should love one another.”
God, help me to love even, and especially, when it demands something of me . . . just as you did. Amen.
It is not appropriate to conclude that God disappears at the cross and only emerges again in the event of Easter. Christian proclamation of the cross begins with the understanding that even in Jesus’ utter abandonment, God was present. The Holy Week/Easter texts bring together the common themes of death’s reality, the powerful intrusion of the delivering God, and the manifold responses to resurrection. Paul argues that the gospel looks to many like nothing more than weakness and folly. The cross symbolizes defeat but is in reality the instrument of power and salvation. Isaiah 50:4-9a recalls the hostility that follows upon servanthood. A moment of acceptance, even welcome, will not hide from the servant the fact of the rejection to come. John 20 honestly faces the reality of death. Paul asserts in First Corinthians that the cross of Jesus Christ reveals the power of God.
• Read Isaiah 50:4-9a. When have you faced a task with your face set like int? How did your resolve impact the outcome of your work?
• Read Matthew 27:57-66. When have you attempted to seal Jesus in a tomb? When have you felt anxious or fearful about the change Jesus might bring in your life?
• Read 1 Corinthians 1:18-31. In what ways have you discovered the Cross to be God’s wisdom for you?
• Read John 20:1-18. How does Jesus’ resurrection signal new life to you? What comes to you “green and fresh” today?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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