The Transparent Jesus is a Window to Heaven, Maundy Thursday, March 28th 2013
Maundy Thursday, March 28th 2013
Exodus 12: 1-4, [5-10] 11-14 Psalm 116: 1-2, 12-19 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 John 13:1-17, 31b-35
The Transparent Jesus is a Window to Heaven
The lessons tonight show how the new covenant in Jesus blood is couched in the old covenant of the Passover in Exodus. Christ is lifting up the cup of salvation, knowing that he is becoming the Passover lamb, whose blood was being shed for us so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and learn to love and serve one another in the wonderful new order, the Beloved Community that Jesus launched into the world.
In the old covenant the people are eating the Passover lamb hurriedly and painting some of its blood onto their doorposts so the angel of death passes over their house. The unjust oppressors of the Egyptian empire would lose the firstborn of all their children and even of their animals on that horrible night of retribution.
It is the Passover meal that Jesus shares with his disciples in the upper room. But Jesus has taken the Passover out of the law and way into the gospel. Sure, the Egyptians were getting their come-up-ance, because they were such cruel oppressors. God had to rescue his people from slavery and lead them into the Promised Land, give them good laws, and a new order by which to live. But Jesus showed his disciples the kind of love that fulfills the new order of the old covenant. No longer was it an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, but if your brother or sister sins against you – how many times must we forgive? Not seven, but seventy-times-seven times. This extravagant forgiveness!
Not that we Christians have not continually deserted, denied, and betrayed Jesus, but Jesus loved his disciples to the end and knowing that he had come from God and was returning to God, he washed the feet of his disciples like a slave would do. He did not lord it over others in the way of the kings of this world, but was among them as one who served. He not only served, but loved his disciples in a completely selfless and forgiving way. He did not skip over Judas, who would betray him, but served him as well cleansing him in this foot-washing. And Judas could have received forgiveness just like Peter and all the disciples that deserted Jesus, if he only would have repented and received it.
We serve a Savior who went all the way to the cross without a mumbling word loving and forgiving those who deserted, denied, and betrayed him; as well later, those who, condemned, crucified, and nailed him there like a piece of wood onto the cross. “Father, forgive them they know not what they do.”
Jesus was giving us a window through which to look into heaven to see how good and loving God really is and how this Son of Heaven shows us the way to peace, so that all our lives could be lived in the promises of God, which God fulfills for us, if we follow Jesus in this way of life.
So Jesus does not only show us how our country can experience a Passover from a culture of violence to a more humane order, but also how any two or three people who are gathered in his name can have a holy communion, in which we also receive the strength to love and forgive each other in the real presence of Jesus Christ.
Each of us follows Jesus descending into his humility, service, suffering, and love, but all together we ascend into not only the Promised Land, but the promises that God will keep for our lives. Eye has not seen, nor ear heard the wonderful things God has prepared for those who love Him and are called to his purpose.
The suffering we do in the descent is really worth it. It all adds to the music of our witness. It brings a wonderful new quality into our relationships that we notice in the Gospel of John, where women are championed, and children are lifted up and no egos get in the way. Life changes from prose into poetry. Our feelings become radiant rhapsodies that delight in what God is doing among us.
Girded with towel and wash basin, we will cleanse the feet of all to direct our feet on the way of peace. Not a peace that is empty and negative like nothing, one that just obeys the law, but much more. We will be more than conquerors of our environmental problems, bullies will no longer scapegoat victims. We will overcome war and fight them no more; we will heal dreadful diseases of the body and mind that decimate humankind; we will lift up women so that they are not violated and hurt any more; lift up children so they know they are loved and cherished and our lives will be centered around keeping them safe. We will lift them up into God’s promises as well.
What else fulfills the vision that Eye has not seen, nor ear heard the wonderful things God has prepared? We need to put our imaginations into high gear!
Do you notice how Jesus is not just sacrificing a lamb and thinking that such a scapegoat can change our lives? He not only cleanses our feet to direct them on the pathway of justice and peace, he cleansed the temple, confronting evil head on. His love seeks justice, overcomes sin, and the forces of violence and death themselves. Christ shows us the love that overcomes the fear of death and death itself, showing us and giving us victory.
Jesus was well aware that he was now going to die. He knew it was the last supper. In the Garden of Gethsemane he had to get through all that grief of giving up his life for us. But then when the time came, and the spear pierced his side, we all received the new birth from the water and the blood gushing out of his side. Yes, he died and indeed, John witnessed the water and blood flowing from his riven side. Amen.