Maundy Thursday, April 14, 2022

         It was a grim night.  It was a disturbing night.  It was a confusing night.  Grim because death was in the air and everyone seemed to sense that nothing would ever be the same again. Disturbing because the conversations around that Last Supper table were filled with mentions of death and departure.  Jesus was going away—that much was certain.  It was confusing because the disciples struggled to make sense of all that Jesus was saying and doing.  They had been with Him for three years but still could not connect all the dots or link all the pieces of this salvation tapestry that the Father was weaving with the body and blood of His Son.
          It was an incomparable night.  No other night ever featured the arrest and capture of the Creator by the creation.  No other night ever carried the fervent intensity of the Son of God’s prayers in Gethsemane’s Garden.  His prayers were marked by drops of blood and a palpable sense that a great price was about to be paid to settle the debt, the heavenly score and the outstanding account that first appeared in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve chose to do as they pleased.  It was an awful, awful night.
          The catastrophic ruin of the creation and humanity that happened at the Fall was about to be set right.  Jesus would soon die for every sinful act, every bitter word, every painful choice, every rebellious thought and every expression of selfishness, hate and pride.  We often sing that at Calvary mercy there was great and grace was free and pardon there was multiplied to us.  But before we can experience mercy, grace and pardon we have to get through this night and a cross stained by blood and death tomorrow.  We want grace.  We desire mercy.  We welcome pardon.  But those things only become real when we have witnessed and understood the horrors of this night and the hideousness of the cross.
          It was a grim night.  Jesus said that He came not to be served but to serve and to give His innocent and perfect life as a ransom for many.  Soon, that ransom will be paid.  It will be paid on a Friday—a day forever enshrined as Good Friday.  Good because the goodness and innocence of Jesus was imputed to us while our waywardness and sinfulness were handed off to Him.  Good because God has finally made right what went wrong during that hellacious episode in Eden where a snake charmed Adam and Eve into hiding and right out of paradise.  And that same serpent has worked His wicked ways with us as well.  We are not innocent.  We are guilty.  We stand condemned...mouths open and agape over the fervency and finality of our sins and what that means.  On this night we realize there is a hell and we deserve to have a place in it.  We deserve to be banished, broken, judged and forgotten.  There is no one righteous, the Bible says, no not one.
          We have listened to the serpent many, many times.  We have chosen his empty promises and barren propositions above the words and ways of our Good Shepherd.  Tonight, we feel the weight of our sins...the full burden and gravitational pull downward and away from God...downward to the depths of doom and death and ruin.  It is you.  It is me.  It is us.  We like sheep have gone astray.  And now the bill has come due.  But the Son of God stepped up on that grim, grim night and embraced the way of the cross...not my will, but thy will He prayed as He entrusted Himself to the plans and will of the Father.  Such a grim night where the Almighty opened the plan of judgment and poured out the full measure of His wrath upon His Son...His only begotten, beloved and beautiful Son. 
          Father, Son and Spirit together—doing what only they could do to save wretched men and women like us.  Are we deserving?  The answer is a resounding NO.  But salvation and forgiveness have never rested on the matter of what we deserve or warrant.  The salvation we so desperately need rests upon the goodness of the Father, the sacrifice of the Son and the gentleness of the Spirit.  The plan that unfolds tonight was put in place before the foundations of the earth were laid.  The perfect Son of God would die for grossly imperfect, ruined, soiled and morally bankrupt people like you and me. 
          It was a grim, grim night.  And Friday will soon follow where all the bad of the world was placed squarely upon the shoulders of Jesus.  And the wrath of God was poured out in devastating judgement.  A grim night was followed by a much grimmer day...just as surely as Friday follows Thursday.  But take heart...Sunday is on the way.  But before Sunday’s resurrection, there must be Friday’s cross.  And before Friday’s cross there was that grim, grim Thursday night.    

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