Supplies: journal or index cards, paper, Bible, pen
Jesus is winding down his earthly ministry in a series of final gatherings with His disciples. The Passover Feast, a celebration of the time Israel was spared from destruction by the slaughter of a lamb, was the backdrop for Jesus to be the Passover sacrifice for all our sins. The difference is that Jesus' sacrifice was once and for all.
Jesus gathered together with His disciples for Passover, a time of joyful celebration where they remembered how God delivered their ancestors when they were slaves in Egypt. But as they ate, Jesus revealed one of His closest friends would betray Him - and went so far as to say it was someone sitting at the same table and eating from the same dish. He knew Judas had already agreed to help the High Priest and His officials find and arrest Him. Yet, Jesus still chose to eat with Judas and treated him with love and forgiveness. Judas still had time to ask for forgiveness, to repent, and come back to Jesus. Judas turned his back on Jesus' second chance. He chose greed over repentance and self over Christ. Even so, Jesus still loved Judas.
When has Jesus given you a second chance to turn from sin and do the right thing? When have you turned your back on this second chance? Just as Jesus' love for Judas went deeper than his sin and betrayal, so does His love for you.
When has someone needed a second chance from you? How did you respond? Just as Jesus did not withhold forgiveness and mercy from Judas, likewise, we should not become captive by bitterness and unforgiveness. We are called to see past actions and love all people enough to offer them a second chance too.
Take an index card or piece of paper and write Lamentations 3:21-23. Let these words remind you of Jesus' faithful mercy and love toward you so that you can in turn offer the same mercy and love for others.
But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
- Lamentations 3:21-23
During the Passover celebration a meal was eaten that had special significance to all who were gathered. Bitter herbs reminded them of the bitterness of slavery. Salt water helped them remember the tears they shed during their suffering. The main course of the meal, lamb, reminded them of the sacrifice that allowed the judgment of God to pass over the houses of those who believed and thus saved the people inside from death. Each part of the celebration was steeped in tradition and meaning.
On this night however, Jesus changed things. Instead of using the bread and wine as a symbol of God’s love and protection of the Israelites long ago, Jesus said the bread and wine would now represent His love and protection of us in a new way through His death on the cross. The disciples must have been confused by the change in tradition. They were probably worried about Jesus’ talk of His body and blood being offered for the forgiveness of sins. But later they would come to realize that this was a new covenant Jesus was describing.
The old covenant would be familiar to them (Exodus 24:8). But in this new covenant Jesus was establishing a new relationship between us and the Father. In your prayer time today, consider this new covenant that you are a part of today. Thank Jesus for the gift of His body, given for you, and His blood,
shed for you.
In these verses we see Jesus' mind turned toward the cross as He prepared His disciples for what was to happen next. He didn't say these words to judge or condemn them for how they would react to His death, but to let them know He was in control and that what had been predicted years ago by the prophets (Zechariah 13:7) was going to come true.
It was hard for Peter and the disciples to see themselves in that place. They couldn't imagine ever leaving or abandoning the Lord. They didn't want to think it was possible for them to be scattered like lost sheep. Yet when the Shepherd is away, the sheep lose their confidence. They scatter because they lack direction and certainty of purpose.
Consider where you are today. Are you walking with the Shepherd, safe within the fold of Christian community that provides you with the strength and encouragement you need to thrive? Or are you living a scattered life- disconnected from the fold and far from the Shepherd? Jesus, our Good Shepherd is here with us now, guiding us, caring for us, and calling us unto Himself.
On an index card or in your journal draw a circle and imagine this is where Jesus is present with His flock of believers. Where would you place yourself? Right in the center of His flock, following Him fully? On the edge of the circle, easily picked off by the enemy? Or are you out of the loop- disconnected from the safety of the flock? In your prayer time ask Jesus, the Good Shepherd, to bring you back under care.
After supper, Jesus took his disciples to a garden to pray with Him. In this moment, we simultaneously see Jesus’ humanity and His intimate relationship to the Father. In His anguish over what was to come, He simply asked the Father if there was any other way to accomplish His task other than through His death on the cross. Yet, even in the midst of the pain, Jesus submitted wholly to God's will and committed to go through what was needed in order that we may be made right with God.
Jesus implored His disciples to stand watch and join Him in His prayers, but they were not aware of the spiritual significance of this moment and missed out on the opportunity to pray and offer their support during these final hours.
What suffering and anguish are you going through? What are the people around you experiencing? Can you keep watch in prayer with them? Follow Jesus' prayer as a model today for your own prayers.
Surrender- Surrender an area of need or struggle to Him. Be honest about what you are dealing with and how you are handling it.
Seek- Ask God to give you guidance as you move forward. Sit silently and listen for His voice to tell you the way to go. If you are unable to hear Him, ask someone else to keep watch and pray with you so that they might share with you what God reveals to them.
Commit- Decide to follow God’s will- to do whatever He is telling you.