While Jesus was going through the greatest temptation in his life before the cross, he knew that his disciples would also go through temptation and testing. Before testing and temptation, the only protection was prayer, so he prayed and he asked his disciples to pray as well. SWIM says, “Like disciples, we may have good intentions, but they are simply not enough to keep us faithful to God during times of testing. Our only hope is to be strengthened through prayer so that our spirits will be able to resist the temptations of our flesh.” We usually think we will be okay because of God’s mercy. We think Jesus will take care of us during the testing and temptation. However, there is what we are supposed to do while there is what God is supposed to do. Jesus bore much heavier burden and temptation before the cross. That was not our burden. However, we had also our burden – to be with him as his witness instead of running away from him while he was carrying the cross instead of us.
When I go through troubles and hardships, I know it is not me but God who deals with those troubles and hardships. However, I also have my part. I should not run away or give up or complain during hardships. God will take care of my hardships but I should be there with God trusting him instead of grumbling. For that small role, hanging in there trusting God while he is doing everything for me, I need prayer. If there was other way to prepare or deal with testing and temptations other than prayer, Jesus would have told us. However, what Jesus did and what he asked disciples to do before testing and temptation was only prayer. Let’s pray, especially during today and tomorrow during Holy Thursday and Good Friday.
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (John 13:8)
Jesus who was in a position of great honor decided to eschew all that privilege and lower himself to serve those that the world thought should be serving Him. Jesus was always turning things upside down — challenging our beliefs and attitudes about what was valuable and what was not and what was wrong and what was right.
It’s very important that Jesus first serves us. Through Jesus washing our feet, we get our sense of our own value and worth. That’s probably one of the first steps to being a good disciple; first, we must know completely and unequivocally that we have infinite worth. And after we know this, from this place of wholeness, we can get fill up others to show them their worth.
I wonder if part of the gospel message is: The God of the Universe came down in human form to convey the simple message that you are a person of unequivocal worth. You matter, and I would do anything to be in relationship with you. It would be an interesting exercise for each of us to put into our own words what exactly the gospel message is; what is the message that your soul is desperate to hear? I don’t resonate with the accusatory tone of “you are a sinner in need of rescuing and it’s your fault that Jesus died a horrible death.” I have never believed that my core identity is that of a sinner, nor do I believe that I was evil from the time that I was conceived. I do believe that I was lost and wandering, looking in vain for rescue. Maybe this is why I don’t make a good Christian.
In the Bible, the central message that Jesus often gave was that your sins are forgiven. The aspect of sin must be a big part of the good news. I need to ponder this more.
Unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. (John 12:24)
Death or loss seem so final to us, yet Jesus showed us another way of looking at it. Death or loss can be the portal to new beginnings. When we are in the middle of loss (of a loved one, of our dreams, of material possessions or our health), we see it as final, but God always redeems these deaths and losses. We can think of these sad events as the result of our own failures or the result of the evil one’s influence in the world, and we can also have hope that the loss will be redeemed by God in ways that work out for good. The forces of evil and our own fallen natures conspired to kill Jesus on the cross in the most horrible of deaths. In the face of all this evil, Jesus responded with love and asked God to forgive those who killed Him; his actions in death were consistent with how Jesus lived his entire life. After death, Jesus was lifted up, conquering death and evil for good. His rising gives us hope that we too will have new life. (In fact that new life is available even now. We need only to surrender our false notions that we are in control of our lives and trust that God will guide and protect us, no matter how bad things look.)