Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Dig: Week 3 - The Upper Room & The Mount of Olives

Welcome to a very belated Week 3 of our Lenten Dig where we will be reading and discussing the book What Jesus Saw from the Cross. This post was supposed to go live a week ago, on Wednesday March 26th, but last week was Spring Break around these parts and that threw my schedule out of whack. My goal (if I can get through the reading) is to post another discussion this weekend and hopefully get back on track next week - but we'll see how that goes. Feel free to join the discussion at any time. Please note, all items I've put in quotations below are excerpts directly from the book.  


As with our last discussion, my thoughts are heavy on the first chapter, The Upper Room, and practically non-existent, okay...actually non-existent, on the second chapter, The Mount of Olives. It's not there isn't great content in these chapters it's just that getting through two chapters, thoughtfully, a week is....well, it's embarrassingly difficult. But let's dig in....

Love.  That was the overwhelming theme to me in this chapter. The first paragraph "Jesus, knowing that His hour was come, that He should pass out of this world to the Father, having loved his own that were in the world, He loved them unto the end." I suppose this theme shouldn't surprise me in the least but I remember reading this paragraph and smiling and nodding my head, these words were so fitting given our previous two discussions. He loved them....He loved us, until the end. But what makes it even more remarkable is that He knew He was near the end and He knew the betrayal that was to come and He loved anyway. I'm going to go ahead and admit right now that I don't think I could do that.  I might be able to forgive and "get over it" but to love, wholeheartedly, through it?  That's tough.

 The Upper Room is the scene of The Last Supper, but the disciples don't know the significance of it yet, they are celebrating the Passover, and a celebration it is.

" Apparently Jesus did not consider that His intention to institute a new rite upon that day dispensed Him from celebrating the Jewish Passover. It was of the Jewish Passover that the disciples spoke, and Jesus did not correct them...."

I found this passage especially touching, He did not just tell them exactly what was happening, that He was becoming the new lamb, instead He walks them through, He guides them, but He lets them discern and discover for themselves.  A true teacher. And very much what he does for us in difficult times.

This also made me think about what I would do if I knew I were leaving the next day - even just leaving for a trip, let alone, forever. The dinner would be busy, loud, there would be much talk about the kids' schedules, maybe medicines they need, bed times, etc. There would be a lot of chatter and laying out of surely would not be a peaceful celebration.

At the Passover meal, or The Last Supper, Jesus washes the feet of the disciples - a symbol of love and purity. I've often heard this act of our Lord has various meanings, love and servant hood, among them. This would have been a very bold act simply because people's feet were dirty; not even a Jewish slave would have been required to do this. And yet, our Lord kneels down and insists because, as the author notes, "all is in the cross, because all is in humility and love, and the washing of the feet is the herald of the Cross." The author later says "we need submission to cleansing have part in the gift Jesus brings." Submission. And I immediately jotted down submission -> struggle. In our times of difficulty....or, rather in my times of difficulty I struggle.  I fight. I kick. I scream. I do just about anything but submit to His will.

This thought will tie in nicely with my last thought from the chapter but before I go there I have one more thing written's interesting how He spends His time the night before supporting the disciples, warning of their weakness and bidding them to be of good heart. He goes as far as foretelling them about their abandonment and saying "let not your heart be troubled...." Always taking care of others and doing it with love and grace and humility....

The chapter ends with blood streaming on the Cross and our Savior groaning in pain. The daily readings on the day I happened to finish reading this chapter included Hebrews 10:7:

"Then I said, 'As is written of me in the scroll, Behold, I come to do your will, O God."

Jesus knew full well that His will included suffering and death - it is likely that His will for me is not nearly as harsh and yet, I seem to have trouble fully surrendering. And there again is that thought of submission, surrendering, taking up my cross and following.

Pathetically, I'm realizing I have not a single note written down on The Mount of Olives and since this is long and the boys will be waking up soon, I'm going to leave that for you guys :)  I'd love to hear your thoughts and I'll chime in in the comments.


Previous discussions:
Week 1 - The View from the Cross
Week 2 - Zion & His Fathers House

Next up: The Passerby & His Loved Ones (hopefully coming by the end of this week)


Jill said...

Sorry, for my delay as well - I just finished these readings too! :) I'm going to put this in two comments because it will probably yell at me for the size!

The Upper Room
I agree with your idea behind the theme of this chapter – definitely all about love. We all know that Jesus loved us so much that He was crucified to take away our sins. The Upper Room meal was much about the love of His disciples and about preparing them (unbeknownst to them) to continue to live and share His Word once Jesus was no longer in the physical presence in this world.

I still find it fascinating that the breaking of the bread and sharing of the wine ritual that started in this scene is still actively present and the pillar of our weekly service. The same words, the same food, broken among Jesus’ people to be shared so that we may be armed with spiritual food for the week. This comment from the author stuck out to me from this scene: “Two things are here combined, and the one presupposes the other. There is a spiritual food, which Jesus Himself provides, and there is a perpetual sacrifice, which is the very sacrifice of Jesus Himself, and which obtains for us its fruits.” The spiritual food that we receive each week reminds us of Jesus’ sacrifice and humbles us – how blessed we are to be that loved.

I have always been particularly touched by the washing of the feet. Can you imagine how horrified the disciples must have been when Jesus knelt down to wash their feet?! I’m sure they were practically speechless! I was on a religious retreat weekend once where they washed our feet and all I kept thinking was, “please don’t let my feet stink, please don’t let my feet stink.” And yet, I wear socks and shoes to protect my feet – Jesus was washing the feet of these men who walk around in sandals or less ALL DAY! Can you imagine the dirt and grime caked on their feet? It’s totally superficial of me to think it – society today requires hygiene, which includes washing your feet! But back then, everyone was just like the next. And Jesus, thought nothing of it. He wanted to do it – to show His love, to establish a stronger bond between them, perhaps even to teach them that even the holiest of men is not above them. This simple act – washing feet – that we take for granted every day, had such a powerful meaning and reaction in this scene. This line from the author also stuck with me: “Even though the head that thinks, the heart that loves, the hands that act may pursue ends which are pure, yet our feet trail in the dust and are soiled by the mud from the road they tread. We need the pitcher of water and the touch of the Savior’s hands.”

Jill said...

Okay, just kidding - needed to be 3 comments (sorry!)

The Mount of Olives
This chapter was more sullen, not quite the celebration meal from the prior chapter. I had a couple of main points from this chapter that really stood out to me:
The first, although very small, this paragraph was powerful to me: “As we have said, Jesus contemplates things in a twofold spirit of prophecy and remembrance because He sees from the viewpoint of eternity. What is, what was, and what will be are equally present to Him. Thus, just as upon the Cenacle He projects the vision of the Supper which is past and that of the Pentecost which is to come, so on the Mount of Olives He has the power to gaze into a double abyss, an abyss of sorrow and an abyss of Heaven.” What a conflicting view!! It’s no wonder Jesus had so much turmoil right at the end. On one hand, He was rejoicing at the thought of being united with His Father in heaven, but on the other hand, knowing the pain and suffering that He was to endure to get there. Knowing that He had to give up this physical world and the people He loved, but at the same time knowing that it was for the good of those people – so He could ensure their place by His side in heaven. I am so thankful that I do not have the power to see what will be! I already get worked up when there are things I’m not looking forward (like a meeting at work) that I don’t even know the outcome to; let alone if I were to know the outcome of the thing I was not looking forward to – I would be a wreck!! I wish I had Jesus’ strength and perseverance in these situations, just not the “full view!”

The next point really got to me and the idea kept building with several sentences in this section:

The author wrote “Jesus had said, “My soul is sorrowful even unto death.” But the words are inadequate; the sorrow of Jesus goes far beyond the bounds of death. Death reaches only the body, and there are limits to what the body can endure. There are sufferings which normally would break the human heart; but God can, if He wills, sustain the soul’s frail consort so that the spirit may suffer the more. Death now stay its hand at the threshold of agony, but the soul there will be no limit.”

Another point by the author: “His pain is not His own; it is the pain of the whole world. He will overcome our pain by suffering it as by dying He will conquer death.”

And still one more from the author: “Jesus will suffer every kind of pain and sorrow; and what His enemies, who can reach only His body, cannot inflict, He inflicts upon Himself.”

It first caught me when they talked about Jesus crying out in agony in the garden. My initial reaction was why is He in so much pain? I don’t think anyone has done anything to Him yet. Then the author listed the points above and it was very eye-opening to me. I don’t know why I have never latched onto this idea when I’ve heard this passage before, but it really sunk in as I was reading this. We too often think of pain in the physical sense, so that was my initial reaction. It never dawned on me that Jesus was torturing Himself with the pain of the whole world – the WHOLE WORLD. Imagine having that weight on your shoulders? It’s hard enough to deal with your own problems, sorrows, pain, but then to have the problems, pain, sorrow and SIN of the WHOLE WORLD on you – there cannot be words. Even when we discussed Jesus suffering on the cross in the first chapter, I was still thinking of the physical pain, dabbling a little into the pain of seeing the people continuing life around you; but the magnitude of the emotional suffering He must have gone through leading up to and even on the cross, had to have been far worse than the physical pain.

Jill said...

Continuing on The Mount of Olives:

The last point that resonated with me was also in a couple of sentences from the author:

The author questions: “Where are the Twelve?”

“Only once in His life has Jesus asked for help of men, and He does not receive it.”

“Not only do they fail to assuage His grief; they do not even understand it.”

There you have it; I just admitted it – I did not understand Jesus’ grief. I am no better than the disciples who did not help Jesus in His time of despair. I need to challenge myself to have a better understanding and ask the hard question – “Where am I?”

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