Pocket Full of Easter
Journey to The Cross
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday before Easter, also referred to as Holy Thursday. Christians remember this day as the day of the Last Supper when Jesus celebrated Passover with His disciples, washed the feet of His disciples, and established the ceremony of the Eucharist. This Passover Meal is nicknamed the Last Supper because it was Jesus’ last meal on earth. The word Maundy comes from the Latin word for ‘command’ and represents the command given by Jesus to love one another.
The Eucharist is perhaps the most central act of worship in many Christian faiths. This sacrament, called Communion, was instituted at the Last Supper, and is where bread and wine are consecrated and consumed in remembrance of Jesus' death. Some faiths believe the consecrated bread and wine are the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ while others believe it represents the body and blood of Christ. All Christian faiths agree that we partake of the Lord’s Supper in obedience and remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Read John 13:34-35.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." NIV
• Let yourself feel Jesus’ love.
• Let yourself feel Jesus’ love for the people in your lives.
• Thank God for loving you.
• Can people tell you are a disciple of Jesus? If not, confess to God.
• Ask God to help you love others as Jesus loves you.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.
Morning Bible Study
When you live on the road, it’s a challenge to know where to celebrate special events. Even though I’m often traveling on Memorial Day, 4th of July and Labor Day, I try to make some kind of arrangement to still celebrate these events. Sometimes friends or family members join me for holidays while I’m traveling. Other times, I join friends or family who live near wherever I happen to be. Occasionally, I drive around until I find a city or church publicly celebrating these events and invite myself to their festivities.
It was getting close to Passover and the nomadic disciples were wondering where they were going to celebrate. Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to Jerusalem to make the complicated preparations for the Passover. Read their question to Jesus in Matthew 26:17-19.
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"
He replied, "Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, 'The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.'" So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. NIV
• What did the disciples ask Jesus?
• What were Jesus’ instructions?
• How do you think Jesus knew this man would say yes to what must have been an inconvenient request?
Jesus knew this would be His last Passover on earth and wanted to make it special for His beloved disciples. Read John 13:1.
It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. NIV
• What did Jesus know?
• How did Jesus feel about His disciples?
• Why did He want to make this event special?
We have already studied what happened at the beginning of their Passover celebration. Jesus had announced His upcoming betrayal and betrayer. Read John’s reference to this in John 13:2-3.
The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. NIV
One can only imagine the silence that must have followed Jesus’ grim announcement. Read what Jesus said and did next in John 13:3-11.
Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, are you going to wash my feet?"
Jesus replied, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
"No," said Peter, "you shall never wash my feet."
Jesus answered, "Unless I wash you, you have no part with me."
"Then, Lord," Simon Peter replied, "not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!"
Jesus answered, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you." For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. NIV
• Why wasn’t Jesus worried about the betrayal?
• What did Jesus do for the disciples?
• Why do you think Peter objected to Jesus washing His feet?
• What was Jesus’ explanation to Peter?
Read Jesus’ continued explanation in John 13:12-17.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. "Do you understand what I have done for you?" he asked them. "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. NIV
• What does Jesus want us to do for others?
Matthew gives us details about their meal. Read Matthew 26:26-29.
While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."
Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father's kingdom." NIV
• What does the bread represent?
• What does the body represent?
Reread Jesus’ new command to His disciples in John 13:34-35.
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
• What was the command?
• How will the world know we are disciples?
• Do you think Jesus accomplished His goal of letting the disciples know how much He loved them?
The disciples had no idea of what faced them in the coming days or that this would be Jesus’ last supper on earth but they did know Jesus loved them. Regardless of our circumstances, we can rest peacefully in the knowledge of His deep and abiding love.
My girlfriend, Janice Sullivan, calls me every few days. We chat about God’s will for our lives, our struggles, and perhaps best of all, our grandchildren. Once, I had a speaking engagement and was having trouble getting there. A four-car pile up had stopped traffic completely. My phone rang and it was Janice. “Where are you?” she asked, always curious about my nomadic lifestyle
“I’m stuck in traffic and I am the guest speaker,” I said in a panic. “I have to get to church.”
“What time do you have to be there?” she asked practically.
“I start speaking at 10:00 AM.”
“But that’s an hour away,” she said calmly.
“Thank God I left early,” I agreed. “But I’ve already been on the road thirty minutes and have only traveled a few miles. I have to set all my equipment up and I don’t know how long it will take to get there.”
“How far away are you?” she asked.
“About twenty-five minutes if I weren’t stuck here,” I moaned.
“You’ll make it,” she encouraged. “Is there another way you can go?”
“Yes,” I said excitedly as I changed lanes quickly trying to avoid hitting everyone else with the same idea.
“Let’s pray together,” Janice said. As we prayed, I calmed down knowing God was in charge. Not only did I make it in time, I made it calmly and focused. The last piece of equipment started working correctly at 9:59 AM and by 10:00 AM I was speaking. I told the crowd about that Morning Prayer and assured them that I kept my eyes open as we prayed.
Janice and her husband Jimmie live in Houma, Louisiana and are about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. I hope to be able to attend the festivities as they dance on the wooden floors of the Cajun restaurant with their friends and family. I always introduce her as my Cajun girlfriend because she has grown up in the bayous of Louisiana.
No one can believe Janice is old enough to have been married fifty years. They were married when Janice was a mere seventeen years old. “Jimmie was Baptist when I married him. He promised me we would raise our children Catholic. He promised Mama I would graduate from High School. Jimmie has kept all his promises.”
After seventeen years of marriage and attending the Catholic Church with Janice and their three children, Jimmie finally converted to Catholicism. “Our fifteen year old son Tod was his Confirmation Sponsor,” Janice said. “The Catholics accepted Jimmie’s Baptist baptism so he didn’t have to be baptized again. Jimmie says he is really baptized because he was dunked.”
Janice reads everything I write and is quick to call with her suggestions. “You spelled the flower chrysanthemum wrong,” she announced after I had posted pictures on the web from a garden I had visited.
Another time she called to encourage, “I read your story about being a worthy woman. It was wonderful. I’ve been walking around all day reminding myself that I’m a worthy woman.”
When I first began posting the devotional series I call Pocket Full of Easter, Janice called to say it should be called Pocket Full of Grace. “I loved what you wrote about living in grace. This isn’t just for Easter. It’s about grace.” I knew I had found a better title.
Janice is one of the most interesting people I know. When introduced to a crowd, she gives a loud Cajun yell of, “AAAYEEEE.” People that have heard her speak wait in anticipation for that yell and if she forgets, they yell it for her. When she speaks, her words move you quickly from laughter to tears as you feel the power of the Holy Spirit speaking through her.
Tiny petite Janice describes herself as a “barefoot country girl.” Her short dark hair, big beautiful blue eyes, and elegant bright purple and blue wardrobe turn heads everywhere we go together. Her tiny feet sporting cute dainty high heels make you wonder how they could ever have been barefooted. Her large matching earrings are her trademark. “It’s a good thing I love you,” I tease. “Traveling with you is hard on my ego.”
Before I introduced her to my parents, I said, “She’s pretty, Daddy. You’ll like her.” My daddy likes pretty women.
When he met Janice, Daddy flirted, “Cheryle sure described you correctly.”
When Janice hugged Daddy goodbye, she squeezed his arms and said, “You’re a strong man.”
Daddy preened as he quipped, “Do it again.” Being a smart man, as soon as Daddy hugged Janice a second time, he walked over to Mama and hugged her as he said, “How is my beautiful girl?”
A few weeks ago, Janice called me excitedly, “I was at Mass and Father Michael asked me to serve the Lord’s Supper.”
“But I’m not a Eucharist Minister,” Janice had argued.
“You are now because I have commissioned you,” her priest smiled. In the Catholic faith, priests look for Godly people to help serve the body and blood of Christ. These Lay Ministers serve the Eucharist during Mass as well as taking it to the sick.
“I can’t believe I’ll be able to serve people the body and blood of Christ,” Janice said in awe. Catholics partake of the Lord’s Supper at every Mass. Eucharist Ministers stand at the front of the room, giving out the bread and wine consecrated by the priest. The say, “This is the body of Christ,” or “This is the blood of Christ,” as they give out the bread or the wine respectively. As people file by, these Eucharistic Ministers become a part of their congregation’s holy encounters with Christ.
Father Michael also invited Jimmie to become a Eucharist Minister and filed the paper work to make their ordination official. On Maundy Thursday, Janice and Jimmie will have the honor of participating in their Parish’s ceremonial foot washing. Father Michael wants people to know that women can be disciple’s of Christ as well as men. On Resurrection Sunday she and Jimmie will help give out the Lord’s Supper.
I looked up the words “Eucharist Minister” on the web. Article after article said, “Our Eucharist Ministers should be extraordinary.” As I thought about Janice and Jimmie serving fellow Christians the Holy Lord’s Supper, I knew they were indeed extraordinary. They are followers of Christ and walk in His likeness. How could anyone who looks so much like Christ not be extraordinary?
As Jesus celebrated that last Passover meal with His disciples, He said the world would know we are disciples by our love for others. As Janice and Jimmie hand out the consecrated bread and wine on Easter Sunday, their love for others will be obvious to all who receive it.
My Aunt Ka Ka also met Janice and loved her immediately. “I’m glad you have someone like her in your life,” Aunt Ka Ka said. She’s right. I am blessed to have so many Christ-like friends.
As you take the bread and wine of the Lord’s Supper, remember why we do it. We do it in remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ. As you follow the instructions of Christ, renew your commitment to Him. Be extraordinary. As you leave that holy encounter, let the world know you are Christians by your love for others. Like they say at the end of every Mass in Janice’s church, St Anthony of Padua, go and bring Jesus to everybody you meet.