Summary: Are you ashamed to be served by Jesus? Be careful how you answer. As Jesus demonstrates what real love is, he also recoils at real betrayal.
In the February 20th issue of Time Magazine, Joel Stein writes the cover story about George Clooney the Hollywood TV actor turned movie star. Stein recalls asking Clooney for an interview. What he got was Clooney himself coming over for dinner. “He’ll eat whatever’s cooking” his publicist said. The Time reporter was aghast and recalls the nervousness, the foibles, and in the end the joy of having a famous actor who is also a real person over.
Two things intrigued me about this story. 1) Famous people, powerful people, rich people don’t come over to our houses to share a meal and fellowship. It’s just not done. That’s why when George Clooney goes over to Joel Stein’s house it makes the cover of Time Magazine. 2) Even more surprising to me is what Clooney does when he comes over. At one point in the evening the carbon monoxide detector goes off and won’t stop. Clooney actually ended up crawling into Joel Stein’s attack to mess with the wiring. He comes back down all messy but eventually solves the problem by yanking out the batteries. "Either it needs a battery," he says, "or we have six seconds to live."
So why do I bring this up? We don’t expect people on a level way above ours to care about or really get involved in our daily lives, our mundane messes. In fact, like Joel Stein, it makes us feel downright uncomfortable. It feels wrong somehow and we resist it.
So what if I substituted Joel Stein for you and George Clooney for the creator of the universe, God Himself? God climbs up into our messy dark attack where we don’t even dare to go in order to solve our problems? It’s unheard of and we resist it. But what our Lord Jesus shows us in John chapter 13 is that this is exactly what we must allow him to do if we want to be a part of his family, his kingdom, his life. We cannot resist it like some do or we will be left out.
And further, Jesus calls us to turn around and do the same for others. To venture into the muck of others lives, not to judge or even to clean up ourselves, but to be a catalyst and an agent for the Lord to come to the rescue.
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Passover: There is a spirited debate about the meal that Jesus eats here with his disciples. This meal appears to be eaten on Thursday, the night of Jesus’ betrayal. Yet there is no mention of the Passover lamb, and later in chapter 18 John records the Pharisees telling Pilate that they cannot go into Pilate’s hall because it would make them unclean and unable to eat the Passover. However, the other gospels say that Jesus intended to eat the Passover with his disciples (Matthew 26:17-20, Mark 14:12-17, Luke 22:7-14).
There are several possibilities. 1- there were actually two calendars in use with one having Passover on Thursday and another with it on Friday. Different groups used the different calendars. 2 – Jesus would not have been able to purchase a Passover lamb because he had been repudiated by the priesthood and so would have had to celebrate the feast at a different time.
To further complicate things, some commentators say the meals were on Wednesday and Thursday, not Thursday and Friday. Now Jesus, as Lord of the Sabbath, could easily have authorized eating the meal a day early so that’s not really a problem. Jesus is the Lamb of God so it is of tremendous significance that he would be killed along with the Passover lambs, which would happen on Thursday evening around 6:00pm.
Yet another view—which may be the best is that Jesus ate on the official day of Passover in A.D. 30, the 14th of Nissan. This was immediately followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was a series of feasts that lasted a week. The Jews in John 18 may have actually been referring to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not Passover itself (they were often referred to together). Judas, when he goes out here in this chapter, is thought by the disciples as buying things for the feast, which could refer to the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not Passover. The John 13 account fits well with Passover except the lamb part, which wasn’t a total requirement. Traveling Jews could celebrate without a lamb (the foot washing, goes well with the hand washing ceremony, the bread dipped into the sauce).
But what is really cool is that Lamb was there. It was Jesus! So I think the chronology actually fits pretty well this way:
Thursday—Jesus celebrates Passover, he is “chosen” (betrayed) by Judas to be the lamb slaughtered. Then the actual killing of the Lamb starts with Thursday evening.