At service last night, our pastor read from the Bible about the Last Supper. Today, I can't seem to find the specific version or gospel he read from but I thought I heard the words, 'Jesus looked at them'. And then it seems my mind finished that sentence with the words, 'with compassion' which is apparently somewhere else in scripture... but I think God knew that's what I needed to hear. What I needed to take away from the sermon. This idea of Jesus looking at those he loved with compassion, knowing the pain he was about to endure but feeling their coming pain as well. He knew he would soon be crucified. That he would be placed in a tomb... and that it was going to look very bleak, very dark and very hopeless.
"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." -John 13:1 NIV
He then washes their feet, which is symbolic of the cleansing which we receive by accepting Him, made possible only by His sacrifice. It shows, too, His servant's heart and is a lesson to us as to how we are to love.
But beyond this, I can imagine Jesus showering those He loved with His love, knowing full well the agony they were to endure in the next few days. He knew that they would feel abandoned and hopeless. That they would doubt. They would now question if He was who He said He was.
I can sometimes identify with that hopelessness. That desperate plea of, "I want so much for you to be who you say you are."
There have been times in my life where I have thought, "God. I need you to be real. But I just don't know if you are."
These times come when to my weak eyes, all seems dark. And I'm not feeling his presence. I'm not getting answers. The way ahead does not seem clear. And so there's this need. This emotion which becomes a prayer offered up out of hope, out of obedience: "I have hinged my whole life on Your existence and Your truth. I am nothing without You. Oh, God, please be real."
Jesus knew His disciples would experience something similar. He knows beforehand when I will. But He also knew that right when it looked the darkest, and as if all hope was lost, He would rise victoriously. He knew that the darkness was necessary for the miracle. For the healing. The Resurrection.
He tells them as plainly as He can.
He says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me...I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to where I am going." John 14: 1,4 NIV.
And his disciples debate him. Thomas basically says, "Uh, no we don't."
Jesus answers, "Believe me when I say that I m in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least in the evidence of the miracles themselves."John 14:11 NIV
I hear him say to me, "Try and remember when it's dark what you've seen. The miracles I've performed in your life already."
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give you...Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27 NIV
"Now I am going to him who sent me.... Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: it is for your good that I am going away....I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear." John 16:5-7,12
And again they don't get it. And He goes to the cross. And is buried. And they doubt, and they seem to forget what He told them.
And I, too, can forget. I experience these dark times where I feel like it's hopeless. Like maybe I had it all wrong. And I forget what He's done for me in the past. That He left with me peace, That it is all for my good. That He cannot reveal it all to me right now.
But today, the day after we celebrated His Resurrection, I am reminding myself of past miracles. I am resting in the knowledge of all He has told me in the past. I am trusting that anything which appears bleak can be conquered by Him who conquered the grave.