“The Hour Had Come”
The night before Christ was crucified was a busy night. Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper, washes His disciple’s feet, pulls the curtain on Judas, issues the “new commandment”, and, of course, the events in the Garden of Gethsemane that led to his arrest and trial. That Thursday evening was a full night and the domino had been tipped that would lead to Jesus’ death on a cross.
It’s easy to focus on those specific events, and there is a lot to learn from all of them, but I would encourage you to step back for a moment and turn your attention to how this night fits into the context of Jesus’ life on earth. There’s a fascinating story unfolding as the tension builds and the final chapter begins. The transition to this final chapter is found in Luke 9:51:
Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.
I cannot talk about Easter without starting with this verse. It so fascinates me and convicts me. For three and a half years Jesus has been in His public ministry. For three and a half years He has been traveling around preaching, teaching, healing, rebuking, and challenging the status quo. And then, suddenly, the story shifts. “When the time had come,” Jesus “steadfastly sets His face to go to Jerusalem.” It was time. Jesus begins His final journey to Jerusalem, to the place where He will be ridiculed, beaten, and humiliated. To where He will be crucified.
This moment captures my imagination like no other. Jesus knows what awaits Him there: the betrayal of a disciple, the physical pain and suffering, and the most painful and unimaginable act — His Father turning His back on Him, forsaking Him for a world that is sinful and broken and will reject this demonstration of a love that transcends our understanding. The intentionality, purpose, and focus required to know what was coming and begin that journey is one of the most heroic acts I can imagine. And there was no hesitation. Just a resolute countenance and force of will to confront the sin of humanity.
Jesus finally arrives in Jerusalem and prepares for the Feast of the Passover. And that’s where we come to in John 13:1-5
Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end.
And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.
This is the act we most identify with Maundy Thursday: Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. It is a beautiful picture of Jesus serving his disciples and provides an incredible model of the new command he follows it with of “love one another as I have loved you.” But I am struck by the first sentence, more specifically the second phrase:
“…Jesus knew that the hour had come…”
The hour had come. We have moved past the “time” and arrived at the “hour.” Jesus’ entire human life pointed to this moment in time and anticipated this hour. Every temptation he resisted. Every teaching he provided. All the conversations and time he poured into the lives of his disciples. Every act of restoring sight to the blind, giving a voice to the mute, healing the lame, casting out the demons, and raising the dead. They all pointed to this night.
I believe each of us is created for a specific purpose, for our “hour.” It’s bigger than us and it calls us to something greater than the sum of our parts. It is our WHY, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW. For most of us, it takes some time to figure it out, but even if we are not fully aware, God is faithfully directing our paths to that destination.
I don’t know what God has for each of you. But I do know the WHY, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW of our lives begin at the place where Jesus’ ended: His death, burial, and resurrection. It is recognizing that you are a sinner, that sin separates you from your Father, and the only way back into a relationship with Him is through placing your faith in the shed blood of His Son. That is the beginning of a life that has purpose, meaning, adventure, and impact.
I pray you and your family enjoy your Easter weekend and get a chance to contemplate the incredible act that we celebrate: Jesus willingly, knowingly, and purposefully following the instruction of His father to make a way for us to come into His presence.
May you enjoy His presence this Easter.
Matthew H. Skinner