Holy Week Devotions: Thursday Night

Mark 14: 12-72 & John 13:1- 18:27

No that is not a typo, that whole portion of John is covered in this devotion. Both portions of scripture speak to the evening of Jesus’ betrayal, but the Gospel of John encompasses the Farewell DIscourse which provides the bulk of moral and ethical teachings that Jesus provides to the disciples. Some sections we have read already, but there are a couple of themes to list up.

The Gospel of Mark provides the narrative of the Last Supper, the prayer at Gethsemane and the Betrayal. There a several items that appear and overlap in the Mark and John tellings, which signifies what the early church held in common. Notice the exhortation to treat others as if a servant to them, a theme we recognize from John yet appears in Mark as well. Then again notice that the Words of Institution that are used in our communion liturgy appears in Mark while it is the Great Commandment that appears in John. Ours is a tradition that is woven together from several witnesses in the early church.

It is appropriate to spend some time in prayer over these passages for this is where Jesus is laying the foundation for the new community that was to emerge. The table becomes an important place for worship and fellowship for the early believers. The teachings of Jesus in Mark and John that occur on this night, as the teachings that guide as a community, Communion and Table Fellowship are not just part of our existence, we exist because of Communion and Table Fellowship.

But notice as well, that even though table fellowship and communion are critical to the community, so is the reality of betrayal and sin. For in both witnesses, Jesus is betrayed, not just by Judas, but by all, as all his followers fall away. It is a fine line between communing with Jesus at the table but then walking away at any moment. This temptation is ever present in our lives, how do we deal with it?

Jesus dares to dine with us, dares to us. Provides nourishment and knowledge. Do we lean into this life, or do we approach the Table with one foot out the door? If we witness to the Crucifixion, are we all in, as Jesus is, or are we holding back parts of ourselves?