Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – April 23, 2020
For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.’ While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, and all of them drank from it. He said to them, ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Mark 14:21-24
“Shelter in place.” Three months ago these words wouldn’t have even registered in my mind as a phrase. And yet, it seems as though we cannot go an hour without hearing it multiple times. It has shaped and reshaped our daily lives in countless ways as we seek to stay put for the good of our neighbors and communities. We have been told, danger and sickness abounds in our cities and public spaces, so retreat to the safety of home and intimate relationships.
When Jesus instituted the Last Supper, he chose to share the Passover meal in a private home with his closest friends. Threats of death and violence faced Jesus at every turn as he entered the city of Jerusalem, and so it would be easy to assume that this meal was for him a moment of refreshment, a place of great safety within that sheltered him from the chaos without. Yet as Lawrence Farley reminds us, “Even in this atmosphere of cozy safety, a traitor lurked in their midst, throwing the joy of the meal into shadow.”
In Mark 14, we are given Jesus’ famous Words of Institution, through which he established for all time the remembrance of his passion through the regular observance of and participation in this Holy Meal. Yet we easily dismiss the opening phrase with which he frames these words: “While they were eating.” Jesus came to free humanity and creation from its bondage to sin and evil, and even in this sheltered place, Jesus knew our capacity as humans for betrayal, our willingness to turn against him, seen even by those who knew him better than anyone.
Jesus chose to offer himself for the life of the world, bringing hope and healing to every single place touched by the effects of sin and death. Often the most external effects are the easiest to see. We long for a world to be healed from global pandemics, from war and violence, and from exploitation and greed. And yet, if you’re anything like me, spending weeks on end sheltered in place has made me painfully aware of the other parts of life that are easier to overlook, yet just as needful of God’s healing touch.
If you live with other human beings, whether a roommate, a spouse, or children, over the past few weeks you’ve likely had to learn new rhythms of life together, including how to love, serve, and forgive one another as you live together in the closest of quarters. Habits of selfishness or patterns of dysfunction that may be easy to hide in normal times have been exposed and brought to the surface in countless ways. What then do we do?
You and I must learn to love one another just as we have been loved. And how have we been loved? As St. Paul famously says in Romans 5:8, “But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.” Jesus loved fully and completely, and was therefore able to look with love and compassion upon every single person, whether stranger or intimate friend. Are you able to do the same?
Father, thank you for the example of love seen in Jesus. Give us the faith to receive his love and the courage to love others as we have been loved. Amen.
How can you love those closest to you with the love of Christ?
Here is a helpful resource during these days of grief, sorrow and uncertainty: A Little Book of Comfort
Jesus loved fully and completely, and was therefore able to look with love and compassion upon every single person, whether stranger or intimate friend. #love #WisdomHunters #truth #Jesus
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