On this Maundy Thursday, it is fitting to read of Jesus' last days on earth. In yesterday's passage Jesus instructed His disciples to keep awake. Today's passage shows us that when the difficult time came they were busy sleeping while Jesus was praying for God's will to be done.
This story begins with irony. While the religious plot Jesus' death and Judas leaves to betray Jesus, a woman anoints Jesus (for burial!) with costly perfume. Again the disciples misunderstanding shows their lack of comprehension about what awaits Jesus and what Jesus has in fact repeatedly told them.
Then Jesus and His disciples share the Passover Meal together. Tonight for the Maundy Thursday service, we'll look in depth about the different aspects to the Passover Meal that recounts the story of God's deliverance of the Hebrew people from slavery in Egypt. The themes are rich: freedom, slavery, faith, hope, and love. Yet Jesus breaks the flow of this service by announcing one among them will betray Him and that a new covenant is being enacted by the upcoming events.
Even though Peter insist he will not let Jesus down, none of the three disciples can seem to stay awake as Jesus struggles in prayer. Can they not keep watch? Can they not stay awake at this most crucial time? While they slumber, while plots swirl, Jesus prayer, "Abba, Father! All things are possible for You…yet not what I will, but what you will. Yet the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
What might this contrast between the men seeking Jesus' death and the woman anointing Jesus be saying? How might the costly anointing oil highlight that?
The Passover Meal served to highlight the identity of God's people but also had political overtones: freedom from foreign oppressors, God's deliverance into a Promised way of life without slavery and oppression, and so forth. How are things coming to a head during this Passover meal? How might Jesus' words about new covenant give meaning for the disciples to grasp the events of the new few days? How might it help us understand better the Kingdom of God? How does Communion serve today as a way that serves as a source of our identity? What other themes from the Passover do you see?
What answer does Jesus receive from God when He prays? What might we learn from that about prayer? How might that help us to "stay awake"?