At His last meal with His best friends, Jesus asked them, and us, to remember Him whenever we take communion. This being Maundy Thursday–the day on the Christian calendar commemorating the Last Supper–I was wondering what specifically He might have wanted us to remember about Him. At this point in Holy Week, He had yet to suffer His torturous death on the cross. He had talked about it, but I don’t think anyone really knew exactly what He was talking about. Was this another of His confusing parables? Surely this whole three-year whirlwind ministry couldn’t end with the hero dying a criminal’s death in the most horrific and humiliating form of execution ever contrived. Could it?
But wait. Jesus talked about it before it happened. He had actually been talking about it for the weeks leading up to this one. So He knew this was coming, but He went to Jerusalem anyway. He had compared what was going to happen to Him with Jonah’s misadventures getting to Nineveh (nobody knew what He meant by that either). But when Jonah was called by God for his mission to preach to the most dangerous and evil city in the known world, he tried to run the other way. Jesus, on the other hand, knew this trip to Jerusalem would end with his execution. But He went anyway.
That’s courage worth remembering.
Also, let’s think for a moment why He felt the need to do this. He was remembering me. And you. Even though we hadn’t been born yet, as part of the triune God, apart from His 33 years on this earth, Jesus exists outside of time. So from His timeless perspective, you and I have already been born, lived, and died. We were born into the sin we inherited from Adam and Eve, who were convinced by Satan that disobeying God isn’t really a sin (a lie that’s alive and thriving today, sadly).
Anyway, every person in history except Jesus has lived up (or down) to the sin we inherited. Each sin boils down to a sin against God, and since God is a just God, each sin requires an equivalent punishment, or else there is no justice and He’s not a just God. But He loves us so much that He created a plan (from the beginning) in which Jesus takes our place in the punishment. There’s the why–remembering you, remembering me. By name. I was in line to be executed as punishment for my sins, but He came up to me and said, “That’s OK, Dave. I’ve got you covered. I’ll take it from here.” He slipped off his dazzling white cloak–the dress code for heaven–and handed it to me. In return, He held out His hand for me to give him my filthy rags. He has done the same for you.
Grace. We don’t deserve it, but He did it anyway.
That also is worthy of our remembrance. How can we not fall to our knees before Him in humble gratitude?