Posted on April 3, 2015
Thursday: Man of Sorrows
This is the fifth post of an eight-day devotional designed to lead you to praise Christ each day of the week preceding Easter. Thanks for joining in!
A man carrying a water jar? An unusual sight, for carrying water was women’s work—but that was the sign Jesus gave to Peter and John (Lk. 22:8ff). They were to follow a man carrying a water jar, who would lead them to a place where they could prepare the Passover meal for the Lord and His disciples. It was the first of several unusual signs and symbols that would take place on Thursday of Holy Week.
Later that day, they met in an upper room in Jerusalem to share the age-old traditional Passover feast. That night the old feast would gain a new name—”the Last Supper”—the last meal Jesus would eat with the Twelve before His death, though the disciples weren’t aware of it yet. Still, they had to have sensed from Jesus’ demeanor that something big was coming:
• when He wrapped a towel around His waist and washed their feet, teaching them in the process
• when He spoke of a betrayer among them, identifying him as “one who dips bread into the bowl with Me”(Mk. 14:20)
• when He sadly predicted Peter’s denial
• when He instituted the memorial we know as the Lord’s Supper or Communion, comparing its elements to His own body and blood
• when very late in the evening He followed the feast’s final hymn by leading them out to the Mount of Olives, obviously heavy-hearted and sorrowful.
They came to the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus, after asking the disciples to keep watch with Him and pray, moved apart from them and dropped to His knees. The hour was late and their stomachs were full. They couldn’t stay awake—even when Jesus came back to them and asked again that they keep watch.
But a short time later they were jolted wide awake when a company of soldiers and officials marched into the garden, led by Judas. So began a long frightening night for the disciples, hiding in the shadows and watching helplessly as Jesus was arrested, led from one interrogation to another, mocked and beaten. When the rooster crowed just before dawn, the day’s final sign was fulfilled; Peter was devastated to realize he had denied His Lord, just as Jesus had said he would.
Thursday was hard, heavy day that ended worse—not at all what the disciples had anticipated when they’d entered Jerusalem on Sunday to the welcoming shouts of adoring crowds. The rapid turn of events must have been hard to take in.
It’s a troubling picture for those of us who love Him—to think of Him in Gethsemane, then bound and beaten. Let this mid-night melancholy move you to praise Jesus from an angle you may never have considered—as the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:3), the Man of Sorrows who bore the weight of your sin.
‘Tis midnight, and on Olive’s brow
the star is dimmed that lately shown.
‘Tis midnight: in the garden now,
the suffering Savior prays alone.
‘Tis midnight, and from all removed,
the Savior wrestles lone with fears.
E’en that disciple whom He loved
heeds not his Master’s grief and tears.
‘Tis midnight, and for others’ guilt
the Man of Sorrows weeps in blood;
Yet He that hath in anguish knelt
is not forsaken by His God.
‘Tis midnight, and from heavenly plains
is borne the song that angels know;
unheard by mortals are the strains
that sweetly soothe the Savior’s woe.
© Diane McLoud 2015
Tis Midnight and on Olive’s Brow by William B. Tappan, public domain.