There is something about Holy Week, and especially Maundy Thursday, that gets me every year. On Maundy Thursday, we remember that before he was betrayed, arrested, and crucified, Jesus gathered with his closest friends in an upper room.
Before the meal, as the Gospel of John recounts, Jesus bent down and washed the feet of each of his twelve disciples. And then, as they sat around the table Jesus took bread and broke it, and gave it to each of his disciples saying, “This is my body given for you.” Then, Jesus took the cup and gave it to each of his disciples saying, “This is my blood shed for you and for the forgiveness of your sins.”
As we read this story in scripture, we get a glimpse into one of the most intimate moments recorded in the gospels. This is Jesus’ final night with his twelve disciples, and his actions and his words reflect his last attempt at helping them understand who he is and what he came to do. And even more, they reflect his deep love for the twelve disciples gathered in that room.
At that table is Judas. The one who will soon betray Jesus to the chief priests and officers of the temple police.
And at that table is Peter. The one who will soon deny even knowing Jesus.
Twelve disciples are at that table. By the time we get to the foot of the cross, only one of those disciples will still be there.
The Gospels make clear that Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed and denied and abandoned. In my mind, it would have made sense for Jesus to simply avoid such hurt by sending those disciples back home before he ever entered Jerusalem, or at least before sharing this meal with them.
But that’s not what Jesus does. Instead, all twelve disciples are invited to the table. Judas is invited to the table. Peter is invited to the table. The betrayer, the denier, the abandoners are all invited to the table.
The end of Slats Toole’s poem, “It Begins with Grace” includes these words:
So come to this table.
Let this reminder
Sink into your body:
There is nothing
That grace cannot cover.
As we journey through this Holy Week, may we know that kind of grace.
Grace and peace,