In the Christian calendar, today is Holy Thursday, the day on which we remember the events that took place on the night before Jesus died on the cross. It was on that night, while sharing the Passover meal with His disciples, that Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, which Christians continue to share in to this day. It was also on that night that Jesus predicted both Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial of Him. In addition to these things, Jesus also spoke at length with the disciples, giving them His final instructions. These instructions, these words that Jesus spoke, were not just for those disciples sitting at the table with Him, but for all of us who give our lives to Christ.
Jesus’ first instruction was not just given in words, but also shown by example. As the disciples gathered around the table with Him preparing to share the Passover meal, Jesus wrapped a towel around His waist and began to wash their feet. The Son of God, the One who had healed the sick, raised the dead, and calmed the seas, got on His knees and washed the feet of those to whom He was both Lord and Teacher. Through His actions, and then by His words, Jesus taught that we are to serve one another. Jesus demonstrated true servant leadership and then instructed His disciples, and us, to follow His example and do the same (John 13:2-17).
Jesus also commanded that the disciples love one another. He explained that they, and we, should love each other in the same way that He loves us. He said that we should love as one who is willing to give his life for a friend. There is no greater love than that. It is exactly the kind of love that Jesus Himself demonstrated when He gave His life so that we may have eternal life with Him. When we love each other as Jesus loves us, we are showing the world that we are His disciples (John 15:9-17).
In His final instructions, Jesus also gave several promises to His disciples that also apply to us as His followers. He promised that He would prepare a place for us in heaven, a place which He will one day come and take us to (John 14:1-4). He promised that He would ask the Father to give us the Holy Spirit, another advocate who would come after Him and provide the help and guidance that we need (John 14:15-17). Jesus also promised that, if we abide in Him, if we remain in Him and He remains in us, we will be as fruitful as the branches on a vine (John 15:5).
The final promise that Jesus gave His disciples that night was that their grief would turn to joy. On the very next day, as they saw Jesus tried, beaten, and put to death on a cross, the disciples’ grief must have been unbearable. But, on the third day, Jesus would rise again and that unbearable grief would be turned to unspeakable joy (John 16:20). He then told the disciples that He had told them all these things so that, in Him, they would have peace. This promise applies to all who are in Him, all who believe and follow Him. As Jesus said, in this world we will have trouble. But, in Him, we will find peace because He has overcome the world! (John 16:33)