It was the night before Jesus was crucified as the atoning sacrifice for our sin. This sacrifice, done on the cross had nothing to do with Satan except that he was given free rein to do everything in his power to prevent it from taking place. Praise God, he failed.
What happened was a holy transaction drawn up by the Triune God on our behalf from the very beginning of time. It was a deal made in heaven on our behalf. God himself would pay the penalty for our sin for the sake of restoring us to fellowship with himself.
The Father would place our sin on His beloved Son Jesus. Jesus would willingly become a curse for us and be separated from His Father for the sake of our salvation. The Father would then place the holiness of Jesus’ on us as a gift to be received by faith.
In this way God would remain absolutely holy and just and sin would be judged for what it is. Sinners would be made right with God and creation would be restored.
The love that motivated this exchange was beyond Satan’s comprehension. How could God love pathetic humans like that? In Satan’s mind, this was the opportunity he’d been waiting for since he’d been cast out of heaven and Adam and Eve had been banished from the Garden. It was his chance to extract his hatred and revenge against us all.
Throughout human history, he had been sharpening swords, training soldiers, plotting, preparing, organizing all for one purpose, to destroy the Son of God, the coming of his kingdom, and his plan of salvation. And now was the time. But Jesus isn’t threatened at all.
The battle would be unlike any the world had ever seen. On one side, the devil and all the forces of evil he could muster, on the other, a solitary man named Jesus.
It was their last evening together. Jesus had gathered his disciples. But, unlike Satan’s forces, they were not sharpening swords or adjusting armor. Instead, Jesus was giving his disciples a new commandment to love one another as he had loved them.
John remembers that remarkable night. He writes, “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father” – meaning his death.
“Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” Everything that would happen over the next 18 hours would demonstrate God’s amazing love for us! Love that in John’s words – had the power to drive out all fear.
The evening began with the Creator of the universe, the great “I AM”, whose name is above every name, washing the disciples feet. Jesus didn’t come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. He came to seek the lost, wash them, forgive them.
He told them, “Tonight, I’m washing your feet as an example of the love I want you to have for one another. Now that I, your master have washed your feet, so you should wash one another’s feet.” Then he said, “A new commandment I give you. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Many years later, John would remember Jesus’ words and actions and he would write, “This is love, not that we loved God, but that God loved us and sent his Son as the atoning sacrifice for our sin.”
After Jesus washed their feet they reclined around the table for their last supper together. It would be an unforgettable experience.
Jesus would again lay claim to being the bread of life. But he added a new twist. He said “This bread is my body broken for you – do this to remember me.” Then after supper, “This cup is my blood of the new covenant, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, do this to remember me.”
John tells us that as soon as Judas had taken the bread, he left and it was night. The battle between the kingdom of light and the kingdom of darkness was joined. Remember how John started his Gospel? The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. Jesus is the light of the world, the light no darkness can overcome.
A short time later, Jesus and the disciples left the upper room and casually walked the half mile to Gethsemane. Meanwhile, the soldiers were sharpening their swords and strapping on their armor. The chief priests were gathering and plotting, and Jesus knowing this was happening, was teaching his disciples to remain connected to him as a branch is to a vine.
He taught them about the coming Holy Spirit. He told them he was going away. They should not have missed that he was talking about his death – but they did! They would be no help.
When they arrived at Gethsemane, Jesus asked them to remain with him while he prayed. “Don’t fall asleep” he said. They did. From first to last, this transaction for the sake of our salvation would be done by Jesus and we were powerless to assist him.
Then the soldiers came with torches, lanterns, and weapons drawn. “Who is it you want?” Jesus asked. “Jesus of Nazareth” they replied. “I am He!” Jesus said. At the sound of his voice, the soldiers fell to the ground. This is the same I AM that spoke to Moses from the bush!
“Let these men go” Jesus said. The soldiers obeyed and the disciples fled into the night. From there they took Jesus through six illegal trials, and 3 illegal beatings. All set up by Satan with one purpose in mind – to humiliate, torture, discredit and kill Jesus - and maybe intimidate him into abandoning his task. But Jesus stuck it through to the very end for us.
What happened that night and the next day was horrible. But it exposed the deplorable wickedness within the human heart. It’s important to remember that nothing that happened that dreadful night and the next day that was outside God’s sovereign will.
God allowed it all to fulfill his plan of salvation, the holy transaction on our behalf. Jesus willingly, fearlessly became a curse for us as the ancient word prophesied. “Cursed is he who hangs on a tree.” The sins of the world were heaped on God himself and he was nailed to a Roman cross where he suffered and died. But that’s tomorrow’s story. I hope you come back tomorrow night at 7 to hear the rest of the story of God’s amazing love and what he did for us through the holy transaction of the cross.