These are some of the scriptures from this day nearly 2000 years ago. The event described is at the heart of our faith. This and Sunday’s resurrection are what make Christianity what it is. It is in the body and blood offered on the cross that we get our identity as Christians. There are four great words which are at the heart of the Gospel: Love, Grace, Faith, and Hope. Those are only possible because of this day. All its horror, all the blood, all the brutality, all the mockery, was for us. One perfect man offering himself, taking upon himself all the sins of the world. And more importantly, to me at least, taking upon himself the sins of Bruce Thacker. You would think that I would, that we would have no problem recalling what he did for us.
On that night Jesus did two things. He offered an object lesson on service and attitude. He did this by washing the feet of his disciples. And he gave us a way to remember his sacrifice. The first calls us to follow his footsteps of service. Those steps took him to the cross. The second call us to never forget the road he took.
You see, we are forgetful people. We forget simple things, like where we put our keys, and what we ate yesterday. We forget birthdays (usually not our own), anniversaries (often our own), and other important dates. Someone asked me a few months ago when my dad passed. I don’t remember the year much less the month or day. Maybe July, maybe August.
There is a different kind of forgetfulness which is much more subtle, however. We remember events, but forget details about them. I went to Turkey, Greece, and Italy two years ago. You would think I would remember lots about it, and I do. But I find myself forgetting details that I wish I could remember. I am so grateful that I have pictures, and that I often took pictures of placards of the thing I was photographing, cause I don’t remember like I thought I would.
Jesus was away of this propensity to forget important, critical things. So before he went to endure the garden, the betrayal, the denial, the judgments of Pilate and Herod, the soldiers, the nails, the pain, and the turning away of God’s face, he left us reminders, lest we forget.
The Bible is full of such reminders. As the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, each tribe brought a stone from the center and placed it on the bank, to remind them from whence they came, and how they got there. When two tribes returned to the east of the Jordan, they built a similar reminder, reminding the west siders that the
y too were part of the nation. Israel had annual Passover celebrations, and the festival of the booths. They did not labor but worshiped on the Sabbath, as a reminder of God rescue and redemption from Egypt. The Ark of the Covenant was filled with reminders, manna, Aaron’s rod, and gold tumors.
The Friday of Jesus’ death brings new reminders. Bread (from the old Passover) and wine to be shared. His simple request, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Tonight, we are going to do just that. We are going to remember that night.