"Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. During supper, the devil having already put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, to betray Him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God and was going back to God, got up from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself." John 13:1-4
Life is great. Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are all blessed beyond measure. The reality is, however, that there are times when terrible and traumatic things happen within our blessed existence. We lose jobs, relationships fall apart, health fails and we suffer the loss of loved ones. At times like these, we can feel that we are at the very bottom of our existence and are without hope. How do we handle it? How do we survive? What do we do?
Consider Jesus' worst day ever. Unlike most of us, he knew that his worst day was coming for most, if not all of his life, most certainly throughout his 3 year ministry. He repeatedly warned his followers that it would come. He endured betrayal by one of his inner circle. And when he took his closest companions to keep watch with him while he agonized over what was about to happen and they couldn't even stay awake. Of course these and other things are just the preamble to the horror of his trial, scourging and crucifixion. Most of us would have called down the legion of angels or responded in some other way that would have stopped the suffering and closed the disrespectful mouths that taunted him but Jesus did not. How did he do it?
Beloved, there are several keys from which we can learn that Jesus himself revealed in John 13:1-4:
"He knew that his hour had come"-This tells us that Jesus understood his purpose. Not only did he come to "seek and save the lost" but he also came to take on the sins of the world and be the sacrifice for us all, thus making that salvation possible. We too have a purpose. We are to share the good news with the lost and to make ourselves a "living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God." Likewise, we know as he did that tough times will come. We can and should be prepared.
"He loved them to the end"-As Jesus was motivated by love for the Father and love for us in all that he did, we likewise must be ruled by it. Jesus once said, "Love others as I have loved you." He loved sacrificially. As we endure trials, we must keep his love for us and our love for him at the forefront of our minds and hearts. This will help us endure and succeed.
"Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands..."-Jesus had power, might and control of everything. At any time he could have brought all of his suffering to an end but he chose to use that power to endure for the greater good. We may not have power to stop our own suffering but we know that "We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us." We have power. That power can help us endure, succeed and win, all while encouraging others as Christ's example encourages us.
"He had come forth from God and was going back to God"-Jesus was in touch with his identity. He knew exactly who he was and did what was necessary to live up to his name, his purpose and his calling. He also knew his destination and looked forward to returning home. We must likewise know who we are and more importantly whose we are. The Lord has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." When we are in the depth of despair and suffering, we must know and believe that we are not alone but that God is with us every step of the way. We must also know that our Lord has gone to prepare a place for us and will return to collect us. We, like he, have a destination to which to look forward.
When the tough times come, and they inevitably will, let us reflect on the ultimate example of our Savior. He has endured on our behalf and have equipped us to do so for his glory.