It is Maundy Thursday of Holy Week. The name comes from Jesus washing the feet of the disciples…but I’m jumping ahead.
Peter and John left Bethany before the others in order to make preparations for Passover dinner together. Once the upper room was prepared, Jesus and the remaining ten arrived. Before dinner, Jesus humbly washed his followers’ feet: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14–15, NIV84)
Afterwards, they shared the Passover meal together. This ancient celebration of God’s deliverance of the Jews from Egypt so many years before took on new meaning this night. Jesus was the sacrificial lamb. His body was the broken bread. His blood filled the cup. The Old Covenant was re-instituted into the New. God was bringing deliverance again – this time to the world from its bondage to sin.
After the meal, the disciples (sans Judas) went with Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. Jesus struggled in agonizing prayer over the task ahead: “And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44, NIV84)
The pace quickened and the plot thickened. Jesus’ prayers and the still evening were interrupted by the approach of the temple guard. Jesus was betrayed by a kiss. There was a short-lived struggle. Jesus was arrested and taken before Caiaphas, the High Priest. The entire Sanhedrin was there waiting, according to plan.
In the very late hours of the night, while the kangaroo court was in session, Peter denied his Lord three times. Then the rooster crowed.
We think Jesus’ victory happened on Easter morning when the stone was rolled away. That was the Father’s victory. I would argue that the Son’s victory happened on Thursday evening. As he battled an unseen foe in prayer, Jesus prayed: “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42, NIV84). That is the moment of Jesus’ victory.
The victory of Calvary was won at Gethsemane. Victory always begins on our knees!