10 April 2009


Mark 14: 12-25

Maundy Thursday Meditation/ 9th April 2009

“And as they were eating,”…in the midst of the meal, in the midst of the Passover celebration, Jesus took bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to them. He took a cup of wine, gave thanks for it, gave it to them, and they all drank of it. There’s nothing extraordinary about this gesture. It’s what the head of any household would have done, sharing food and drink, extending the blessings of his household with his guests. It’s hospitality. It’s what table fellowship is about. Each person who breaks off a piece of bread and drinks from this cup shares in the blessings of the host. The members of the table share in the common blessing of the bread and the cup.

But the question before the disciples that fateful night – and the question that is ever before disciples, especially on this night, or whenever disciples gather around this table, is whether or not we are willing to share in the blessings our Lord gives us?

Do we really want a share of his bread, if his bread represents his body, a body that will undergo great suffering?

Do we really want to drink from his cup, share in this cup when we know what it means?

Mark tells us they all drank of it. Did they really know what they were drinking? How could they? Can they then really be blamed for drinking and then fleeing? Even Jesus would later ask this night for the cup to be removed from him. “Can the disciples be with Jesus while he prays in the heart of darkness for the strength to face the journey into the heart of power?”[1] Everyone who drank the cup of discipleship that night fled, abandoned him, and denied him, unwilling to share in his suffering. All of us who break this bread and share this cup tonight do the same. Disciples of the crucified always flee.

But the Crucified doesn’t flee – neither from his God-appointed task nor from his friends. He does not abandon them, nor does he abandon us. He does not deny them, nor does he deny us.

Before he goes to the garden to pray he transforms the Passover meal from a commemoration of liberation in the past to the promise of communion in a future, of liberation on the other side of the cross. Only here does Mark have Jesus use the word “covenant.” Covenant is the bridge across time, across the cross and every cross. Come what may, Christ’s covenant – his commitment, his faithfulness – to his wayward disciples is untiring and unwavering.

In Mark’s Gospel, this is not a memorial meal, we’re not asked to do anything in remembrance of him.[2] “Truly – Amen – I say to you, I shall not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” The focus is toward the future, on the other side of the cross, on the other side of come what may, on the other side of the tomb. For he will be there to meet them. The Crucified is ever faithful and will never give up on us, even though we will be and are faithless, even when we give up on him and give up on one another and give up on ourselves. He will still be there.

To sit at his table with him, to break his bread and share his cup, means we want to be his disciples, that we want to risk sharing in his life – whatever that might mean to us individually and together. It means to share in the blessings of our host –the Crucified. To receive the Crucified into ourselves is to acknowledge, to affirm, to trust in Christ’s undying faithfulness and vulnerable love to all his wayward disciples.

[1] Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man: A Political Reading of Mark’s Story of Jesus (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1994), 366.

[2] Myers, 364.

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