Scene 1 – The Last Supper
It’s Thursday evening …
Jesus knows he is going to die soon, so he calls his disciples together for an evening meal. This is the Passover meal and this will be their Last Supper.
In the first century, when you entered a house or attended a meal one of the first things you would do is pause at the door to have your feet washed.
There would be a servant at the door to greet you and they would have a towel around their waist, a basin of water and they would wash your feet before the meal began. There are several reasons they would do this …
- They wore sandals and they walked around on dusty roads all day.
- They reclined at the table to eat and your feet would be very close to another person’s face and food.
So as the disciples come in to share this evening meal, this last supper with Jesus, and they look around for the servant boy at the door he is not there. So they just go sit down. Now be certain of this, they knew they had dirty feet and they knew someone needed to wash their feet. Each of them had also decided internally that they were not going to stoop that low.
You see one of the biggest ongoing debates among the disciples was
“Who is the greatest?”
In fact, when Luke tells us the story of the Last Supper as Jesus was sharing that one of them will betray him … Luke says Luke 22:24 – “A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.”
While they are arguing and debating “who is the greatest” they are certainly not going to perform an act of service reserved for the “least.”
And the Bible says …
John 13:2 – “as the evening meal was being served”
The food is arriving at the table and the disciples still had not budged. They’re still reclining at the table with stinky feet near each other’s faces and food! The fact is they would rather endure horrible conditions than be humble.
And that is when Jesus stands up and
redefines what it means to be great!
John 13:4-5 – So he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
Can you see the faces of the disciples? They must be entrenched in shock, disbelief, shame and embarrassment.
Peter says, “No way Jesus.”
John 13:8 – Peter “Jesus, you shall never wash my feet.”
But Jesus does and he goes all the way around the room.
- He washes the feet of the one who will betray him
- He washes the feet of the one who will deny him
- He washes the feet of all those who will abandon him
Then the Passover meal which will be their last supper together begins.
Luke 22:14-19 – When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying,“This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Scene 2 – Peters Denial
Matthew 26:57- 58 – Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, right up to the courtyard of the high priest. He entered and sat down with the guards to see the outcome.
There are some sounds that we often hear living in Southern California or in any city for that matter. The sound of cars honking, planes overhead and emergency vehicle sirens. But we hardly ever hear a rooster crow.
Peter on the other hand … knew all about roosters. You couldn’t live in a rural area like Galilee and not get used to the daily sounds of the rooster crow. He had heard roosters crowing since the day he was born. It was a familiar sound. But one evening, the crow of a rooster changed his life.
It’s now very late on Thursday night in Jerusalem after the Passover meal. Jesus has just been arrested and taken away to the high priest. Most of the disciples have scattered, drifted off into the darkness, too shocked by the actions of Judas to do anything else.
When the crowd of soldiers led Jesus away, Peter decided to follow them. He had promised never to desert Jesus, and he wasn’t going to start now. He followed the crowd to the house of the Caiaphas. By the time Peter got there, the soldiers had taken Jesus inside to meet the high priest. There were just a few people standing around – some soldiers and servant girls warming themselves by a fire in the courtyard. It was early April and the temperature had dropped – it was getting cold at night.
It’s now likely sometime after midnight and Peter is getting close to the fire, a servant girl spoke up and said,“You were with that Nazarene, Jesus from Galilee.”
Somehow she recognized him. How did she know him? Instinctively, Peter gave the oldest comeback in the book, “I don’t know what you are talking about.”
It seemed to work so Peter stayed by the fire. But he noticed two or three people looking at him closely – so he started to walk around the courtyard. As he did, Mark says same servant girl saw him and said in a loud voice,“This man is one of them.” Peter tried to act calm but he felt his heart pounding in his chest. So he said, “I don’t know the man.”
Peter denied Jesus not to the high priest or a soldier – but a servant girl.
Just two hours earlier he was whacking off a guard’s ear to defend Jesus. Now he’s denying Jesus. Soon it appeared that Jesus’ interview with the high priest was over. The guards were leading Jesus out of Caiaphas house and a man spoke up from the other side of the fire. “Didn’t I see you with Jesus in the garden?”
(BTW – John 18:26 says this man was a relative of Malchus the man whose ear Peter had cut off in the garden!)
Peter was trapped and he knew it. This fellow had seen him with Jesus. Peter began to call down curses and swore to them,“I don’t know this man. I have never heard of this man Jesus.” (Mark 14:71)
At the very instant the words came out of his mouth, Peter heard a familiar sound that would change the rest of his life. A rooster crow. Think about it … every single morning as Peter woke up he would have heard the crow of a rooster and he would have re-lived that moment.
Is Peter the only one to do the very thing he said he’d never do?
- We getting caught cheating and we are embarrassed and declare, “cheating is behind me?” And the rooster crows.
- We lie and hurt a lot of people and say, “I learned my lesson I will never lie again!” And the rooster crows.
- We consume too much alcohol, too often and cause so much pain to people we love and we say, “I will never take another drink.” And the rooster crows.
Luke’s account of this story contains one detail Matt, Mark & John all omit. Luke 22:61 says that when the rooster crowed, “The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter.”
The timing for Peter couldn’t have been worse. Just as the guards were taking Jesus from his interview with Caiaphas to his trial before the Sanhedrin. The guards were leading Jesus through the courtyard and at that exact time Peter was denying Jesus for the third time.
“I don’t know the man!”
Peter looked up and saw Jesus looking directly at him. By this time Jesus’ face is black and blue, his eyes almost swollen shut, blood trickles from his nose and lips. Even though it is late at night, Peter can see Jesus perfectly in the firelight. And Jesus can see him.
He doesn’t say a word.
This Maundy Thursday evening for Jesus ends with denial, betrayal and the sound of a rooster.
It’s Thursday, but Sunday is coming.