“The only failure is failing to have a go”
Depending how you look at it, precedents can be a good thing or a not so good thing. We’ve all read or seen the situation in a court of law where the judge passes down judgement taking into the account of a precedent set from an earlier case,and giving consideration to the precedent set in Cyprus this week where in-order to re-structure two of the large struggling banks,deposit holders with over 100,000 euros (123 AUD) will be “taxed” at 30% of the balance I would say many in Europe, if not further afield may be a little nervous as they look at the current financial deficit and financial woes on their own shores.
I am certainly not an expert on this, the Cyrus situation nor the term “run on the banks”, but it does ring in my ears as should something cause a run on the banks, being something that gets customers acting in fear and withdrawing funds in plagues proportions there is no bank that would survive if they were the target of such a run, and one financial commentator even remarked that “what has taken place in Cyprus is like the EU holding up a sign almost pre-empting it”. Mind you with the seemingly daily occurrence of massive sink holes opening up around the world it is not just money that’s going down the drain, but houses, cars, people and yesterday in Tasmanian-even a horse.
Tonight’s readings explain to us in today’s world of a precedent we live under today in and through Christ. In the Old Testament reading we heard of the Exodus, the freeing and saving of the Israelite people from bondage under the Pharaoh of Egypt.As you know God having heard the cries of His people enlists Moses, a man who had previously fled for his life from Egypt is asked to return on God’s behalf and ask for them to be set free. Moses having made enemies in Egypt in all the wrong places combined with his own lack of self-belief thought that maybe another maybe more suitable, but as we know, God knew what he was doing and “sorry brother but you’re the man for the job”.
After nine plaques had been bought on Egypt without result, God brings the last, the Passover, where each family outside of God would lose it’s first born to death. The Passover that was to become an annual festival for Jewish families to observe to remember the deliverance God brought about for his people enslaved in Egypt. Where the blood of a lamb or goat sprinkled on the door frame saved the readied and believing people from the death which was visited upon every Egyptian family. The Passover-of the angel of death, who ‘passed over’ those homes who had marked themselves as God’s people. The punishment of God upon the Egyptians enabled the Israelites at last to leave. The strict observance of detail in preparation and partaking signified God’s complete commitment and the people’s reception of life and liberty solely from his hands in sincere repentance and the Passover continues annually to remind Jewish families of their need for deliverance from sin through the substitutionary blood of the lamb.
The night before Jesus death our Lord desired to partake of the Passover with his disciples, and after they had completed the customary Passover celebration, he gave them bread and wine saying that they should take, eat and drink, for this was HIS body and blood, given and shed for them for the forgiveness of sins and when we join in Holy Communion, like the disciples we have the same promise from the Lord as we eat the bread and drink the wine and we receive that same body and blood together with the same blessings he won through the cross.
In tonight’s Gospel John does not deal with the Lord’s Supper, concentrating rather on the farewell teaching of the Lord in the upper room. It could be said that the radical action of the Master doing menial service in washing his followers’ feet expressed symbolically what was coming in his death the next day. He had taught that he came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many. The lesson, however, is pointed. They are to serve each other in like spirit.
The love shown in his act and his death calls for the active love enjoined in ‘the new commandment’ to love each other as I have loved you, and that’s quite a precedent for us to live up to. When people find out I am a pastor sometimes the most interesting subjects come up and often those subjects regard understanding the world we live and in one such discussion with a medical Doctor I mentioned that a person I knew and believing of impending danger had chosen to fall by his “own sword”.
This Doctor had a heavy overseas accent that was at times hard to understand but I did understand his thoughts on this when he said “that is never the answer. Some of Western countries are soft, where I come from you are always in danger and if they have gun, I have two guns, if they going to shoot me, I shoot them first”.I’m not even sure why I went to see him but when I left his logic made me smile, not really because of what he said (although his take on one’s own pre-emptive death is most certainly right), but it made me smile because of who is was said by-a doctor of medicine and that being the case, no wonder the apostles were confused when Jesus came to save God’s people not as a warrior as they expected, but as the sacrificial lamb.
Jesus on Maundy Thursday was preparing his apostles for what was to come by conducting both foot washing and the Last supper. Two acts that stood for what he was all about, serving both His Fathers will to save humankind and his own will that in his name we serve others. God and Jesus often seem to come from “back to front land”, where they do things opposite to what we would and Jesus dying of the cross opposed to the “If they going to shoot me, I shoot them first” is certainly one.
On that Maundy Thursday, Jesus washed his apostle’s feet and said “to love each other as I have loved you” and the next day gave his life. That night the apostles did not fully understand. Three days later upon the resurrection of Christ they did. Before we knew what Christ did for us we did not know what those words truly meant, we do now. We know that an innocent man, the Son of God no less, willingly died a horrific death that should we trust in him, we are saved. Forgiving others who have hurt us, standing up for those persecuted, helping the afflicted, not placing judgement of those different from us and trying to let a little of the light of Christ shine through us to “love each other as he loved us”.
God, how could we not at least try?