Thursday: The Last Supper
Open Your Bible
Mark 14:12-72, John 16:16-24, John 16:32-33, Psalm 41:7-13, Zechariah 13:7
My good friend had hit a breaking point. After experiencing crisis upon crisis, she finally collapsed under the weight of what felt like too much to bear. A relationship had just dissolved. An EF-3 tornado ripped through her neighborhood, and she spent the next week volunteering with Hands-On Nashville relief efforts. There are financial struggles within her family. The COVID-19 quarantine suspended her classes and, along with it, the chance of getting into a music program for which she had already had four callbacks. In a moment of clarity, she realized while texting us that her birthday was that coming weekend—a birthday she would likely not be able to celebrate as planned.
My friend’s sorrows are personal, but she is not alone in her grief. Similar sorrows are shared by much of the world right now. There is a collective weight in the air these days. Can you imagine the sorrow Jesus must have carried during the nights leading up to His death? He had His own sorrow (Mark 14:34), but He ached for His friends as well (Luke 22:32), even as He prepared to carry the sin and sorrow of the whole world on His shoulders (Isaiah 53:4).
During the Passover feast with His disciples—what we call the Last Supper—Jesus knows that sorrow will soon find them. Trying to prepare His friends for His death, He navigates the situation with delicacy and affirms the sorrow they will feel in losing Him, a close friend. He also reassures them that it will be worth it in the end. “You will become sorrowful,” He says, “but your sorrow will turn to joy” (John 16:20). This strange comfort is also for women who suffer the pain of childbirth (v.21) or Christian martyrs facing their own death after standing for a cause.
Sorrow isn’t a bad thing. Jesus experienced it as a natural part of the human condition. But even while affirming such feelings, He gives the disciples a framework for understanding their future hope—a future extending far beyond the plane of what they can immediately see. Yes, they must grieve His death, but that death was actually a seed that would unfold into new life. Jesus makes sure His disciples know with certainty that they will see Him again (v.22). Even if they don’t fully understand what He means, this changes everything for them, just as it changes everything for us.
No matter what happens in this life, we will see Jesus again. Because of the resurrection, those who hope in Christ Jesus will see each other again too. There is a time coming when every tear will be wiped away, and the burdens that we carry will be released (Revelation 21:4). The old will pass away, as joy triumphs over our troubles and swallows the pain of grief.
In Christ, we have permission to feel sorrow. But we also have the charge to walk forward in courage and expectation of our future hope. “You will have suffering in this world,” Jesus tells us. “Be courageous! I have conquered the world” (John 16:33).