I have been reading about Jesus’s last week on earth. In churches that follow a liturgical calendar, today is called Maundy Thursday; it is the day when Jesus celebrated the Passover meal with his disciples. From Luke 22:
The day of unleavened bread arrived, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed,
and Jesus sent off Peter and John with the words, “Go and make all the preparations
for us to eat the Passover.”
“Where would you like us to do this?” they asked.
And he replied, “Listen, just as you’re going into the city a man carrying a jug of
water will meet you. Follow him to the house he is making for. Then say to the owner
of the house, ‘The Master has this message for you—which is the room where my disciples
and I may eat the Passover?’ And he will take you upstairs and show you a large room
furnished for our needs. Make all the preparations there.”
So they went off and found everything exactly as he had told them it would be, and they
made the Passover preparations.
Meditating on this passage, I realized for the first time what it meant for the two disciples to look for a man carrying a water jug…and for that man to be keeping an eye out for them. Scholars tell us that in Jesus’s day Jerusalem was a city of about 600,000 people, but during Passover week the city swelled to a crowd of about 2 million. Living in Northern California, I try to imagine 2 million people jammed into a city perhaps the size of Sacramento…and Jesus expected them to catch sight of a man carrying a jug in that massive crowd!
They did have one clue to help them with the task, it would be a male carrying water, a task customarily carried out by women. But still, when I think of the masses of bodies rubbing shoulder-to-shoulder in that enormous crowd (think Washington DC on Inauguration Day), I don’t know why Peter and John didn’t look at Jesus cross-eyed and say, “Huh?!”
But they didn’t. From the text, it appears the two disciples went on their way without question. Miraculously spotting the servant, they made eye contact (the scripture says the servant “met” them), or perhaps a mere nod of the head, and then the men followed the servant to a home where they engaged the owner with not a question, but a statement: “The Master has this message for you….”
Think of it. A chance meeting among three sets of strangers—the disciples, the servant, and the homeowner. All of them watching for their part in a divine appointment: the disciples, looking for a faceless man carrying a jar of water in a packed street; the servant, sent out for water and to find the men interested in using the homeowner’s upper room; and the homeowner himself, who paid attention to a vague tugging on his heart to leave the room open instead of using it for his own purposes or renting it out to others. Who didn’t know the who or the why until Peter and John arrived with the revealing words, Here is the Master’s message. Surely an “Aha” moment for each of them.
How many divine appointments do we miss because we aren’t paying attention to the still, small voice of God as these men were? The fact is, what we believe about God (what we really believe, not just what our mouths declare) determines how seriously we take what He says, both in His Word as well as what He speaks quietly to our hearts. God comes to each one of us…are we paying attention?