Easter is just a few weeks away. It is a time when we focus on Jesus' ultimate sacrifice for mankind: His death, and his resurrection.

But just prior to this all-important event, Jesus had some highly-important last-minute lessons to teach us about enduring trials. These lessons will be the focus of this Passion Week series from the Gospel of Luke.

Just before going to Gethsemane, Jesus shared the Last Supper with His disciples, and here-in lies the first lesson about trials that He wishes to leave us with: "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" (Luke 22:20-22, NKJV)

Imagine sitting at this meal and having Jesus look around the room and announce that one of you sitting there will betray him! I am sure that certain words would be running rampage in my mind. Things like: "It isn't me, that's for sure! Maybe Thaddeus..." And Thaddeus might be thinking, "Not me! Likely John! It's always the ones that are our closest friends who betray us!"

You see, "Pass the buck", the theme of our day stating that everything that's wrong in the world is the fault of someone else, is not new! It was also the theme of the disciples' responses: "Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing." (Luke 22:23, NKJV)

And this quickly led to another argument, one that had been festering for awhile: "Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest." (Luke 22:24, NKJV)

Friends, if you ever wonder if you are just too "human" to truly be a child of God, remember the disciples! They were exactly as we are, yet Jesus took them in and reshaped their hearts into true men of God!  I don't know about you, but I take great courage in that!

But just how does Jesus go about this "heart-reshaping" process?

It begins with his next words to His disciples: "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves." (Luke 22:25-27, NKJV)

We know from the gospel of John that Jesus then gets down and washes the dirty feet of His disciples (See John 13). Jesus' "heart-reshaping" lesson is nothing more than an unforgettable lesson in humility!

And just in case the disciples didn't quite get it, Jesus spelled it out for them: "But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel." (Luke 22:28-30, NKJV)

There is a prayer that is offered over the intercom at least twice a week at the Catholic hospital where I work. It is known as the Prayer of St. Francis, and it sums up exactly what Jesus is trying to teach:

"O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life." Amen

Friends, let us stop wishing that just for once, we could be served instead of being the ones to always serve. Let's stop expecting the world to give to us. Instead, let's follow Jesus' example of humility. For when we do, we, too, will undergo the heart-reshaping process that the disciples underwent. We, too, will learn the Truth in the words, "It is in giving that we receive...it is in dying that we are born to eternal life"!

And we will be learning Jesus' last-minute lesson before going to the cross: Going into our trials with a humble heart!

In His love,

Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.

(To access the entire "Lessons Before the Cross" series, please click here.)