"While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, 'Take and eat; this is my body.'" — Matthew 26:26
I’ve often wondered what Jesus was giving thanks for at this moment. He knew he would soon be betrayed by Judas. He had told his disciples that he would soon be crucified. In the coming day he would also be abandoned by his followers, denied by Peter, sentenced by the religious leaders, beaten and mocked by Roman soldiers, and hung on a cross to die.
But in this moment Jesus gave thanks. Maybe he did it as an example, reminding his disciples and us of the importance of regularly giving thanks to God for our daily bread.
But maybe Jesus was giving thanks for more. Perhaps he was giving thanks for his followers, gathered there in that upper room, who would soon take on the work of his earthly ministry, powered by the Holy Spirit. They would soon begin proclaiming the news of his death and resurrection around the world. Jesus may also have been giving thanks that God’s plan to restore the people and world he loves so much was unfolding even as they prayed and ate.
I’m humbled by this. I’m also compelled by it. If Jesus lifted his heart in gratitude to God even as he stood under the shadow of the cross, how much more, as recipients of his forgiveness and grace, should we offer our gratitude and thanksgiving to God—daily!