As we all begin to prepare for Easter weekend I feel like Maundy Thursday gets over looked or maybe we lump all the events surrounding Easter together. Our church has an annual Mauday Thursday potluck supper and as I was getting my dish prepared (shrimp and bacon quesadillas) I started thinking about the events that we are recognizing tonight.
Maundy comes from the Latin word for “commandment”. In the early centuries Maundy Thursday began to be a reference to Christ’s giving of a “new commandment” to His disciples and often in early observances of Maundy Thursday there was ceremonial foot washing to remember Christ washing the feet of his disciples.
The following Bible verses are taken from the NIV translation.
“It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.” (John 13:1) Jesus and his disciples were preparing to celebrate the passover. I can imagine a home filled with chatter and laughter as they all prepared for the feast. Jesus loved his disciples and he was preparing for much more than the Passover Feast.
“The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.”(John 13:2-4) I can’t imagine what was going through Jesus’ mind as he prepared himself for what was to come. Wouldn’t it be great if when faced with the shadow of death we could all be like Jesus and know that God has all things in his power and we were created by God and we are on our journey back to him.
“After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.(John 13:5) What a short verse that holds so much meaning. It was custom to wash the feet of guests but it was not done by the host. The washing of feet was always done by a servant. Even at that some rabbis in ancient times felt that foot washing was below a Jewish slave and that non Jewish slaves should be the ones to carry out that job. Imagine how dirty feet must have been in Jesus’ day. The people traveled mostly everywhere by foot and in only sandals along dusty pathways. Jesus is showing his deep love for his disciples by doing a job only a slave would do and he is also showing us his own humanity. He is also showing us that he is the way to cleansing our dirty nature. He can wash us clean. He can clean all the dirt the has piled up on us and leave us fresh and clean to start over. Isn’t it great that we get to start again when we mess up. Jesus will do anything for us his love for us is so deep that he will wash our feet and he will wash our sins away.
“When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” (Matthew 26:20-21) What strong words to say while reclining after eating a feast. Jesus knew what was to come. I am sure as the words began to sink in the disciples must have been shocked by his words.
“They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, ” The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.” (Matthew 26:22-25) Ouch! Jesus is not only giving a warning to Judas he is telling all of his followers including us that “woe is the man who betrays the Son of Man.”
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took the cup, gave thanks, and offered it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it anew with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:26-29) We can’t live our earthly lives with out bread or food just as our souls can’t thrive without Christ. Jesus’ body would soon be broken so we could have the forgiveness that he gave his body for. He soon would pour out his blood on the cross so our sins could be forgiven. There are three words that are said in these verses that are often overlooked…. Jesus gave thanks. Jesus is preparing to be beaten and killed to save us from the eternal damages of hell and he gave thanks. Do we do that? Do we give thanks in the darkness? He knew what was to come he knew how it would end yet he stayed on his path with his eyes set on the father. In our daily lives how often do we lose our focus? I lose mine often. I want to try to remember not just today on “Maunday Thursday” but all of my days to give thanks in the darkness and to keep my eyes on what is to come. Jesus gave more than I could ever put into words and I need to put my faith first and keep my eyes on the prize. Enjoy your Easter Holiday, be thankful and don’t forget to keep your focus on the cross and sacrifice that was made for you.