Maundy Thursday

“...So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35 NLT

To be quite honest, up until a few years ago, I had never even heard of Maundy Thursday. As I was growing up, all we really talked about was Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. However, over the years, I have come to realize there is important context that we as believers miss if we skip right over this day. On the Thursday in question, a few really big things happened. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, something that was very shocking to them, to say the least. He broke bread and drank wine with them, taking the time to explain that it was symbolic of his literal body and blood. And He went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray to His father.

Here’s what we can learn from these three things:

1. Love others the way that Christ loves us. 
 The English word maundy is derived from the Latin mandatum (also the origin of the English word "mandate"), and the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you: That you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another.")

This phrase from Jesus came right after He had willingly and carefully washed each of His disciples' feet. As we can see from the very emphatic protest of Peter saying “No, You will never wash my feet,” this was very surprising and an uncommon act that Jesus did. They were walking for miles and miles every single day in the dirt, through the mud, from town to town; and their feet had to be disgusting. I don’t know about you, but I would not want the Savior of the world to bend down and wash my dirty feet. How embarrassing would that be! However, through this simple act, Jesus showed them exactly what He thought of them and exactly how much He loved them. Not only that, but He modeled how we are to love each other. He commanded the disciples and us, as followers of Christ, to “Do as I have done to you.” How powerful would it be if we all acted towards each other with that much love?

2. Remember His sacrifice.
In Mark 14 NLT, it says “As they were dining, Jesus took the bread and blessed it, and broke it,  and gave it to his disciples. He said to them, “Receive this; it is my body.” Then taking the cup of wine and giving thanks to the Father, he declared the new covenant with them.  And as each one drank from the cup, he said to them, “This is my blood, which seals the new  covenant poured out for many…” 

One of the most powerful things we can do as believers is to remember the sacrifice that He made for us. Where would we be without Him? Jesus gave up everything for us: His divinity to be a man, His time on Earth to heal, teach, and restore, and His very literal body and blood so that we don’t have to die the most painful and eternal death because of our sins. What more can we give Him but our worship, our affection, and our remembrance? There is power in setting aside intentional time to partake in the elements of communion. Jesus’ body was broken so that you would be whole. His blood was shed so that you would be cleansed. How beautiful is the remembrance of Christ.

3. Be honest before your Heavenly Father and accept His will.
When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane right before He was taken to be beaten and ultimately crucified, He prayed so hard to His Father to take what would happen next away from Him that he literally sweat blood. He prayed, as shown in Matthew 26:39 NLT, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.” Jesus was honest with His Father about His fear of what was to come and trusted Him enough to ask aloud, “Please take this from me.” And yet, His trust was also enough that He knew if this is what was needed, He would willingly do it.

Many times, I think we forget that even though Jesus is the Son of God, an equal and divine part of the trinity, He was also still very much a human being like you or me. He was without sin, but that does not mean that He did not feel emotions. And yet, with all of the fear and anxiety that Jesus felt about what was to come, He also submitted to the Father wholly and out of total love for you and me. How great of an example this is as we face our own turmoil and pain throughout life? We can trust God the Father enough to know that His will is greater than our own, that He does not turn away from our fear, and that He welcomes our honesty.

Maundy Thursday is a beautiful and vital part of the global church’s celebration of Holy Week. It commemorates the love for the disciples that Jesus had by washing their feet, the first account of Communion (the Last Supper), and also the beautiful but somber moment of submission that Jesus had in the Garden with His Father. I encourage you, as we journey through this life with Him, don’t just pass by the lessons of Maundy Thursday. Love others, remember Christ’s sacrifice, and submit to His will through honest time with your Father.

Journal: Who is one person that you could go out of your way to love a little more like Christ today?

Activation/Prayer: Find two things in your house to take as communion. It could be a cracker and some juice, a cookie and some gatorade. My personal favorite is a Cheez-it and apple juice. Whatever you have on hand will work. If you’re with your family, gather them, or just take time by yourself, and pray this liturgical prayer: 

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before He suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. 

Then afterward, partake in the elements of Communion.
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