Our tour through Holy Week takes a somber turn on Thursday.
From Bethany Jesus sent Peter and John ahead to the Upper Room in Jerusalem to make the preparations for the Passover Feast. That evening after sunset, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples as they prepared to share in the Passover. By performing this humble act of service, Jesus demonstrated by example how they were to love one another. Today, many churches practice foot-washing ceremonies as a part of their Maundy Thursday services.
Then Jesus shared the feast of Passover with his disciples saying, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins. For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 22:15-16, NLT)
As the Lamb of God, Jesus was about to fulfill the meaning of the Passover by giving his body to be broken and his blood to be shed in sacrifice, freeing us from sin and death. During this Last Supper, Jesus established the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, instructing his followers to continually remember his sacrifice by sharing in the elements of bread and wine:
“And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’ ” (Luke 22:19-20, ESV)
Later Jesus and the disciples left the Upper Room and went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed in agony to God the Father. Luke’s Gospel says “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” (Luke 22:44, ESV)
Late that evening in Gethsemane, Jesus was betrayed with a kiss by Judas Iscariot and arrested by the Sanhedrin. He was taken to the home of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the whole council had gathered to begin making their case against Jesus.
Meanwhile, in the early morning hours, as Jesus’ trial was getting underway, Peter denied knowing his Master three times before the rooster crowed.
On the Thursday, Jesus washed the Disciples feet. Think how lovely that would feel, the Saviour of the world serving you. Have you ever wondered what Maundy meant? “MAUNDY” is a corrupted form of the Latin mandatum from which we get our English word “mandate.” It means to hand over or to give as to an order or command. Over the years this mandatum or mandatus became corrupted in use and evolved into the word Maundy which we use today.
Literally it means command or commandment. In Roman terms, if you got a mandatum from the Emperor you were in deep, deep trouble. Lucius Pontius Pilate received a mandatum back to Rome in the Autumn after the crucifixion and although we don’t know what the outcome of that was with any degree of certainty it probably included either an enforced exile from Rome or a suicide note, giving him a period of grace before the mandate was carried out. In any case whatever he was commanded to do his life ended in obscurity possibly in Europe near Vienna at the furthest end of the Empire.
Today take a moment in prayer asking God to show you how you can serve God and make a difference in this community. Then go do it!