Thursday, March 29, 2018

Lenten Season, 2018: Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, March 29th

New Beginnings: See?  I Am Doing a New Thing!—God

Are you feeling the increasing intensity as we proceed through Holy Week? The jubilation of Christ’s Triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday was thrilling! The people were pleased by His daily teachings in the Synagogue, but the religious leaders were aggravated by them. Jesus’ itinerary was full through to Spy Wednesday. The Scriptures are silent on His movements on that day, but we know that Judas and the religious leaders were conspiring to end His life. This brings us to the Thursday of Holy Week.
Maundy Thursday: The Last Supper and Jesus’ ArrestThe fifth day of Holy Week is known as Maundy Thursday and occurs on the Thursday before Easter. Christians celebrate this day to commemorate The Last Supper that Jesus ate with His disciples in the Upper Room prior to His arrest and Crucifixion. The word “Maundy” refers to the Command that Jesus gave His disciples at that final meal, which was that they were to love one another (see John 13:34). The second consideration of “Maundy” possibly derives from  the Latin word ‘mundo’, which means ‘to wash’ and refers to Christ washing the feet of His disciples prior to their meal (see John 13: 1-17). Foot washing still continues to be observed in various Christian denominations. But where did this practice begin?
The practice of foot washing wasn’t a new idea implemented at the Last Supper. This was a common practice among Eastern peoples, who wore open sandals on dusty, dirt roads in their living areas and as they travelled to other towns.  Therefore, foot washing needed to be done frequently, a task that was assigned to the least-important servant. However, there were no servants in the private room reserved for Jesus and the disciples. None of the disciples offered to perform this task, not even for Jesus, whom Peter had previously identified as ‘the Christ’. Do you think the disciples felt shocked, embarrassed, or ashamed when Jesus assumed the servant role and washed their feet? In fact, the only disciple that spoke up was the ever impulsive and passionate Peter, who was perhaps a little unsettled with this turn of events. But, why did Jesus wash the feet of His disciples? The Servant-King led by example and did so to demonstrate how they were to love and serve one another, with none of them thinking that they were better than the other disciples. This truth needs to be grasped by all Christians.
The Sacrament of Communion was also established at The Last Supper, when Jesus took a loaf of bread, broke a piece of it off, and passed it to His disciples to do the same, while saying, “This is My body broken for you. Take it and eat.” Then He took the goblet of wine, sipped from it, and also passed it along, saying, “This is My blood, spilled for you. Take it and drink. Do this in remembrance of Me.”
When the meal was done, they sang a hymn and went out to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Jesus anguished in prayer, because He knew the horrors that lay ahead, but His disciples were too sleepy to stay awake to pray with Him.. Suddenly, Judas appeared with a crowd, armed with clubs and swords, sent by the religious leaders to arrest Christ. Judas kissed Him on the cheek to indicate which man to arrest.  In that moment, Judas gave up much more than the reward money he received—he sold his soul for a pittance and deeply wounded Christ, who called Judas “friend.”  After He was arrested, Jesus was taken before the Sanhedrin, where false testimony was produced to condemn Him. While Christ was being questioned by the religious leaders, Peter joined a group warming themselves by a fire in the courtyard, where others began to accuse him of being one of Jesus’ disciples. Three times Peter denied Christ. The rooster crowed the second time, and Peter realized that he had done precisely what Jesus had predicted at the Last Supper.
[To be continued…]
Suggested Scripture Readings:  The Last Supper & Jesus’ Arrest Matthew 26: 17-75 (c.f. Mark 14: 12-72; Luke 22: 7-62)
Foot Washing: (only in the Gospel of John) John: 13:1-38

Blessings & Peace

Elizabeth Hogan Hayduk

Former Salvation Army Officer (pastor) Canada

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