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Commemorating Holy Week: Maundy Thursday

17 Apr

Pane-vino-noci

Photo by signiphoto on Morgue File

Thursday: (Mt. 26.17-19, Mk. 14.12-16, Lk. 22.7-13—Jesus makes preparations for the observance of the Passover meal: Mt. 26.20-29, Mk. 14.17-23, Lk. 22.14-30—In the evening, Jesus and the disciples eat the Passover meal, he tells of his betrayal by one of them and he institutes the observance of the Lord’s Supper: Jn. 13.1-17.26—Jesus washes the disciples’ feet and delivers the Upper Room Discourse: Mt. 26.30, Mk. 14.26, Lk. 22.39—Jesus and his disciples sing a hymn and then depart for the Mt. of Olives: Mt. 26.31-35, Mk. 14.27-31, Lk. 22.31-34—Jesus foretells of Peter’s three denials: Lk. 22.35-38—Jesus gives the disciple further instructions and commands: Mt. 26.36-46, Mk. 14.32-42, Lk. 22.40-46—Jesus and his disciples go to the garden of Gethsemane.)

 Context:

Known in the liturgical calendar as Maundy Thursday ( Maundy is a Latin term that means command) this is a pivotal day in the final week of Jesus’ life. On this one day many things will transpire, many things that will change the course of human history (and eternity) forever.

On this day, Jesus will sit and eat in the upper room with his disciples. Judas will leave the meal, going out to betray Christ into the hands of the religious leaders. Jesus will enact the Lord’s Supper, as a testimonial observance of his life, death and resurrection.

The Lord’s Supper is the inauguration of an observance of the new covenant that Christ instituted. The prophet Jeremiah, (Jer. 31.31-34), prophesies about this new covenant, which is ratified by Christ. This new covenant will have distinctive traits from its predecessor, the old covenant or Mosaic covenant.

One distinctive is that this new covenant, this new law will not be written on tablets of stone as the Mosaic covenant was. This law will instead be written inwardly, on the person’s heart. So then, this new covenant will do what the old could not—it will change the person from the inside out. Principally, this is done by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When a person professes faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells that person.

Jesus is the enactor of this new covenant. He, by his life, death and resurrection, established and ratified the covenant. The writer of Hebrews makes this very point. We, as believers, now live under the law of this new covenant. We are now indwelled by the Holy Spirit. We are called to be Christ-like, to be his disciples.

As we think of the elements of the Lord’s Supper, they point us to the ratification of this new covenant. The bread which represents the body of Christ, which was broken on our behalf, calls our attention to the fact that Christ died a vicarious death for us; that is, he died in our place, giving himself as a substitutionary atonement. The wine which represents the blood of Christ, which was poured out for us, reminds us of his death—it reminds us of his sacrifice and the remission of our sins through his blood.

Application:

As you think and meditate on this Maundy Thursday, remember the promise and fulfillment of this new covenant. When you partake of the Lord’s Supper, truly meditate on its meaning. We are quick to simply eat the wafer and drink the juice, without giving any real thought to what they represent. Yet, the observance of the Lord’s Supper should be a solemn occasion. An occasion for us to let God bring to our remembrances his love, grace and sacrifice.

What does the new covenant mean to you? What does it say to you that Jesus had to give his own life in order to ratify this covenant? Jesus said, if you love me, keep my commandments (Jn. 14.15). Are you seeking to live obediently to his commandments? Are there any commandments that have been a struggle for you? Are there changes that need to be made in your life or habits to enable you to live a fuller and deeper Christian life?

Prayer:

O Mighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, thank you for your commandments. Thank you for your instruction to me. Thank you for being a God who reveals himself to us. Thank you for the new covenant, whereby your Holy Spirit now indwells me. I thank you for your revelation and your grace. I thank you for your sacrifice, which secured my salvation and the salvation of all those who would believe. Help me, O God, to live in obedience to your commandments and will. Help me to be light in my world and to be salt in this earth. Help me to be your witness and a ready and willing witness of your gospel. I pray all this in the name of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, Amen.

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