Remember how you felt as a child on Christmas Eve? Did your heart swell with anticipation of what you were about to experience? Was your mouth salivating for the traditional foods that would be shared around your Christmas table? Thursday was the most important Feast in the life of the Jewish people. Hoards of people flooded into Jerusalem to experience Passover in the way it was meant to be celebrated by bringing their flawless lamb to the Temple sacrifice. Jesus’ family traveled from
to Nazareth every Passover when He was a child. Jerusalem
This Passover would be quite different. The sense of its importance could be recognized in the directions Jesus gave to His disciples for getting it prepared. A particular Upper Room had been chosen for this event and God was already working on the hearts of the family who would offer it to Christ and His disciples. Jesus began this most traditional meal in a most uncustomary way. To show the disciples and us that we are to be servants first and foremost, He took on the role of the lowliest servant and washed the disciples’ feet. Judas was revealed at the betrayer that night (this troubled Jesus). Peter’s denial was prophesied and Jesus taught about the Holy Spirit who would now be able to come to us after He went away. He prayed the great High Priestly Prayer recorded in John 17. On this special night He gave us the Holy Eucharist and exhorted us to practice this sacrament of our New Covenant regularly. They sang the hymns of the great Psalter and walked together from that Holy Room. There were only twelve of them now and Jesus led them to the
. Garden of Gethsemane
Jesus urged them to pray for themselves, but they slept. He prayed the prayer that caused Him to sweat drops of blood. While the disciples slept, Jesus was transformed by this time of prayer and the ministry of the angels sent to help Him. He rose up from that prayer not just willing, but eager to go to the cross for us. Judas led the mob of Jewish authorities and betrayed Jesus with a kiss. Jesus was arrested after He insured the release of His disciples and fixed Peter’s blunder by healing the servant’s ear.
Have you learned the lessons of Maundy Thursday? Whose feet do you wash? Do you stay awake in prayer? Do you anticipate the celebration of the Holy Eucharist?
(Matthew 26:17-46; Mark 14:12-42; Luke 22:7-46; John 13-17)