And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. Luke 22:15 ESV
Maundy Thursday is the somewhat overlooked day of Easter Week. But for Jesus this was the crucial time to prepare His disciples for His departure. At the Last Supper Jesus gave the New Covenant to both His friends and through them to us who are believers today. Every time we take communion in our various churches we continue to remember His death and atonement as people have done for 2,000 years.
At the Last Supper Jesus gave not only a New Covenant but He also set the example for a new lifestyle. While those we consider saints today were arguing over who was the most important, Jesus went and filled a basin with water and began to wash their feet.
When supper was finished Jesus led His eleven faithful disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. There He fully and finally accepted His coming death on the cross. There He woke them again and again and urged them to pray also until Judas came with the soldiers. And then the hour had come for His sacrifice. Even when everyone ran away, Jesus stayed behind, accepting the cost of our salvation. He was the Lamb of God and this gift of His body and blood we are remembering today because it means the redemption of us all!
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. Luke 22:19
This week millions of us will be remembering the Last Supper as one part of Holy Week. As Christians, some of us share communion once a month, some every week and others each time we meet. But whenever it is that we share in the bread and the cup, we are remembering again the hour on the cross when Jesus freely gave His life to pay for our sins. Often I reflect on my own sins and ask Him to forgive me before I receive. When it is my privilege to serve communion, I sometimes look at each person as they come and think of how in a deep and holy way we are also remembering how we all belong to Christ. Nothing has been preserved of the songs the first believers sang. We have no pictures of what they looked like. There isn’t even a single plate from which they ate. But the common thread that our Lord Jesus has kept alive throughout more than 20 centuries is the Hope we have every time we come to His table.
We have hope that our sins are forgiven. We have hope that we can learn to love one another. We are given a living demonstration of His love as the bread is broken and the cup is shared. We have new hope at the table that one day He will return for you and for me!
As one part of remembering the Easter story some congregations hold a foot washing service. If you have never participated in a foot washing it is impossible to explain fully the emotional roller coaster experience of that moment.
When I went on a short term missions trip to India several years ago we were surprised by such an event. It came at the close of our visit to a humble church in a small village. Just as the service was closing they called my pastor and I to come sit in the front. “I don’t like this part” pastor Joliam told me though I had no idea what was coming. Then the local pastor’s daughter a girl of about 12 came to the front with a basin and a towel and began to wash our feet. Afterwards she wept as she thanked us for coming. I felt so humbled and small at receiving such genuine love when my own heart was incapable of expressing such gratitude. Washing feet is odd and embarrassing and having my own washed by someone I had only just met was doubly so. But that moment marked my heart forever and made an eternal change in my attitude towards others. That is why Jesus commanded us to continue to follow His example. What is on your agenda or mine today?
What really matters most to God is for us to wash the dirty feet right in front of us!