Holy Week: Maundy Thursday
The Last Supper is likely the most famous meal there ever was. Even those who didn’t grow up in Church are familiar with the story. The name explains it all, Jesus’ last meal with His disciples.
To understand the weight of this meal, one must first understand the Passover tradition. Passover was (and still is) celebrated by the Jewish people to remember Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt, the night God passed over the Jewish people and killed the first born of every Egyptian (Exodus 12). God commanded the Israelites to celebrate Passover from there on out as an act of remembrance of what He did for them. This is the week-long celebration that was taking place leading up to Jesus’ death.
However, this Passover was given an additional meaning. Mark writes, “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take it; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it. ‘This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,’ he said to them. ‘Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God’” (14:22-24).
Although the revelation of what was taking place wouldn’t be revealed to the disciples until Jesus’ resurrection, at this moment Jesus was proclaiming that He is the true Passover lamb, to bring liberation for Jew and Gentile. The hundreds of years of celebration of Passover were leading up to this moment, when the true sacrifice would be made.
Jesus’ final days as a man would culminate with a declaration of servanthood, emphasized in Mark’s telling of Jesus’ ministry. Today, we partake in the Passover meal every time we take communion, remembering the sacrifice Jesus made by receiving the bread and the wine, everyday elements signifying His body and blood.
As we celebrate Maundy Thursday take a moment to sit with Jesus, thinking about what it would’ve been like to share this meal with Him. Who is this, Jesus? Ask Him to help you remember the significance of His commandment to love one another sacrificially, just as He did for you.