IS IT MONDAY OR THURSDAY? WHEN AND WHAT IS MAUNDY THURSDAY?
Maundy Thursday is the celebration of the last supper that Jesus ate with His disciples on the night that He was betrayed by Judas Iscariot into the hands of Roman soldiers. It took place the Thursday evening on the day prior to his crucifixion (the day we call Good Friday). The occasion was the Passover, a once-a-year celebration of the time when God delivered His people Israel from slavery in Egypt, pouring out plagues on the Egyptians but “passing over” and sparing the Israelites the worst plague of the death of their firstborn sons.
All four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) include an account of this supper, but John’s gospel has the most in-depth reporting of the events, in what we call the "Upper Room Discourse" in John 13-17. There, Jesus begins the supper by washing his disciples’ feet and taking the opportunity to teach them that they too should lead by serving. Jesus goes on to tell them that He is preparing a place for them in God’s kingdom and that He will be going there soon. But, He promises them that He will not leave them alone, that He will send them the Holy Spirit who will guide them and be with them through even terrible persecution. The Lord ends His teaching time by praying for God the Father to glorify Him and to protect His church.
The word 'maundy' is Latin for 'commandment,' remembering that Jesus gave a new commandment to His disciples in John 13:34-35, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” As we remember this meal, we remember what is at the heart of the Christian faith: God’s love for us and our love for Him and one another. Jesus shows how love works through the bread and wine that He uses to symbolize His impending death that will be the ransom necessary to purchase His people out of slavery to sin and death. And He then asks us what we will do with that kind of love: will we refuse it like the selfish traitor Judas, or will we accept it and love others out of the overflow of Jesus’ love?
Maundy Thursday falls on April 18th this year. RiverOaks is celebrating it with meals at various people homes connected with a Community Group. If you don’t have a Community Group and would like to be part of a meal, contact either Pastor Jonathan or Pastor Ricky.
Here is an idea for how to do a Maundy Thursday Supper:
These ideas are simply my own. You may be as formal or informal as you like. If you want to study the Passover Seder, please do. If you would rather have an informal meal with scripture and prayer, here is a format you may follow. The specifics are up to you. You may have a different family responsible for each part, or give part of each reading and prayer to different people. The choice is yours. Be creative, and make this a spiritually rich celebration.
Read Luke 22:7 – 23.
Pray that God would be present during your meal, and would use this time to comfort you in the Gospel of Grace.
Raise your wine glasses and toast: Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, grant us your peace.
Begin your meal.
Mid Meal Reflection
During the meal, perhaps after the salad.
Read John 13:1 – 20.
Pray that God would grant us the humility to share our burdens with each other, and let others wash our feet. This would be a good time to share prayer requests if you are so inclined.
Post Meal Benediction
After the meal, fill the wine glasses enough for one final toast.
Read John 14:1 – 17.
Pray that God would dismiss you in Joyful peace, convincing you that the Spirit of Jesus is with us always.
Optional: Sing a hymn as you prepare to go. Suggestions: “What Wondrous Love Is This” or “Whate’er My God Ordains is Right” or “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent”