I think we have all walked into something that we know was not going to end well. Whether it was a meeting about a job, a doctor for a diagnosis, a meeting with a spouse, a meeting about your child, and many other scenarios. Most likely we stressed about that situation as long as we were aware of it. It affected our mood, our appetite, our sleep, our stress levels, etc. Have you ever thought of Jesus’ feelings as He faced His destiny?
Jesus knew the battles He was getting ready to face. He knew within a week the end of His life on earth was going to be like no other. He came to live, die, and be resurrected.
Maundy Thursday is the Thursday of Holy Week. Jesus did a lot of new things on this day because it would be His last day with the disciples. Jesus began the traditional Passover dinner by washing the feet of each of the twelve disciples. He had never done this before.
Their feet would have been dusty and cracked. A servant would normally have taken a basin and washed the feet of guests arriving for a meal. In the late 1990's I had a minister who would use foot washings for many of our spiritual retreat teams. I do not care for feet - only baby feet. That being said, it did not bother me nearly as badly to wash someone else's feet as someone washing my feet. It was uncomfortable and humbling. I cannot imagine if the King of Kings would have washed my feet. It brings tears to my eyes to think about. He would scrub away our insecurities, our doubts, our weariness, our bitterness, and our deepest hurts! Jesus' words to Peter are also addressed to us: John 13: 8, "'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.' Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’”
Jesus also talked about the sacrament of the blood and wine for the first time. The disciples had never heard of eating flesh. Jesus also told them of a new gift. The gift of the Holy Spirit which meant although He would not be beside them, He would be inside them. Jesus gave them a new commandment to love one another. John 13: 34, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
Jesus brought order out of chaos in this world. He brought light into the darkness. We do not have to wait for Him to come to experience His peace. We can have it now. Jesus told his disciples that peace was the last gift He would give them. John 14: 27, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." Jesus' last actions were washing, feeding, and teaching His children.
A Maundy Thursday service reminds us of the Biblical truths that we have forgotten to remind ourselves of through the celebration of Easter. It is a somber service to draw us into the night of Jesus’ betrayal. It begins with dinner with friends and ends somberly. We are reminded of God’s provision in which Jesus offered up the bread and the wine, that was broken and shed for us. Jesus’ night began with dinner with close friends and ended with blood, anxiety, deep betrayal and walking towards a torturous death. Jesus’ night turned suddenly, beginning with a friend leaving the meal and betraying Him. Then they went to the garden of Gethsemane to pray for what was getting ready to happen. He asked His friends to keep vigil, but they could not even stay awake when He needed them most. He was betrayed, arrested, and tortured alone.
When the service is over we leave in silence because the mood has turned to solitude and sorrow. We are encouraged to think of the weight of all that is to come. We are to think about the excruciating night of abandonment and torture that led up to Jesus’ death.
PVUMC will have a Maundy Thursday service April 18 at 6:30 pm in the gym following dinner at 5:30 pm. Come prepare for Easter and be reminded of what Jesus Christ did for you!