Reading: Psalm 142, Lamentations 2:10-18, John Chapters 13 and 14
Content: Since the late 3rd century during Holy Week, believers and followers of Jesus around the world have commemorated today as Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy is of Latin origin meaning - command. Early Christians used the term in reference to the command of Jesus in Mark’s gospel to remember the “Bread and Wine” observance of the Last Supper, and from John’s gospel, the reckoning of the new commandment given by Jesus “that you love one another.” The traditional Maundy Thursday gatherings were to invite each participant into a deeper of understanding not only the divine sacrifice about to be made by Jesus, but also of the human struggle and personal anguish that would come with His suffering. Over time, Maundy Gatherings obviously have taken on not only the religious expressions of men, but also their personal interpretations as well – it became about us and not Him. And as religious expressions and personal interpretations of men fade and become ritualistic and frankly, boring – so does the understanding of spiritual truth and the desire to seek and participate in something vitally important and desperately needed. Until now. Enter the global pandemic and crisis of the COVID-19 Virus during Holy Week 2020.
There is a need now more than ever for us to remember and to reckon with the very real and eternal elements of Jesus’ Thursday struggle. There is great significance to remembering what is real about it. There is urgent need for reckoning with the reality that Jesus knew what was to come for Him that night, and yet stayed on point with the Father’s will. His continuing to finish what they started - to go through with the terror and pain that await Him.
Yes, what Jesus did back then IS NEEDED TODAY. It is needed because Jesus did not do what He did that night for just twelve mythical or made-up characters in a mystical upper room in ancient Jerusalem – they are all real. He did not do what He did, for just those who had been living and training with Him for three years, or for those closest friends who ate the Passover meal with him, those whose feet He washed, those whom shared His bread and wine. No, we need to remember and reckon with the fact, that Jesus went ahead that night into the loneliest of darkness’s, for those who slept while He prayed, for those who denied and betrayed, for those who accused and lied, for those who would beat and mock, those who would murder and maim, and those would publicly curse His name.
My friends, here is an even greater reality to what Jesus did that Thursday night – He did it for you - He did it for me. We also were His struggle and suffering. We too, His mission and love.
So, when Maundy Thursday comes around next year bringing with it the awkward moments of silence, the shadowy candle-lit rooms, the long gospel readings, the dramatic re-enactments, the humbling fear of possibly washing someone’s feet, the pressured feeling of “one more” religious gathering – remember something important and reckon with something true. Remember that Jesus did what He did that Thursday night 2,000 years ago for us so that we and the people we love would have the hope and courage to face our own struggles and suffering. To reckon with the truth that He did it so that we too could learn to accept the Father’s will and go on with Christ-like hope and courage to finish our own mission in this life – to seek first the Kingdom of God, lead all we can to Christ, and make ourselves ready for an eternal life with Him.
You know something, I sure would love to be meeting with all of you tonight in one of those shadowy rooms, sharing a meal, reading the Gospel, washing your feet and embracing you one more time as we blow out the last candles and leave in silence. I’m never going to take Maundy Thursday for granted again. I’m going to remember His importance and reckon with His truth.
Meditation: I encourage you to take a few minutes today light a small candle as you read chapters 13 and 14 of John’s Gospel. When you are finished the reading please quietly sing a song of love and worship to Jesus and then take communion. Pray for healing and wellness over those you know and love – then spend a few minutes thanking God for going ahead on that Thursday night so long ago - so that we can go ahead today to love as He commanded. When you are finished don’t forget to blow out that last candle. The peace and presence of Jesus be with you.
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