Maundy Thursday, also called Holy Thursday, is when we commemorate Jesus’ washing his disciples feet as well as the Last Supper. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for ‘mandate’ or ‘command’ and is a reference to Jesus’ words in the book of John, in which he told his disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” This was a precursor to the even greater act of love he would demonstrate in the coming days as he gave up his life for them. The church practice of washing the feet of the poor is often referred to as the Maundy, which is even seen in weddings and other ceremonies as a commitment to be a servant leader.
Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:14-17
If you have ever participated in a Passover Seder, maybe you would agree that the symbolism found throughout the meal is fairly meaningful. For the Jews, it was a traditional festival to remind them of God’s provision as he delivered them from slavery in Egypt. For me, I couldn’t help but recognize the similarities between the part of the Seder where the bread is broken and part of the bread (the afikoman) is wrapped and hidden (buried) only to be found and used later. It is no wonder that Jesus referring to himself as the bread of life had even greater meaning to those that regularly took part in these practices.
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Luke 22:19-20
Despite that many of his disciples would argue about who would be greatest in the kingdom, even though they walked and ate with Jesus, they didn’t always grasp his full message right away. Throughout his ministry, culminating in the week leading up to his death, Jesus lived out examples of what it means to love and serve others. His whole life was an example of that to those who walked with him and to those that know him today. He is patient with them as he is with us. So should we also act toward others?
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:5-8
As we progress through the season of Lent toward Easter, let us take opportunities to embrace traditions which better help connect us with God. Let us also incorporate new practices which do the same, or help our families or those around us better understand the significance of what Christ did during Holy Week and throughout his ministry. Let us also remember the power of the cross in how Christ atoned for our sins. In contrast to every other religion, we are unable to earn our way to heaven through our works, because no amount of good works can measure up. Only what Christ did through his death and resurrection will allow us to overcome death as well. Christ paid the price and is the narrow gate which allows us a way to commune with God, now and forever!
Strength and Courage in Christ,