On Thursday, March 24th, at 7:00 pm we will celebrate Maundy Thursday, also known as Holy Thursday. This is a time to participate in the Lord’s Supper, to remember our Lord’s crucifixion, and to confess our sins.
“Maundy” is an odd, old word, and no one knows for sure where it comes from. Most scholars think it comes from the Latin, mandatum, which means to command, or to give a mandate. It’s origin comes from the Latin version of the Bible, and a phrase Jesus shared with his disciples after he washed their feet during the celebration of the Lord’s Supper: “A new command I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you (John 13:34).”
Followers of Jesus exist in a new community, called church. This new community is predicated on the reality of love for one another, just as Jesus loved us. In our new community, Jesus model is our model. We learn to lay down our lives for each other.
Thus Maundy Thursday is a day to come together as the body of believers, as the new community to remember Jesus makes a new relationship possible. We remember his body broken on a cross, the suffering he endured, and the shedding of his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. We remember the horrible story of the night before he was crucified, when he struggled with the Father’s will, when he was betrayed, denied, falsely accused, put on trial, and then nailed to a cross.
All this not only made it possible for us to have a new relationship with each other, it made it possible for us to have a new relationship with our Father in Heaven. Our sins are forgiven, eternal life is open to us. The whole trajectory of our life changes.
All of this remembrance makes Maundy Thursday essential preparation for Easter. Easter is a day of joy and celebration – as it should be. But before there can be celebration, there needs to be recognition – of our sin, our guilt, and the amazing grace of Jesus.
Before there can be resurrection, there must be crucifixion. Before there can be forgiveness, there must confession. Before there can be Easter, there must be Maundy Thursday. Before there can be light, there is darkness.
The darkness must be called out, so the light may overcome it.