By Pastor Jerry
Holton United Methodist Church
Of all the holy-days coming up, probably the least
understood is Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday, which celebrates the Last
Supper. Aside from Easter itself, Maundy Thursday might be the oldest holy-day of all of
them, and its history goes so far back, were not sure how it got its name.
The term Maundy is
debated. It might come from the Latin mandatum, which means commandment,
and is a reference to Jesus mandating that we serve and love one another, which he
displayed when He washed the feet of the Disciples:
34 "A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
Or, it could be an old English
term from maund, which means to beg. It was a reference to the
ritual of the king giving coins to the poor on Holy Thursday. Hence, Maundy Thursday. This
is a ritual that still goes on today.
Various Christian Faiths might call it Holy
Thursday, Great Thursday, Sheer Thursday, or my favorite: Thursday of Mysteries. But in
this country, the most common is Maundy Thursday, and no matter what you call it, it
refers to Jesus and His Disciples at the Last Supper. This event spawned two rituals: foot
washing and communion. A service on Maundy Thursday usually includes one, or both, of
After the Disciples had gathered, Jesus
took a bowl and a towel, and, one by one, washed the Disciples feet. This was highly
irregular, because it is a task usually done by a slave, not a revered Rabbi and Messiah.
But Jesus did it to show that he came to serve, and He wanted them to be servants as well.
13 "You call me 'Teacher' and 'Lord,' and
rightly so, for that is what I am.
14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed
your feet, you also should wash one another's feet.
15 I have set you an example that you should do as I
have done for you.
The Disciples and Jesus were meeting to
celebrate the age-old Jewish holy-day of Passover, which celebrates Moses leading the
Hebrews out of Egyptian slavery (The Exodus). It includes a special meal, with
special foods, mandated by God in Exodus 12. The Passover celebrates release from physical
slavery, and also Gods special relationship to the Jews.
Jesus took the elements of bread and wine
at the table and added a new meaning to them. The bread represented his body (broken), and
the wine his blood (shed), referring to his death upon a cross, which was to happen very
soon. By His death upon the cross, Jesus sacrificed and paid the penalty for our sin, so
that we might be forgiven and enter heaven. Just as God provided physical freedom through
Moses, God provides spiritual freedom through Jesus. Every time we take communion, we
remember and are thankful for the sacrifice of Jesus.
Even if you cant make a Maundy
Thursday service on April 2nd, take time to serve another, as Jesus commanded, and be
thankful for the forgiveness God offers.