Holy Week 2018: Maundy Thursday

Each day from Palm Sunday until Easter, we’ll publish a short devotional to help prepare your heart for Resurrection Sunday. For each devotional, we recommend opening with a short prayer for illumination, reading the text for the day, spending a few moments meditating on it, reading the devotional, and then closing with a prayer.

Read Luke 22:14-23

There’s something special about the last experience you share with someone before they die. Perhaps you can recall the last time you spoke to a loved one before they passed, or the last holiday you shared together, or your heart breaks because the last time you were with them didn’t go like you wish it did.

This reality comes into focus as we remember Jesus’ last supper with the disciples. As they sit down to eat, Jesus informs the disciples of what’s ahead: suffering and death. Jesus is the greatest teacher who ever lived, and He knows how to sear a lesson into the minds of the disciples. He decides to use this meal to teach them what’s most important. Using bread to symbolize His body and wine to symbolize His blood, Jesus turns dinner into an object lesson. He vividly illustrates the brokenness His own body is about to experience.

But why? Why is Jesus going to suffer? Why go through all of this? Why not just use His power to overthrow the kings of the world and establish His kingdom? Why is all this necessary? Two words:

“For you.”

Jesus tells His disciples, and us, that His body was broken for us. His blood was poured out for us. He is going to the cross for us (Luke 22:19-20). The Bible makes it clear that without the shedding of blood, our sins cannot be forgiven (see Hebrews 9:15-22). This is why He must go to the cross. This is why He must die. This is why the spear must run through Him and His blood spill onto the ground. It is for us.

Our Savior wants to make sure we don’t miss the “why” of the cross, so He makes it plain at the last supper. The “why” is to cover our sins. It’s so we can receive mercy. So we can be free from the fear, shame, and guilt that our rebellion has brought upon us. He was broken so we wouldn’t have to be. His blood was spilled so that ours would not be. This is the central message of the Gospel. Without this reality in place, everything else falls apart.

Do you view Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as good news for every day? How can we keep this truth central to everything we do?

Throughout history, Christians have called this day Maundy Thursday. The word maundy traces its roots to the Latin word mandatum, which is also where we get our English word mandate. It’s the same word that we often translate into command. At the last supper, Jesus said “I give you a new command [mandatum]: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. (John 13:34). In so doing, the Lord tells us what love looks like. He is the model. Serving His disciples and laying down His life for them, that’s love.

Jesus desires that our response to the cross be to love others. The grace and mercy we receive from Christ should not end with us. The Lord intends for us to extend it to those around us. We live in a world that needs to hear the message of the cross. It needs to hear who Jesus is and what He did. It needs to hear that there is freedom in Christ. It needs to know that Jesus’ blood was poured out for them. It is our duty to love them enough to tell them.

Who in your life needs to hear the message of the cross? Pray that God would give you the courage to deliver that message.

At the last supper, Jesus told His disciples that this would be the last meal with them until He returned to usher in His Kingdom. When we celebrate the Lord’s supper, we’re proclaiming two things: 1) that Jesus has come, bled, and died for our sins and 2) that He will come again in glory. When we celebrate the Lord’s Supper tomorrow night during our Good Friday, let those two realities wash over you. Jesus paid the price for your sins. Let that drive you to worship. Jesus is coming again. Let that drive you to tell others what Christ has done.

Written by Stuart Owens