Day 4 – Thursday: The Last Supper
On Thursday, preparations for the Passover were in full swing. Tens of thousands of Jews had come from near and far to observe this required pilgrimage and high feast, and Jesus told his disciples to make preparations for the feast right in the heart of it all, “in the city,” Jerusalem. In Matthew’s account, the disciples are simply told to find a “certain man” and make arrangements with him, but Mark and Luke explain that the man they were looking for would be carrying a “jar of water,” and would lead them to a room that was “furnished and ready.” Clearly, preparations were already in progress! John’s account of the day doesn’t mention this man or the room at all, but John tells his reader of a different sort of preparation—Jesus washing the disciples’ feet (remember that jar of water?) Jesus and his disciples were reclining at the table (furnished room), sharing the traditional Seder meal that celebrates God’s deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Jesus took this opportunity to prepare them—to show them what perfect love looked like. Perfect love meant that HE would be their servant and HE would be their sacrifice. Jesus washes their feet, like a servant would. And although Peter objected at first, Jesus explained that perfect love meant serving one another. A few verses later Jesus says “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34) Our word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for command. But not only would Jesus be their servant on this night, his perfect love would make him their sacrifice. He was the spotless Lamb of God, sacrificed for the sins and deliverance of the world. This “Last Supper” of Jesus reminds us still of Jesus perfect sacrifice on the cross—his body given and his blood shed for us. Thursday evening ended in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prayed while his disciples slept; Jesus faced his mission while his disciples ran away. There would be no sleep for Jesus on this night, and he would not run and hide. His love was perfect love.
Poem: Maundy Thursday (by Malcolm Guite)
Here is the source of every sacrament,
The all-transforming presence of the Lord,
Replenishing our every element
Remaking us in his creative Word.
For here the earth herself gives bread and wine,
The air delights to bear his Spirit’s speech,
The fire dances where the candles shine,
The waters cleanse us with His gentle touch.
And here He shows the full extent of love
To us whose love is always incomplete,
In vain we search the heavens high above,
The God of love is kneeling at our feet.
Though we betray Him, though it is the night.
He meets us here and loves us into light.