For whatever reason, in many Christian churches the recognition of the importance of “Maundy Thursday” and “Good Friday” have taken an increasingly diminished understanding and therefore recognition.
However, the only way to fully experience the overwhelming joy of the Resurrection is to seek to contemplate what Jesus was going through and what He expected of us on these days leading up to Easter morning.
Maundy Thursday is understood as the recognition of the day of the Last Supper as recorded directly in Mathew, Mark, and Luke and indirectly in the gospel of John. It is there that Jesus reveals His detailed knowledge of how the next days are going to unfold. He knows that He’s going to be betrayed by one of the disciples that is seated with him at the Last Supper and that He was going to fulfill His mission to sacrifice His own life so that everyone who believed in Him might have the possibility of eternal life in His presence with God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
The word Maundy is a shortened form of mandatum(in Latin) which means “command.” I see two things at the very least that Jesus commands us in these stories. The first is to be a servant to everyone else. Jesus demonstrated this virtue by washing the disciples feet, a duty normally reserved for the lowest ranking ‘servant’ in a particular household. Jesus wants to be perfectly clear that the way of life in His kingdom, the way to greatness, in fact, is through servant-hood.
“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.” John 13:14-15
The second command was a new one. In John 13:34-35 He says,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Reflection on these and many other verses that are descriptive of the Last Supper and surrounding events should be contemplated throughout the day on Maundy Thursday.
Good Friday is still widely acknowledged as the most important day in the life of Jesus with reference to His mission to provide a means of redemption for all of mankind.
“Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” Hebrews 9:22.
We need to be perfectly clear that we do not find salvation at the Resurrection. No, the Resurrection simply testified to all the world that God the Father had accepted the sacrifice of Jesus when he gave up His life on the cross in the most public, humiliating and painful way possible.
One of the topics that won’t be mentioned in many Good Friday messages is the fact that this is the one place, and indeed the only place, where the answer to the prayer of Jesus was apparently just silence from the Father. The three synoptic gospels, (Mathew, Mark and Luke) all make it very clear that Jesus prayed with profound and intense focus to the Father that He would “Take this cup from me.” (Mark 11:36b) Jesus did not want to go to the cross. He did not want to suffer and be humiliated and physically tortured unto death. However, it’s the next sentence in that verse that we must grasp.
“Yet not what I will, but what you will.” It’s in these very straightforward and simple words that we see that the heart of Jesus was not to have what He wanted, but what the Father willed to come to pass in His life.
Dear friends, it is a point of great importance and spiritual maturity that when God says “no” to a specific request or, more often, is silent in response to a specific request, its because He has something more important and inevitably better on the other side of that request.
If the Father had answered “Yes” to the desires of Jesus, then there would have been no means available for the forgiveness of our sins and the possibility that we might have our spiritual nature ‘born again’ so that we would live in all of eternity with our magnificent God!
If you take some time on Good Friday to contemplate these truths; you’ll not only find yourself humbled and moved by the sacrifices of Jesus, but you’ll also find yourself all the more prepared to share this amazing love and the victory of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, which remains to this day the only real answer to the question of “Why am I here?!”
I’ll have more to share about the Resurrection before Easter Sunday.
Easter week blessings,