And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” – Luke 22: 19
The Thursday before Easter is known as either Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday. Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command,” and refers to Jesus’ commandment to the disciples to “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, which Christians consider the institution of the Holy Eucharist, also known as the Lord’s supper or communion. Jesus breaks bread, saying, “This is my body,” and pours wine, saying, “This is my blood.” He then asks the disciples to “Do this in remembrance of me.” The Last Supper was a Passover feast of unleavened bread. Passover is the Jewish festival commemorating the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, when they left so quickly there was no time for the bread to rise.
Maundy Thursday is also associated with foot-washing. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, teaching them to be servants. It’s the ultimate act of “servant leadership.” Jesus instructs his followers to love and to serve. Jesus foretells his betrayal by Judas, and his death, saying he will eat no more until the kingdom of God is fulfilled. Most Catholic churches have a Mass in which is commemorated the washing of feet.
Lord Jesus, as we meditate and devoutly contemplate these Scriptures, we feel, simultaneously, deeply convicted and filled with incredible joy. Only the gift of faith can enable us to grasp the wonder of your words and the magnificence of that moment. Most Precious Lord Jesus, this night you gathered with your Apostles to share with them your last, most significant meal, the gift of your most Sacred Body and Blood, soon to be broken and poured out on the Cross for the salvation of the world.
Allow us, dear Lord, to spend this night in prayer and meditation with you. After the meal, you invited your Apostles to join you for an hour, to stay awake and keep vigil as you prepared for your arrest. The Apostles fell asleep, leaving you alone, in your bitter agony. The promises of the Old Covenant were about to be fulfilled by the blood of the New Covenant—your blood.
Having shared eternal glory with the Father, you now show stunning grace to your disciples, a bunch of broken men, who squabbled with each other hours earlier for positions of honor, and who within a few hours would all scatter and deny you. Having loved them so well, you now show them even greater manifestations of your love. There is no Savior like you, O Gracious Lord Jesus.
Your disrobing to wash their feet was with a full view to your being stripped to wash pure, their hearts and our hearts, conveying to us your wondrous love. Let us never forget that the measure of your love is not just the basin and towel of the upper room, but your cross and death at Calvary. There simply is no greater love than yours, precious Savior.
It is the manifestation of the new mandate that identifies us as your disciples. If we don’t love as you love us, it’s all for naught! How deeply humbling.
Jesus, please help our slow and dull hearts to come more fully alive to how you loved us by your death and how you love us now in your resurrection glory. By faith and grace, we will seek to make fewer excuses for loving poorly and offer quicker repentances when we do so. Continue to show us the full extent of your love for us in the gospel, that we might love more fully to your glory.
Lord, when we face the crosses of our own lives, give us your divine courage and strength to submit to the Will of the Father. Your love for us is abundant and perfect in every way. Help us to know that love, to embrace it and to allow it into our lives. This we pray, in the adoration and wonder of your beautiful name, a name we trust. JESUS! Amen