For Christians all over the world, Easter is a celebration of Christ’s Resurrection as the Sunday that He was resurrected from the grave after His death on the cross on Friday (Matt. 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20:13-John 21:25). Good Friday is the day we remember as the day Christ was nailed to the cross and died only hours later (Matt. 27:50, Mark 15:37, Luke. 23:46, John 19:30). Palm Sunday is the day that Jesus first entered Jerusalem and the crowds “took palm branches and went down the road to meet him” (John 12:13, NLT), rejoicing over the Lord’s coming into the city as He rode in on a donkey’s colt, fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament (Matt. 21:5, John 12:12-16, Isaiah 62:11, Zech. 9:9). But what is Maundy Thursday and how can I observe this day part of Holy Week? Here are a few facts to give you a better understanding of what this day is, and how you can observe it completely from home!
It is the Day the Last Supper Took Place.
As this was the last day before Jesus died, it was also the Last Supper between Jesus and His disciples. It was here that Jesus told the disciples that one of them would betray Him (Matt. 26:21, Mark 14:1-21, Luke 22:21-23, John 14:21-30), to which Judas asks if he is the one, and he ends up leaving to betray Jesus, going to the Pharisees (Matt. 26:25, John 13:26-30). The prophecy of Jesus’ sacrifice was already beginning. This is the night when Peter denied Jesus three times before the sun-up of Friday morning (Matt. 26:34-35, 70-75, Mark 14:29-31, 66-72, Luke 22:34, 56-62, John 13:38, 18:17, 25-27), and we see Jesus praying at the Mount of Olives, knowing fully well what kind of pain and suffering would be awaiting Him shortly. Aren’t we so glad that Jesus took on the pain we deserve?
The First Communion was Held this Day.
This was the day that Jesus and His disciples took the first Communion as they had the Last Supper.
“Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying,
‘Take this and eat it, for this is my body. And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, ‘Each of you drink from it, for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.’”Matt. 26:26-28, NLT
Communion is important for us to take as a way to remember Him (Luke 22:19). This is a way for us to actively reflect on what Christ did for us—He laid down His body, shed His blood, taking our place at the cross when He was completely innocent.
Jesus Washed the Feet of His Disciples.
Jesus washed the feet of His disciples on this day (John 13:4-12), cleaning the dirtiest part of them. This was a true act of humility that Christ demonstrated to us; He was making the hardest, messiest part of the body clean, just like He would do by giving salvation to all who come to Him asking for forgiveness. Jesus led through service. He was the greatest of everyone sitting in the room, yet He put Himself in the position of being a servant (Luke 22:27). Jesus was the only one worthy in that room of the service He gave, but it was only He who could make the disciples truly clean and new. He is the only one worthy of being served yet is the one who has served us. We must give honor and praise to Him because He has demonstrated a kind of love and Kingship that we have not and will not see anywhere or from anyone else.
John 13:8b, NLT
“Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.
Jesus Gave a New Commandment.
This is where we get “Maundy” from in Maundy Thursday. “Maundy’s” Latin form, Mandatum means mandate, or commandment. During this evening of foot washing and Eucharist taking, Jesus left the disciples with something very important: a new commandment to carry out, and it was critical that it be followed by them for their upcoming journey. Soon, Jesus would be entrusting the disciples to spread the Gospel of the Good News: that freedom can be found in Christ who had so chosen to take humanity’s place of death, and was then resurrected, defeating death itself, giving anyone who comes to Him a chance for a new life. If Jesus’ followers are to share of His love, they must also act out this love among each other.
John 13:34, NLT
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.”
How can I Observe Maundy Thursday From Home?
Maundy Thursday can be observed in quite a few ways from home, so take advantage of the time we have been given right now to spend a few extra hours with your family intentionally focusing on and seeking the Lord.
Have a Passover Meal From a Christian Perspective.
It was during Passover that Jesus died and was resurrected, and it was a Passover—or at least Passover-like meal (Matt. 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-31, Luke 22:7-39, John 13-17) that Jesus last had with His disciples (this has been debated whether it was a Passover or Passover-like meal). I took part in Passover for the first time last year, and it honestly grew my faith so much by practicing what has been written in the Scriptures and seeing how Jesus fulfilled the Law. Passover this year starts the day before Maundy Thursday, so try it out! There are resources you can find online on how to have your very own Passover meal, and some Haggadah texts so you can actively read and participate along with the meal.
Communion is one of the most intimate acts we can take to remember the Lord’s suffering and redemption He has brought us, so to have the opportunity to do this with your family should make it even more meaningful; remembering the One who has saved you and holds your heart with the people He has given you to have the most intimate relationships with here on earth should provide to be an unforgettable experience.
Wash Each Other’s Feet.
Do what Jesus did and wash the feet of those around you. Serving your family shows devotion to caring for those you are closest to and can help you to grow in the humility and service that Christ has modeled for us.
Have a Worship Session.
Spend time singing, playing instruments, and praising the Lord. If your family is a bit lacking in musical giftings, then find your favorite worship artist/group on Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, or another music platform, and sing along with the professionals.
Stream an Online Service.
While we may not be able to go out right now to a Maundy Thursday service in-person, we can still stream one. Some churches are streaming services including New Life at 7pm.
I hope you know more now about Maundy Thursday and how important it was both for Jesus to fulfill His plan here on earth to bring us new life and for us to remember what He has done and with how He has asked us to live with one another: Love each other.
John 13:35, NLT
“Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”