Matthew 26:17-75; Mark 14:12-72; Luke 22:7-65; John 13:34
At my church, we celebrate the Passover together during Holy Week, remembering Jesus’ Last Supper. It’s one of my favorite traditions because it shows the beautiful continuity of the Old Testament and New Testament Scriptures. The Passover was a celebration of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites, and God’s faithful promises were ultimately fulfilled through Christ!
The Last Supper is especially significant because, when celebrating the Passover with His disciples, Jesus used the elements of bread and wine to symbolize something greater: his body and blood. The Last Supper was the first communion!
The reason we call it “Maundy” Thursday is because at the Last Supper Jesus gave a new command (Latin: mandatum) to his disciples:
John 13:34, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
As Jesus humbly washes the feet of his disciples, Maundy Thursday encompasses what it means to be His hands and feet. By receiving the Body of Christ, we get to be the Body of Christ. Jesus commands us to show the world His love.
The Last Supper prefaced the events of the coming days by setting the table with bread and wine and love that’s ours to, not only receive, but to give. Jesus said, “This is my body given for you”. When we take communion, we don’t just receive His body, we get to be His body. As the Body of Christ, we get to be His hands and feet! The Church isn’t just some religious institution or group of people subscribing to the same set of beliefs. It is the literal, physical representation of Christ in this world!
Maybe, like me, your day has looked rather normal. Maybe, like me, you need to be reminded that these ordinary days are infused with an extraordinary calling. Today, I’ve spent most of the day caregiving for my two children and my aunt, preparing meals, washing dishes, administering medication and doing rehabilitation exercises with her. All the while I was inadvertently celebrating what Maundy Thursday is all about: being the hands and feet of Christ.
He died so that we may live! The way of Christ is the way of sacrifice, not sacrificial death but sacrificial life. What we are giving up, He is filling up. In Him, there is always enough love to share.
How can you give love to one another today? Befriend a lonely soul. Reach out to your neighbor. Call your mother and tell her you love her. Listen to a stranger. How can you be His hands and feet?
The Body of Christ in the Passover Meal:
At the Last Supper, Jesus specifically tells us the bread and the wine represent His body and blood.
The Passover Bread (matzah) is unleavened, just as the Israelites were told to remove all the yeast from their homes we are told to remove the sin from our lives. Paul charges us to: “Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7).
The matzah is also striped and pierced, reminding us that Jesus’ hands were pierced with nails and his body whipped (Isaiah 53:5, Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7).
There are four different cups of wine used during the Seder: The Cup of Sanctification, The Cup of Judgment, The Cup of Redemption, and the Cup of Praise. It was the third cup – the Cup of Redemption— that Jesus said, “This wine is my blood, which will be poured out to forgive the sins of many and begin the new agreement from God to his people.” Matthew 26:28
There is so much beautiful symbolism in the traditional Passover Seder Meal that points to Christ. If you are interested in learning more, you can read about it here.