Maundy Thursday, 2019

The Epistle – 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

The Gospel – St. Luke 23:1-49

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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Tonight’s service is a favorite of many Christians. Most likely because of its beauty and that there are so many moving parts.

 

We have the standard Eucharistic structure but interspersed we have The Foot Washing portion…we have the Procession to the Altar of Repose and we have the Stripping of the Altar.

 

All of these have deep meaning for Christians.

It is a meaningful service because it is the climax of the Lenten Season.

 

All of what has gone before over the past 40 days or so comes to this final step before the Crucifixion and the recalling of the price that was paid for our sin.

 

Maundy Thursday …the word Maundy comes from the Latin word Mandatum, which means commandment. We get our word Mandate from this Latin root as well.

 

This night is full of commands and mandates from our Lord.

 

Take, eat…

Do this as oft as ye shall eat it, in remembrance of me.

Drink this, all of you, for this is my Blood of the New Covenant.

At this same Last Supper meal, when the Seder was officially overturned and nullified and the Lord’s Supper is Instituted by Christ, He gives a lengthy final last few commands to His Disciples.

 

At the Last Supper Jesus also says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (ESV)

 

At the time when Jesus finished washing the feet of the Disciples, John tells us that Jesus “...put on his outer garments and resumed his place.  He said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? [13] You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am.

[14] If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. [15] For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. (ESV)

 

Bishop Ryle says of this act of Jesus, “He wished to teach His disciples that they ought to be willing to wait on one another, serve one another, minister to one another, even in the least and lowest things. They should think nothing too low, or humble, or menial to undertake, if they can show love, kindness, and condescension to another. If He, the King of kings, condescended to leave heaven to save souls, and dwell thirty-three years in this sin-defiled world, there is nothing that we should think too lowly to undertake.”[1]

 

So we can see why this is a night of mandates and commands. 

All of these commands of Jesus are instituted for a reason.

 

To receive the Lord’s Supper is one of the highest acts of obedience that we can perform to God during the worship service.

 

The Lord’s Supper is the sign and seal of the promises of Christ.

 

We pray at the end, right after we have received the Sacraments of the Body and Blood of Christ in our Prayer of Thanksgiving….

 

We acknowledge to God that He is indeed feeding us spiritually as well as physically in this meal.

 

We thank God that this sacrament assures us of His favor towards us.

That this was created and instituted by Jesus because He favors us.

 

Those for whom He has died, He shows favor. His very dying is showing favor towards us. The Father sacrificing His Son shows favor toward us.

 

His flesh pierced; His blood spilled is showing favor toward us.

 

It also demonstrates to us that we are members of Christ’s body.

 

He says plainly and clearly in John 6:53–57

 

[53] “…Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.

[54] Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. [55] For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. [56] Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. [57] As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.” (ESV)

 

Whoever eats and drinks.  This means that all who eat and drink belong to the body of Christ and we are members corporately with the rest of the body of Christ all around the world…the living and even the dead.

 

What is referred to as the “blessed company of all faithful people.”  

 

Moreover, this meal ….these sacraments make us heirs through hope of everlasting life.

 

God’s everlasting Kingdom awaits its full consummation and the bringing in of all of the people of God on the last day into that Kingdom.

 

The eating of the Holy Communion keeps us in that stage of anticipation and future hope…knowing that one day this meal will cease as well, and the heavenly banquet will be spread before us…this Lord’s Supper being the foretaste of it.  

 

The Prayer for this night summarizes this service and its intention…and our intention in participating in it.

 

 

Almighty Father, mercifully grant that we may thankfully receive the sacrament of Christ’s Body and Blood in remembrance of Him…wherein He gives us  a pledge of life eternal.

 

And of course, we fulfil Jesus’ command via demonstration in the washing of the Disciples’ feet that we are to be in fellowship with one another.

 

There is a command…and of course St. Paul’s letters are full of these same sorts of commands about how the Church is to exist while we await the return of our Lord….How we are to live with one another awaiting His return.

 

And that is, the imitation of Christ.

 

If He commanded and taught by example, then we should live by imitation, showing that we hear His Word and desire to follow it with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

 

We might also see this night containing a mandate set forth in the work of Christ.

 

You heard the Gospel from St. Luke.

 

Pilate asking Jesus over and over if He is a king of some sort.

The people being stirred up against Jesus.

 

Him being passed back and forth between Pilate and Herod all night.

 

Worn and tired Jesus is mocked, given purple robes to wear as a person of royalty.

 

The people shouting for the murderer Barabbas rather than Jesus.

 

Him being handed over to be flogged and finally crucified.

 

Even on the cross people passing by mocking Him.
One of the men crucified with Him is even taunting Him.

 

All of this was Jesus’ Mandate. This was His Maundy Thursday. This is how He spent the last days of His life.

 

But He was determined that He would fulfil His mandate to be the sacrificial lamb who would be killed for the sins of the world.

 

 

And as we know by the text, He did it. He fulfilled His mandate to bear the wrath of God for us and bear the pain and insults of those who crucified Him.

 

As Jesus prayed for His executioners and breathed His last breath, He commends His spirit to the Father and breathes His last breath.

 

A mandate given to Him by the Father and willingly taken up by Him. From the promise of God to Adam and Eve to this night, something had to be done once and for all to repair the damage done by our first parents.

 

 

 

 

 

2 Peter 3:9

 

“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward [us], not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. (ESV)

 

The respective roles are clearly set before us tonight. Ours is one of obedience set forth by a desire to love and serve God…in light of all that has been done for us in Christ.

 

Christ’s work, though finished in reality, is recalled tonight to remind us once again of what He desired to do, out of love for us, in order to save us.

 

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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[1] Ryle, J. C. (1880). Expository Thoughts on John (Vol. 3, pp. 21–22). New York: Robert Carter & Brothers.