a meditation for Maundy Thursday: entering into the Last Supper

Meals together are special and the Passover was especially so. This would be the last intimate gathering of Jesus with his disciples before he suffered.

It is wonderful to read the gospel accounts. Right now I’m working through John’s account of it: Jesus’ teaching (which included his washing of their feet) and a prayer which occurred during that Last Supper. As lost as his disciples were, they surely also were hanging on his words. Somehow all they had experienced with him, their time together, indeed, even their fellowship or communion with him was reaching some kind of climax now. Things had come to a head, and after all, wasn’t this what he had told them three times, that he would have to suffer many things at the hands of the Jewish authorities, be crucified, and on the third day be raised again?

We know the scene and what follows. Fast forward to today, and we share—some of us weekly—in the body and blood of Christ through the bread and the cup. And in so doing we are told that we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. We do well, especially this Holy Week, and specifically this Maundy Thursday to share in, or remember such a ceremony with a heightened awareness of what happened that night. Knowing what preceded and what followed. And in so doing to examine ourselves by the Spirit. And ask ourselves just where we are in this story. Who are we and what are we about? Even as we learn to look more closely so as to understand something more of who are Lord is, what he did, and what he is doing.

On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”

So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.”

The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.

When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, “Surely you don’t mean me?”

“It is one of the Twelve,” he replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

“This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many,” he said to them. “Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Mark 14:12-26

prayer for Maundy Thursday

Almighty Father, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer