What is Maundy Thursday?

Maundy Thursday is a new tradition in my world. I grew up in a church that did not partake in all of Holy Week (the time between Palm Sunday and Easter). We did the two Sundays BIG. Palm Sunday was filled with music, scripture, and palm leaves while Easter was a celebration complete with guest musicians, hymns, family, egg hunts, chocolate, deviled eggs and ham. Our family hid Resurrection Eggs in the midst of all of the jellybean filled ones and my parents told us the Easter story as we opened our eggs and gorged on chocolate bunnies. Easter was a season of celebration. It was a time to remember the victory of Christ’s Resurrection. I always thought, as a child, that Easter was only two Sundays long.

What is Holy Week?

When I started working at a Presbyterian Church I was introduced to the deep-rooted beauty found in the tradition of Holy Week. It begins with Ash Wednesday and a period of self-reflection and re-focusing of ourselves towards Christ throughout Lent. Easter is such a great mystery that it takes many weeks to prepare our hearts and minds to approach it in corporate worship. Palm Sunday is the day we join in rejoicing, remembering Christ’s entry into Jerusalem but with the foreknowledge of His coming death and resurrection.

Every day this week has a meaning:

Together Holy Week is solemn and sorrowful anticipating the joy of Easter through the acknowledgement of God’s goodness in sending His Son to die for our salvation.

Monday

  • Christ flipped the tables in the temple and cursed the fig tree.
  • Monday’s events are found in Matthew 21:12–22, Mark 11:15–19, Luke 19:45-48, and John 2:13-17.

Tuesday

  • Christ’ delivered His Sermon on the Mount
  • Judas began negotiations to betray Jesus
  • Tuesday’s events are found in Matthew 21:23–24:51, Mark 11:20–13:37, Luke 20:1–21:36, and John 12:20–38.

Wednesday

  • Referred to as Silent Wednesday because there is no record of what Christ did this day
  • Speculation is He was preparing for Passover with his friends and family, spending his last close moments with them.

Thursday

  • Christ’s last meal with the disciples and the night He was arrested
  • Thursday’s events are found in Matthew 26:17–75, Mark 14:12-72, Luke 22:7-62, and John 13:1-38.

Friday

  • When we remember and grieve Christ’s Death
  • Friday’s events are found in Matthew 27:1-62, Mark 15:1-47, Luke 22:63-23:56, and John 18:28-19:37.

Saturday

  • Jesus’ body was in the tomb, his friends and family were grieving
  • Saturday’s events are found in Matthew 27:62-66, Mark 16:1, Luke 23:56, and John 19:40.

Sunday

  • We celebrate Christ’s Resurrection!
  • Sunday’s events are found in Matthew 28:1-13, Mark 16:1-14, Luke 24:1-49, and John 20:1-23.

What is Maundy Thursday?

Maundy Thursday is a time of reflection. It is a day/evening set aside to remember Christ.

Whenever we lose a loved one we think fondly, and somberly of our last moments with them. Thursday’s Passover meal was Christ’s final moments with those closest to Him. And He left them with powerful actions and words.

  • He served those at His table by washing their feet. He modeled for them love and servanthood.
  • He broke bread and shared wine and told them, “remember me.”
  • He left them with a new commandment.

Typically, though a lot is attributed to this day, Maundy Thursday services focus on communion (remembering Christ in bread and wine) and on the new commandment. The word Maundy comes from the latin word mandatum, which is commonly translated into “commandment.” So this day is Commandment Thursday. 

What is Maundy Thursday? We remember Christ and His last commandment. Click To Tweet

What Commandment did Christ Leave Us With?

Parting words, especially when the speaker knows they are the words their loved ones will hear last, are important. Christ left those closest to Him a new command.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, you also ought to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. -John 13:34-35

On Maundy Thursday we remember these words. We remember a Savior who came to earth, who broke bread with us, who drank wine with us, who loved us enough to stoop to wash the feet of others and even sacrificed His own life on our behalf.

And He left us with the words: LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

This Maundy Thursday remember Christ, His actions, His love, and His sacrifice. May they spur you to action, may they inspire you to care more deeply for all those God has put in your path.

Share with us in the comments how your family participates in Holy Week and Easter. Do you have any special family traditions, or new ones you want to incorporate this year?

As You Prepare For Easter Add A Few New Traditions To Your Family Celebration

 

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5 thoughts on “What is Maundy Thursday?

  1. This is such an amazing article! I am printing this to go over everything myself and then with my kiddos! Such a great mind set that Easter isn’t two weeks long it is every day! He is Risen!!

  2. I absolutely love this simple break down. Thank you. And no, I didn’t know the Last Supper was also called Maundy Thursday. Our church did an Agape Feast for this special time to remember. We had large glasses of grape juice, loaves of bread on the tables, and even a foot washing ceremony. It was lovely!
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