Maundy Thursday Thoughts and Questions

Jesus washing the disciple's feet
Jesus washing the disciple’s feet

As we continue to travel through Holy Week, today we observe Maundy Thursday.  Since Palm Sunday, the mood has turned more somber. In our observation of Maundy Thursday, we are called to remember Jesus’ love for us, the reasons for the sacrament of Holy Communion, and even to reflect on our common human responses to fear and challenge- fighting or fleeing, rather than wondering what God might be up to.

Often we might hear this passage or a related theme that Jesus is quoted as saying:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

This message of love and community is really at the heart of the practices and reminders that we experience on Maundy Thursday and Holy Week more broadly. Holy Week as a whole gives new meaning to the question of, “What does it mean to love your neighbor as yourself?”

We wrestle with this question in thinking about Jesus and foot washing, and some times partaking in foot washing others on Maundy Thursday (John 13:1-20). What does it mean to love and serve others?

We certainly wrestle with this question in remembering the Lord’s Supper and partaking of communion (Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-23). How is the community that we are drawn into, koinonia, etc., a manifestation of the love of God for us and for each other? 

bread and wineFoot washing and communion involve and create numerous theological ideas and questions that and need to be wrestled with. What questions do you have? What wondering(s) do you have? Any ideas that you perhaps have not thought about before?

In addition to these, we also journey to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prays and the disciples fall asleep. When they awake, Jesus is betrayed and arrested. What is the first reaction of the disciples? It would seem that it’s to draw a sword and be willing to fight. After that moment, the reaction becomes one of fleeing and denial. These are all understandable and relatable human reactions to fear, anxiety, change, trauma, etc.

I empathize with the disciples. I know we can all think that we would have been better and more aware of what Jesus was talking about leading up to this, but even Jesus himself had doubts, hence why he prayed to ask that the cup might pass from him. So, I give the disciples a pass here. And rather, in an effort to be surprised and approach this scene a new, if being confronted with this situation, would you be able to wonder what God is up to here? I wonder if the disciples were able to ponder this at all upon seeing Jesus’ arrest. I wonder if they pondered this at all between this point and seeing Jesus again after his resurrection. What do you think?

What questions are you left with as we take a breath in the story until Good Friday tomorrow?

Image Credits:  Foot washing and Bread and Wine.

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