Reflections: Maundy Thursday

Today’s Reading: John 13:1-15, 34-35

Daily Lectionary:Exodus 12:1-28; Hebrews 5:1-14 

[Jesus said][ “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.” (John 13:34-35)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Today is all about commands. That doesn’t sound very Lutheran, though. Lutherans like to talk about God’s Law and God’s Gospel. But “commandment” is law language. Even the name for this day, “Maundy” Thursday, comes with commandment language. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum (like “mandate) that means “commandment.” On this day we remember that our Lord Jesus commanded us to love one another. But He also commands that we receive the specific Gift of the Lord’s Supper. Jesus calls you to love one another. Love other people in Christ’s Church. Love your classmates, your friends, even those you might think of as your enemies. How is that going for you? Especially now, at the end of Lent, you can probably say that you haven’t always loved one another and you certainly don’t deserve God’s goodness or love. Instead, you deserve God’s punishment and anger. You haven’t kept His commandment. You need help. 

The Lord’s Supper was given on the day of Passover. That’s because Jesus is the Passover Lamb. You remember that from Exodus–how the lamb that was killed was drained of its blood and then cooked. Jesus shed His blood on the Cross for you, and Jesus declared that the bread that was broken is His Body and the wine in the cup is His Blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus has given this command: Take, eat; take, drink, because you haven’t kept all the other commands He has given to you. In the Lord’s Supper, Jesus gives you Himself. The One who washed the feet of His disciples is the One who died for you. He brings you the forgiveness that He won for you on the Cross and delivers it to you, here and now. Since today is another day of your being a sinner, this is another day for you to believe that Jesus is your Passover Lamb, that He shed His Blood for you and has given His own Body as a feast of forgiveness. Come, receive the promises of Jesus, just as He has commanded you for your good and for your forgiveness. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. 

O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect for Maundy Thursday)

-Rev. Peter Ill is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Millstadt, IL.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch

Learn more about your favorite hymns and find the deeper meaning behind the text with Eternal Anthems: The Story Behind Your Favorite Hymns. The book includes devotional commentary and historical facts from forty different contributing authors on fifty different hymns. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.