Holy Week in Real Time: Maundy Thursday
Open Your Bible
John 16:16-24, John 16:32-33, Matthew 26:17-75, Psalm 41:7-13, Zechariah 13:7
BY Guest Writer
Text: John 16:16-24, John 16:32-33, Matthew 26:17-75, Psalm 41:7-13, Zechariah 13:7
Today is the fifth day of the portion of the church calendar commonly known as Holy Week.
In the coming days, we will slow our pace, walking through the events that took place between Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday. Rather than offer personal, written responses to each day’s Scripture reading, we’ve asked our friend, Pastor Russ Ramsey, to provide a real-time summary of the week’s events. Our prayer is that this more descriptive approach will usher you into the narrative and allow space for you to fully engage the beauty and ache of Holy Week.
Take this week slowly and reverently. It is a somber time, but let us never forget: Sunday is coming.
The Thursday prior to Jesus’ crucifixion fills many pages in Scripture.
It began with John and Peter securing the upper room (Matthew 26:17-19). There in that room, Jesus would wash His disciples’ feet, explaining He had come to make them clean (John 13:1-20). As they began to eat, Jesus told them that one of them was about to betray Him. Each disciple wondered if He meant them. Meanwhile, Jesus discreetly dispatched Judas to do what he intended (John 13:21-30).
During this last supper, Jesus set apart the Passover bread and cup and reassigned—or better, perfected—their meaning. The bread is His Body. The cup is His blood. This meal would no longer primarily remind them of how God delivered their forefathers from the external tyranny of Pharaoh. Now it would remind them of how Christ delivered them from the internal tyranny of their own guilt and sin against God (Luke 22:14-23).
Then Jesus prayed for them, His friends, and for those who would come to know Him through their testimony. He prayed that His Father would make them one (John 17). After praying, Jesus rose to His feet and asked His disciples to stand with Him to sing a doxology over their suspended, unfinished Passover meal. Jesus led them in the traditional Passover song, Psalm 118, about how the stone the builders rejected had become the cornerstone, and how the steadfast love of the Lord endures forever.
To pause and lead His disciples in a song like this, at this particular moment, shows the strength of Jesus’ resolve to face His impending arrest and crucifixion. The Gospel accounts tell us that He started that Last Supper overwhelmed with sorrow, and that later in Gethsemane His sweat became like drops of blood (John 13:21, Luke 22:44). In the middle of that tension, Jesus sang of the faithfulness of God.
Think about that for a moment: one of the things Jesus did on the night He was betrayed was sing (Matthew 26:30).
When they finished singing, Jesus led His disciples out to the Mount of Olives, to one of their regular meeting places—the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:26-32). But Jesus didn’t go there only to pray. He also went there to wait. Soon a line of torches snaked their way toward Him through the darkness (Mark 14:42-46). This was what He had been waiting for.
written by Russ Ramsey
adapted from Behold the King of Glory