Maundy Thursday, also known as “Holy Thursday,” is the Thursday of Passion Week, one day before Good Friday (the Friday before Easter). Maundy Thursday is the name given to the day on which Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples, known as the Last Supper. Two important events are the focus of Maundy Thursday. The overlying principle is that Jesus establishes a New Covenant with us.
Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper, also called Communion. Some Christian churches observe a special Communion service on Maundy Thursday in memory of Jesus’ Last Supper with His disciples.
When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” | Luke 22:19-20 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus the Messiah, the mediator of the new covenant – The fulfilment of God’s purposes of salvation expressed in the covenants of the OT, mediated by Jesus the Messiah and sealed in his blood. It is a covenant of grace, the benefits of which include forgiveness, a renewed relationship with God and, through the Holy Spirit, an inward transformation that enables obedience to its demands and so ensures that it will not again be broken. The Greek word is διαθήκη (diathḗkē) properly, a disposition, i.e. specially a contract especially a devisory will:–covenant, testament.
Jesus washed the disciples’ feet as an act of humility and service, setting an example that we should love and serve one another in humility (John 13:3-17). Some Christian churches observe a foot-washing ceremony on Maundy Thursday to commemorate Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples.
The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command.” The “Maundy” in “Maundy Thursday” refers to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another. Should we observe Maundy Thursday? The Bible neither commands nor forbids it. It is a good thing to remember the Last Supper and Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf. It is a good thing to remember the Lord’s example of humility. However, at the same time, we should avoid ritualistic observances of holidays unless they are truly focused on God and our relationship with Him.
Observing a special Lord’s Supper service on Maundy Thursday/Holy Thursday in remembrance of the Last Supper is a wonderful thing to do. Doing a foot-washing in remembrance of how the Messiah humbled Himself and washed the feet of the disciples is a powerful reminder of how we are to live the Christian life (Philippians 2:1-11).
The new covenant fulfilled in the Messiah
Malachi 3:1 (NASB) — 1 “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts.
Isaiah 42:6 (NASB) — 6 “I am the Lord, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, And I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations,
Isaiah 49:8 (NASB) — 8 Thus says the Lord, “In a favorable time I have answered You, And in a day of salvation I have helped You; And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people, To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages;
The new covenant effected through Jesus the Messiah’s death
Hebrews 9:15 (NASB) — 15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Hebrews 9:16–17 (NASB) — 16 For where a covenant is, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when men are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.
The new covenant sealed in Jesus blood – Blood was an important element in sealing the Sinaitic covenant
Luke 22:20 (NASB) — 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”
Exodus 24:8 (NASB) — 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
John 6:54 (NASB) — 54 “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.
1 Corinthians 10:16 (NASB) — 16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ?
1 Corinthians 11:25 (NASB) — 25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Hebrews 10:29 (NASB) — 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?