Maundy Thursday

It’s Thursday . . . the first day of a happy celebration on the Jewish calendar. Jesus and his disciples will eat the Passover on the opening day of the festival. The day probably consisted of preparations. Someone had to get the Lamb ready, others prepared the room. At least one may have made sure the room was free of yeast. It was a busy day for sure.

Then evening came. I can’t imagine being in the room with the disciples. They all knew the routine. The Passover dinner was the same every year. All twelve men knew exactly what to expect. I picture laughing and joking with Jesus a little quieter than usual. Under normal circumstances, I’ve always envisioned Jesus to be one who threw His head back and laughed as hard as anyone. But today, I see Him chuckling at the things He would have generally belly laughed and smiling where he would have normally chuckled. A bit more subdued is my vision of Jesus at this dinner that would come to be known as “The Last Supper.”

But when Jesus messed with the ritual blessings, I’m confident our Savior finally had the disciples’ attention. By the time He got to the end of the evening and predicted the betrayal and denial, the twelve men may have finally begun to believe that the end was near. Judas, of course, already knew that Jesus would die soon, but I wonder if the change in the ritual dinner brought to his mind Jesus’ words at the beginning of the week, “on the third day He will be raised to life.” Is this dinner what brought Judas to the place where he felt the need to commit suicide? We read about Peter’s reaction to the foot washing, but I wonder what was going on in Judas’ mind as the Messiah knelt before him like a servant and washed his dust covered feet.

When Jesus told Judas, “what you do, do quickly,” and he left the dinner early, was he choked up? Was the traitor finally in too deep? His act of throwing the coins back at the priests makes me wonder if this dinner and the foot washing changed his mind.

Depending on the gospel, we read about a lot of prayer on this day. Some before they walked the half mile or so to the Garden of Gethsemane and more after they arrived there. One thing we do know is that the line between Thursday and Friday gets very blurred in the events that follow this dinner. Except for the nap in the garden while Jesus was praying, the Messiah and His followers didn’t get to go to sleep that night. In fact, by the Sabbath, the eleven may not have even really known what day it was.

Thursday must have been very difficult for Jesus. The end loomed so close and no one really understood. I imagine Him feeling very alone in the midst of His friends.

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