Easter Explained – Part 4
From You Version
- For the last 1,600 years, Christians around the world remember the last days of Jesus’ life during Holy Week. Today is Maundy Thursday. ‘Maundy’ comes from a Latin word that means “covenant.” Maundy Thursday remembers the day Jesus shared a final meal with his disciples and gave them a new covenant. So far, each of Jesus’ final days has made it increasingly clear that he intends to tear down the current religious order and inaugurate a new Kingdom. The religious establishment has been looking for a way to kill Jesus for this message, and Judas, one of Jesus’ own disciples, has just volunteered to betray his teacher (Luke 22:4-6). And on the first day of Passover, Judas decides to betray Jesus with a kiss. Passover was a Jewish feast that reenacted how God rescued his people out of slavery in Egypt. God promised that if his people sacrificed a lamb, painted its blood above and around their doors, and then ate the slaughtered lamb with flatbread, he would free them (Exodus 12:1-10). God made good on this covenant when, after the meal, an angel came and killed the firstborn sons of Pharaoh and anyone else who defied God’s plans to free his people. But after the death of the firstborn, God’s people were freed from Egyptian power and soon became their own kingdom. Jesus tells his disciples to make preparations to celebrate this day (Luke 22:7-13). But while eating the lamb and bread and drinking some wine, Jesus redirects the meaning of those symbols. According to Jesus, they don’t just look back to a past act of salvation but forward to a new one. Jesus took the bread and said, ”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” (Luke 22:19-20). God’s covenant on the first Passover promised freedom and a Kingdom on the other side of a sacrificed lamb and a dead firstborn. And at the same meal Jesus makes a new covenant and promises that by the sacrificed body and blood of God’s firstborn, God’s people will be freed once again. But first they must accept, eat, and drink his body and blood. A lot happens after this moment. Judas leaves dinner to betray Jesus. The disciples argue about who is the best leader. Jesus goes to a nearby garden to pray and briefly asks God to take away the responsibility of being the bloody cup he has just offered. Judas returns with a mob that drags Jesus to a Jewish court. The disciples scatter. Peter, the head disciple, denies he even knows his Master. Then the religious establishment condemns Jesus as a heretic and beats him until the sun rises. But Maundy Thursday is good news because Jesus announces that the darkness and disappointment of these final hours will lead to freedom and a Kingdom. Just as bread cannot be eaten until it’s broken and wine cannot be drunk unless it’s poured, a covenant cannot be made without blood. As we’ve said before, ‘Maundy’ comes from a Latin word that means covenant. And on this day Jesus promises that he will bear the cost for our covenant of freedom. Just as Israel was freed from slavery by the blood of a lamb, we are freed from slavery by Jesus’ blood. He is the firstborn son who was lost so that we are no longer captive to this world’s powers, temptations, sins, and consequences. Because of Maundy Thursday we are free citizens of Jesus’ new eternal Kingdom. So I pray that on this Maundy Thursday you will accept Jesus’ body and blood as a new covenant – God’s promise to free you and bring you into his Kingdom.