Many millions of Christians will receive communion on Thursday of Holy Week (Maundy Thursday*). Ministers will repeat the instructions of Jesus and congregants will faithfully carry them out,
For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me” (1 Corinthians 11:23-25).
It is good to remember what Jesus believed when he gave the symbols of his shed blood and broken body. What was in the mind of Jesus when he said, “This is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28, The Voice).
Jesus believed that God’s great plan had arrived at the crucial moment.
In the Garden of Eden, God’s loving intention for his creation was broken and marred by Satan’s temptation and human choice. The result was sin and death in the world. God partnered with the patriarchs, the prophets, and Israel to prepare the world for the moment when God would set us free. That moment has come in Jesus.
Jesus believed that the Exile was over and the new Exodus had come.
Jesus used the Passover meal as the symbol of God’s plan to set us free from sin. In the Old Testament, the meal was a remembrance of the Exodus, the time when Israel was set free from the bondage of Egypt. At the time of Jesus, the meal also looked forward to the end of the exile, the time when Israel would be free again. Through his death, Jesus opens the way for us to come home to God.
Jesus believed that he was God’s Messiah, called to complete God’s purpose.
The Messiah was expected to accomplish two tasks, 1) to fight the decisive battle for freedom, and 2) to build the new Temple. As God’s Messiah, Jesus accepted these two tasks as his calling. However, he would accomplish the two tasks in ways that no one expected. He fought the battle on the cross. He became the new Temple in his resurrected body. He is our Savior!
Jesus believed that God’s Kingdom comes through the way of peace, love, and the cross.
People expected the Messiah to use the weapons of the world, swords and shields, to defeat a worldly enemy, the Romans. Jesus knew that the way to advance God’s kingdom is through peace, love, and the cross.
Jesus believed it was his calling to fight the battle against sin, death, and the devil.
Jesus fought the battle against the greater enemy, the enemy that had brought sin and suffering into the world. As prophesied after the fall of humanity while still in the Garden of Eden, Jesus crushed the head of the enemy. He did so with the power of God’s love.
Jesus believed that his death would become God’s light for the whole world.
Finally, Jesus believed his death was not just for Israel, but also for the whole world. Further, he believed that everyone who believed in him would become light for the world to see and respond to God’s great invitation to receive forgiveness, be set free, and come home.
*The name “Maundy Thursday” is derived from the Latin word mandatum meaning “commandment.”
Copyright, 2014 © Richard Leslie Parrott