Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Maundy Thursday - 7 PM

Please join us as we solemnly and joyfully worship Jesus Christ this Thursday night at 7 PM. Thursday night is Maundy Thursday.

I grew up in the church but I never heard of "Maundy Thursday" until I was in seminary and we celebrated this services at Bethlehem Baptist Church.

Maundy Thursday is the Thursday night before Good Friday (the day we celebrate the death of Jesus on the cross). Given that Jesus rose from the dead on the first day of the week (Sunday), almost everyone agrees that Jesus died on Friday three days before (they counted days differently back then). The night before his death the Gospels show Jesus with his disciples in the "upper room." There were probably no servants present because Jesus took a basin and towel and washed his disciples feed (John 13:1-20). After the protests of Peter, Jesus explained the necessity of his disciples being washed by Jesus (pointing forward to the washing that would happen by means of his death). He also said that a new commandment is being given to them - to love one another as he loved them. The word Maundy comes from a Latin word for commandment.

After this Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples and instituted what the church now practices called - "The Lord's Supper" or "Holy Communion " (also called the Eucharist). What he did with his disciples had tremendous significance because he was about to fulfill the true meaning of the passover (see Exodus 12) with his broken body and poured out blood. The Gospels record the last Supper in Matt. 26:26-28, Mark 14:22-24 and Luke 22:17-19. For more about the Jewish passover see this powerful video (it is worth taking the time to watch it as a family if possible).

After eating the Passover meal Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, a place he frequented in his life, and then to a particular garden called Gethsemane. Here he took Peter, James and John and prayed. Luke 22:43-44 says that he was in great agony and sweat great drops of blood. Matthew 26:38 says that he was so troubled even to the point of death. It is here in the garden that Jesus asked the Father three times to remove a cup from him--though submitting to the Father's will. What was this cup that Jesus so earnestly sought to have removed? In fact, have you ever found it strange that Jesus was so troubled and despondent in this final hour when he knew that victory was at arm's length? Jesus' physical suffering would be utterly horrific, but the testimony of the martyrs throughout Church history has shown us men and women who faced horrible torture with songs of joy and declarations of faith. What happened here? Why is this different with Jesus? Something was different.

Tomorrow night I want to talk about the horrible cup that caused Jesus to tremble in the garden of Gethsemane. I want to talk about the implications of that cup on us today and how Christ fully obeyed his Father and obediently consumed the horrible contents of that cup.

The songs that we will sing are as follows:
O Come, O Come Emmanuel
When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
O Sacred Head Now Wounded
The Gospel Song
How Deep the Father's Love for Us
Jesus, Thank You
Please pray for me as I finish preparing this message and give it tomorrow night. Please pray for the worship team. Please pray for yourselves. Prepare your hearts. Cry out to God for help to have feelings like you need to have about the glory of God in the Gospel --seen in the agony of Jesus Christ.

Please join us at 7 PM at Grace Church. Nursery will be provided.

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