Maundy Thursday – The Passover Story

The story of the Passover, below, is the backdrop for Maundy Thursday, the last supper Jesus had with his disciples. The word “maundy” comes from the Latin word mandatum which means “commandment.

In John 13, toward the end of the scene where Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” John 13:34.

Among many Christians, the “new commandment” symbolically enacted on Maundy Thursday includes the ritual of foot washing as found in John 13, one of the most humble things one person can do for another. Maundy Thursday is always celebrated the Thursday before Easter.

The disciples were gathered with Jesus in the upper room for the Passover (Seder) meal that fateful night when Jesus was betrayed.

Exodus 12:1-14

1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: 2 This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you. 3 Tell the whole congregation of Israel that on the tenth of this month they are to take a lamb for each family, a lamb for each household. 4 If a household is too small for a whole lamb, it shall join its closest neighbor in obtaining one; the lamb shall be divided in proportion to the number of people who eat of it. 5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a year-old male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats. 6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month; then the whole assembled congregation of Israel shall slaughter it at twilight. 7 They shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the lamb that same night; they shall eat it roasted over the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted over the fire, with its head, legs, and inner organs. 10 You shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. 11 This is how you shall eat it: your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it hurriedly. It is the passover of the LORD. 12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike down every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both human beings and animals; on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live: when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague shall destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
14 This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance.”  NRSV

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