And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.
– Luke 22:14-23
They came into the office and needed a room for the night. There were three of them, and they seemed friendly enough. In fact, in retrospect, they became over-friendly. I was running the motel that weekend, and I was happy to have more guests registered. They signed a traveler’s check for the room, and I gave them the change. Later that evening they came back to the motel office and asked if they could cash another traveler’s check. I failed to look at the signature – a rookie mistake – probably because the distracted me. Before I knew it they were in the living quarters. They insinuated themselves right into the area reserved for the live-in managers!
The next week the Traveler’s Checks were returned “UNPAID: SIGNATURE DOES NOT MATCH.” You might know how Travelers Checks work. They are no longer in use, but back then they were thought to be fool proof. You could accept a Travelers Check without fear…as long as the two signatures matched. These two signatures did not match at all. My trust was betrayed. We were left holding the bag for about $100.
Jesus was betrayed by Judas for 30 pieces of silver, arrested by the Jewish leaders, abandoned by his disciples and friends, falsely accused, and sentenced to death by the Roman authorities.
And what did he do that night? He washed his disciples’ feet, taught them about loving one another (John 13), celebrated the Passover, instituted the Lord’s Supper, and went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray.
Maundy Thursday is not a typo for Monday as though someone didn’t know how to spell. Maundy is connected to the mandates (commands) of Jesus: “Do this in remembrance of me,” and “Love one another.”
How shall we truly obey Jesus’ command? We come to this day of Holy Week, recalling Judas’ betrayal, reflecting on Jesus’ prayer, and remembering Jesus’ gift of His body and blood under the bread and wine of this Holy Meal.
And we wait. Friday is coming: a stark day of darkness and death.
Saturday will follow: a day of waiting in fear and disappointment.
Sunday will come. Jesus will rise from the dead. But today we recall the betrayal, reflect on Jesus’ prayer, and remember his commands: “Do this in remembrance of me” and “Love one another.”
Let us pray…
Dear Father in heaven, give us your Holy Spirit so that we may truly remember Jesus’ gifts, recall his betrayal and obey his commands. Help us as we experience the events of Holy Week, to remember that Jesus did that out of his love for you, in perfect obedience and faith, and in anticipation of the joy that would be his, seated at your right hand. Thank you, also, for his love for us that now calls us to believe in him and find hope for today and for all eternity. Give us courage as we face the troubles of this pandemic, and heal our world, for the sake of Jesus our Lord. Amen.