This week is Holy Week. Today is Maundy Thursday, from the Latin for “mandatum” (commandment), for when Christ gave us a new command: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). When Christ sat with his friends and drank wine with his brothers. And gave a different commandment as he broke bread with his betrayer.
Knowing that our hearts are prone to wander, Jesus gave us a physical symbol focused on remembrance (Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24). It may be more than a symbol, but it is certainly no less.
Remember. Focus on the sacrifice on Christ, the shedding of blood and tearing of skin. Focus on the day the world went dark, the day our Righteous Judge paid our penance. Focus on how the justice of God and the mercy of God met at the cross, when the Innocent paid the price for the guilty. Focus on the glory displayed when the stone was removed and the risen Christ defeated Death and Sin.
We don’t focus on the beauty and tragedy of the cross in a void, though. We must also remember the WHY. We’re so quick to condemn the Israelites in the Old Testament for turning away from God, as if they were set on some sort of spin cycle. We’re quick to throw Judas under the bus for betraying our Lord. We’re so quick when we need to pause.
Pause because the Israelites are a historical example of our present day walks of faith. Pause because Judas was a friend before he was a betrayer.
Pause because sometimes when we take the cup and bread, we feel the friendship of Christ.
Pause because sometimes, we feel the sting of our own betrayal of King Jesus. Looking back at the past week and thinking, “God, what have I done?”
And we look at the bread and the wine and we remember the words of Christ concerning the bread, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me,” and of the wine, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
Then we realize that the first Maundy Thursday, when Jesus drank wine with his friends and broke bread with his betrayer, wasn’t an isolated incident. Because we are his friends, and we are his betrayers. And he still breaks bread and drinks wine with us.