And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” (Mark 14:22-25)
Maundy Thursday is significant in Passion Week as the day we recognize Jesus giving some final instructions and commands to his disciples, including the institution of the Lord’s Supper, more commonly referred to today as communion. This sacrament is something that believers in Jesus have been practicing for centuries, even to the point where, sadly, we can start to lose the significance of the Lord’s Supper and what it meant then and should mean now.
Consider the attitude of Jesus as he is administering the first communion to his followers, his best friends on this earth. He takes the bread and as the other gospels describe it, says “This is my body, given for you.” The same with the wine when he serves it to them: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.”
His last supper
Through this entire dinner, he recognizes (even though his disciples do not), that this is the last meal he will have before his crucifixion and death. He looks around the table at his friends and knows that in a few short hours they will all leave him, and one will outright betray him. These disciples he has loved, served, and taught are all going to flee from him in the midst of his greatest anguish. Even Peter, who boldly states that he will never leave Jesus (v. 29), will soon deny that he even knows who Jesus is.
Still, Jesus looks around at all of these disciples and loves them with a deeper love than we are able to comprehend. A love that looks at the very darkest parts of their hearts, even at their inevitable denial and betrayal and still says, “This is my body, given for you.” This love is so great and perfect it cannot be earned by any of our well-meaning actions or activity, it is a love that has to be “poured out” from the Lord for our salvation.
A new command
We look also to John 13:34-35 where Jesus says, “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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” The events described in John 13 also occurred on Maundy Thursday, and the word “maundy” comes from the Latin word “mandatum,” which means “command.” So we see a new commandment along with a physical expression of Jesus’ love for us: we should love one another as Christ has loved us.
This is a high calling, a seemingly impossible command, but one we should meditate and dwell on. The love that caused Jesus to look into his disciples’ eyes, knowing their hearts, and still offer up his body and blood for them to be saved is the same love we are to have for one another. Let us spend time today considering this command, and asking the Lord to grow in our hearts this kind of love for each other, rooted in love for our Savior who gave everything for us.
Questions to consider:
- How does studying more about the institution of communion increase its significance to you?
- What should our lives look like in light of Jesus’ sacrifice and commands in these passages?
- What is your “love level” toward Jesus right now? Dwell (through study and prayer) on Christ’s sacrifice as a way to grow in your affection for him.
- Think of someone or someones that you struggle to love (“everyone” is an acceptable answer), and ask the Lord to do a work in your heart to love them the way Jesus does.
- Spend some time meditating on the love that Jesus had for his disciples and also for you. Then spend some time thanking him for his love and salvation, and maybe even write down some thoughts that come to mind.