As you read this, we are drawing near to the end of our journey through the Season of Lent. More specifically, as I write this it is April Fool’s Day but more importantly it is Thursday of Holy Week and moment by moment and day by day, we are drawing closer to the celebration that will soon take place on Easter Sunday morning.
I’m looking so very forward to our Resurrection services on Sunday but first, we have to experience the events of Holy (Maundy) Thursday and Good Friday if we are going to fully understand that which we are celebrating on Easter morning. As I said last Sunday in church, if we on one Sunday experience and remember the parade of palms as Jesus entered the holy city of Jerusalem and then next experience the Sunday morning celebration of Easter without experiencing the events of Jesus’ life on Thursday and Friday, then it will be very difficult to comprehend in full the entire breadth and depth of God’s love in Christ.
I realize some of you might be reading this after Holy Week, but I wanted to share a couple of things as they relate to the events of Holy (Maundy) Thursday and Good Friday. On Thursday, we remember the night when Jesus shared the Passover meal with His twelve disciples in the Upper Room. As Christians, we remember this Last Supper (Holy Communion, the Eucharist, etc.) not just on Holy (Maundy) Thursday but on the first Sunday of each month. Many Christians, including many United Methodists celebrate Holy Communion weekly. We do this as Jesus commanded in remembrance of Him.
As for the word “Maundy,” it comes to us as an Anglo-French word derived from the Latin “mandatum,” which means “commandment.” This term refers to Jesus words offered in the Upper Room during the Last Super, when he said to the disciples: “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. 35 This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.” (John 13:34-35)
On Good Friday, we remember that after the Last Supper Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane and while there, one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, betrayed him by leading the soldiers to Him. He was arrested and immediately taken before the Sanhedrin (supreme religious body in Israel), where he was found guilty. From there he was taken to stand before Pilate (Roman governor of Judea) and from there was taken to face Herod (Roman king of Judea). After facing Herod, Jesus was sent back to Pilate again.
Jesus was condemned to death and stripped of all human dignity (scourged, crowned with thorns, spat upon and made to carry His cross through the streets). He was then nailed to the cross and after suffering the slow and painful death of crucifixion, He was taken from the cross and buried in a tomb.
The question I receive the most about Good Friday goes something like this: “If all these horrible things happened to Christ, why in the world do we call it “Good Friday?” The simplest of answers is that if not for the painful and excruciating events of Good Friday, the Resurrection of Jesus and His victory over death and sin would not have occurred and thus our celebration of Easter would not be possible. So indeed, it was not just a “Good” Friday but a Friday that would impact the lives of countless individuals for eternity. Thanks be to God for Christ’s love showed for us in the entirety of His life…including His death and resurrection!!!
My encouragement for us all is that we remember ALL the events of Christ’s life, most especially this week, the events of Thursday and Friday. In doing so I believe the celebration of Easter Sunday morning will be made much more significant and impactful to our lives and our relationship with one another!!!
I look forward to seeing you all over these next couple of days until Easter arrives and we can shout with enthusiasm: HE IS RISEN!!!! – HE IS RISEN INDEED!!!
In the Resurrected Christ’s Name,