By: Rev. Emily Armstrong
The day called Maundy Thursday is a day when we commemorate the Last Supper of the Lord. The story can be found in Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26 and Luke 22:7-23.
The beliefs that we have as evangelicals differ from the beliefs of Catholics, and it is worth understanding the contrasts.
- The Catholic tradition believes in transubstantiation which means that the bread of the sacrament literally becomes the flesh of Jesus, and the wine of the sacrament literally becomes the blood of Jesus. This doctrine teaches that the Eucharist (the Lord’s Supper) is the source of Christian life.
- In evangelical tradition, it is believed that the bread and wine (or grape juice) of the Lord’s Supper are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus. By taking the sacrament, we are proclaiming his death on the cross and declaring our hope that he will come again.
The story in all 3 gospels begins with the same scene: the preparation of the dinner. Pick one of the above passages. It might seem familiar to you; we’ve read this before, right?
- Can you identify what is familiar about this story and a story we already read during this study? ____________________________________
If you answered that Jesus is sending his disciples to meet someone who is already expecting his visit, congratulations! And where have we read that before? The triumphal entry! Jesus has shown us a pattern in this last week: he is walking with resolute purpose to the cross. Even people with donkeys and prepared rooms to lend are part of the plan in these days.
When God is working in advance in our lives, it is an act of prevenient grace. The Holy Spirit goes before us, guiding us in the path that God has for us. Even at times like this, we can see Jesus’ full confidence as an example to follow. Every moment of this journey, Jesus has had to decide to follow through with the plan or run away. And every moment Jesus chooses the Via Dolorosa. If God calls him to walk a Via Dolorosa in his life, we can be sure that the Holy Spirit goes before and gives us the power to be obedient as well.
- Look up Luke 22:7. What is the name of the festival that was celebrated? ____________
Luke gives us two names for the same feast – Passover is the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
- Take a few minutes to write down some facts you know about the first Passover. If you don’t know the story, you can read it in Exodus 12 and then write some important notes. __________________________________________________________________ ________________________________________________________________________
Bread is symbolic in the Bible and is often used to let God’s people know that God is providing for them. On the night they left Egypt, the people were in trouble and by God’s command they did not make leavened bread.
Tonight, Jesus is breaking bread with his disciples, remembering with them the emotion of the first Passover and that the angel of destruction passed over their houses because he saw the blood on their door frames.
- What does Jesus say to his disciples in Luke 22:19? ______________________________
The body of Jesus broken for whom? For us.
And he took the cup. Complete what Luke 22:20 says:
“This cup is the _______________ in my ______________, which is poured out _______________.”
The blood of Jesus poured out for whom? For us.
The blood of Jesus marks a new covenant between humanity and God. We will never again have to offer sacrifices of a lamb every year, because Jesus voluntarily gave himself up to be the PERFECT and ETERNAL sacrifice.
When we take the bread and the cup, we are receiving a means of grace. With firm purpose we are opening a space in our lives for the grace of God to confront us. We are nobody without God. We are nobody without the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross of Calvary. Receiving the Lord’s Supper during Holy Week is a response of obedience: once more let’s say to God that we are willing and available to receive his will in our lives.
In closing, I challenge you to make your own unleavened bread (there are many instructional videos on YouTube). Think of the women doing it on the night of the first Passover and also of the dinner Jesus shared with his disciples. Take and eat.
Good study guides!! Well done, Emily!!
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