It’s Maundy Thursday. In the progression of the final week of Jesus’ life, it’s getting dark, really dark. He knows He’s nearing the end of His earthly ministry so He observes His final Passover with His beloved disciples, one of whom will betray Him. Jesus takes the bread and the cup and transforms the Passover feast into the Eucharist (Communion) and a New Covenant in His blood that He shares with the traitor, His betrayer, as well as the remaining disciples. It’s getting dark and they all ask, “Surely not I, Lord?”
It’s a dark, dark Thursday so Jesus offers hope that even when His death is around the corner, He will rise and rescue the godly:
2 Peter 1:19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts…2:4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)—
9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.
Fun Fact of Light: Not really fun, but in keeping with the darkness of Maundy Thursday (or Good Friday) tradition: the Tenebrae. The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship explains the Tenebrae: “A Service of Shadows
The service of Tenebrae, meaning “darkness” or “shadows,” has been practiced by the church since medieval times. Once a service for the monastic community, Tenebrae later became an important part of the worship of the common folk during Holy Week. We join Christians of many generations throughout the world in using the liturgy of Tenebrae.
Tenebrae is a prolonged meditation on Christ’s suffering. Readings trace the story of Christ’s passion, music portrays his pathos, and the power of silence and darkness suggests the drama of this momentous day. As lights are extinguished, we ponder the depth of Christ’s suffering and death; we remember the cataclysmic nature of his sacrifice as we hear the overwhelming sound of the “strepitus”; and through the return of the small but persistent flame of the Christ candle at the conclusion of the service, we anticipate the joy of ultimate victory.”
For Further Thought:
Back in 2001, I saw the cartoon from today’s photo in a Minneapolis newspaper. It depicted the Tenebrae flames extinguishing and branches falling off a menorah with the resulting branches forming a Cross. Online it was captioned “Good Friday BC Comic Strip: A strip published on Easter Sunday in 2001 drew protests from Jewish groups and led several newspapers to drop the strip.”
I was taking a class called “Reading Each Other’s Mail” for Jews and Christians. The conservative rabbi instructor took offense saying its meaning was “Lights Out for Judaism.” What do you think of his take? Read the following for insight
- Matthew 5:18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.
- Hebrews 9:15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance– now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.
- Isaiah 53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Father, how we praise You for Your plan of redemption, of fulfilling everything You said in prophecy about the Messiah, and fulfilling it in Jesus Christ. Thank You for this gift of Love, immeasurable, priceless, and everlasting. Thank You for Your grace, seen in the face of our Lord and Savior whose sacrifice for our sin we remember with sorrow and joy at this season of the year particularly. On a dark, dark Thursday, Lord Jesus, You said to remember You. We remember and gratefully call You, “Lord.” Amen.