Jesus gives new meaning to life for those who are His disciples [followers]. He teaches new ways of living through His own example. Jesus tells His followers, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man [Jesus] came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many” [Matthew 20:25b-28]. During His last Passover meal with His first disciples, Jesus demonstrates what this teaching means by giving new meaning to two old teachings.
First, Jesus changes the Feast of the Passover to commemorate His “Last Supper.” Christians celebrate “the Lord’s Supper,” also known as “Communion” and “the Eucharist” [meaning “Thanksgiving”]. The word “Passover” comes from Exodus 12:12-13: “For I [God] will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood [of a sacrificed lamb] shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I PASS OVER you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt.” The Passover ended Israel’s slavery in Egypt, but it did not take care of mankind’s sin problem.
The Apostle Paul teaches about the Lord‘s Supper:
“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, ‘This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.’ In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the NEW covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you do proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes” [I Corinthians 11:23-26].
Second, Jesus gives His disciples a New Commandment. “Maundy” comes from the Latin “man datum” which means “mandate” or “commandment.” That is why we call Jesus’ last Thursday before His crucifixion “Maundy Thursday.” During the Passover meal Jesus says to His disciples, “A NEW commandment I give to you, that you love one another: JUST AS I HAVE LOVED YOU, you also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” [John 13:34-35]. The NEW commandment is from an old commandment: “…you shall love your neighbor as yourself” [See Leviticus 19:18b]. Jesus’ NEW commandment is to “Love one another …AS JESUS LOVES you.” Jesus loves sacrificially and unconditionally
The Gospel according to John says this: “Now before the Feast of Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end” [13:1]. Jesus changed the old covenant, in which animals had to be sacrificed over and over again as an imperfect atonement for sin, to A NEW COVENANT, in which Jesus became our perfect atoning sacrifice for the payment of our sins: “Christ has obtained a ministry that is much more excellent than the old as the covenant He mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second…Therefore He [Jesus is the mediator of a NEW covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant…so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who eagerly wait for Him” [Hebrews 8:6-7; 9:15, 28].
As Jesus is celebrating the Feast of the Passover with His disciples in an upper room, they are eating a lamb dinner, along with drinking four cups of wine, which they drink throughout the meal, along with unleavened bread. All of a sudden Judas leaves to go to the chief priests to discuss his betrayal of Jesus. It looks like this is the end, but it is just the beginning of God’s redemptive plan to save mankind from the slavery of sin. John 13:31-32 tells us, “When he [Judas] was gone, Jesus said, ‘Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will glorify the Son in Himself, and will glorify Him at once.’”
After Jesus and his disciples finished the Passover meal, it was the custom to conclude the meal with a piece of unleavened bread. It was possibly at this time, Luke 22:19 records, “And He [Jesus] took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them [disciples], saying, ‘This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’” Jesus then pours the “Cup of Redemption. [or Thanksgiving]” The Apostle Paul refers to this cup when he asks, “Is not this cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks as a participation in the blood of Christ?” (I Corinthians 10:16). Luke also tells us, “In the same way, after the supper He took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” (Luke 22:20).
The Bible says, “When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives” (Matthew 26:30).
Many other crucial events occurred on the first “Maundy Thursday”: Jesus says farewell to His disciples and promises that He is preparing a place for them, the Holy Spirit will come to comfort them and He gives them His peace that is not like what the world offers (John 14:1-31). Jesus also talks to His disciples about Him being the “True Vine” and that they are the “branches”; their strength will come from Him and their “sorrow will be turned into joy” because He has “overcome the world” (John 15-16). Jesus prays for His disciples; for His Father to keep them safe and for His future disciples: “…in order that the love You [the Father] have for Me [The Son] may be in them [all of Jesus’ followers]” (John 17). Jesus agonizes in the Garden of Gethsemane, while His disciples sleep. He asks His Father three times, if there is any way “this cup” can pass from Him. Luke tells us that Jesus’ sweat became “like drops of blood.” At the end of each prayer, Jesus said, “yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Matthew 26:30-46; Mark 14:26-42; Luke 22:39-46, John 18:1). Jesus is betrayed by Judas with a kiss and is arrested and all the disciples desert Him (Matthew 26:47-56; Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12). Jesus is tried before Annas (John 18:12-23), and before Caiaphas (Matthew 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65; Luke 22:54-65; John 18:15-27). Finally, Peter – His friend Peter – denies knowing Jesus three times (Matthew 26:58, 69-75; Mark 14:54, 66-72; Luke 22:54-62; John 18:15-18, 25-27).
Jesus gives us a New Commandment: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). How do we love like Jesus? He shows us how to love through His own example. Jesus shows us how to love by all the things He did and by all the things He endured on our behalf. But, He didn’t stop there. He explains in John 15:12-14, 17: “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command…This is my command: Love each other.” Jesus never tells us to do anything He hasn’t done Himself. On that first Maundy Thursday, He gave us the Sacrament of Communion and tells us to remember Him, and He also washed His disciples’ feet [See John 13:1-20]. Next, comes “Good Friday” when He died to make us free! All He wants in return is for us to love Him in return and to love each other sacrificially and unconditionally. He gives us the power of the Holy Spirit to love as He loves.
“Hallelujah! What a Savior!”