Happy Maundy Thursday! It’s not often that we get to use that greeting, so I like to take advantage of it when it comes around. “Maundy” is such an unusual word, don’t you think? It sound old and mysterious, like an ancient word written on dusty scrolls long forgotten. (This is a complete aside, but I just read that another name for Maundy Thursday is “Thursday of Mysteries”) It’s the day that the Church celebrates the Last Supper of Christ and His disciples. I read on Wikipedia that the origin of the word “maundy” is from French and Latin translation of the command Christ gave to His apostles: “A new commandment I give unto you, that you love one another.” Because of this, Maundy Thursday is also known as Covenant Thursday.
At the Passover meal Christ shared with His disciples before His crucifixion, He laid out the paradigm shift that was about to shake the world. The Jews had been defined by their covenant relationship with Yaweh, the God of Israel, since the days of their forefather Abraham. This covenant was renewed with the eating of the first Passover meal as the nation prepared to leave Egypt. For generation and generations after, the nation remembered their salvation from slavery and their covenant with God by the Passover meal and a sacrifice to cover their sins. On the night that Christ partook of this meal with His followers, He was keenly aware that He would be soon be the ultimate sacrifice for the sin of the world and His death would free us from the slavery of sin. He was the fulfillment of the original Passover. The old was making way for the new. That night Christ established a New Covenant. God sought intimacy with His people, but this time it would not be through the law, but through Himself. With Christ’s death on the cross, God removed every barrier to be with us. No longer would we need temples, sacrifices, and laws to be near Him. God would make His home with us, He would be the final sacrifice, and His love and Spirit would transform our hearts.
The best explanation of the New Covenant I’ve ever heard came from a short story by the Victorian Scottish author, George MacDonald. In “The Gifts of the Christ Child” MacDonald describes the transformation of a father-daughter relationship. The young child was accustomed to eating at a separate table from her father. But by the end of the story, the walls between father and child were eradicated and the father picks up the daughter in her chair and moves her to the same table. This is really what the New Covenant is all about – it’s not fancy theology at all. It’s God picking us up, chair and all, and moving us to His table, to sit next to Him. And how fitting that Christ would initiate this New Covenant at the table, while having dinner with those He loved. It’s an invitation to join Him at the table, because a seat is always open.
Blessings to you,