Holy Week is upon us, perhaps bringing the thought of Palm Sunday, Good Friday, or Easter to your mind. I wonder, though, if any of us think of Maundy Thursday, that just before Good Friday? Maundy Thursday recalls the Passover that Jesus shared with his disciples, which we often refer to as The Last Supper (recorded in John 13). The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for “command,” referencing the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Supper,
“Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Simon Peter asks Jesus where He is going.
“Where I am going you cannot follow me now,
but you will follow afterward.”
Just before this, Jesus has washed his disciples’ feet, which would customarily have been done by a servant. He has also led them in the inaugural observance of communion.
“This is My body, broken for you.
This is My blood, shed for you.”
Can you imagine the disciples’ confusion?
Jesus, whom they consider to be their Master has washed their feet as though He is a servant and is speaking of His body being fractured and His blood pouring out. Oh, and He is apparently going somewhere that they don’t get to come. Yet. Maybe later?
We know that since the disciples had the Law and the Prophets, they should have known what Jesus was talking about - that He was going to respond to the Israelite’s cry of “Hosanna!” (literally “save us now!”) not by freeing them from earthly rulers (yet) but by defeating the ultimate evil authority - the power of sin and death. Even still, I am certain that, had I been at The Last Supper, I would have stared at Jesus like He was speaking a different language. In a sense, He was.
The Israelites were desperate for Jesus to become their earthly king, to destroy the dictators who oppressed them and establish His kingdom. But everything about the way Jesus had lived and the way He would move throughout the rest of what we now call Holy Week, suggests a different form of reign entirely.
You want the nations to bow at my feet? Someday, yes. But today, I will wash yours.
You want me to break the scepter of your oppressors? Someday, yes. But today, I break my body, shed my blood.
You want to follow me? Someday, yes. But today, I go where you cannot, to an undeserved death.
What a wonderful, upside down Jesus we worship.
As we walk through Holy Week, join me in asking the Spirit to reveal just how counterintuitive to the world’s systems Jesus’ way really is, just how powerful His shed blood and risen body are over the powers of evil. Ask the Spirit to show you what it means to love as He has loved, embodying the very essence of self-sacrifice. Ask the Spirit for the strength to “follow later,” wherever He may lead.
Grace and peace to you as you observe these precious days and empty yourselves on behalf of others, hearts resting on the fact that He, the Perfect One, has emptied Himself for you.
Find resources for observing Holy Week here. Enter your email address here for a copy of a devotional I wrote entitled Deep & Lowly: Taking Refuge in the Suffering Servant, an 8-day devotional for Holy Week centered on Isaiah 53
Abby Perry has written for The Gospel Coalition, Christ and Pop Culture, and Upwrite Magazine. She is a co-host of the Shalom in the City podcast with Osheta Moore and coordinates communications for a non-profit organization. Abby co-facilitates community efforts in racial reconciliation and in support of foster and adoptive families. She currently attends Dallas Theological Seminary and lives with her husband and their two sons in Texas. Find Abby at www.joywovendeep.com and on Twitter @abbyjperry.