Today is Maundy Thursday. If you are unaware of what maundy means, it basically means “commandment.” Today is the day that we commemorate Jesus’ last supper with his disciples almost 2000 years ago. While they were eating, Jesus said to his followers, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). That is the reason as to why we call the Thursday of Holy Week Maundy Thursday. I’m actually not going to expound upon that commandment. If you wish to hear my thoughts on it, then you can pick pretty much any other blog post on here, and you’ll be likely to find them.
What I want to talk about today is what the disciples must have been thinking on this day a couple of millenniums ago. They had had an eventful week leading up to this point. On that Sunday, they walked with Jesus as he entered Jerusalem as a king. The following day, they watched as Jesus caused a ruckus at the Temple because of the corruption and exploitation of the people that was being done by the money changers and those selling sacrificial animals. Tuesday and Wednesday were much quieter. They relaxed and listened to the promised messiah teach. That brings us to Thursday.
An important thing to know is what the disciples, and other Jews, thought that the savior was going to do. Their belief was that he was going to come as a military leader and lead a revolution against those who oppressed Israel, which at this time was Rome, and would establish Israel as the dominant kingdom in the world for all eternity. Given what the disciples had seen at the beginning of the week, they must have assumed that they were at the precipice of this happening. Jesus was going to overthrow the Roman rulers, and they were his chosen soldiers. This, obviously, is not what happened, but they could have never foreseen the way in which Christ would establish God’s kingdom on earth.
They would go on to have one, final dinner with their rabbi. He washed their feet, told them to love others, and offered the bread and wine that was symbolic of his body and blood. There is no way that they could have imagined that this was the last time that they would share a meal with the man that they had been following for three years. After they had finished eating, they went to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. That is the place in which the disciples watched as their leader was arrested— thanks to the betrayal of one of their own. This had to shake the foundations of their beliefs. Whatever hope that they had left must have been dashed as Jesus was nailed to the cross that next day.
They had in their minds what life with Christ would be like, but that all came crashing down. We can only surmise what they must have been feeling. I think that we can assuredly assume that heartbreak and confusion were the chief emotions that they were feeling. He was supposed to be God, but he died just like any man would have. Was everything that they placed their faith in false? Had they wasted the last three years of their lives? Where in the world were they to go from there? Every question that they had would be answered three days later when Jesus emerged from the grave a victor over death and sin.
I say all of that to offer encouragement. There are times in our lives that we have no idea what God is doing. We have plans that he seems to not be too interested in following. We have expectations that he is not meeting. Our own hubris tends to supersede the Holy. If we can learn anything from the week leading to Easter Sunday, it is that we can always take heart and trust that Jesus is doing exactly what he should be doing in our lives. The disciples were not spared heartache and hardship between Thursday night and Sunday morning. God did allow for things to go much differently than that they thought they should. Of course, God had much bigger and better plans for them.
Life will not always go the way that we envision. Things will fall apart all around us, and we will be left with more questions than answers. Our faith will be shaken from time to time. Those are our own Maundy Thursdays and Good Fridays (the day of Jesus’ crucifixion). Those are the times when we’re left confused and not knowing what God is doing. I can assure you of this, there will always be an Easter Sunday. Just as Christ returned back to his disciples, he will always show up in your life. When he does, he will bring about something bigger and better than you could have ever imagined. He will not leave his followers. Yes, there will be times of heartache and hardship, but Jesus will always be the risen Savior who returns to his people to set them free of whatever it is that is oppressing them. Take heart, there is always an Easter on your horizon.