What is Maundy Thursday?
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another (John 13:34 ESV).
It was to be the last supper for Jesus and His disciples. Tension filled the room. Everyone understood that the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Throughout His earthly ministry, Jesus had proved to be an increasing threat to the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem. At first, they were merely jealous of his popularity. But as His teaching began to confront their hypocrisies, Jesus went from a nuisance to an enemy in their eyes.
There had already been confrontations. When Jesus boldly declared, “I and the Father are one (John 10:30),” the Jewish leaders picked up rocks to stone him. Somehow, miraculously, Jesus escaped from their hands.
But now Jesus turned up the heat.
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness (Matthew 23:27 ESV).
At that time, Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey, fulfilling the prophecy of Zechariah (chapter 9, verse 9). As Jesus rode through the streets, people spread their coats or palm branches on the path before him. Crowds pressed in around him crying out: “Hosanna to the Son of David (Matthew 21:9). Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord (Luke 19:38).”
This outburst angered the Pharisees and they implored Jesus: “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” But Jesus refused. “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
This was the final straw for the Jewish leaders. Unaware that he was actually prophesying, the high priest, Caiaphas, calling for Jesus’ death, declared, “…it is expedient for you that one man die for the people… (John 11:50).”
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