We think of Maundy Thursday often only in terms of the Last Supper. The fellowship, the foot washing, the lengthy “farewell discourse” in John’s Gospel including the “new commandment”, and, of course, the departure of Judas into the night.
But Thursday was about more than that because Jesus then goes to the Garden of Gethsemane. After the food and fellowship, there is now only agony and abandonment. Jesus, both human and divine, knows what awaits him. He asks whether the cup might pass from him. But he accepts that God’s will is what counts. And while he prays, the apostles sleep.
This transition from the triumph, surrounded by crowds, of the first part of the week, to the tragedy, abandoned by almost everyone, of Good Friday and Holy Saturday, takes place at this point on Thursday night.
We know what is to come, as does Jesus, but that makes it no easier. Future hope is important, but present pain is right here, right now. Jesus, God, understands, feels all that. One of the final elements of the human experience that he undergoes as part of his incarnation.
When we are at our lowest, Jesus is there–because he has been there in Gethsemane, that Thursday evening, and that Friday on the cross. He understands, he knows.
The Rev. William Morris
Links to the appointed readings and prayer for today: