Maundy Thursday Liturgy

Maundy Thursday Liturgy
 

Created by Kate Tussey (HRNS)

Entering the Space

You are invited to prepare a space where you can imagine yourself in the upper room with Jesus and his disciples.

Consider setting the scene by lighting candles if you have them, filling a bowl with water, or gathering around a table.  You will need your Bible, some paper or a journal and something to write with. This liturgy contains an invitation to partake of the Lord’s Supper; if you choose to engage in this way you will need to prepare elements for communion.  

You may engage with this liturgy on your own, with your household, or with a small group.

Reading and Responding to God’s Word

As disciples of Christ, we are dedicated to following Jesus, to walking the way of Jesus. 

Today, on Maundy Thursday, we continue on the journey and follow Jesus and his disciples into the upper room where they celebrated Passover together.  At this Passover meal, Jesus washes his disciples’ feet, gives the disciples a new command, and institutes the Lord’s Supper.  Maundy Thursday is named for this new command, or mandatum (Latin), that Jesus gives his disciples as recorded in John 13:34.  

Read (if possible, have multiple readers)

John 13:1-17

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. 

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” 

Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” 

Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 

Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 

Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

John 13: 31-35
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Reflection

The following reflection may be done individually or around the dinner table with your household or Lifegroup.  Allow time for pondering and reflection on each set of prompts in the indented sections:

Peter’s response to Jesus highlights the shocking reality that the one who is teacher and Lord has left his place of power and authority at the table and has taken on the job of a servant.  It would have been expected for a disciple to perform acts of service to a teacher, but even then, it would not have been proper for a disciple to take on this role of washing anyone’s feet as this role was reserved for gentile servants.  

You are invited to close your eyes and picture yourself in the upper room with Jesus and the twelve disciples. Jesus gets up from the table and begins washing. He comes to you with the basin and towel to wash your feet. 

How do you respond to Jesus?  What is your initial reaction?

Jesus did not seek to be served, he served his disciples first and served them in a way they would never have imagined.  We might have our own personal or cultural reasons for being uncomfortable or taken aback by Jesus washing his disciples' feet.

Are you, like Peter, uncomfortable with this image of Jesus washing your feet?  If so, sit with that response and offer it to God.  

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you surrender to the Lord anything that prevents you from receiving Jesus and his humble, loving, serving attention.    

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you see Jesus with the basin of water and towel as an act of his unconditional love that He freely gives to you.

Can you now allow Jesus to love you in this way?

When you are ready, receive Jesus and allow him to wash you. If it is helpful, extend your hands in front of you, palm up, to symbolize receiving Jesus’ love through the washing.

Through Jesus’ act of loving sacrificial service, Jesus cleanses his disciples so that they can share in fellowship and life with him and ultimately share in his inheritance through his shed blood, death, and resurrection.  They could not wash themselves to make themselves worthy of his table, of his fellowship. Jesus was the last person in that room who should have been washing feet, yet he was the one to leave his place at the table to make his disciples clean.  Jesus did not seek to be served, but served his disciples.

After Jesus washes the disciples’ feet he asks them (verse 12), “Do you understand what I have done to you?”.  Read and reflect on verses 13-17 in light of verses 1-11 and your experience of the passage today. 

The one who has all authority, who is Lord and teacher, sacrificially served his disciples.  If this is how the Lord loves, then surely we are to follow in his same way of love.

Now that we have seen and experienced Jesus’ deep love for his disciples and for us, please read verses 31-35 aloud and hear his commandment.  

Reflect on the following questions; if in a group, reflect on them together.

  • What makes this commandment new or unique compared to other commands about love that Jesus has given
  • What does Jesus’ love look like in this passage, what characterizes Jesus’ love?
  • What does this mean for how we are to love one another?  
  • What makes this love stand out that it would be recognizable and signify being a disciple of Jesus?

    
Jesus’ commandment to his disciples in the upper room extends also to us in our discipleship as we seek to follow Jesus.  Take a moment in silence now to ask the Lord to reveal or highlight one way in this season that you can receive his love and be obedient to his command to love one another as Jesus has loved us.   

Consider writing your response so that you can revisit it and integrate it into your everyday life as you continue walking the way of Jesus.
    If you are in a group, you are invited to share responses with one another.

Jesus has freely given us his love and invited us to share in his inheritance of eternal life with him.  As followers of Christ who continually receive his love, we are invited again to receive from Jesus, to partake of the Lord’s Supper as he shared it with his disciples in the upper room on this same night.  

Jesus’ death on the cross is the ultimate self-sacrificial act of love that makes us clean once and for all and allows us to enter into resurrection life with Christ.  When we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we proclaim that Jesus has saved us from sin and death through his own death on the cross as we wait with hope for Jesus’ return.  It is only by Jesus’ body and blood that we are saved into new life with Christ.

The Lord’s Supper

Today we remember that on this the night he was betrayed, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples and said, 

“Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
 
At Highrock, we honor multiple understandings of the sacraments. If you are comfortable receiving communion elements on your own or with your household, we invite you to gather your bread and wine or juice to do so now. If you’d prefer to wait until our Highrock Express on April 11th, please spend a few moments now in prayer for the church. 

For those celebrating communion at home: Now, take the bread. If you’re with others, pass it around the table saying to each person as the bread is passed:

“The Body of Christ, broken for you.”

Break bread together; wait to eat until everyone has a piece.

Jesus took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink of it, all of you: This is my Blood of the New Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.”

Make sure everyone’s glass is filled with wine, juice, or another drink to represent the wine served during communion. Say to one another: 
 
“The Blood of Christ, shed for you. Take and drink.” 

Now, take, and drink the cup together. 

Prayer

As we reflect on Jesus’ time in the upper room with his disciples, we are reminded that Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28 & Mark 10:45).

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us, for giving your life for us so that we can have life in you.  As people who have received your love, we ask that you would transform us through your Spirit into a people characterized by your humility and love so that we can love one another as you have loved us.  Amen.

We hope you will continue with us in our journey toward the cross this Holy Week by participating in our Good Friday Interactive Walk-Through at the Church tomorrow (open 11am-1pm; 3pm-8pm). Please register on our website.

On Sunday, we’ll celebrate Christ’s resurrection in a virtual service at 10am on our YouTube channel