Seven Observations for Maundy Thursday

1.) Christ’s “mandate” is commemorated on Maundy Thursday—“maundy” being a shortened form of mandatum (Latin), which means “command.” It was on the Thursday of Christ’s final week before being crucified and resurrected that He said these words to his disciples:

“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” (John 13:34).

The modern Church has fallen down here because they have cut the word “love” loose from its Biblical moorings. If God’s people are to love one another then that love must have content and the only place it can find definitional content is God’s law. The only way I can know if I am loving someone is if I act in concert with what God’s law requires of me in relation to others. Apart from that reality, we can only blaspheme Christ in our Maundy Thursday celebrations.

Even Christ’s love to us was of a nature that was defined by God’s law. God’s law required blood atonement. If Christ was to love His people as consistent with God’s law then He must offer Himself up for an atonement for their sin. Christ demonstrated His love for His people in a way that was defined by God’s law.

2.) 1When he had said this, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to where there was a garden, into which he and his disciples entered.

On Maundy Thursday Christ overcame temptation in the garden. It was in a garden where the 1st Adam succumbed to the temptation to not be submissive to the Father’s will by taking of the fruit of the forbidden tree of life. In the Gethsemane garden, the last Adam overcomes the temptation to not be submissive to the Father’s will and yields to the Father’s will to mount the tree of death to be the fruit of life to the world.

The Scripture takes us from Garden to Garden. From the Garden of the Fall to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the Garden on that resurrection morning. The fate of man is ruined, restored, and resurrected in a garden.

3.) Only Dr. Luke records the sweating of Christ

“His sweat became like great drops of blood.”

Which Luke describes as agony. The Greek word for agony also is used for “fight” elsewhere. Medically this blood sweat is called “Hematidrosis” and is a rare medical condition. Those suffering from this condition find their capillary blood vessels which feed the sweat glands rupture thereby causing blood to exude from the pores. Such a condition is known to sometimes occur to those who are undergoing unusually significant psychological, emotional or physical stress.

Even here, we are reminded of Christ’s humanity. It is true that Jesus is very God of very God but Luke takes the time to remind us of his very real humanity on the cusp of the cross.

Some scholars believe that when Christ prays, “let this cup pass,” that the cup Jesus is asking to pass is a death that would come from the severe hematidrosis. Remember, Luke tells us that Jesus sweat became like great drops of blood.  Matthew mentions that Jesus was sorrowful even unto the point of death. These scholars suggest that Jesus is praying that He will not die before He goes to the cross.

The blood here is perhaps a prefiguring of the importance of the blood shed by Christ on the Cross for without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. The blood in the garden. The blood from the scourging. The blood from the thorn crown pressed upon His brow. The blood from the nails in His feet and hands. The blood from the spear thrust in His side. Our Lord Christ goes from sweating blood to the oozing of blood. Our forgiveness is won from blood unto blood. Well, we can understand why Paul states that the church, (was) purchased with his own blood.

And why Peter can add that

it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life you inherited from your forefathers, 19but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or spot.

4.)  37 When he returned he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?

In Matthew and Mark’s Gethsemane account Jesus returns three times to find His three most intimate disciples asleep. Three times Peter denies Christ. Three times Jesus tells Peter to “feed my sheep.”

Were it not for Luke’s account, where an angel is sent to strengthen Christ in His praying we would conclude that the Gospel accounts are emphasizing Jesus aloneness and abandonment. This is a truth that is certainly emphasized later in the accounts of the Cross. Here in Gethsemane, we find our Lord bloodied, stressed, and exhausted and even His little inner circle cannot support him during this time. Perhaps this reminds us that God’s grace is sufficient even in those times when except for the presence of God we really are alone.

5.) 36 he said, “Abba, Father,* all things are possible to you. Take this cup away from me, but not what I will but what you will.

Mark finds our Lord addressing the Father as “Abba,” and is used only in the Gospels in this text. Interestingly enough, the word in the Jewish tradition had never been used to address God. The word is never used in the Gospel except for this one place. At the very moment when Jesus is headed to the Cross, at the moment the tender filial trust between Father and Son is expressed. “Abba” is a word that communicates warm affection and filial devotion.

We find here the harmony of purpose among the members of the Trinity.  In the covenant of Redemption, the members of the Trinity entered into covenant from eternity past for the redemption of fallen mankind. The Father sent the Son to be a sin offering. The Son agrees to go the way of a sin offering. The prize given and won is a people of His own choosing.

6.) Betrayed by a Kiss

His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.” 49 Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!” and he kissed him.

In the near Eastern culture of the 1st century, a kiss was the traditional way to greet one another. That which was to be a sign of intimate friendship was the signal to betray one’s long-held “Rabbi.” It seems only appropriate that hell would betray heaven with a kiss.

7.) Whom are you looking for?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus the Nazorean.” He said to them, “I AM.” Judas his betrayer was also with them. 6 When he said to them, “I AM,” they turned away and fell to the ground.7So he again asked them, “Whom are you looking for?” They said, “Jesus the Nazorean.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I AM. So if you are looking for me, let these men go.

John’s Gospel contains the great seven “I am” sayings of Jesus. It is a theme that John plays on. In chapter 8 of John Jesus says of himself, “Before Abraham was, I am.” Naturally enough, this claim of “I am” that runs through John in connection with Jesus is a claim of divinity since in the Old Testament God defines Himself as “I am that I am.”

Here the claim of “I am,” is a claim of dread and fear. They who have come to arrest God fall before His feet at the sound of His name. It is as if before the drama can be played out all the players have to realize their place.  The idea that man will arrest and arraign God is surreal to consider and yet in Jesus self-identifying as “I Am” that is exactly what we have.

Author: jetbrane

I am a Pastor of a small Church in Mid-Michigan who delights in my family, my congregation and my calling. I am postmillennial in my eschatology. Paedo-Calvinist Covenantal in my Christianity Reformed in my Soteriology Presuppositional in my apologetics Familialist in my family theology Agrarian in my regional community social order belief Christianity creates culture and so Christendom in my national social order belief Mythic-Poetic / Grammatical Historical in my Hermeneutic Pre-modern, Medieval, & Feudal before Enlightenment, modernity, & postmodern Reconstructionist / Theonomic in my Worldview One part paleo-conservative / one part micro Libertarian in my politics Systematic and Biblical theology need one another but Systematics has pride of place Some of my favorite authors, Augustine, Turretin, Calvin, Tolkien, Chesterton, Nock, Tozer, Dabney, Bavinck, Wodehouse, Rushdoony, Bahnsen, Schaeffer, C. Van Til, H. Van Til, G. H. Clark, C. Dawson, H. Berman, R. Nash, C. G. Singer, R. Kipling, G. North, J. Edwards, S. Foote, F. Hayek, O. Guiness, J. Witte, M. Rothbard, Clyde Wilson, Mencken, Lasch, Postman, Gatto, T. Boston, Thomas Brooks, Terry Brooks, C. Hodge, J. Calhoun, Llyod-Jones, T. Sowell, A. McClaren, M. Muggeridge, C. F. H. Henry, F. Swarz, M. Henry, G. Marten, P. Schaff, T. S. Elliott, K. Van Hoozer, K. Gentry, etc. My passion is to write in such a way that the Lord Christ might be pleased. It is my hope that people will be challenged to reconsider what are considered the givens of the current culture. Your biggest help to me dear reader will be to often remind me that God is Sovereign and that all that is, is because it pleases him.

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