Holy Week: Maundy Thursday

Read: Mark 14:12-23

The Passover with the Disciples

12 And on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb, his disciples said to him, “Where will you have us go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” 13 And he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him, 14 and wherever he enters, say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says, Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ 15 And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.” 16 And the disciples set out and went to the city and found it just as he had told them, and they prepared the Passover.
17 And when it was evening, he came with the twelve. 18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”
Institution of the Lord's Supper
22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

The Upper Room

The room in which Jesus and his disciples ate the Passover meal as his Last Supper is called both a “guest room” (Mark 14:14; Luke 22:11) and a “large upper room” (Mark 14:15; Luke 22:12). Most homes, whether large or small, typically had a room used to receive or entertain guests. Such rooms were located toward the front of the building so that guests need not enter the more private quarters of the home.

This particular guest room was a large room upstairs, likely with a view. From the description it seems Jesus’ meal was eaten in a large compound, perhaps similar to the mansions of wealthy people found in archaeological excavations in the southern part of the Old City of Jerusalem. These excavated mansions included large upper rooms decorated with frescoed walls and stuccoed ceilings and furnished with elegant tables and utensils.

A disputed church tradition dating to the fifth century AD places Jesus’ Last Supper in the Cenacle. This room is in a building located on the highest part of the hill that made up the southwest quarter of first-century Jerusalem. Today this location is called Mount Zion (not to be confused with the Mount Zion of David’s time) and is outside the Old City walls. A floor in this building, as well as a portion of its exterior southern wall, dates to Roman times, perhaps as early as the first century AD. Its “upper room,” a popular spot for pilgrims, is in the Gothic style and dates to a reconstruction in 1335. The same site is also associated with Pentecost and with David’s burial.
*Historical material from the ESV Study Bible Online

Meditation from Fr. Sean

Jesus and his disciples gather to celebrate Passover - the Feast Celebrating how God sent the angel of death to kill all the first-born children and livestock of the Egyptians in Exodus as a judgement and punishment for their enslavement of Israel. But the blood of a lamb was smeared on the door of the Jews and therefore the angel of death "passed over" them. (See Exodus 12 for more details.) Jesus takes this ancient rite of the Jews and completes it and refashions it. Rather than a lamb's body and blood he offers his own body and blood as the way to save those who believe in Him from death and eternal death - hell. This New Covenant's sign would be known as Holy Communion or The Lord's Supper. We celebrate it weekly to remember just how much Jesus loves us. The events of the following day would show that he meant what he said when he said, "Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). As we gather tonight at our Maundy Thursday Service at 7:30p.m. let us hold in mind all that this service means to us.

Let us Pray.
Almighty Father, whose most dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it in thankful remembrance of Jesus Christ our Savior, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.