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A Maundy Thursday Devotion–


“Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you

are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the

plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land

of Egypt. So this day shall be to you a memorial; and you shall

keep it as a feast to the LORD throughout your generations. You

shall keep it as a feast by an everlasting ordinance”

(Exodus 12:13-14).

Every time we celebrate communion, we hear the familiar words: “After the same manner also Jesus took the cup when He had supped….” This means that after “supper,’ Jesus gave to His disciples the cup of wine and the unleavened bread. The supper or meal these words refer to, of course, is the Passover Meal. On this special night, first of all, Jesus celebrated the Passover Meal with His disciples. The Passover Meal had been celebrated by God’s people for fifteen hundred years. It was designed by God as a memorial feast. Every year His people would be reminded of how God had delivered them from the bondage and slavery of Egypt.

For four hundred and thirty years God’s people had lived in Egypt, longing for that day when they would return to that land promised to Abraham. Things had gotten worse for them when a new dynasty took over in Egypt. The people found themselves slaves in Egypt building the famous pyramids.

God sent Moses to lead His people out of Egypt; however, Moses ran into the hardened-heart opposition of Pharaoh. Pharaoh refused to listen even though God demonstrated His power with nine plagues or signs. Finally, God told Moses that He would smite the firstborn in Egypt.

At the same time God would deliver His chosen people. The Lord told Moses that He would pass over the houses of His people. Their houses would be identified with the blood on the door frames. God told His people to kill a one-year-old male lamb without spot or blemish. They then should take the blood of the lamb and place it around their door frames. The blood of the lamb would protect them from the death that would ravage the land of Egypt.

A New Covenant

God further told His people to roast the lamb and completely eat it in a special meal. They were told to prepare unleavened bread (bread without yeast) because they should be in a hurry to leave. They also were to eat bitter vegetables (onions and garlic). Over time several cups of wine were added to the celebration of the Passover Meal. God’s people were to reenact this meal every year as a “memorial.” They were to remember how God had saved them out of Egypt and delivered them from death. When their children asked, “Why are we doing this?”, the parents would explain how God had delivered His people out of Egypt and made His covenant with them at Mt. Sinai.

In fulfillment of the Old Covenant, Jesus ate this meal with His disciples on the night He was betrayed — the night which would lead to His death at the cross the next day. Jesus took from the Passover Meal the unleavened bread and cup of wine. Jesus then gave the bread and wine to His puzzled disciples. He told them that “this (bread) is my body” and “this cup is the New Testament in my blood.” Jesus would establish a New Covenant of the forgiveness of sins by His death at the cross. The Old Covenant which pointed to the coming of Jesus had served its purpose.

The New Covenant (Testament) is a covenant of blood. God delivered His people through the death of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. By the death of Jesus God delivered His people from death. We are redeemed by the holy and precious blood of the Lamb of God. God has given us a New Testament Memorial Meal in the Lord’s Supper. Every time we partake of this meal, we remember Jesus’ death at the cross for our sins.

Every communion service we hear the words: “Do this in remembrance of Me.” We remember how the Lord God redeemed and saved His people through the death of Jesus Christ. As we receive the bread and wine, we are given the body and blood of Christ. As Luther wrote: “May this feast thereof remind us” (TLH 313:2). We celebrate again this Maundy Thursday God’s Memorial Meal for the remission of our sins.

— Pastor John Schierenbeck