Holy Week is a sacred and blessed time for Christians around the globe. The week leading up to Easter Sunday is one that helps Christians focus on the cross in heart and spirit by recounting the final days of Jesus’ life and earthly ministry. Within this week leading to Easter Sunday, many recognize what is called Maundy Thursday. Maundy Thursday is celebrated the Thursday before Easter in remembrance of the Last Supper, when Jesus introduced communion and washed the disciples’ feet.
“After that, Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him” (John 13:5).
For Jesus to wash the feet of his disciples demonstrated an incredible amount of love, humility, and servanthood. Sometime later, following this act, Jesus established what is now referred to as communion, or the eucharist.
“And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you’” (Luke 22:19-20).
The final days and hours Jesus spent with his disciples were sacred and filled with significant teachings. Maundy Thursday is set aside to remember these commands Jesus gave at the Last Supper.
What Do We Celebrate on Maundy Thursday?
Maundy Thursday is the day in which we recognize and celebrate when Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and established the act of communion at the Last Supper. This was a profound time in which Jesus ministered to and taught his disciples. They could not understand why Jesus would wash their feet. He was Lord and he was their master, surely it should be the other way around. But Jesus taught them about loving one another, humility, and servanthood.
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:14-16).
This time of year, we are given the opportunity to follow Jesus by loving others in this way. So, too, by partaking in communion, we are submitting to Jesus’ command to remember him by the taking and sharing of bread and wine (or juice). This is a powerful worship experience that draws us closer to Jesus as the body of Christ.
Is Maundy Thursday Biblical?
Both the establishment of communion and the act of foot washing are documented in multiple Gospels that detail the life and ministry of Jesus. No doubt, both of these spiritual practices are biblically based. Christians today can follow them in obedience to Jesus and to deepen their faith.
Communion and foot washing are rich spiritual practices that motivate us to live in peace, humility, and love – just as Jesus instructed us to do. These are transformational traditions that invite the work and power of the Spirit in each of us.