Maundy Thursday, April 14

Maundy Thursday, April 14

Reader: “When I see the blood,”

Response: “I will pass over you.”

Scripture: Exodus 12:1-14

While the Israelites were still in the land of Egypt, the Lord gave the following instructions to Moses and Aaron: “From now on, this month will be the first month of the year for you. Announce to the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each family must choose a lamb or a young goat for a sacrifice, one animal for each household. If a family is too small to eat a whole animal, let them share with another family in the neighborhood. Divide the animal according to the size of each family and how much they can eat. The animal you select must be a one-year-old male, either a sheep or a goat, with no defects.

“Take special care of this chosen animal until the evening of the fourteenth day of this first month. Then the whole assembly of the community of Israel must slaughter their lamb or young goat at twilight. They are to take some of the blood and smear it on the sides and top of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the animal. That same night they must roast the meat over a fire and eat it along with bitter salad greens and bread made without yeast. Do not eat any of the meat raw or boiled in water. The whole animal—including the head, legs, and internal organs—must be roasted over a fire. Do not leave any of it until the next morning. Burn whatever is not eaten before morning.

“These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the Lord’s Passover. On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the Lord! But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.

“This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the Lord. This is a law for all time.

Some thoughts:

We’ve often referred to First Testament events as shadows of New Testament events. The Passover is one of the most familiar and obvious. In light of today being Maundy Thursday, I’d like to make some observations regarding the significance of the two Passover events. If we put ourselves in the place of the Israelites on that night we are learning some things about the God we worship. We have no idea that this is a shadow of the Messiah’s redemption of the world 1400 years later. All we know is that we are to take a perfect, spotless lamb, kill it and spread its blood on the doorposts of our house and stay inside. We are to trust the blood to spare us from death. People who are not covered by the blood will die tonight. We will then leave our slavery to the Egyptians.

We are to gather our family in our home. We roast the lamb and quickly eat a meal together as a family. We are to burn any part that is left over. That the lamb is to be completely consumed indicates a total commitment as in a burnt sacrifice. Our whole community is to observe this festival. Our community also invites foreigners to join in as the blood covers them as well. God is doing something for all of us and our only job is to believe and do what he says. The sparing of our lives is totally dependent upon him. We could bring death upon ourselves through disobedience and skip putting blood on the doorposts. The blood sacrifice is what “buys us back,” redeems us, as a firstborn belonging to God. 

On this sacred night, Jesus gathered his “family of disciples” and observed the Passover meal giving it a new meaning. He was to be the human Lamb of God who would literally shed his own perfect sinless blood that the angel of eternal death might pass over all who put their trust in the Lamb of God. The lamb’s blood applied on the wooden doorposts in Egypt was superseded by the blood of the Lamb of God shed on the arms of the wooden cross. Like the first Passover in which the family of Israelites ate the sacrificial lamb, on this Maundy Thursday the family of God partakes of the Lord’s Supper for Jesus says, “Take and eat, this is my body which is given for you. Do this to remember me. This cup is the new covenant between God and his people―an agreement confirmed with my blood. Do this to remember me as often as you drink it.” 

I trust you’ll be able to find a Maundy Thursday service somewhere tonight if you do not have one in your own church.

Music: These pieces came from last year and are still the best settings I’ve found. This is a magnificent text for a broken and disunified church and world. Jesus Christ is the one who makes a family a family. He offers us himself as our sacred meal. 

 “Ubi Caritas”  Paul Mealor    Composer Mealor appears during the applause.

“Ubi Caritas”   Ola Gjeilo  Central Washington Chamber Choir with the composer on piano.

Lest you think no young composers are writing beautiful music!

                                   Ubi Caritas-author unknown

                        ancient text specifically written for Maundy Thursday

Where charity and love are,

God is there.

Christ’s love has gathered us

into one.

Let us rejoice and be glad in Him.

Let us fear, and love the living God.

And may we love each other

with a sincere heart.

Where charity and love are,

God is there.

As we are gathered into one body,

Beware, lest we be divided in mind.

Let evil impulses stop,

let controversy cease,

And may Christ our God

be in our midst.

Where charity and love are,

God is there.

And may we with the saints also,

See Thy face in glory,

O Christ our God:

The joy that is immense and good,

Unto the ages through infinite ages. Amen.


Lord Christ our Servant and Savior, on earth you washed the feet of your disciples, and now through your cross and resurrection you always live to make intercession for us: give us grace to be your faithful disciples and servants to our lives’ end; for your name’s sake. Amen.      ―Stephen Smalley, from Guideposts Prayers for Easter, p.41

Beginning this coming Monday the Eastertide daily devotionals will continue taking us through Ascension Day and on to Pentecost on June 5th. You don’t have to do anything; they will appear in your email box each morning.