Zebras at a Waterhole in Okaukejo, Etosha Pan, Namibia . PHOTO : J . Rieck

Thursday, April 17, 2014

THANK GOD FOR MAUNDY THURSDAY!

 MARK 14 

At Eastside Baptist Church we have been living in the Gospel of Mark, both in reading it in our morning services, and preaching from this Gospel on Sunday evenings.  Our desire is to   get to know or Lord Jesus as He is revealed to us in this gospel. [1] May the Holy Spirit be pleased to add to our knowledge the ability to see Christ for who He is? May our hearts be filled with  renewed gratitude , worship and  resolve to serve Him with a greater  devotion  as a result of this  special  time  on the Christian calendar .

Our Scripture reading  from Mark  chapter 14  on this Communion evening   takes us  to  the events  of the days and the  night  before the cross  of Christ  - the  night on which he  was betrayed by Judas .

The major theme of this  chapter  : Christ is coming to do that for which He was appointed. He comes to be the Passover Lamb.

We find the Old Testament imagery in Exodus 12. The blood of a lamb was to be applied to the door lintels of  the homes of every Hebrew family, presently in slavery in in Egypt. They must leave this land to go to the land of their promise.  Human sin stands in the way  yet again, by way of a stubborn Egyptian pharaoh. God will do whatever it takes to send His people on their  way to that country. With patience God speaks 9 times to Pharaoh by means of plagues.  Pharaoh will not listen, and so the 10th plague is decreed:  the death of every firstborn son in every household in Egypt! 
God however makes exclusion.  He commands the Israelites to institute a new commemorative feast,  which is called the Passover. The ritual is simple. Kill a young lamb, and apply its blood to the door lintels.  This would be the sign for the angel of death who would pass through Egypt that night, to pass over the homes of the Israelites.

It is amazing , is it not , that    God used this  ancient incident to prepare us for a far greater  deliverance-  for the world’s  deliverance  from  our  spiritual  Egypt, -  the world house of sin and slavery . This picture is fulfilled in Jesus Christ, and all this rich Old Testament history and imagery now comes to a climax   here in Mark 14.
Jesus had prepared His disciples for this event on at least three occasions:   Mark 8:31; Mark 9:31 and Mark 10:33-34

In Chapter 14:1   we find the   great connection between Christ and   the Passover. Christ is the Passover Lamb. John saw this clearly when he said: “Behold, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!”  (John 1: 29, 36).  
The greater Passover Lamb must die!  Death is in the air! We see this already in the very first verse in Mark 14:1   where we are told: “the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest Him by stealth and kill Him.”   Their intent is clearly murderous. In that sense they become the image of Old Testament Pharaoh who designed evil and death for the Jews.   God however shall use this evil intent to bring about the most glorious story ever told!  God will deliver up His Son to evil men. He will  allow them to do what they want to do, but  in doing this   God will  count His  Life as  a  blood atonement  that will  redeem  all those in the world  that  believe  in the person and work of Christ , and God will  use this to judge  all those that stand indifferently or defiantly  against Christ !

The next thing that  happens  is  that Jesus gets  anointed at Bethany (14: 3-9) by  Mary , the sister of Lazarus and  Martha (John 12:3)  with a very costly  perfume . While some regard this as a “waste “Jesus sees this as anointing of His body for His funeral. Again, the fragrance of Christ’s death is in the air!  

Next we  find Judas,  who being  tempt by  the priests ,  promise to give him  money  in exchange for  betraying the  One who has been so  very good to him  (14: 10- 11)

The day of the unleavened bread which is closely associated with the Passover now follows.  This is the day and the night of Jesus betrayal!  On this day every Jewish house removes all evidences of any yeast (12:15) and eats unleavened bread only.  Yeast symbolically has the characteristics of sin. Once it is in the dough it spreads and it cannot be removed from the dough. The sin that has pervaded the nation of Israel (and the world) cannot be removed … except through the blood of Christ.

With Mark   14: 12 – 72   we find the   day which has sometimes been called "Maundy Thursday"[2] (see note). The remembrance of the historical Passover shall be central event of this day. In fact the Passover today will become much, much bigger in its significance! 

But where shall Jesus and the disciples find a place to celebrate the Passover?  

What unfolds now gives us a fascinating insight into Jesus   foreknowledge of events. We learn that there is nothing haphazard about this event. It is all    very carefully planned.  In 14: 12-31 Jesus gives the disciples as it were a foretaste of   the ‘divine agenda’:
 ·        A man carrying a jar of water will meet them in the city.
 ·        The man will tell them that he has a large upper room, ready for their Passover celebration.
 ·        Here Jesus will reveal that He shall be betrayed by one of the disciples.  He will predict that the disciples will in fact all fall away (14:27)   because it is written:   “I will strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered” (Zech. 13:7). He also reveals (again) that He will be raised from the dead. He reveals that He would meet them again in Galilee (14:28). He foretells that Peter (amidst protestations) will fall away.
The rest of the chapter   reveals   at least three fulfilments of Jesus’ words:  
(i)                Verses  43 – 50  - Judas betrayal
(ii)              Verses 51 – 52  -  the young man    that  flees as  Jesus  is arrested ( probably  Mark  who is  illustrative of the disciples )
(iii)             Verses  66-72  - Peter denies Jesus

·       Following the Lord’s supper   Jesus and the disciples go out to the Mount of Olives Verses   in the garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus come here to pray, as He knows that the hour is now come. Verses   32- 42   show us that He is in deep distress. The depth of His soul agony we will never be able to understand. It  is  probably much worse than the physical  trauma  and pain which He  experiences  on Friday  when He is mocked , tortured and  crucified  (Mark 15) .

This is the day which we now remember …. Maundy Thursday
1.       It  was  all part of God’s plan   to  provide a  Lamb  whose blood  would  be  applied to  the lives of those  who  would believe  in God by  believing in the person and work of His Son . 
2.      In this plan He uses the wicked (like Judas) to do what they would have freely chosen to do.
3.      The sin of His redeemed  people’s  faithlessness  ( illustrated  by  the young disciple that ran away and  by Peter  who denied  Christ ) is  all covered  by  the  shed blood of Christ .  We are taught here that it is not our natural resolve to love God    that causes us to persevere, but the fact that   the Lamb’s   blood has been shed for us.

Praise God then for the active obedience of Christ, by which He secures our justification! Although the cross (Good Friday)  is that event where  His blood is shed and  where our  justification is ultimately secured,  Maundy Thursday is important , because here  the Old Testament  history  is   being    vindicated  , and the whole Bible as we hold it now in our hands  is proven to be the Word of God !

Thank God for Maundy Thursday!




[1] The most detailed  description  of the night  He was betrayed is found in John  Chapters 13-17
[2]  WIKIPEDIA :  Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase "Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos" ("A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you"), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John 13:34 by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet.

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