Maundy Thursday 2021

Mark 15:1-15 (CEB)

1 At daybreak, the chief priests—with the elders, legal experts, and the whole Sanhedrin—formed a plan. They bound Jesus, led him away, and turned him over to Pilate. Pilate questioned him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus replied, “That’s what you say.” The chief priests were accusing him of many things.

Pilate asked him again, “Aren’t you going to answer? What about all these accusations?” But Jesus gave no more answers, so that Pilate marveled.

During the festival, Pilate released one prisoner to them, whomever they requested. A man named Barabbas was locked up with the rebels who had committed murder during an uprising. The crowd pushed forward and asked Pilate to release someone, as he regularly did. Pilate answered them, “Do you want me to release to you the king of the Jews?” 10 He knew that the chief priests had handed him over because of jealousy. 11 But the chief priests stirred up the crowd to have him release Barabbas to them instead. 12 Pilate replied, “Then what do you want me to do with the one you call king of the Jews?”

13 They shouted back, “Crucify him!”

14 Pilate said to them, “Why? What wrong has he done?”

They shouted even louder, “Crucify him!”

15 Pilate wanted to satisfy the crowd, so he released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus whipped, then handed him over to be crucified.


Today is Holy Thursday, also known as Maundy Thursday. I used to think that the word had its origins in “mourning” until I did the research. The irony of the word “maundy” is that it references the Latin word, “mandatum,” which refers to “commandment.” So the Thursday before Easter is known as Maundy Thursday, because it references Jesus’ final commandment, “Love one another.”

As Jesus celebrated the last supper with his disciples, he gave them this new commandment. But by Thursday night or early Friday morning, love has little to do with the scene. The disciples have begun to betray and deny Jesus. By daybreak, the chief priests and elders have plotted against Jesus. Next Pontius Pilate taunts Jesus, as the crowd grows louder, repeatedly shouting, “Crucify him!” FInally, Jesus is whipped and handed over to be crucified.

There was so much anger and hate directed at our Lord. It hurts to hear the hate that has transpired in the world and to know such hate exists still today. Furthermore, we know that there was more suffering to come for Jesus.

Perhaps today is best spent in reflection, in mourning and remembrance. In the end, we know what will outlast the events of the day: love. So we can sit with the hurt and pain, knowing that Jesus’ words and actions will point the way of love as recorded in John 13:34-35:

 “I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other.”

By Barbara Carlson

For Pondering & Prayer

What do you need to mourn today? How does knowing Jesus giving his final commandment of love affect you, knowing what came next in the story?

Prayer: Suffering Jesus, you gave us a new commandment – to love one another as you have loved us. Then you humbled yourself to die for our sakes! Only you could give a commandment of love and yet suffer on behalf of the world. Help us to understand your suffering in a way that helps us to know your love. Help us to become your disciples by sharing and witnessing your loving presence in all the world. Amen.

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