that evening they met in an upper room of a house in jerusalem to celebrate the passover. Jesus and the other disciples were jewish and the passover was the most holy event in the jewish calendar, commemorating the saving acts of God in the life of the hebrew people and, most specifically, remembering the release of the people of israel from captivity by pharaoh in egypt. on passover the hebrew people share the meal and tell the story of their salvation by God as God sent a series of plagues on the egyptians, which finally convinced pharaoh to release the people.
after dinner Jesus performed a new ritual, offering each of the disciples bread: “take, eat; this is my body”—and a cup: “this is my blood.” following this, they sang a hymn and left jerusalem to pass the night on the mount of olives, in the garden of gethsemane. we will remember this new ritual, which is our sacrament of the Lord’s supper, by our communion service.
the name “Maundy Thursday” comes from the latin word “mandatum” which means “commandment,” as Jesus gave us all a new commandment on that night that people should love one another even as Christ loves them (John 13:34-35). that spirit led the ruling monarch in great britain to give alms to poor people on the thursday before easter. these gifts were called “royal maundy,” hence the name, Maundy Thursday.
so now you know… Maundy Thursday