Thursday Evening or Sunday Afternoon?
This year we hosted a Maundy Thursday service at church. The three primary purposes of our service were to praise the Lord in song, to celebrate the Lord’s Supper, and to pray together. We focused on that last Thursday evening for Jesus – as He celebrated the Passover Feast with His disciples and then went to the Garden of Gethsemane to spend time with the Father to pray. We thought through the great symbolism found in the Passover Feast, the sacrificial system, and how we only have hope and healing through Jesus Christ.
During our service I asked people to share what personal significance each of the components of the Lord’s Supper held in their lives. We heard the importance of breaking the hold that sin has on our lives, how Christ has demonstrated a great love to us through His willingness to be beaten and bruised for our transgressions, and how we have this great privilege to live our lives for Him. We also contemplated how amazing it was that He would offer His blood to redeem us from the penalty of our sins.
After taking Communion together we spent an extended time in corporate prayer. Our time of prayer was modeled after the two things that Christ sought from the Father in the Garden: to clearly know His will and to have the courage to follow it. This time of prayer continued our recent theme of asking God to bring revival or renewal in our lives, in our church, and in our town.
A traditional way to end a Maundy Thursday service is to send people from the church in silence. There is no talking about our day, there is no talking about the service, there are no plans made for meeting afterwards, for sharing how Christ has been working in our lives – there is only remorse and sadness at the remembrance of the events that were about to happen: Christ was to be beaten, bruised, humiliated, crucified, dead, and buried. There truly is no joy in those things without Easter morning!
As the people of our church made their way to the church parking lot without speaking to each other it hit me: this is what life would be like if Christ hadn’t risen from the dead! We would go about our lives with resignation, with sadness, without hope! We would do our best to enjoy the things of life. We would do our best to find meaning and purpose even though without God there isn’t any meaning and purpose in life.
Then I realized that this is the experience for those who don’t know Christ. Every day they are living their lives as if Christ hasn’t risen. As if there is no hope or purpose other than that which they can make themselves. As if we’re just supposed to make the best of it – even though we’re surrounded by one disappointment after another; one sickness, loss, heartache, failure after another.
I want to help them find Him. I want them to know the hope and healing that only comes through relationship with Jesus Christ. I want them to experience all that Christ has for us to experience in life – both here on earth and forever with Him in Heaven.
I don’t want us to live as if Thursday night, or Friday afternoon is the end of the story. I want us to live like there is a Sunday morning!
This reminds me of the lyrics of a song by Matt Redman, “We Could Change the World.” The opening lyrics read:
Could we live like Your grace is stronger than all our faults and failures?
Could we live like Your love is deeper than our hearts can fathom?
Could we live like this?
Could we live like Your name is higher than every other power?
Could we live like Your ways are wiser than our understanding?
Could we live like this?
We can experience all of these things because of the Resurrection. The Resurrection changes everything. It moves Jesus Christ from the category of every other religious leader to Messiah, Redeemer, the Christ, the Son of God, and God Himself. The power of the Resurrection, the final victory over death and the grave, gives us the ability to reign with Christ – to stand with Him in authority over all other things in creation!
Could we live like this! If we did He would change the world through us!
James E. Bogoniewski, Jr.