The Passover meal with the family had been a Jewish custom for centuries. It was a time for the family to gather, to hear the story of God’s deliverance of His people. He used 10 plagues to force the Egyptians to release them from captivity. (Exodus 7-11). Then God gave them the Passover feast to remember, commemorate, and be part of that delierance event. God gave the Israelites instructions for offering of a passover lamb, taking its blood and putting it on the doorposts of the tent (Ex. 12:1-13).
Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. (Exodus 12:13 NKJV)
Now fast forward to the time of Jesus. On the Passover night when all Jews gathered (with familiy members) to partake of the deliverance of their ancestors, Jesus was with His disciples to participate in the Passover. But this night was different because of what Jesus said and did.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant [testament], which is shed for many for the remission of sins. (Matthew 26:26-28 NJKJV)
Christians have gathered on this night, not just to commemorate, but to share in the body and blood of Jesus, to receive for the forgiveness of sins. As a congregation we celebrate and receive these gifts every Sunday every service.
This year is different, as we are not physically gathering together to receive the Lord’s Supper. And that seems strange. For me this is the first Maundy Thursday I have missed since 1963.
But in God’s provision, we still receive the same forgiveness of sins in our service tonight. We confess our sins, then we receive the words of forgiveness of sins in Jesus’ words:
Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven. (Matthew 18:18 NAS)
The forgiveness is the same, God’s provision of such great news of forgiveness cannot be stopped —even by the virus. And so as we receive this forgiveness tonight, we look forward to our gathering again, whenever that may be, and celebrate even as Paul wrote:
23 For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant [testament] in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. (1 Corinthians 11:23–26)