Maundy Thursday, Passover, and the Last Supper

Maundy Thursday is also known as Holy Thursday and a number of other names. “It is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Washing of the Feet (Maundy) and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the apostles, as described in the canonical gospels” (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). Wikipedia

That sounds so simple, but there is so much more to it. So, according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke, Jesus and the disciples did share a passover meal. According to John, Passover, technically, started on Friday, after the crucifixion. That confuses me because John mentions Passover in the Bible before describing the mean. According to a priest on Jesus had his own passover meal. So, you see some of the confusion. I pause to talk about Passover, then move onto what happened at the meal with Christ.

Early Christians celebrated Passover. That would mean that the early disciples celebrated it. Today it celebrates the Israelites being freed from slavery in ancient Egypt. Wikipedia. Many if not most Jewish people celebrate Passover today. The food served during Passover is important. During the time of Passover (this year 4/8-4/16) the only bread that can be eaten is unleavened bread (has not risen). This symbolizes that the Israelites had to leave so quickly that the bread they had did not have time to rise.

“Passover…is a major Jewish holiday and one of the most widely celebrated Jewish holidays.” Wikipedia. It was a Pilgrimage Festival “during which the entire population of the kingdom of Judah traveled to the Temple in Jerusalem.” Jesus was making a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and he arrived on a colt (young burro) the Sunday before.

Despite the confusion regarding which type of meal Jesus celebrated, the important thing is that Passover was one celebration where Jews from all around would flock to Jerusalem. Jesus did plan on having a special meal and he made a special entrance into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. On the site:, I found the estimates for the number of Jews and Gentiles in Jerusalem. There were normally 80,000-100,000 people living in Jerusalem. I am impressed by the number of people. Somehow it changes the way I look at what was happening during Jesus’s time. He had made other trips to Jerusalem. The estimated number of people in Jerusalem swelled to 3 million during Passover.

Matthew 26:17 “Where will you have use prepare for you to eat the passover?” He said, “Go into the city to such a one, and say to him, … ‘I will keep the passover at you house with my disciples.’” Luke provides more detail. Jesus sent Peter and John asking them to prepare for the passover. There is a man with a large room upstairs where they can have passover.


At some point, Jesus announces that someone would betray him (Judas, a disciple). Also, Jesus’s words and actions are used today by people who take communion at their church. He says according to Mark, Jesus took bread and blessed it and broke it and then said, “Take; this is my body.” He had a cup of wine and after he had given thanks and drank it, he said, “This is the blood of the covenant which is poured out for many.” At least in two of the Gospels, Jesus says that he will not be drinking wine on earth again.

John writes a lot of detail about Jesus washing the disciples feet during the Passover supper. “When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.’”

The disciples had been arguing among themselves which one was the better one. They probably were surprised that Jesus washed their feet. Having a servant wash feet at a communal meal was common, so Jesus had take the role of a lowly servant. This information is from It goes onto talk about some of the symbolism. The feet washing has something to do with Christ washing us of our sins. Jesus is also reminding us that the lowly are important. He doesn’t want us having lofty opinions of ourselves.

I hoped I helped you understand Passover, Maundy Thursday, and the Last Supper.

Prayer – I think it would be very nice to pray for the people celebrating Passover and the people celebrating Maundy Thursday. The celebrations have to be different this year. I assume that with Passover the families cannot get together. I believe there is usually a Maundy Thursday service of some kind at my church. It’s supposed to be online.

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