Today marks the celebration of Maundy Thursday. This is a time in which Christians commemorate the meal Jesus shared with his twelve Apostles known as The Last Supper. During the feast, Jesus interrupted the meal to wash his disciple’s feet. This action is where the term “maundy” is derived from a Latin word, mandatum. When Jesus had washed their feet, they returned to supper and he then resumed his role as a teacher and gave the men words of promise and encouragement. They finished the celebratory supper and left the room.
When Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, for Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas, having procured a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. Then Jesus, knowing all that would happen to him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. When Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. So he asked them again, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. So, if you seek me, let these men go.” John 18:1-8
Jesus was taken into custody and for several hours government and religious leaders struggled to decide how to deal with him. After several hours of interrogation, betrayal and gruesome torture, Jesus was crucified. Christians commemorate these events on Good Friday.
All of these biblical events took place in Jerusalem during the Jewish annual celebration of the Passover. During this time Jewish people commemorate the time in Egypt when the Jews, held captive in Egypt, were spared a most gruesome fate that led to their release from bondage.
Jesus died on the cross in the middle of the day on Saturday and was buried in a borrowed tomb.
After these things Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body.Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds in weight. So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews. Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there. John 19:38-42
The Sunday following Good Friday is commonly known as Easter Sunday, the day in which it was discovered the the tomb within which Jesus had been buried was empty.
Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb. Both of them were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. 5 And stooping to look in, he saw the linen cloths lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. John 20:1-7
On a personal side note, I have been contemplating the term used on the day of the resurrection as Easter. I didn’t fully understand the origin of the word Easter and it is a term not used in most bibles. I did a little research of my own and thought I had discovered that the word Easter had pagan origins. This discovery seemed to coincide with the merchandising of the holiday with bunny rabbits, colored eggs, and chocolate candies; none of which I ever really thought of as reverent commemoration of our Savior.
This week however, I decided to to just a little more digging and discovered that it is not inappropriate to use the word Easter at all. Rather than try to explain all of what I found myself, here is a great article on the debate, written by the great people at Answers in Genesis: Is the Name “Easter” of Pagan Origin?
Once I read this thoughtful expose’ on the topic, I realized that the word “Easter” is actually used in the King James Bible:
And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Acts 12:4