Sacred Tridum – Maundy Thursday – John 13:1-15
Even though it is called the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, there is no reference to the meal per se in the choice of this text. John is the only gospel, among the four, that focuses on the foot washing. The meal becomes the setting for the foot washing of His disciples; a meal in which He institutes the Eucharist, institutes the commandment of love, ‘to do as He has done,’ and institutes the priesthood through the foot washing ritual and a pastoral commandment to the eleven ‘newly ordained ministers’.
Interestingly, unlike the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), John holds that Jesus died on the ‘day of preparation’. This is the day when the lambs were sacrificed in the temple and this is the day for John on which Jesus, ‘the Lamb of God’ dies on Calvary.
Now before you start getting uppity and wondering how the gospels can be giving us ‘contradictory’ evidences, remember what the Gospel’s were meant to be; not biographies! The Gospels are post resurrection narratives, written by the evangelists in the context of their communities, to whom they were writing for.
So in John’s Gospel, the Jewish Passover takes place on what we celebrate as ‘Holy Saturday’. Not so for Luke or Mark. For them, Jesus celebrates the Jewish Passover on Maundy Thursday (Mark 14: 12-15, Luke 22:15). Is there a point to why John in his gospel does this?
Some scholars opine that John wanted the death of Jesus to coincide directly with the day of the preparation of the Passover. While the lambs were being sacrificed in the temple, Jesus is sacrificed for us. Others believe that John’s community had simply come to accept that Jesus was crucified on the 14th day of Nissan (the first month of the Jewish year) which was the day of Passover (references from the JBC).