Throughout church history, Christians have held services on the Thursday preceding Good Friday to reflect on that most decisive day in history. The following Scripture passage recounts Jesus’ final Passover celebration with His disciples in Jerusalem and is the context for what we now observe as the Last Supper.
Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’”
So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.
When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve. Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”
And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”
He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?”
He said to him, “You have said it.”
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, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.’ And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.”
Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper during the third cup of Passover, which is known as the Cup of Redemption. The Lord told the disciples seated around Him and subsequently all future disciples to remember His death (Lk 22:19). The context for communion provides a vivid picture of the atonement for our sins.
Have you noticed? There is a not so subtle departure from the observance of Christian holidays. It’s happening not just with cancel culture madness, but in churches—where you would expect to find these celebrations.
In evangelical churches, the trend to not celebrate or even commemorate Christian holidays is both puzzling and disturbing. Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Resurrection Sunday, Ascension Day and Pentecost Sunday might barely get a mention from the pulpit. Increasingly, church members across North America lament the absence of teaching on foundational events recorded in the Bible. Many of the activities we eagerly anticipated as children are absent from church life today.
Why? What changed? Is the message of the Bible—that prompted the celebration of Christian holidays for the last 2000 years—any different today?
How Christian holidays came to be, how they were celebrated in the past or what they may become in the future is not the issue. The fact that our Lord was born, crucified and rose from the dead is the heart of the gospel.
Why wouldn’t Christians want to be reminded of the biblical events associated with what has commonly been referred to as Holy Week for 2,000 plus years? A genuine love for the Lord and His substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf should be more than enough reason to commemorate the events in our Lord’s final week of earthly ministry.
1) La Cène légale (The Last Supper). By James Tissot, [Public domain]/via Brooklyn Museum/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios
2) La Céne. Judas met la main dans le plat (The Last Supper: Judas Dipping his Hand in the Dish). By James Tissot, [Public domain] via, Brooklyn Museum/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, commentary only. Repost/Reprint with permission. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For more thoughtful reading, click on Holy Week.
Charles E. McCracken is an international Bible teacher, long-time friend of Israel and advocate for the Jewish people. With 40 plus years of ministry experience, Rev. McCracken is known for authenticity in communicating biblical truth that makes his presentations relevant for those seeking to understand the significance of Israel and the church in Bible prophecy. He staunchly supports the nation of Israel and the Jewish people’s right to exist and live in peace.