An Order for Maundy Thursday Worship At Home
Prayer of Confession:
Most merciful God, I/we confess that often our spirit has not been that of Christ. Where I/we have failed to love others as he loves me/us, where I/we have pledged loyalty to him with my/our lips and then betrayed, deserted, or denied him, forgive me/us, I/we pray; and by your Spirit make me/us faithful in every time of trial; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Only Christ is in a position to condemn. But Christ suffered and died for us, was raised from the dead and ascended on high for us, and continues to intercede for us. Believe the good news: In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven! Glory to God. Amen.)
(Slowly read the following passages from Matthew, allowing the Spirit to guide you.)
Judas agrees to betray Jesus
One of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went off to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand Jesus over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he looked for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
The Passover with the disciples
On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came up to Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare the Passover for you?” Jesus told them to go to a certain person in the city and say, “The Teacher says, ‘My appointed time draws near. I am to celebrate the Passover in your house.’ ” The disciples did as Jesus ordered and prepared the Passover supper. When it grew dark, he reclined at table with the Twelve. And while they were eating he said, “The truth is, one of you is about to betray me.” They were greatly distressed and started asking him in turn, “Surely, it is not I, Teacher?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will hand me over. The Chosen One will go as the scriptures foretold—but woe to the one by whom the Chosen One is betrayed! It would be better for that one never to have been born at all.” Then Judas, who was betraying Jesus, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “You have said it yourself.” During the meal, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it and gave it to the disciples. “Take this and eat it,” Jesus said. “This is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them. “Drink from it, all of you,” he said. “This is my blood, the blood of the Covenant, which will be poured out on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. The truth is, I will not drink this fruit of the vine again until the day when I drink it anew with you in my Abba’s kindom.” Then, after singing the Hallel, they walked out to the Mount of Olives.
Peter’s denial foretold; the Garden of Gethsemane
Jesus then said to them, “Tonight you will all fall away because of me, for scripture says, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have been raised, I will go to Galilee ahead of you.” Peter responded, “Though all may fall away because of you, I never will!” Jesus replied, “The truth is, before the cock crows tonight, you will deny me three times.” Peter said, “Even if I must die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane and said to the disciples, “Stay here while I go over there and pray.” Jesus took along Peter, James and John and started to feel grief and anguish. Then he said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death. Please, stay here, and stay awake with me.” Jesus went on a little further and fell prostrate in prayer: “Abba, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. But not what I want—what you want.” When Jesus returned to the disciples, he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay awake with me for even an hour? Be on guard, and pray that you may not undergo trial. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” Withdrawing a second time, Jesus prayed, “Abba, if this cup cannot pass me by without my drinking it, your will be done!” Once more Jesus returned and found the disciples asleep; they could not keep their eyes open. Jesus left them again, withdrew somewhat and prayed for a third time, saying the same words as before. Finally Jesus returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping? Still taking your rest? The hour is upon us—the Chosen One is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up! Let us be on our way! Look, my betrayer is here.”
The betrayals and arrest of Jesus
While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived—accompanied by a great crowd with swords and clubs. They had been sent by the chief priests and elders of the people. Judas had arranged to give them a signal. “Whomever I embrace is the one,” he had said; “take hold of him.” He immediately went over to Jesus and said, “Shalom, Rabbi!” and embraced him. Jesus said to Judas, “Friend, just do what you’re here to do!” At that moment, the crowd surrounded them, laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. Suddenly, one of those who accompanied Jesus drew a sword and slashed at the high priest’s attendant, cutting off an ear. Jesus said, “Put your sword back where it belongs. Those who live by the sword die by the sword. Don’t you think I can call on my Abba God to provide over twelve legions of angels at a moment’s notice? But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen this way?” Then Jesus said to the crowd, “Am I a robber, that you have come armed with swords and clubs to arrest me? Every day I sat teaching in the Temple precincts, yet you never arrested me.” All this happened in fulfillment of the writings of the prophets. Then all the disciples deserted Jesus and fled. Those who had seized Jesus led him off to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the religious scholars and elders had convened. Peter followed at a distance as far as the high priest’s residence. Going inside, Peter sat down with the guards to await the outcome. The chief priests, with the whole Sanhedrin, were busy trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put him to death. They discovered none, despite the many false witnesses who took the stand. Finally two came forward who stated, “This man has declared, ‘I can destroy God’s sanctuary and rebuild it in three days.” The high priest rose and addressed Jesus, “Have you no answer? What about this testimony leveled against you?” But Jesus remained silent. The high priest then said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath, before the living God, whether or not you are the Messiah, the Firstborn of God?” “You have said it yourself,” Jesus replied. “But I tell you: soon you will see the Chosen One seated at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” At this, the high priest tore his robes and said, “Blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? You yourselves have heard the blasphemy. What is your verdict?” They responded, “He deserves death!” Then they spat at his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped Jesus, saying, “Play the prophet for us, Messiah! Who struck you?” While this was happening, Peter was sitting in the courtyard. One of the attendants came over and said, “You were with Jesus the Galilean too, weren’t you?” But Peter denied it in front of everyone. He said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” When Peter went out to the gate, another attendant saw him and said to those nearby, “This one was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again he cursed and denied it: “I don’t know him!” A little while later, some bystanders came over to Peter and said, “You certainly are one of them! Even your accent gives you away!” At that, Peter began cursing and swore, “I don’t know the man!” Just then a rooster began to crow, and Peter remembered the prediction Jesus had made: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” Peter went out and cried bitterly.
Spend time reflecting on this reading. Close with prayer.