Why dwell on the anguish of Christ on Maundy Thursday?

 On Maundy Thursday, we are asked to meditate on the fact that it was on the Thursday evening before Good Friday that Jesus and his disciples were together for the last time, when he and they stood in the shadow of the cross, when he washed their feet and instituted the Holy Supper.


We consider the darkness of the night when Jesus was arrested. Traditionally we use the gradual extinguishing of candles to be symbolic of the advancing darkness that came over Jesus during the night of his arrest, the anguish of Gethsemane, the flight of the disciples, the bitter hate of his enemies, the looming shadow of the cross and the God-forsakenness.

As a family devotion at home we can read the narrative of that night and of the crucifixion while intermittently extinguishing candles – experiencing the progressive darkness of that bitter night.


For example -

FIRST READING: Luke 22: 39 - 48

1st candle extinguished.

SECOND READING: Luke 22: 54 - 62.

2nd candle extinguished.

THIRD READING: Matt 27: 22 - 31

3rd candle extinguished.

FOURTH READING: Luke 23: 26 - 28.

4th candle extinguished.

FIFTH READING: Matt 27: 33 - 40

5th candle extinguished.

SIXTH READING: Luke 23: 39 – 43 and John   19: 25 - 27.

6th candle extinguished.

SEVENTH READING: Luke   23 : 44 - 54

7th candle extinguished.


Close your family worship with a prayer, thanking God for the bitter darkness that Jesus went through to redeem us from eternal judgment and set us free to serve our King and Lord, Jesus Christ.



We know many fears, troubles and distress on a daily basis.

But the Bible knows a feeling of horrible anguish that is more distressing than any that we hear about or encounter: It is the anguish of being a lost sinner, standing before the throne of judgment. True horror is to come before a holy God and his resentment for sin and for consciously choosing impurity, hatred, unfaithfulness and disobedience, rather than love, faith, hope, and obedience.


This is the sorrow and the fear that Jesus experienced, from the garden of Gethsemane, to the utter darkness on the cross when he cried out: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Jesus knew that the judgment of God for all the sins of the world would be upon him! Not because he ever sinned, or disobeyed or transgressed, but because of the sins of the whole world.


We read about this fear in the gospels. In (KJ) Mk 14:34 Jesus says: My soul is exceeding sorrowful unto death. And the NIV translated it like this: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”


“Overwhelmed with sorrow” means experiencing fear, terror, horror, sorrow, grief, distress, anguish, pain, suffering, death.

But what was the cause of this overwhelming sorrow?

It was the fear of God’s judgment that brought the Saviour to the point of the raw terror of hell itself.


But why dwell on this darkness? What are we supposed to learn from it? What is the reason that this dark night is so clearly recorded?

In the darkness of Christ’s anguish we discover who we really are, without the grace of God and the redeeming work of Jesus, without the cross and the salvation and the forgiveness of God.


And we see the depth of the love and the mercy of Christ for sinners, for me and for you.


It is not without reason that the Bible records that in Gethsemane Jesus asked his closest friends, Peter, James and John, to keep watch with him while he prayed.

Moved by the overwhelming sorrow of Christ on that day and by the reality of what we are saved from, and the cost of it all, we too are called to keep watch and pray to not fall into temptation again.


We are called to keep watch with Christ, for the sake of the salvation of the world.

Can we forget the predicament of those who die without forgiveness?


After we saw what Jesus did for us, how can we not remember his commission:

Keep watch with me, and pray.

Go, he said, even to the ends of the earth, and proclaim the good news of salvation, making disciples of al. After we saw his love and saw some of his sorrow and his distress on this dark Thursday, how can we not go?


Make this an unforgettable night for your family.