Is it Biblical to observe Maundy Thursday?

Question:  Are Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday all Biblical to follow? I realize Good Friday was our Lord’s last supper, but some churches celebrate Maundy Thursday and Holy Saturday before Easter and some do not. Just wondering. And if they are Biblical, where are they found in the Scriptures?

Answer: Here are the Wikipedia descriptions of each of the holy days you mentioned:

Maundy Thursday (also known as Holy Thursday or Great and Holy Thursday), is the Christian feast or holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday. On this day four events are commemorated: the washing of the Disciples’ Feet by Jesus Christ, the institution of the Mystery of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper, the agony of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, and the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot.

Good Friday, also called Holy Friday, Great Friday or Black Friday, is a religious holiday observed primarily by adherents to Christianity commemorating the Crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Golgotha, an event central to Christian theology. The holiday is observed during Holy Week as part of the Paschal Triduum on the Friday preceding Easter Sunday, and often coincides with the Jewish observance of Passover. Based on the scriptural details of the Sanhedrin Trial of Jesus, the Crucifixion of Jesus was most probably on a Friday. The exact year of Good Friday has been estimated as AD 33, by two different groups.

Holy Saturday is a day of silence and prayer which commemorates the dead Christ in the tomb. No Mass is celebrated. In some Anglican churches, including the Episcopal Church in the United States, there is provision for a simple liturgy of the word with readings commemorating the burial of Christ.

Of course these traditions are rooted in the centuries long observances by the church prior to the Reformation. Though many Protestant churches after the Reformation (AD 1500) continued to keep these traditions, others began to alter their traditions fearing a slavish and perhaps dangerous similarity to the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church practices.

There is nothing Biblical telling us to observe any of these days, though we are told by Jesus to remember him often through the Lord’s Supper, but our historically based faith tells us that these were real events that really affected our salvation and so there is every reason to celebrate them if we choose. We are not obligated to observe them, but there is a richness to our history as the Body of Christ that we can affirm and utilize as spiritual disciplines to draw us closer to Christ.

Randall Johnson


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