In the Christian tradition, Maundy Thursday commemorates “The Last Supper,” the night before Good Friday.
“Maundy Thursday is part of Holy Week, which begins on Palm Sunday with Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem,” said Pastor Heinz Malon of Key Peninsula Lutheran Church.
“It’s Passover at that time –– which is why he’s in Jerusalem. Every day he’s teaching at the temple and then on Thursday he goes to celebrate the Passover meal with his disciples and he inaugurates what the church has come to know as communion –– or the Lord’s Supper, as it’s also called.”
Jesus also announces that one of his disciples will soon betray him, Malon continued. “So all the disciples are really upset. They’re concerned because they don’t know what this whole betrayal thing is about.”
Leonardo da Vinci depicted the scene in his famous painting “The Last Supper.”
On April 17, members of KP Lutheran will bring the painting to life in the church’s annual Maundy Thursday event.
The recreation has taken place every year since 2008, according to Bill Barker, a longtime church member who plays the part of Peter.
It’s an attempt to enliven the story by humanizing the disciples and showing the actual emotions taking place in each disciple when Jesus foretells the betrayal, Malon said.
People from Lakebay, Longbranch and even a person from Tacoma take part in the reenactment.
“We have 13 actors, including Jesus, and we also have a narrator who gives a background about what da Vinci was thinking when he painted The Last Supper, and about some of his other famous paintings,” Barker said.
The narrator also talks about the symmetry lines in the painting –– how everything points to Jesus, Malon added.
Each disciple sits, motionless, at the food-laden table until it’s his turn to speak. Then each expresses his shock and horror at the thought of betraying Jesus.
“It’s a visceral experience of the emotional conflict the disciples were experiencing when their teacher and best friend has just told them, ‘I’m going to be arrested and executed and one of you is going to betray me,’” Malon said.
“But it helps us understand that the disciples were real live people –– not superheroes. They were conflicted and confused and they didn’t understand what was happening, but knew that it was a big moment and a crisis moment. And they were afraid,” he added.
Theologically speaking, everyone has betrayed Jesus, Malon said. “And that’s the setup for Good Friday and for Easter –– that in spite of the betrayal, here’s how big the love is and how much hope there is.”
Malon hopes that “even people who aren’t churched can know that from the very beginning the people who made up the church were flawed and confused, but they cared for one another and they still managed to experience faith and hope,” he said.
Malon wants people to understand that a “relationship with God or some kind of spirituality is not some kind of stodgy, confining thing that’s constricted by a bunch of iron-clad laws –– that, if you don’t follow every single one of them there’s a lightning bolt that’s going to hit you.
“A relationship with God –– in whatever form that takes –– helps us get through those crisis moments,” he said. “The people who go to church and the people who don’t go to church: God loves every one of us.”