The word “maundy” comes from the Latin mandatum which forms the basis of mandate. Maundy Thursday highlights the mandate given to us by Jesus to love one another as he has loved us (John 13:34). The events of that final evening Jesus had with his disciples before his death carry with them much significance for us today.
Each Gospel has an account of the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-23, John 13:18-30) and in each account Jesus mentions that the one who would betray him was dining at the table with him. I think this is significant for us today. In Jewish culture, the community and fellowship that took place around a meal was quite significant and the fact that this was a Passover Meal that Jesus and his disciples were sharing took it to an even deeper level of intimacy. This also happens to be the meal we model the sacrament of Communion after, as Paul mentions in his first letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).
Now, not only did Jesus know that Judas Iscariot was going to betray him, I think he knew he already had and Jesus still welcomed him to the table! Notice in John’s account (John 13:18-30) that Jesus doesn’t tell Judas Iscariot to leave before the breaking of the bread but rather Judas Iscariot leaves after he received it, on his own accord. It seems as though Jesus is demonstrating an open invitation to the table of the Last Supper, even for those who would betray and deny him. This could be a powerful reminder for us as we celebrate Communion.