When I tell people that today (the Thursday before Easter) is Maundy Thursday, I am usually met with a blank stare or a look of confusion and someone saying, "What is Monday Thursday?"
The words Maundy Thursday are derived from the Latin phrase “Dies Mandatum” which means "The mandate" or more specifically “The day of the new commandment.” This mandate or commandment is in reference to John 13:34 - 35 when Jesus tells his disciples, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." (ESV).
Today’s reading highlights the commandment or mandate that Jesus gave to His disciples in the upper room on the eve of His death. Traditionally, the Church observes this evening with a ceremonial foot washing service and concludes with a time of communion. Today, we will look at the events of this first Maundy Thursday to reflect on Christ’s death and prepare us to celebrate His resurrection for our justification on the first Easter Sunday.
Verse 34 - 35: "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” In this passage Jesus lays out his expectations to his followers for when He is gone. In his commentary on John, D.A. Carson hits the nail on the head concerning the attainability of this new command, “The new command is simple enough for a toddler to memorize and appreciate, profound enough that the most mature believers are repeatedly embarrassed at how poorly they comprehend it and put it into practice.” Jesus’ command for the disciples is to love one another the way he loved them. We know Jesus showed his great love for his disciples in the foot washing ceremony but it wasn’t the washing of the feet that he was referring. The foot washing points directly to the death of Jesus and the disciples would soon see the importance of loving each other in the manner that Jesus truly loved them. He then tells them it is important for the disciples to love one another in this way. Through loving one another with a sacrificial and self-less love people will know that they belong to Him.
Essentially he is saying to all believers, you are going to be on display for the world to see and the manner in which you treat each other and love one another will speak volumes about who you follow. Love for one another needs to be the evidence that you are a disciple of Jesus. Jesus gives the disciples and us a life command and not one that they are to keep once and then move on… love must be displayed among them continually, so people will see we belong to Jesus.
Second century Christian author Tertullian writes about how the Pagans marveled at the love of the Christian fellowship, especially in times of intense persecution. He writes, “See how they love one another! ... How are they ready even to die for one another!”
So, what does sacrificial love look like? We need only to look at Good Friday as a reminder of true sacrificial love. We see this true love in Jesus as he willingly to laid down his life for his friends. When we look at the cross of Jesus it wasn’t intended to make us feel good about ourselves. The cross of Christ is intended to bring glory to Jesus and to the Father and to give life to all who believe. The willingness and obedience of Jesus
going to Calvary speaks volumes as to his love and full commitment to his
people. The cross wasn’t an example of Christ’s love for us, it was the essence of
his love. The cross was Jesus’ love in action. We have heard the saying,
“Actions speak louder than words” and this is truly the case in Jesus Christ and the
cross. This is an awe-inspiring love, it is an unbelievable love, it is the kind of
love that is motivated and given by the Spirit so we can in turn love our brothers
and sisters in Christ as Jesus loved.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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