John 13:34 (NIV) “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Christians around the world gather today to observe Maundy Thursday. The Latin word ‘mandatum’ loosely translates to our word command and from this word we derive ‘Maundy.’
I thought it was odd, as a child, that today was called “Monday-Thursday.” Why were there two names for this particular day of the week? It made no sense to me at the time. It was not until I was older that I understood the true pronunciation and the meaning behind the observances I attended.
Today we remember the events of the last meal Jesus shared with His disciples. It was a traditional Passover meal but what happened during the meal began a chain of events that would change the world.
Jesus shared these words during this meal: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” (John 13:34 NIV)
“As I have loved you so you must love one another.”
The disciples gathered together with Jesus on that Passover evening. During the meal, Jesus took a basin of water and a towel to wash the dirt and the grime from the feet of those men who had walked so many miles with Him. They were appalled that He—the one they had followed—would stoop to such a lowly task. He humbled Himself to serve those whom He loved.
An act of dignity and humbleness…
American poet Mary Oliver observed such an event of humbleness which she reflects on in her poem titled “Singapore” shared in her book Devotions. She entered a restroom at the airport in Singapore to find a women kneeling in a stall with a rag washing what appeared to be hubcaps. It was not hubcaps but actually trays which held the butts of cigarettes and cigars.
This chance encounter deeply touched Mary. Just as when Jesus knelt before his disciples, this simple act displayed how dignity and humbleness can intertwine.
The theme of Maundy Thursday is remembrance. We remember His command to love one another, but later that evening, Jesus shared bread and wine with His disciples which we remember whenever we partake of communion in our corporate worship.
Matthew 26: 26-29 says: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
Even though He gave up His life for us, He does not expect us to give up our physical life for our friends.
But I wonder, though, if our love can become more tangible, concrete, and more like Him.
Can we grow to obey His command to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another?”
I pray we can.
A prayer for remembering to love:
“God of love, help deepen and strengthen our love, for you, for our neighbors, and even for our enemies. Make our love as simple and as beautiful as a bowl full of water and a rag.” Amen