What’s the point of “Maundy Thursday”?
As a child, I remember being a bit confused when the Thursday before Easter rolled around each year. My ears always heard “Monday” Thursday. I remember thinking, “OK, which is it, Monday or Thursday…it can’t be both!” I’m pretty sure I never said that out loud for fear of sounding stupid. It makes me chuckle now, though.
Many of you are perhaps savvy church historians and know that the word “maundy” is evidently a shortened form of the Latin word “mandatum,” which means “command.” The mandate, or command, that Jesus gives takes place in the part of the Gospel story from John’s account when Jesus was at His “last supper” with the disciples. Preceding His mandate, I really love the candid snapshot of Jesus in John 13, TPT. He gets up from the meal, takes off His outer clothing, wraps a towel around His waist and begins washing the disciple’s feet. My friends, this is a radical picture of love! And, of course, we remember “Impetuous Peter’s” re-actions to Jesus, and Jesus’ beautiful inter-action with Peter:
8 Peter looked at Jesus and said, “You’ll never wash my dirty feet—never!”
“But Peter, if you don’t allow me to wash your feet,” Jesus responded, “then you will not be able to share life with me.”
9 So Peter said, “Lord, in that case, don’t just wash my feet, wash my
hands and my head too!”
Note that washing His disciples’ feet and having this interaction with Peter comes BEFORE Jesus’ sharing His new “command/mandate” with His beloved disciples. Jesus was always so intentional. He didn’t simply say things expecting His disciples (us) to automatically understand. He always lived out what He said.
In John 13:34, Jesus gives His “mandatum.” He says, “So I give you now a new commandment: Love each other just as much as I have loved you.” The absolutely astounding thing to me is that Jesus makes this “maundy” statement AFTER He predicts Judas’ betrayal; and, more or less, in the same breath that He predicts Peter’s denial. If this doesn’t make the picture clear enough to us what Jesus means when He says, “Love each other just as much as I have loved you,” then all we have to do is read what Jesus willingly endured in the moments following His last meal with the disciples—denial, betrayal, cursing, beating, mocking, torture, physical, mental and emotional anguish, crucifixion…death.
As we spend time with Jesus today, “MAUNDY THURSDAY,” contemplating the amazing things that Jesus willingly endured to show His love for us, may we grow exponentially in our understanding that to “love eachother just as much” as He loves us isn’t a choice, it’s a mandate. And, may we increasingly grasp that this mandate is only possible as we continually and completely surrender to HIS lordship in and over our lives, trusting in HIS Holy Spirit to fill us with HIS love.
GRACE & PEACE TO YOU ON THIS MAUNDY THURSDAY, MY FRIENDS!
Ps. Over the next few days try to take the time to read the accounts of THE PASSION STORY in the four Gospels for a powerful reminder of just how much Jesus loves you. And, for a great way to put some action to your love today, check out the suggestion in this devotional for Lent, “TREASURE IN JARS OF CLAY.”