Today is Maundy Thursday. This was the last night that Jesus had with his disciples before His crucifixion. The name “Maundy Thursday” comes from the Latin mandatum novum, referring to the “new commandment” Jesus taught his disciples.
Seated around the table that night with Jesus was one who would betray Him, one who would deny Him, and before the night was over, all of them would desert him. The amazing thing is that Jesus knew what was going to happen and yet this is what He did:
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:3-5
Now I don’t know about you, but if I knew what Jesus knew about that crew, I’m not sure that would have been my response! However, the first statement sheds light on why Jesus could wash the feet of those he knew would hurt him.
Jesus knew His Father had given him all things. He had come from God and was going back to God. He had nothing to lose and nothing to prove. However, on this important night, He had something to give.
In John 13:34-35, Jesus says, “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.”
That’s why Jesus did what he did. He wanted to give His disciples a new commandment to live by. In these last words to his disciples, Jesus is defining what it means to love him. Five times Jesus said that love for him was connected to obeying his commands. And five times he said that his command is that we love each other as he has loved us. The point is unmistakable: our commitment to and love for Jesus is expressed by our love for one another.
Although, like the disciples, we don’t fully comprehend how deep the Father’s love is for us, it is most powerfully displayed in the death of Jesus on the cross. Love is defined at the cross of Jesus.
When we begin to understand and soak in the love of Jesus has for us, only then will we be empowered to carry out the new commandment that Jesus gave to us. On this Maundy Thursday may we reflect on the sacrificial, unconditional, powerful love of Jesus, and may we love others well as a result.