This day of Holy Week has a name that has focused our attention for centuries: Maundy Thursday. The name comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which means, “command.” Those of you that speak Spanish know that when you aren’t sure what someone said, “mande?” is a polite way of saying, “excuse me”. Of course you are literally saying, “Command me?” Maundy Thursday reminds us that it is on this day of Holy Week that Jesus issued the new command.
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
That opening phrase in Latin (I’m not at all conversant in Latin, I just make my way through) is – … Mandatum novum do vobis… Thus the name.
The scene is recorded most completely in John 13-16. Jesus has sent some of the disciples to get there room and others to go buy the stuff they will need to eat Pasach (Passover) together that night (remember the Jewish day begins at sunset). So that evening as they are gathered together away from the crowd Jesus during the 3rd of 4 Cups of wine that are drunk during the Seder (Passover meal) gives us what we call the Lord’s supper, or communion, or the Eucharist.
John tells us in that intimate setting Jesus also removed his outer flowing robe tucked a towel into his belt and washed their feet. Wow. The Son of Man DID come not to be served but to served! (Mark 10:45)
He lets us know that this isn’t a “Jesus only thing” but that this is life in the community gathered in His name that we call the church.
Reading: John 13 (If you are reading this to kids and want to shorten it a little by leaving out vs. 21-30).
Take a minute to ponder the wonder that the primary reality of your relationship with God is God serving you. (Yes you read that right) (If it helps read Acts 17:24-25; Isaiah 64:4; Psalm 116:12-13).
Ask God to give you the grace to love with the servant love of Jesus.
Leading up to Passover in Jewish homes, it is traditional to hunt for leaven in the house. Go on a mental leaven hunt. Ask the Holy
Spirit to show you some selfishness that is hindering love in your life.
Tonight, at dinner or sometime on Thursday evening, have communion. Take some wine or grape juice and some bread (matzoth would be great) and remember. By yourself, with your roommate or family, remember the stunning act of servanthood that would come the next day, Good Friday.