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What is Maundy Thursday anyway?

“‘Maundy’ comes, possibly by way of one or more European languages, from the Latin ‘mandatum,’ meaning ‘command.” The reference is John 13:34: ‘A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ Jesus spoke those words at the Last Supper, which took place the Thursday before Easter.”  Christianity Today “The Other Holy Day”

In context, Jesus had just washed the disciples feet and established communion based on the New Covenant brought by his sacrificial death, both events picturing this command he then gave us as his followers—to love one another as he loved us.

As I mulled all of this today, I grieved over how little I as an American Christian am obeying this command, and I see the same tendencies in other believers. Although we call ourselves followers or disciples of Jesus, our lives don’t show it when we fail to sacrificially love and serve one another. 

Far too often I am more concerned about myself, my own comfort, my economic well-being, my love of country, or my safety than loving God’s people. 

I like being safe and comfortable. I prefer our economy to thrive because it scares me to face the future by trusting only God. It’s easy for me to love those who look and think like me—Christians who don’t bring discomfort, disrupt my perspective of life, and challenge the status quo in the church. 

But to love one another as Jesus did means action, not comfort. It’s giving up what’s mine (whether status, privilege or time), not holding onto it. It’s loving by weeping with others in their hurts after listening to understand their stories. 

I don’t think that as a whole you and I are doing very well at this. Instead, we speak without listening, judge by political standards rather than God’s, consider and treat other believers as enemies, and sin by “liking” or even posting what is false or hate-filled.

I’m reminded of the way Paul expressed the kind of love we need in Philippians 2:3-8 (NET).

“Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself. Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well. You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,

who though he existed in the form of God

did not regard equality with God

as something to be grasped,

but emptied himself

by taking on the form of a slave,

by looking like other men,

and by sharing in human nature.

He humbled himself,

by becoming obedient to the point of death

– even death on a cross!” 

So today I’m humbled and convicted of how little I serve others, how much I serve myself, how often I hold onto what is mine, and how little I obey Jesus’s command to love others as he loved me. 

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