It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. John 13:1
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34-35
Lord Jesus, as I meditate and pray my way through these Scriptures, quite literally, I’m undone. What but the gift of faith can enable us to grasp the wonder of these words and the magnificence of this moment? What but the power of the gospel can enable us to believe and obey them? Grant us both, I pray, grant me both.
On our calendar we call this day, Maundy, or Mandate Thursday. A day in the history of redemption brimming over with glory and grace. On this day in Holy week, Passover became the Lord’s Supper—your supper. The promises of the Old Covenant would soon be fulfilled by the blood of the New Covenant—your blood. Having shared eternal glory with your Father, you showed stunning grace to your disciples. Having loved this rag-tag bunch of broken men—who squabbled with each other hours earlier for positions of honor; who within a few hours, would all scatter and deny you—having loved them so well for so long, you then showed them the full extent of your love. You loved them to the end. You loved them through and through.
Your disrobing to wash their feet was with a full view to your being stripped naked to wash their hearts, and our hearts. Indeed, the measure of your love isn’t just the basin and towel of the upper room, but your cross and death on Calvary’s hill. What wondrous love is this indeed—how wide, long, high and deep?
Thus you command us, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” This is the new and never-ending mandate we live under as your disciples—a mandate, not a suggestion. There is no greater love than the love you have for us, none. And there is no clearer evidence of our love for you than the way we love each other.
Jesus, we acknowledge and grieve the multiple ways we love poorly—in our churches, in our families, in our communities. We offer no lame excuses and make no empty promises. As you continue to convince our unbelieving, dull hearts of your great love for us, convict us, humble us and love through us to your glory. So very Amen, we pray, in your holy and passionate name, on this Maundy Thursday.