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New Commandment Thursday

Do you have a maxim you live by?

We asked that question on social media and got some enlightening answers.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
“To whom much is given, much is expected.”
“Life stinks, then you die.”
(OK, that one was offered in jest.)

[Photo by Kathleen Barry]

For Christians, the Thursday before Easter is often referred to as “Maundy Thursday.” Much like other Christian holidays, it is a day of remembrance for a specific event. In this case, we remember the last meal Jesus shared with his friends before he was executed the following day (“Good Friday”). We call it “Maundy” as shortened reference to the Latin “mandatum”--which means “command” or “mandate.” So during Jesus’ last meal with his friends he provided them a new mandate, a command they would uphold if they were to remain his disciples. This mandate is recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter 13, verses 34-35:

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

What is Maundy Thursday?

In these verses, Jesus provides a maxim for discipleship/followership: love one another. It should be noted that just before saying this, Jesus had taken the time to kneel before each disciple and washed their feet. In his act of service, he demonstrated the kind of love they should demonstrate to one another. He demonstrated the kind of love we should demonstrate to one another.

The meal Jesus shared with his friends was, itself, a special commemoration. It was the Passover Meal--a remembrance of the Jews exodus from bondage in Egypt. Participants would have reflected on God’s great acts in providing for the people. During Maundy Thursday, we are invited to reflect on what God has provided us: especially in the person of Jesus. In Jesus, we believe God has come to us in the form of a person to show us God’s own nature. And through this, God calls us to love one another.

So what can we do on this special day? Reflecting on how we have and have not lived into Jesus’ commandment to love one another is great start. It prepares us for understanding the depth of God’s love demonstrated in Easter. Many churches have special worship services. Some include foot washing ceremonies and others include special meals, reminiscent of Jesus’ final meal. To find a special service near you, check out our Find-a-Church feature.

[By Rev. Ryan Dunn. Photo credits to Kathleen Barry. Originally posted April 16, 2019]

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