Commandment Thursday

by Jason Bollinger on April 2nd, 2015

The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for commandment. The context for that is found in John’s Gospel:

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.” (John 13:34-35 ESV)

Today many will attend Maundy Thursday worship gatherings focused on remembering Jesus’ last day before his arrest. He washed the feet of His disciples, had “The Last Supper” with them, outed Judas as the one who would betray Him, prayed passionately for them and for us, and spoke some of the richest words in all of Scripture (see John 13-17). It really is an amazing day to reflect on.

This week there has been a lot of focus on the Indiana Freedom of Religion bill. I’m not a politician, nor do I claim to know the depths of the legislation that was passed. I don’t know all the motives. I don’t know all the implications. I honestly don’t know what all is on the line. What I do know is Jesus. I know that as a Christian, I have some different positions on morality than my friends who do not share the same beliefs. What I also know is that the example of Jesus is to love and serve.

The idea of “not serving” someone who has different beliefs than I do is strange to me. The Bible says that Jesus lovingly and willingly took on the form of a servant. He wasn’t afraid to know and care for people with different beliefs or moral values. If that were the case, all the Christians would be Jewish. Instead, he practiced amazing hospitality and friendship. He cared and loved. He served. He taught. He healed. He prayed.

Legislating morality may make people with a certain set of values feel more secure, but the truth is that it will never change a heart. Jesus never forced somebody to act like something they weren’t. There were many who did experience a radical re-orientation of morality, but it was a choice they made in response to His love, service, and invitation.

The measure that Jesus gave us for effectiveness is not how many people go to evangelical churches or follow our moral values. His measure is how well we love each other. His measure is serving others. He stripped down and washed the nasty feet of his disciples and friends. He even washed the feet of the one He knew was about to betray Him.

This new commandment He gave was and is revolutionary. Legislation doesn’t usher in the Kingdom of God. Fighting with each other about who is right and wrong doesn’t get the job done. Taking our ball and going home when things don’t match our preferences isn’t an indication of spiritual maturity. The measure Jesus gave us on Maundy Thursday is that we are to love and serve.

Jesus wasn’t unaware of the events that were waiting for Him at the end of the week. He spoke these words with a sobriety and intensity appropriate for His last words to them on this side of the resurrection. Previously He said He was fulfilling old commandments. Now, He’s dropping something new. That’s a serious proclamation. He already simplified the entire law to (1) Love God (2) Love your neighbor. Here, before His death, he adds something new… “Love one another as I have loved you.”

We will spend our whole lives exploring that “as I have loved you” bit, but a lot of it comes down to this from John 15: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

Tomorrow we’ll soak in the overwhelmingness of Jesus absorbing the penalty for our sins. We’ll stand in awe of the salvation, mercy and grace extended to us. We’ll give thanks for what we have received. Today, we are challenged to consider what we’ve been shown and invited to show to the world.

Maundy Thursday. Commandment Thursday. A new commandment. Love one another as I have loved you. A new example. Serve one another. Wash each other’s feet. Your friends. Your enemies. Love one another as I have loved you.

Thank you, Jesus, for your love, sacrifice, and example. May we honor you by living according to your commandment.

​- Jason Bollinger


Posted in not categorized    Tagged with Commandment, Maundy Thursday, Holy Week, Easter, serve, love, John 13


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