Holy Week Devotional: Maundy Thursday
On Maundy Thursday, we learn about Jesus’ new commandment.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants” (Psalm 116:15).
READING: Jesus’ New Commandment (John 13:1-17, 33-35)
We’ve come to the day before Christ’s crucifixion. The day before everything went dark, when Jesus gave up His spirit and declared His work finished. Before He went, He had one final and new command to give His disciples. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34–35).
What’s so new about this command? Isn’t it synonymous with the old one?
The Old Commandment
The old commandment is a directive to love your neighbor as yourself. The new one is a call to love your neighbor as Jesus has loved you. Jesus has loved you better than you have loved yourself. He left every comfort of heaven to be flogged and mangled for you. He endured separation from His Father so you could be brought back into right fellowship with Him. He’s done things for you that you would never do for yourself.
With this new command, the standard of love is now based on how He has loved for you, not how you love yourself.
A Different Kind of Love
Jesus modeled the kind of love He wanted His disciples to have for one another by washing their feet. After they finished the Passover meal, Jesus got up, laid aside his outer garment, and became a servant. He wrapped a towel around His waist to wash His friends’ feet. On the surface, this task seems completely unnecessary. They are all grown men. They can wash their own feet. And, if anyone’s feet should be washed, it’s the Rabbi, not his students. But in this act of washing His disciples’ feet, Jesus proved even further that He came to serve and not to be served (Mark 10:45). And, He commissioned His disciples to do the same.
In his book, Ten Questions to Diagnose Your Spiritual Health, Donald Whitley, asks the question, “Are you more loving?” Whitley doesn’t ask if we’ve mastered the art of loving our neighbor. He knows we won’t fully love like Christ until we see Him (1 John 3:2). He simply wants to know if we’re growing. Even the apostle John lived in the tension of our growing sanctification. While he called us repeatedly and unapologetically to love others as Christ has loved us, he reminded us that if we fall short of this command, “we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One” (1 John 2:1).
Q: Since you have become a follower of Jesus, are you more loving? In what tangible ways have you seen the Holy Spirit grow you in the area of love?
Q. When and with whom do you tend to lack love?
PRAYER: Jesus’ New Commandment
Almighty God, whose dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it thankfully in remembrance of Jesus Christ our Lord, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
DISCIPLINE PRACTICE: Service
Read and consider the apostle John’s teaching on love in 1 John 3:16–18.
Love is so much more than warm and fuzzy feelings. Real love is an act of service. Through our sacrificial acts of love, we reveal Jesus and His love to the world.
You will likely have lots of opportunities to do this today, but think about a way you can intentionally and tangibly sacrifice for someone or for a group of people. Remember, it’s not about doing a good deed to make yourself feel good. It’s about glorifying our Father who is in heaven by allowing our acts of love to serve as a parable that puts His sacrificial love on display.
ADDITIONAL READING: Jesus’ New Commandment
Psalm 116:1–2, 12–19; 1 John 1–5