Holy Week Family Devotional: Maundy Thursday
On this Maundy Thursday, ask the following questions as a family:
Q: What do you think of or feel like when you hear the word “command” or “commandment”?
Q: What commandments from the Bible do you think are most important? Why?
READ: Maundy Thursday (John 13:12–17, 31–35)
Q: What kind of an example did Jesus set for how we should live? Describe what Jesus was like, what He did, and how He treated people.
Q: Why is it our love that will make people recognize us as Jesus’s followers? How is His kind of love different from the love of other people?
The Master Never Washed Feet
When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet at the Last Supper, He did something radical. Something no one had ever done before. The master never washed feet. That was the job for the lowest servant in the household. In Bible days, people walked everywhere and wore sandals every day. The roads were dusty, dirty, and muddy, not asphalt or pavement like we have today. I mean, stepping in donkey dung was a pretty regular occurrence. So washing people’s feet was a nasty job. Yet Jesus did it. God Himself in human form washed their feet!
Then He said He was showing them how they should love other people. Through this simple yet significant act Jesus was showing them that to really love someone is to serve them. Not just to say you love them or have happy feelings about them when you see them or spend a lot of time with them. To love someone means to serve them, to do helpful loving actions for them. Real love is giving of yourself for others, putting other people’s needs ahead of your own, sacrificing your own comfort to help someone else. Putting yourself last, making yourself the lowliest servant. Real love is humble love in action.
This night is called “Maundy Thursday” because it is the night that Jesus gave them His “new command.” “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for “mandate” or “command.” At first, it seems like His command isn’t not really all that new, right? The two greatest commands have always been to love God with all you are and love your neighbor as yourself; Jesus Himself said so (Matthew 22:36–40). The difference is that the old command was “love your neighbor as yourself.” This new command is “love other people as Jesus loves you.”
The way Jesus loved people—not just when He was washing their feet, but through His whole time on earth—was radically different from the way the world loves each other. Every human being is capable of some level of love. Because we are made in the image of God and God is love, we all love. But the natural, human kind of love is self-centered. The natural kind of love is one that loves people who are nice to us. The kind that loves as long as it’s convenient or makes us happy. But the Jesus kind of love loves everyone, no matter what, and even when it’s hard.
Jesus Always Noticed
Jesus always noticed people who were sad or hurting, the ones other people walked right past. When He healed someone, He reached out and touched them, even people that the culture would have considered unclean. He showed women, children, foreigners, the sick, and the poor that they had equal value in God’s eyes even though the culture didn’t think they were valuable. He didn’t just help people, He wept with those who were hurting and felt their pain with them. Then He gave His life on the cross so we could live. Jesus was the greatest example of self-sacrificing love who has ever lived.
Jesus’s command for His twelve disciples that last night, and for all of us who are His disciples today, is to love everyone in the world the way He loves them. “That is how they will know you are my disciples,” He said. If we love people that way, they will see something radically different in us. They will ask each other, why is that person so overly generous, so overly kind, so overly thoughtful, so overly compassionate, so overly gracious, even to people who aren’t nice to them. What is up with that person? And we can answer, “It’s not me, it’s Jesus. Because He loved me this way and gave me His Holy Spirit. That’s the only way I can love other people this way.”
(OPTIONAL) PARENT STORY: Radical Love
Describe a time when you showed radical love for someone by serving them—love through action. What impact did it have on that person? What impact did it have on other people who saw you do it?
ACTIVITY: Maundy Thursday
Develop a list of intentional acts of love for other people that you can do as a family. Not just “random acts of kindness,” but ways you can help people who really need help, ways you can put others’ needs ahead of your own, ways you can sacrifice yourself for other people, ways you can be a servant. Choose one to do each week and see how people respond!
Dear God, thank you so much for your sacrificial love for us. Please give us hearts to love other people the way you love us. In Jesus’s name, Amen.
MEMORY VERSE: Maundy Thursday
With your family, memorize the following verse:
“As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34).