Scripture: John 13:31-35:
Maundy Thursday is sometimes called “Holy Thursday” because it is based on the events of the night Jesus was betrayed. The name “Maundy” comes from the Latin word “mandatum” which means “commandment”. It was during the events surrounding Jesus’ last supper with his disciples that he said, “And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
The gospel of John is unique. It does not sound like Matthew, Mark, and Luke. John sounds like a poet – a dreamer – who paints pictures with words. He does not tell parables, he uses allegories. And he adds a significant event to the “Last Supper.” In addition to the bread and wine, John adds a towel and a basin, and washes the feet of the disciples. He did it to demonstrate, as he said, “he who would be your master must first be your servant.”
In Palestine the practice of washing the feet of a guest was normal. The roads were dusty, footwear was usually loose- fitting sandals, so when visitors arrived the host was expected to wash their feet. It was an act of hospitality, a normal way to say “welcome.”
While the Last Supper, as told in John’s Gospel, appears to be about practicing good hospitality, and Christians should certainly be hospitable to everyone, John takes this opportunity to make clear the “mandatum” to “love one another.” That was Jesus’ last – and perhaps greatest – command. “Love one another, as I have loved you.”
Maundy Thursday says to me that Jesus wants us to treat everyone we know, and even those we don’t know, as welcome guests, by loving them as he loves them. And as he loves us.
PRAYER: Divine Creator, who has loved us through loving people, and in so many loving ways, as we grow in our spiritual journey make us aware of opportunities to keep the “mandatum” – Jesus’ final command. Amen
Rev. Dr. Regi Thackston, Pastor Emeritus, Trinity United Methodist Church