What Does Maundy Mean?
Maundy Thursday takes place on the Thursday of Holy Week, just days before followers of Christ celebrate Easter Sunday. The word "Maundy" basically means "command" or "mandate" and it stems from Jesus's new command in John 13:34 that says, "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another."
Our celebration of Maundy Thursday is based on that command, but the Thursday of Holy Week is marked by Jesus' Last Supper with His Disciples, their walk to the Mount of Olives, Jesus praying, and finally the arrest. It is a somber occasion as the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of men.
There is so much to discuss here from a theological, emotional, and intellectual standpoint that I could write a book and not come close to either the incredible beauty or depth of evil that we see take place in a span of mere hours.
For the sake of today's blog, let's go back to the new command. It is simple: "Love One Another." That's easy enough right? Most of the time...Well, some of the time it is easy to love each other. Let's look a little deeper.
Jesus did not just give a command for His disciples to love each other. He told them, "As I have loved you, so you must love one another." Picture this:
Jesus knew the time had come for Him to die. In His humanity, I cannot imagine the anguish He was feeling. He looked around the room at the Last Supper and there were people who would betray Him, deny Him, and fall away as quickly as they had left everything to follow Him. So Jesus stands up amidst this group of imperfect sinners, takes off his outer garments, wraps a towel around His waist and begins to wash these men's feet. Their nasty, muddy, probably hairy, dirty, disgusting feet. He knows He is about to die, but this message is so important that He has to teach it, more than that, He has to demonstrate it and allow these men, who He is giving everything for, a chance to experience it.
I imagine Him looking every single disciple in the eye when in reality He was looking right into their heart, their soul. He was pouring Himself into them and allowing them to experience true servanthood right before they would experience the truest form of love any of us have even seen at the Cross. These men would change the world because they would be completely changed by Jesus.
So there is Jesus, uncomfortably close, cleaning the worst part of who we are (in this case physically as He cleaned their feet), and doing it thoroughly and slowly so that they would feel every minute of it, and experience the Servant's Heart they would need. Then He stands up in the midst of them and says, "Now, Do Exactly What I Just Did For You For Everyone Else."
Following Christ is not about learning pithy sayings, backing a political candidate, or showing up at some building once a week. You will not learn to follow Jesus on a baseball field, at a school, or by reading a few Christian memes on social media. We follow Jesus by doing what He did. You teach your kids to follow Jesus by doing what Jesus did. When Jesus told His Disciples to love other people, do you know what He immediately did to show them how to love each other? 2 very specific things:
- He washed their feet.
- He gave up His life on the Cross for theirs.
What are we doing as followers of Christ? What have we turned Christianity into? When Jesus calls us to follow Him, He is not calling us to some theoretical type of faith that is difficult to explain and comprehend. He is calling us to do exactly what He did...Every Day...To Serve other people and to give up our lives for other people just like He gave up His.
Luckily Maundy Thursday was not the end. The awesome thing is that the ultimate destination of following Jesus is not death, that is just the means to the incredibly awesome end...Glory In The Presence of GOD!