Maundy Thursday is one of those days that leaves a lot of people scratching their heads. For a long time, that was certainly true for me too!
What does the name mean?
Why do some churches hold special services?
And what does it matter to me?
The word “Maundy” comes from Jesus’ words in John 13:34. Although he spoke Aramaic, the oldest records of his words are in Greek. Those words have been translated into many languages, including Latin. Since Latin was a popular language in the church world for a long time, certain Latin phrases continue to be used—phrases like mandatum novum which mean “new commandment.” This new commandment is to “love one another” as he has loved us.
Some churches hold special services, and some don’t. It’s really just a choice of the local congregation.
But why should any of it matter to you?
When you read the story in John’s Gospel, you discover that Jesus doesn’t just say things—he lives them out. He demonstrates what he means. And just before he gives this command to love one another, he washed his disciples feet.
Think of that for a second. The Son of God—Saviour of the world—stoops down and washes the dirty feet of his friends. Feet that had just walked through filthy city streets which were surely covered in all kinds of things, even animal excrement.
So he washed their feet. Including the feet of Judas Iscariot. The man who betrayed him. The man who Jesus KNEW would betray him.
There’s a lot I could say about this, but let me just offer this one thought:
If Jesus can love Judas and wash his feet, you can love and serve people you don’t even like.
Today is Maundy Thursday. So don’t just go through the motions. Jesus is walking toward the cross. And he leaves behind him a wake of love. So should you.
Regardless of how you feel about the people you meet today, “Love one another.”
What Jesus says is more important than what you feel.
By Matthew Ruttan