Love one another: The meaning of Maundy Thursday

Today is Maundy Thursday.

The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin translation of Jesus’ words in John 13:34. “Mandatum novum” means “new commandment.” This new commandment is to “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

We could spend a lifetime pondering and applying those words. And we do.

First, Jesus says to “love one another.” The word for love is the Greek verb agapao. This is no warm and fuzzy feeling. It is an outgoing, sacrificial love.

Next, he says that they should do so based on his own example. He has taught them, guided them, helped them with their quarrels and problems, and even washed their feet. He is also about to go to the cross to die for them—and for us!

Maundy Thursday is about gratitude, yes. It is also a time when many Christians gather to celebrate Communion (as we will do this evening at my own church by candlelight and with song).

It is also a day to remember the principle which lies at the heart of Jesus’ ethical instruction. We may not always get it right. We may be tempted to think and act below our Master. We may get distracted in this world of flashing lights and instant messaging. But God continues to draw us—again and again—back to the love of Jesus Christ.

Recently during dinner we were talking about things that should be included in a list of “family rules.” Without hesitation one of the kids called out: “Love. Because that’s what Jesus said.”

Yes he did. And yes he does.

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”


–Notice: The Up Devotional will be going on break after Easter for two weeks, returning on May 2, 2022.

Click here for a short video about what to expect during Holy Week at Westminster in 2022.

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