Reading: John 13:1-17 and 31-35
Verse 34: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Today is Maundy or command Thursday. That’s what the Latin word mandatum translates to: command. Today’s “new command” is really an extension or an elevation of a very old command. Deuteronomy 19:18 comes at the end of a long list about how to treat and not treat our neighbors. It summarizes this teaching with these words: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” While practical and logical, these words did need amended. We don’t always love ourselves very well.
Jesus is an excellent teacher. He first demonstrates what he is going to talk about. He first takes off his outer clothing. This would’ve certainly focused the disciples’ attention as they wondered what in the world is going on. With their full attention Jesus begins to wash their feet. One by one, kneeling at their feet, Jesus begins to make his way through the 12. Part way through he deals with Peter’s objections and Jesus hints at a betrayal. He finishes up the task and asks, “Do you understand what I have done for you?” Yes, the Lord and teacher has knelt and served. Jesus wraps up the teaching moment with these words: “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
Jumping to verse 34 we read the new command: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” Jesus has demonstrated humble service. “As I have loved you” is the key part of this command to love. Jesus’ love is perfect and unconditional. It is pure and selfless. It is a love that never falters, never wavers. It is a love totally worth striving for. Giving our all for. “By this all men [and women] will know that you are my disciples.” May it be so.
Prayer: Lord God, when my limited, selfish love begins to falter, fill me with your unlimited, pure love. When I want to make my love conditional, attaching strings to it, remind me of the gift so freely and abundantly given to me. Over and over, again and again, whisper these words: “As I have loved you.” Thank you, Jesus. Amen.