Good evening. Although we are unable to gather geographically on this Maundy Thursday, we can certainly join our hearts in worship and prayer. (L: Leader) (F: Family)
As always, we begin our wordship in the name of the Father, and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
A NEW COMMANDMENT: LOVE ONE ANOTHER
L: Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
F: “By this all [people] will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)
L: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
F: “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” (1 John 3:16)
L: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12)
Let us join our hearts in prayer:
Holy God, source of love, on the night of His betrayal, Jesus gave His disciples a new commandment: to love one another as He had loved them. By Your Holy Spirit continually write this commandment on our hearts and in our lives; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Epistle: First Corinthians, the eleventh chapter:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world. Thus far the reading.
The Holy Gospel according to St. John, the thirteenth chapter:
1 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.
33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Homily: Jesus Knew!
Think about the first verse of our Gospel lesson for this evening. John tells us that, “before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Jesus knew! He knew that he was about to be nailed to a cross and give his life in love and atonement for the sins of the world. Jesus knew, that through his death and resurrection, God was about to establish a new covenant with his creation.
That had to be a heavy burden, to know that he was about to suffer the most agonizing death that humankind has devised to execute a healthy human being.
To know that being nailed to a cross was in your immediate future, would be enough to make most us do whatever we could to escape from that experience. But not Jesus! He chose to stay, and had the courage to give his life, to complete his Father’s will to redeem us from our sins.
This opening verse from our Gospel lesson sets the stage for all that is to play out in the hours which will quickly unfold in Jesus’ life. Jesus knew, and although troubled by that which lay ahead of him, chose not to flee, but to give his life out of love for his Father’s will, and out of love for his disciples, for you and me. And in case we may have missed this point that John was trying to make, he adds “Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them, and us, to the end.”
Jesus knew! He was about to give his life for the world, and yet, what does he do? Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, gets up from the table in the midst of dinner, takes off his outer robe, ties a towel around his waist, pours water into a basin, and begins to wash his disciples’ feet! That was a gesture of pure, absolute humility. According to the custom of that day, when guests came to dinner, a servant, (THE LOWEST SERVANT!) was to wash the dust of their travel off their feet, that gathered because of their open sandals.
There was no servant that day, just Jesus and his twelve disciples, who, throughout the past three years, seemed never to catch on to the true scope of His ministry. He must have noticed that none of them chose to wash their own feet, nor to humble themselves to wash the feet of the others. And so, Jesus, who was about to give his life for their redemption, assumes the role of servant, and does what they were unwilling to do. He humbles himself, and washes their feet. It is a sign, a symbolic gesture of what was to come, when Jesus would, in absolute humility, give his life for their redemption, AND FOR OURS!
Of course, Peter had to be the one to object, saying to Jesus, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Peter didn’t know what this gesture was all about. He knew that he was one of Jesus’ disciples, which is a term that means a student of a master or Rabbi. The master doesn’t wash the student’s feet! It should be the other way around! “You will never wash my feet!” he said to Jesus.
But Jesus counter’s Peter’s objection, telling him that he really doesn’t know what this act of love means. He says to Peter, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” And it is obvious by Peter’s response, that he really didn’t know what Jesus was doing. For Peter, focused on the washing of his body, not on the humility of Jesus, who loved God above all else, and showed his true love to those he had come to know. What He did that night, was to give us an example to emulate as his disciples, to be humble and give of ourselves to express our love of God and uplift the lives of others.
Jesus knew! He knew who was to betray him, one of his own disciples. John describes it in these words. “Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, ‘Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.’” In light of all that Jesus knew, this had to be the most difficult. To have just washed the feet of Judas, to have demonstrated that to be a disciple of his, means we need to humble ourselves as servants of God. Jesus knew that Judas thought he knew more than his master.
Many commentators point out that they believe, the reason Judas betrayed Jesus was to force his hand, to become the kind of Messiah that Israel had hoped for – a Messiah that would lead the people of Israel as a military hero like King David. They all failed to see Jesus as the humble servant Isaiah had prophesied, would, through his life, usher in a new covenant, a new relationship with God.
Jesus knew, and yet he did not stop Judas from carrying out his evil plot. Here again, we encounter a love that goes beyond any love that you and I have ever seen.
At this point, I need to jump to our epistle lesson for this evening, since John’s Gospel does not record Jesus instituting the sacrament of Holy Communion, even though it is recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. Here again, Jesus knew what lay ahead of him. He not only knew, he also understood.
According to these four texts that record the night of our Lord’s Last Supper with his disciples, acting as the host, Jesus took a loaf of bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, “Take and eat, this is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” Then, after the meal, Jesus took a cup of wine, gave thanks and said, “drink of it, all of you, for this is the new covenant in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sin. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Jesus knew! He knew that what was to be accomplished through the betrayal of Judas, and his own impending death on the cross, was according to God’s will. He knew that through his life-giving death on the cross, he would become the ultimate Paschal lamb, who gave his life to redeem us from sin and death, and establish a new relationship, a new covenant between God, and us, which would last forever! And so, Jesus instituted a new covenant meal, which became a means of grace, for all who are baptized into his death and resurrection.
Jesus knew! He knew that this new covenant God was about to make with the world, through his death and resurrection, required a new direction. The Ten Commandments, which formed the terms of the old covenant, did not adequately express the terms of the new covenant which was about to unfold.
And so, in the concluding verses of our text, John tells us that Jesus told his disciples, “I give you a new commandment, that you should love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In fact, this is how this holy day got its name. Maundy comes from a Latin word that means mandate. Thus, Maundy Thursday literally means the day of the commandment, the day in which God set the terms of a new covenant relationship with his people, based on loving one another as Jesus the, Christ, has loved us.
Jesus knew he was about to give his life on a cross, knew what it meant to humble himself in service, to even wash the feet of his disciples, knew that one of his own would betray him. What a model of love he gives us to emulate!
This new covenant would no longer require the death of the Paschal lamb, which freed Israel from bondage in slavery in Egypt. (pause)
Jesus’ body and blood, given and shed for us to free us from our bondage to sin and death, is the ultimate gift of love.
And Jesus knew that we, like Judas who betrayed him, or Peter who denied him, or the rest of the disciples who deserted him, would continue to sin, and fail to love as he has loved us. He instituted a sacramental meal, a means of grace, where his loving forgiveness would be forever available to those who embrace him in faith. So let us, those who truly do not know the extent of our sin, in faith, hope and love use every opportunity to partake of the body and blood of Jesus the Christ, who knowingly gave himself for our redemption.
We Pray Together The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make His face shine upon you
And be gracious to you.
The Lord look upon you with favor and give you His peace.