Maundy Thursday, Jesus’ Overlooked Mandate

Too close to see. This morning I couldn’t find my glasses until my wife laughed and pointed at my head. I reached up and laughed myself. I had become my Grannie who had often overlooked the obvious.

Maundy Thursday. Truths in God’s Word can be like that. For example, many traditions will celebrate Maundy Thursday this Easter, but fail to grasp the meaning and significance of “maundy.” My dictionary defines it as “command” or ”mandate.” We celebrate the Lord’s Supper or Eucharist Jesus instituted that first Thursday, but overlook His vital mandate, “Love one another, as I have loved you that the world may know you are my disciples.” It’s a command he modeled when that same night he washed the disciples feet.

Not the Golden Rule. This command is so different from the old covenant command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” He ordered us to love each other in the church, the body of Christ, even more than the neighbor. For the Jew, the neighbor was a fellow Jew, but in his story of the Good Samaritan,Jesus re-defined “neighbor” as a stranger, not our brethren. The apostle understood the difference, “let us do good to all men, but especially to those believers who belong to the family of God with you.” (Gal 6:10 AMP)

No, it’s not the old rule, but a new rule, one with a wonderful promise—the world will take notice of us and recognize us if we lay our divisive traditions on the altar of His love and unity. For example we might make our unity a higher priority than those pet doctrines that have fractured the body of Christ and weakened our witness.

Our neglected message. Today neighbors without Christ pass by our buildings, hardly glancing at our church billboards to read our good news advertisements. Is it their neglect or ours? Is their lack of interest in our message because we avoid and ignore our fellow believers who worship next door? Is this why folks who join our church are recycled believers, not new disciples?

A world turned right-side up. Those believers described in Acts had something better than an evangelism program. They had a great reputation with their neighbors and they changed their world. One bystander put it this way: “Look at those Christians, how they love one another?” Unlike modern churches, Jesus never taught witnessing or witnessing techniques. He said, ”be my witnesses.” His program of winning others was for his church to model a New Covenant lifestyle which St. Luke called koinonia—a “love one another” community.

Let God be the Evangelist. Those early disciples discovered Jesus’ method worked, for they “had the good will of the people and God added to their number daily.” (Acts 2:47). They diligently practiced what Jesus commanded and won their neighbors.” See the connection?

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