Today is Maundy Thursday, the date marking the end of Lent and the beginning of the Easter Triduum—the three-day period leading up to Easter Sunday. The term “Maundy” stems from the Latin word “mandatum”—which means “commandment” and alludes to Jesus’ words as recorded in the 13th chapter of John’s Gospel: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
When you think about it, this is the essence of who Jesus is and why He came to earth, isn’t it?
Jesus knows that from a human perspective, it’s hard to love the unlovable. It’s hard to give and not get. It’s hard to turn the other cheek when you’re unfairly attacked. Conversely, it’s easy to love those who love you and give when you get something in return. But that’s not real Christianity, is it?
And so Jesus, knowing our selfish and sinful nature, had to come to earth to take the verdict we deserve—and winds up giving us the reward we clearly haven’t earned. Why?
All because He loves us. All to show that He loves us enough to die for us. And, yes, to show us that we must love the unlovable, too.
Loving the unlovable is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. As Jesus hung dying on the cross at Calvary, what did He do as the guards and mob mocked him? He asked the Father to forgive those responsible for His certain murder!
I wonder if Christians, in their zeal and excitement to rightly celebrate the risen Lord, don’t sometimes look past these next few days too quickly. In doing so, we might miss the significance of the sacred nature of today and Good Friday. How Jesus decided to spend His last night on earth offers believers a lifetime of insight on His nature and His ministry.
On that night in the Upper Room, He commanded us to eat and drink in remembrance of Him. He also showed us, by washing the feet of His disciples, that there is no job too small or menial for the one who believes and comes to serve.
I pray that your road to Jerusalem will be marked by moments of deep reflection and prayer in these coming days.
As for me, as the clouds begin to gather and the commemoration of the ultimate sacrifice looms, I am reminded of the great words of the hymnist:
“When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died; my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”