A New Commandment

Maundy Thursday | April 9, 2020

Exodus 12:1-4, (5-10), 11-14 • Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19 • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 • John 13:1-17, 31b-35

John 13:1-17 New Living Translation (NLT)

13 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.

When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.”

“No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!”

Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”

Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”

10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

John 13:31-35 New Living Translation (NLT)

31 As soon as Judas left the room, Jesus said, “The time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory, and God will be glorified because of him. 32 And since God receives glory because of the Son, he will give his own glory to the Son, and he will do so at once. 33 Dear children, I will be with you only a little longer. And as I told the Jewish leaders, you will search for me, but you can’t come where I am going. 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”


Today is Maundy Thursday. People always ask, “What does that mean?” Maundy is a word that comes from mandatum meaning mandate. A mandate is something that we follow that has been passed down to us. We typically don’t get any say in how the mandate was formed, nor do we have any option, other than to follow that mandate.

On the last night that Jesus was with his disciples, he gave them a “new” commandment or mandate. They didn’t have any say in how it was formed nor were they given any options as to whether or not they had to follow. They knew that this mandate had to be followed.

Jesus tells his disciples, “Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” The disciples were to love each other and others with the same love that Jesus had shown them. He says this on the night that he was to be arrested and tried and sentenced to death the next day. Jesus sacrificed his own life so that the world may be saved. That’s some kind of powerful love. We are reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice as he instituted the sacrament of communion – the Eucharist – a word that means to give thanks. We are reminded to love each other and others as Jesus loved – that he gave up his own life for our salvation. For that sacrificial gift we should be thankful.


Almighty Father, whose most dear Son, on the night before he suffered, instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood: Mercifully grant that we may receive it in thankful remembrance of Jesus Christ our Savior, who in these holy mysteries gives us a pledge of eternal life; and who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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