“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35
Today, we remember the night before the day the world went dark. The night that Jesus sat down for a meal with his beloved disciples, washed their feet in an act of sacrificial love, and promised them the Holy Spirit.
He would go on to face betrayal, arrest, ridicule, mockery, torture, and crucifixion. But that mustn’t diminish the night the Son of God gave us a picture of what it looks like to lead by serving. In Jesus’ time, people walked the streets in sandals, their feet covered in dirt, dust, and animal waste. It was custom for the lowest servant in the home to wash the feet of the guests. Jesus symbolically and intentionally takes on this role and says, “I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you.” For Jesus, leadership and service were (and are) synonymous.
I see this playing out like that treasured scene in a favorite movie: The chords begin to play. The lyrics seep to your bones. Somehow time halts and hastens simultaneously. And the montage of the characters we’ve come to know is woven together, and all is exactly as it should be. When I read John 13, I feel moved in that way. Jesus is being precisely who God sent him to be: one who loves, leads, speaks truth.
Later that night, at what we now know as the Last Supper, Jesus tells his disciples that he will only be with them a little longer. He gives a new command: “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” or “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” It is from this scripture that we get the name Maundy Thursday. On it, we give thanks to the Lord who gave us this brilliant example of love, the sacred gift of Holy Communion, and the Great Counselor who dwells within us all.
So on this day, before we lament … Let us be reminded that aside from loving our God, there is nothing more important than loving one another.