Greetings in the Name of the Lord:
As we continue with our battle with Covid-19 I pray that all are doing well. This is a good time for us all to catch up on our reading and Bible study and I have taken advantage of that aspect of “social distancing!”
Yesterday (Monday, April 6th) Sybil and I were working in a flower bed just to spend a little time outside. Then it happened… the spirit moved. (I hasten to add that I am dubious of the Holy Spirit being involved in this incident!). Sybil asked me, “Do you see anything on my back?” I couldn’t lie to my wife because there was a small lizard crawling around on her back. When I informed her of this uninvited guest she let out a sound comparable to a Screech Owl in distress and took off running. I jumped in the car and caught up with here just north of Keystone Heights (okay, I concede there is a small bit of exaggeration here!). By this time the lizard had decided that he didn’t want anything to do with us and had jumped off Sybil’s back and hitchhiked back to Middleburg. This incident in our lives has given a whole new meaning to the old phrase “leaping lizards.”
Now back to reality. Thursday, April 9th, 2020 is Maundy Thursday (always on the Thursday before Good Friday). What exactly is Maundy Thursday and where and how did it get its name? I hope to give you some answers to these questions in these next few words.
Maundy Thursday is based on a passage of Scripture in John 13:5-35 with special emphasis on the “New Commandment” as given is verse 13:34. Jesus was speaking and said to His disciples, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” (John 13:34). This is a concept that has been lost by many of God’s people in the day that we live in. The word “Maundy” taken at face value is a ceremonial command. In the instance of Maundy Thursday it is so called from the ancient custom of washing the feet of the poor on this day, which was taken to be the fulfillment of the “new commandment.”
If you read all of the text in John 13 leading up to the new commandment you will readily recognize the humility, selflessness and love exhibited by Jesus toward His disciples. It might interest you to know that in chapters 1-12 love is used 12 times. In chapter 13-21 love is used 40 times. I believe “love” is the key word in Jesus’ farewell message to His disciples.
Love must be the distinguishing mark of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus’ new command closely resembled the Mosaic commands to love the Lord (Deut. 6:5 – “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”) and one’s neighbor as oneself (Lev 19:18 – “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.”). Now, compare these two Old Testament passages with Mark 12:30-31- “30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.”
Elsewhere Jesus said we must love even our enemies (Mt 5:43-44 – “43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” While the command to love God and one’s neighbor was thus not new, Jesus’ example (“as I have loved you”) was unparalleled, as was His insistence that we should love our enemies. Put another way and taken in context, the Old Testament told us to love our neighbors. The New Testament tells us to love our enemies!
In theory the impulse of this new commandment sounds easy enough. In practice we find that it is much harder to achieve the impact that Jesus desired (“By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35). When loving your enemies seems to be a mountain too high to climb just remember Jesus has given great evidence of His love for us, He bled love at every vein.
I am praying and inviting you to pray with me for a rapid demise of this horrible virus that has assailed our nation and our world. It has separated us bodily but not spiritually. Sybil and I (Sybil has just stopped hyperventilating from the lizard fiasco) miss you all and are praying for you. We pray to see you soon!