Today is Maundy Thursday, the day Christians all over the world remember the events of the night our Lord Jesus was betrayed by his disciples. Yeah, remember, it wasn’t just Judas who betrayed Jesus; he was just the only one who got paid. They all fled that night when things got hairy. They all abandoned Jesus (Well, the guys did. According to the Gospels, the women were the only ones who did not flee the scene. They stood by their man, as it were, through the trials, the suffering, the crucifixion, and the burial).
The word “Maundy” is from a Latin word that means “commands.” That word has been used by Christians to describe that last night for centuries because Jesus gave his followers several commands during that last meal:
“Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” ~John 13:14-15
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” ~John 13:34
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” ~John 15:12
Today is a day of solemn remembrance. Easter Sunday — I can’t wait for Easter, I love Easter, Resurrection! — is a day for exuberant celebration. But Maundy Thursday is for individual and corporate reflection. Inspection. Introspection. How have I betrayed my Lord? Am I keeping his commands? In what ways do I continually deny my Savior?
He told his disciples that night around the table to remain in his love, to obey his commands. At a meal together, he asked them to obey his commands just as he had obeyed the commands of the Father. And then he says it: My command is that you love each other as I have loved you. You’re my friends, he says, if you do what I command (John 15:9-14).
Are we obeying his primary command to love each other? Are we showing Christ Jesus’ sacrificial, servant-hearted, selfless love to other followers? Or do we betray our Lord and disobey his command by judging other disciples and withdrawing from other followers? Are we loving and serving all Christians as Jesus commanded, as he prayed to our Father on that dark night we would, or do we only love and serve Christians who think and behave exactly like we do? Do we reject Jesus’ command by criticizing other churches, even condemning them, because we have different understandings or different practices?
Here at Central, we’re trying to love all Christians in Amarillo the way Jesus showed us during that last meal on that Thursday night. We’re trying to be sacrificial. We’re trying to be servants. We’re trying to come closer together with other Christians. We’re trying to erase the man-made lines of distinction and focus on the many, many things we all have in common in our Lord Jesus. No judgments. No criticisms. More grace. More forgiveness. More service. More love. We’re not perfect at this yet; nobody’s arrived. But we’re trying.
Tonight, our church family joins with our brothers and sisters at First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and Polk Street Methodist for a time of worship and communion with each other and with our risen and coming Lord. We’re going to reflect together. We’re going to inspect our lives together. We’re going to eat and drink together. And we’re going to commit to the Maundy Thursday spirit of paying attention to Jesus’ commands. And obeying them.