Maundy Thursday, April 6 “A new command I give you: Love one another.”

Scripture: John 13: 33-35

33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Some thoughts:

In this passage, Jesus uses an endearing term “my little children” in addressing his disciples. Followers of rabbis were often referred to as children and learners. He tells them clearly that he is not going to be around much longer and where he is going, they cannot follow. These are men who have been traveling with Jesus for the past three years so the idea that “we can’t come with you” is perplexing to the twelve. So, Thomas circles back to the question in chapter fourteen. How would they function without him? What impresses me about the disciples is that though they had some idea who Jesus was as the Son of God, they were not afraid to ask him questions when they didn’t understand something. They are a model for us.

If you knew you were going to die in the next day or so, what would you say to your family and closest friends? My guess is you would be telling them how much you loved them. Jesus does that but he also introduces something new. “A new commandment” I give you. He is indicating a new kind of community of faith as a result of his Passover departure from this world. The new community is based on Jesus’ love for them. Without knowing his love firsthand, loving one another is not possible. His love is the cornerstone of the building of the spiritual community. Without that block, we have just an ordinary human powered community, and we’ve seen how successful those are!

In order for people to love one another, they must understand the love of Jesus as expressed in the Passover death on their behalf and in the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus describes and enacts that love and care in chapters 13, 14, 15, & 16. In chapter 17 we get to listen firsthand to Jesus’ conversation, his prayer to his heavenly Father. Chapters 13 through 19 cover less than twenty-four hours and account for about a third of the entire book of John. The apostle John did us a great favor in recording these final conversations of Jesus. Over the next couple of days, take your time and read these passages several times, putting yourself in the midst of the disciples and listen to a dear Friend who knows he is about to die. What do you notice?

Music: “Ubi Caritas” -4th century (text written specifically for Maundy Thursday worship possibly as early as the 4th century)   Audrey Assad

Bonus: This setting of the text by Ola Gjeilo   Central Washington University Chamber Choir      Outstanding choir


Where charity and love are, there God is.

The love of Christ has gathered us into one flock.

Let us exult, and in Him be joyful.

Let us fear and let us love the living God.

And from a sincere heart let us love each other (and Him).

Where charity and love are, there God is.

Therefore, whensoever we are gathered as one:

Lest we in mind be divided, let us beware.

Let cease malicious quarrels, let strife give way.

And in the midst of us be Christ our God.

Where charity and love are, there God is.

Together also with the blessed may we see,

Gloriously, Thy countenance, O Christ our God:

A joy which is immense, and also approved:

Through infinite ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, like Judas, we have betrayed you; like Peter, we have denied you; and like the other disciples, we have forsaken you. Yet you remain faithful to us unto death, even death on a cross. We plead for your forgiveness and mercy. And we ask that you strengthen us so that we do not turn aside but follow you to the very end-for the final victory belongs to you. 

The Worship Sourcebook, p. 597