We are well into Easter week with yesterday being Maundy Thursday, the day in this Holy Week where Jesus celebrated Passover (see Exodus 11 & 12 for the history of Passover…a ceremony to remind the Jews of God’s deliverance and to teach them of a greater Deliverer that would come) with the Disciples (see Matthew 17-30, Mark 14:12-26, Luke 22:7-38). It is where Jesus washed the Disciples feet (see John 13:1-17) and gave them a command (in Latin the word for command is ‘mandatum’ where we get the word Maundy, and this being Maundy Thursday). So on this day Jesus gave the Disciples a new command…
John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
This new command was in contrast to the religious leaders of the day and the very essence of our faith, for long ago God had said, and Jesus affirmed, that love was to be a constant trait among Believers in God. Jesus replying to what was the greatest command of God said this…
Matthew 22:37-39 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
Love should be seen and experienced from those who are Followers of Jesus, those who are called Believers in Christ, those who live under the name Christian (which means little Christ or one who is like Christ)
This new command lived out means we are not self-centered like the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who were focused on their outward actions and appearance. They wanted to look the part but their hearts were filled with pride, arrogance, greed, and lust for power. Jesus exposed their unloving hearts…
Matthew 23:25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.
Matthew 23:27-28 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.
Wow, Jesus did not pull any punches. Those religious leaders got what was coming to them. But wait, we can be just like them by focusing too much on self; what we want, what is pleasing to us, what is comfortable to us, living the American Dream of us being at the center of everything and living out our ‘inalienable’ rights. And we do that with faith and church and even God! Now it’s not that we can never have nice things or be comfortable or take care of ourselves, but it’s who is focus of life? For the religious leaders it was not love of God, but love of self. Jesus gave a new commandment to love others the self-less way Jesus loves us!
As well, the religious leaders were not making the object of their lives loving God as Deuteronomy 6:5 commanded. They were seeking positional power. Again, Jesus calls them on this unloving way…
Matthew 23:1-7 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. “Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them ‘Rabbi.’
Those evil religious leaders!…But again wait…we can be just like them when we start to lay on others and ourselves legalistic rules of faith that God only accepts and loves people who are worthy or like us…or that God only accepts certain kinds of dress for church or certain kinds of music or musical instruments for worship …or that to experience the blessing of God’s love you can never mess up or have had to be born in a certain family or country or social status. Yet that is not how God’s love works at all. God has simply chosen to love us (see 1 John 4:7-11)…the love of Jesus is given in grace, not earned or deserved because to living a certain way.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
So this new commandment is to love with grace, like Jesus did for us. It makes me wonder if sometimes I’m more like the yucky religious leaders of Jesus’ day then I would like. What about you? I know I want to embrace and live out this commandment that Jesus gave on this day in history. How about you?
Seeking to love more this Easter with you,