Lessons of Love and Timing from the Last Supper
On Maundy Thursday, we explored some lessons from John 13:1-17 and John 13:31-35 (NIV), focusing on passages that might feel quite familiar to many of us. These passages tell the story of Jesus washing his disciples' feet during the Last Supper and giving them a new commandment. As with much of Scripture, there is always something new to learn from God's word.
From these passages, we discovered three lessons that may be new to you as well:
Lesson 1: Timing
The first lesson involves timing. In John 13:1, we read that Jesus knows that his hour has come, and he is aware of the pain and suffering he will soon endure. The disciples, on the other hand, are preoccupied with daily life, unaware of what the next 24 hours will bring.
Two aspects of timing stand out here:
Jesus' hour has come to fulfil prophecies and predictions, a time of death and a time of glory.
Jesus loves his disciples - and all of us - to the end, even when we disappoint him.
Jesus' unwavering love is demonstrated through the washing of his disciples' feet in John 13:5, a humble act usually reserved for someone of lowly status.
Lesson 2: Symbolism
The second lesson revolves around symbolism. When Jesus washes the disciples' feet in John 13:4-5, he first takes off his outer clothing and then puts it back on. The original Greek words used here suggest that Jesus is symbolically laying down his life and taking it up again. This gesture foreshadows the Easter story – the sadness of Jesus' death and the joy of his resurrection.
Lesson 3: Maundy
The third lesson comes from the term "Maundy," which is the reason we call today Maundy Thursday. Derived from the Latin noun 'mandatum,' it translates to "commandment." In John 13:34-35, Jesus gives a new commandment to his disciples during the Last Supper, asking them to love one another just as he loved them.
In response to this commandment, English monarchs from the Middle Ages would wash the feet of beggars and distribute gifts and money, called "Maundy Money," to the poor. This tradition continues today, with the reigning monarch presenting Maundy Money to individuals chosen for their service to the church or community.
So, reflect on these three lessons we've gleaned from the passages of John:
The significance of timing, reminding us that we should act now and not wait until it's too late.
The central message of the Easter story, the foundation of our Christian faith: Jesus lived, died, and was resurrected for our salvation.
Jesus' commandment to love one another, a challenge we must continually strive to meet in our daily lives.
As we move forward, let's consider how we might live out this love for one another in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.