Novum Mandatum

Good Friday, April 19, 2019

Last night is referred to as Maundy Thursday. It is not the product of an inebriated priest confused between Monday and Thursday. Rather maundy is an Old English word, an adaptation of mandatum from the Vulgate – the Latin translation of the Bible. And the words novum mandatum are found in John 13:34, at the conclusion of the Last Supper – Thursday evening.

A new commandment (novum mandatum) I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. John 13:34 ESV

Maundy refers to the new mandate – that we love one another as Jesus loved us. John shares that the Lord of lords and King of kings was lovingly washing the filthy feet of men who would deny and betray him. Stripped down like a slave, the Lord served others. Peter pridefully rejected the Lord’s act of service to him, then demanded a bath. Jesus patiently loved him.

In humility, Jesus serves and loves. He establishes his kingdom in sacrificial humility. He is not an egocentric, power-grabbing, ivory tower ruler. He need not prove anything or win anyone’s approval. He is a servant, a sacrificial lover, a benevolent King, willing to give all for the well being of others souls.

What does it mean for you and I to embrace this mandate? Tonight we mark the remembrance of His crucifixion. He died for you and me. How can I not love this One who loved me so while loving those around me? Will I humbly serve, give, labor and love for the well being of others? That’s the mandate – that’s the mark of Christ. May we keep it, hold it, and live it with joy today and every day.   

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