Maundy Thursday, April 9th 2009

( from Lutheran Church of the Master’s monthly publication, ‘The Mast’)

Traditionally in the Christian Church, this day is known as Maundy Thursday. The term ‘Maundy’ comes from the Latin word mandatum (from which we get our English word mandate), a verb that means “to give”, “to entrust”, or “to order”.  The term is usually  translated to “commandment”, from John’s account of that Thursday night.  According to the Fourth Gospel, as Jesus’ and the Disciples were eating their final meal together before Jesus’ arrest, he washed the disciple’s feet to illustrate humility and the spirit of servanthood.  After they had finished the meal, as they walked into the night toward Gethsemane, Jesus taught his disciples a “new” commandment, that was not really new  (John 13:34-35) :

 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, you also ought to love another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

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In your opinion, are the word’s that Jesus spoke on that Thursday night, concerning loving one another, words of law, or are they words of gospel?

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32 Responses

  1. Gospel…*: ) accompanied by lavish grace!

    1 John 4:7-12 (New International Version)

    God’s Love and Ours

    7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

  2. The commandment to love was not new. Deuteronomy 6:5 commanded love for God, and Lv 19:18 commanded loving one’s neighbor as oneself (Mt 22:34-40;Rom 13::8-10; Gal 5:14; Jas 2:8). However, Jesus’ command regarding love presented a distinctly new standard for two reasons: 1) It was sacrificial love modeled after His love (‘as I have loved you’; John 15:13), and 2) it is produced through the New Covenant by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit (Jer 31:29-34; Eze 36:24-26; Gal 5:22).

  3. Ike,

    Good points.

    ” Sacrificial love modeled after His love.”

    It doesn’t seem like there is very much of it going on…even in the church.

  4. Nancy,

    I’m just wondering if the command to love, is any different than any of the other commandments with respect to the demand that it be carried out?

    Demand is a function of the law, so I’m wondering if this command that we love each other is just another expression of law…something to be fulfilled. Something that we must do.

    From looking around at the church, it appears to me that we are unwilling to sacrifice for our neighbors, or brothers and sisters in Christ, unless it is convenient and the cost is not too high. And then usually only for those that we like.

    Jeus even washed the feet of His enemies.

  5. Jesus command illustrates the third use of the Law.

  6. How are you doing with that 3rd use, Jim?

    Is it working with you?

  7. If anything in the New Testament has been called: “A law of Christ”, it is this command to love one another, to bear one another’s burdens.

    And this whole expectation to love flows from and coalesces with the feeding upon God’s love, seeing that Jesus even spoke and enacted it on the same night.

    Do we fulfill it? Our faith is not perfect, our love is not perfect. But there is love in the church.

    When my father died, he wanted nothing more than that everyone get along and have warm relationships. I remember it still when someone really bugs me. For him, I remember how important it is.

    This passage from Luther’s “The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ” still sticks in my mind (copying from p. 247 from Lull’s Anthology:

    “When you have partaken of this sacrament, therefore, or desire to partake of it, you must in turn share the misfortunes of the fellowship, as has been said. but what are these? Christ in heaven and the angels, together with the saints, have no misfortunes, except when injury is done to the truth and to the Word of God. Indeed, as we have said, every bane and blessing of all the saints on earth affects them. Here your heart must go out in love and learn that this is a sacrament of love. As love and support are given you, you in turn must render love and support to Christ in his needy ones. You must feel with sorrow all the dishonor done to Christ in his holy Word, all the misery of Christendom, all the unjust suffering of the innocent, with which the world is everywhere filled to overflowing. You must fight, work, pray, and–if you cannot do more–have heartfelt sympathy. See, this is what it means to bear in your turn the misfortune and adversity of Christ and his saints. Here the saying of Paul is fulfilled, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2) See, as you uphold all of them, so they all in turn uphold you; and all things are in common, both good and evil. then all things become easy, and the evil spirit cannot stand up against this fellowship.”

  8. The willingness to give over to love…where does that come from? Where did Jesus get the strength in human form to give over to God’s way not His own wishes? Did He do it because of law? Did he do it because of His divine nature? Maybe there was something or Someone present and in operation…A Someone who as Christians is in operation in our lives today…without this Someone…we do not belong to Christ…with this Someone…we are new creatures with a new nature!

  9. I guess my point is this:

    Jesus tells us and shows us what we must do. (the law)

    And we refuse to do it.

    We refuse to love one another and sacrifice, and lower ourselves.

    So, the next day, He had to die for us. He had to die for our unwillingness to live the way that God wants us to live.

    Our pride will not give in to God’s love…so He had to die. We killed Him. And yet he fogave and forgives us still.

  10. “In your opinion, are the word’s that Jesus spoke on that Thursday night, concerning loving one another, words of law, or are they words of gospel?”

    Jesus words here tell me to “do” something, so they are law… the power to “do” them, however, comes from the gospel. When motivated by the gospel, that is, when I love others out of gratitude and thanksgiving for what God has “done”, that is a good example of a reasonable understanding of the third use of the law. It shows me ways I “get to respond” to the good news I have received. It’s like Isaiah saying in response to being cleansed, “Here am I, send me!”

    The moment that I think of that “response of doing” as somehow meritorious, however, that opportunity to love becomes a law that I cannot do and it becomes for me a law that I break myself against. It’s function then becomes the first and second use of the law… and I discover that I am unable to “do” it and need to hear the gospel again.

    Put another way:

    The gospel is my only hope. The law shows me my sin and God’s hatred of it. It troubles my conscience and drives me to Christ. When I’ve been set free by the gospel, the law shows me ways I “get to respond” out of gratitude. The moment that response becomes codified, however, I’m right back to the slavery that the law demands and in need of hearing good news again to be set free.

    So, if I happen to be loving others effectively, I hope I don’t know it.

  11. Well, it’s kinda like when He tells a caterpillar to fly…when the caterpillar “refuses”…He gives it wings…*; ) Once the caterpillar has wings…he can fly whenever he chooses.

    Jesus died for us when we were unable to respond…not because we simply refused to do so.

  12. “In your opinion, are the word’s that Jesus spoke on that Thursday night, concerning loving one another, words of law, or are they words of gospel?” (Steve)

    Jesus is quoting the law – but also giving an example of what that is supposed to look like. This is the law straight-foward and unabashed. Jesus is teaching them to ‘love’ – which is just words until we see it played out/explained.

    Truth is – none of us at one point knew what ‘do not committ adultery’ actually meant (namely as kids). And some of us even right now have no clue why this is even in the law – the full extent of what this means. But it’s different to actually have it happen to you or to committ the act yourself – then you understand the depth of committment that law is saying and why.

    Law or gospel – call Jesus’ commandment whatever u need to – all I will ever ask is we keep the law even if we hate it..

  13. Patrick,

    I think you are spot on, here.

    I think that word of law, “love one another” informs us, and exposes us and condemns us.

    We just do not want to love one another unless it is convenient, or doesn’t cost too much.

    Even then, it is dicey. Even then our motives often get the better of us.

    So He had to die. We just wouldn’t have Him here in His sacrificial goodness.

    But He loves and forgives us nonetheless!

    Thanks, Patrick!

  14. Nancy,

    “Jesus died for us when we were unable to respond…not because we simply refused to do so.”

    Excellent point, Nancy.

    Thanks!

  15. Societyvs,

    “And some of us even right now have no clue why this is even in the law – the full extent of what this means. But it’s different to actually have it happen to you or to committ the act yourself – then you understand the depth of committment that law is saying and why. ”

    Maybe that is why Jesus stooped to the lowest job of the lowliest slave in a household to show us what is expected of us.

    And we just don’t want to stoop that low ourselves.

    I mean, we do have our limits!

    Thanks, Jason.

  16. Jesus command to love does not point to the third use of the law but what the Law has always pointed to; namely the spontaneous heart that does without the Law being the Law. That’s what it means to have altruistic love and truly sacrificial love, no gain whatsoever, but spontaneous love.

    All else, third use or otherwise is shear and pure sin – if you have to be commanded to do it – you have already fallen into damnable sin.

  17. Un- self-consciousness in love.
    Huh?

    There is a need and we fill it without giving thought as to how it will affect us one way or the other.

    Can it be done by a self obsessed idolator? (me)

    I don’t think so. Maybe when I was a child. “You must becomes as these little ones…”

  18. Just wanted to say to all of you have a great easter – I’ll be away from today with friends (and without internet!) for the whole weekend.

    “NOW is the righteousness of God revealed, apart from the law,
    although the law and the prophets bear witness to it…
    We are justified by His grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus”.

    May that gift be ours through His unmerited mercy.

    Yours,
    Howard.

  19. Howard,

    You truly speak that Word of Joyous Grace that our Lord gives to us freely of His own will.

    A blessed Holy Week and a Joyful Easter to you an your friends.

    Thank you, Howard.

    – Steve

  20. It is a killer of a command. Praise Jesus that he loved us in that way and gifts us with the fulfillment.

    We should always attempt loving others the best we can but we will always fall very far short of that command. (lex semper accusat) Again it shows us our need for dead Jesus each and everyday.

    God’s peace. †

  21. St. David,

    “It is a killer of a command.”

    It sure is. Our inability to want to live and give as He did, was the occasion for His death on that cross.

    Thank you!

  22. Have a happy Resurrection Day Steve and all posters!

  23. To me, a strong local church is marked by love. As we become acquainted with the church, do we sense that the members are loving one another as Christ commanded (John 13:34-35)? A strong local church is marked by love. Do the members seem to genuinely care for one another? Do they minister to each other’s needs? As you become acquainted with the church, do you sense that the members are loving one another as Christ commanded (John 13:34-35)?

  24. Jimfromohio,

    Good points, Jim.

    I think the thing that stands out in my mind the most about the church is that they are brought together under one roof by the power of the Holy Spirit who calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies them.

    If it were not for that, I doubt that very many of us to hang out with the others very much at all.

    Thanks, Jim!

  25. WayneDawg,

    Thanks you, sir, and a blessed Holy Week and Joyful Easter to you and your’s!

    – Steve

  26. Here’s a corollary question, just because I like to stir the pot:

    What is the function of any command in the New Testament? Whether it’s “love one another” or “husbands love your wives” or “run in such a way as to get the prize” or “present your bodies as a living sacrifice”, are we commanded these things with the expectation that we will actually do them, or is just an exercise to reveal our inabiilty to obey?

    Or is it something else?

  27. Steve L.,

    I believe that there are two uses of the law. And by law I mean any demand (not just the 10 Commandments) that existence places upon us to fulfil our humanity.

    The first use is a civil use. That we might get along better in society, and in our relationships to one another, inside and outside the church.

    The second use is the theological use and it is to accuse and expose us, and kill us off to the righteousness project (our doing).

    Some believe in a so called “third use”, but I believe that the “third use” as “informative guide” is contained in the first two uses anyway and is not needed.

    All commandments demand our perfect performance. And not at some point down the road when we have improved to the point at actually carrying them out…but right now. “Be perfect…” ‘Be’ is the imperative.

    Can we encourage one another in the Christian life without throwing demands of the law or putting prescriptions upon one another? I think we can.

    We just have to be careful about saying “do it this way.”

  28. Jim,

    1 John: God is Love.

    The proper use of the Law is best described in Phillipians 3:7-12 because it also describes an improper use of law.

    http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Phil%203:7-12&version=31

  29. “Here’s a corollary question, just because I like to stir the pot:
    What is the function of any command in the New Testament? Whether it’s “love one another” or “husbands love your wives” or “run in such a way as to get the prize” or “present your bodies as a living sacrifice”, are we commanded these things with the expectation that we will actually do them, or is just an exercise to reveal our inabiilty to obey?”

    Both…….and they reveal God’s will.

  30. One thing that is often lost in the concept of “perfectly doing” the law is this; it means to have already done it without being told to do it. That’s ultimately what the Law is accusing and pointing to, it points beyond it’s office in this life, accusation and civil restraint.

    Thus if one is going to speak appropriately of “doing” any law this is what the Law demands and points to. This is why the Law is summed up in the great commandment of love. Hence the Law never gives what it demands. “Perfect” means not excuting it perfectly from a good heart AFTER the Law says “do X” or “love Y”. I think that is where many get confused. Perfect, if we are to use it correctly, means doing it without being told to do it. Thus, what the Law “desires” is that it be done without the Law. And THAT is what it points to and THAT is eschatologically the hope (certain expectation) that the redeemed have.

    This is how one can “get a taste” as it were to be UNDER the law. For the redeemed all that he/she does, ALL inclusive, there is no law. And as such all he/she does great or small, eating, drinking, sleeping, as well as caring for the neighbor…all of it is good and fruit because faith is the head (all that you do whether you eat or drink…apart from faith, says Paul, ALL is sin).

    Not only when the greater miracles where done, but , when Jesus slept or ate, he was being perfect and fulfilling all righteousness. When Jesus stood still, he was being perfect and fulfilling all righteousness. So we see it is the NATURE ALREADY of the good tree that produces nothing but good fruit, that’s all it can do. An apple tree IS an apple tree and thus produces apples, it needs no “law” that says in essence, “do apples”. To anthropomorphize this a bit for analogy: If an apple tree where to need to “hear”, “Do apples”, it would already have been shown to have fallen into sin. But an apple tree is an apple tree by Divine fiat and thus produces apples without the law and as such not “under the law” – in our analogy.

    Likewise the new man hears the Gospel of unconditional justification and its parallel sanctification of “getting use to one’s unconditional justification, the NEW MAN hears this and like the apple tree is called INTO being OUT OF NOTHING, the Divine fiat of the Divine declaration that stands and cannot fall: And by Divine fiat IT IS SO, like it or not per se. The “apple” tree is called into being and now produces nothing but apples – the new man is called into being and produces nothing but good fruit.

    Thus, what the Law demands but can never give, the Gospel gives and thus creates for itself.

    Hope that helps,

    Larry

  31. Larry,

    I think I am finally starting to get it.

    Your explanation helped a lot.

    But I can virtually guarantee that a little later today I will start to un- get it again.

    The old Adam refuses to believe it. He refuses to believe that Christ can actaully be my ALL in ALL, and that He does not require, or need my help in any way to make me Holy and righteous before God.

    So…I have to hear it again and again and again…and again. And I need to have Him virtually shove this truth down my throat in His Supper…to keep me where He wants me…in Him…and Him alone.

    That does help, Larry.

    Thanks again.

    – Steve

  32. Well put, both Larry and Steve. Thanks.

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