Sermon for April 2: Commandment Thursday

Commandment Thursday

April 2, 2015

John 13:31b-35

You may have heard it before, but it won’t hurt you to hear it again: the reason this particular day is often called “Maundy Thursday” is that it is the day Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment.” “Maundy” is a corruption of the Latin word mandatum which means “commandment.” So it is Commandment Thursday. Interesting. It isn’t “Last Supper” Thursday or “Foot Washing” Thursday, but “Commandment Thursday:” Maundy Thursday.

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” The measure of Jesus’ love, of course, is the Cross, and the Commandment makes me wonder if he means that we are supposed to love each other in exactly the way he loves us, so that you and I are all getting crucified for each other.

No, of course not. His love for us is the foundation of our love for each other. We dare to love each other because Christ has loved us. I hope that helps, because Church people don’t always like each other. If you like everyone in this church, then either you aren’t paying attention or we aren’t diverse enough. There should be people here that you don’t like. But Jesus doesn’t command you to like them; he commands you to love them.

When you want the best for someone else, you are loving that one. When you actually do something that is for someone else’s good, you are actively loving that one. You don’t have to like someone to want the best for him or her; you don’t have to like people to do something that is for their good. I can hardly imagine that Jesus likes all of us equally (a Presbyterian elder I know has a bumper sticker on his truck: “Jesus loves you, but I’m his favorite”) but it’s not at all hard to imagine him loving us all, wanting the best for us all, actively doing something as outrageous as going to the Cross for every one of us, likeable or not.

Here’s something you can do to show love: on Sunday people wrote on 3x5 cards struggles they are having. I read them and to see the great struggles of the people of this church made my heart start to break. That is a burden Christ carries with him to the Cross. But you can help share that burden by taking one of the cards and praying for that person and that person’s struggle. Ask for God’s hope for that person, for God’s help to that person. And if you see ways that we as a community can show more love and more Christ-like love to persons with that particular struggle, let me know.

Christ-like love is love that wants the best for people, for friends and enemies, for relatives and ex-relatives, for those who are near and those who are far away. “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

Robert A. Keefer

Presbyterian Church of the Master

Omaha, Nebraska

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