RCL Maundy Thursday
Exodus 12:1-14, Psalm 116:1 and 10-17, I Corinthians 11:23-26, Saint John 13:1-17 and 31b-35

Tonight your head could spin, there are so many strands given to us to weave. The night makes no sense unless all the strands together make sense. The raveling that pulls all apart, or keeps the garment entire, is the name of the day, Maundy Thursday. Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum, which means commandment. The commandment thus mentioned you heard in the Gospel. Jesus, at his Last Supper with his disciples, tells them, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”[1]

It’s the old commandment of loving one’s neighbor[2], but the bar has been raised considerably. We are to love our neighbor not as formerly, as we love ourselves, but we are to love our neighbor as Jesus loves us. And Jesus loves his disciples, and he loves us, enough to lay down his life for them and for us.

As a demonstration of the degree of his love for his disciples, and for us, he’s going to go out after supper to be betrayed and to be crucified. His love is of a degree that he will sacrifice himself out of his love for them and for us. From the beginning of his Gospel, Saint John the Evangelist has referred to Jesus as the Lamb of God,[3] associating Jesus with the Passover Lamb, the sacrifice that saved the Israelites from the last and most terrible plague upon the Egyptians. The blood of the passover lambs is to be put on the two doorposts and lintels of their houses to preserve their firstborn from the death that will plague the entirety of Egypt. The Israelites will be delivered from slavery and returned to wholeness of life.

By sacrificing himself, Jesus will preserve his disciples and us, delivering them and us from slavery to sin and returning them and us to wholeness of life and the fullness of salvation.

And, as a sign of this redemption and the sacrifice it requires, Jesus takes bread and calls it his Body; he takes wine and calls it his Blood. He establishes a meal to commemorate his sacrifice and gives it to us to nourish us and to sustain us until he comes again in his glory.

The Good Shepherd offers himself for the life of the sheep. We cannot stop him. We cannot tell him we are not worth it. We cannot obstruct a love so boundless, so magnificent, and so wondrous. He will not force us to accept his love and his forgiveness. He only offers them to us for our health and our salvation. We can refuse him, but who in his right mind would be so foolhardy?

Tonight, we can say Amen, So be it, to Jesus, to his new commandment, to his loving sacrifice of himself, and to the meal that manifests it. He has done everything he can to bring us to the point of acceptance, and yet he compels us not. He offers us everything. Tonight the alternative us unthinkable.


[1] Saint John 13:34.

[2] Leviticus 19:17-18.

[3] Saint John 1:29.