Yesterday many worldwide commemorated Maunday Thursday. Many others pass over it and set their sites on Good Friday and Easter Sunday on which children run around in parks and back yards to locate colored eggs an Easter bunny hides. The days that precede Easter are those for shopping for new colorful clothes, eggs to paint, and delicacies for a gourmet lunch or dinner. The meanings and messages of Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter become lost in the frenzy.
Just before His crucifixion and before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus gathered His disciples together for His last devotional with them. Judas prepared to betray Him. Peter exhibited pride when Jesus came to wash his feet. Jesus agonizingly shared about the imminent betrayal, and His disciples acted stunned. Who? Judas rose and left with more love for money than His Lord. After Judas left, Jesus gave His mandatum (Latin for commandment from which comes Maunday) with the remaining eleven disciples,
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
Prior to giving them this command, Jesus informed them, “Where I am going, you cannot come” (13:33). It seemed that they were not listening to the command. Peter’s focus was on what Jesus said about leaving, and He spoke for the rest of them, “Lord, where are you going?”
What grabs my attention when Jesus speaks, when I read His words in this passage and in others? Initially, it is the theological, the scenery, what happens in the passage, little tidbits. At times, I do not stop to ponder the primary thing, and it passes right by me.
Whole churches place the feet above the will and what the day represents. They make feet washing a ceremony and ritual while ranking the mandatum or commandment of lesser importance. Others assign “holy” to it and refer to Thursday as Holy Thursday, while rituals surround this naming. Still others (Czech Republic and Slovakia) call it Green Thursday as symbolic of the meal eaten of fresh green vegetables. In other nations (Netherlands and Belgium) it is White Thursday representing the liturgical color of the day. Sweden associates it with witchcraft on which children dress up as witches, knock on doors and exchange eggs for coins or candy. In Great Britain, the Queen hands out 90 coins to women and 90 to men. The day becomes a religious holiday for a number of churches. Consequently, for many, ritual and religious ceremony take higher importance than the name signifies. Jesus’ commandment gets passed over in favor of myth, ritual, or unrelated activities.
I hope it does not get lost with me. How about you?