On Maundy Thursday we remember the night Jesus (1) instituted the Eucharist, (2) gave the “new commandment” to love one another as he loved his disciples, (3) exemplified the kingdom by washing the feet of his disciples, (4) the betrayal of Judas, and (5) the beginning of his persecutions leading to crucifixion the next day. We have named the day after the command that Jesus gave to us to love one another. In the Fourth Gospel it reads, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you so you must love one another. By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another (13.34-35). Is loving one another really a “new commandment”? No, loving one another as Jesus loved his disciples is a new commandment though.

In fact, it is a new commandment each time we hear it. It seems to me that there are few commandments that slip our mind as often as this one. The history of the church is often a two-thousand year reminder of how difficult this command can be to follow. We would rather try a hundred other means of conveying our loyalty to Christ before the world, but he gave us this one: love one another as he loves us.

It appears to me that the Eucharist should be a reminder of the death of Christ for us but also as an example unto us. The body of Christ is broken and his blood shed not so that we can all find individual forgiveness of sins before going on our merry way. Rather, it is broken and shed for us as a people who must respond in sacrificial love to one another. It is an overwhelming command but a command that by the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit we must continually seek to keep in loyalty to our Lord.