Friday, March 21, 2008

Novum Mandatum and Good Friday



Last night I went to a Maundy Thursday service at church. While I know I have been to several Good Friday services, I cannot remember if I have ever been to Maundy Thursday. The name is derived from the Latin novum mandatum, or "new commandment." In John 13, before instituting the Lord's Supper, Christ washes his disciples' feet and gives them a new command: love one another. It is then that they break the bread and drink the wine of their Passover meal. That Christ told his closest followers that they world would recognize them as belonging to Him by their love for each other is worth pondering.

Not only did Christ give a new commandment, but he also washed the feet of his disciples. As Pastor Adams pointed out, the context of the foot-washing needs to be understood. Not long before, the disciples had been arguing amongst themselves as to who was the greatest. After arriving in the upper room, none of them had enough humility to wash the feet the rest. Yet, Christ himself, who truly was, and is, the greatest, is the one who gets up and serves them. More and more, this example of service sticks out in my mind as the spirit of Christian leadership. If my Lord and Savior can wash the smelly feet of a bunch of sinners, who am I to think myself above such a chore? How may we wash the feet of those around us? Another question worth pondering.

Finally, Christ instituted the Lord's Supper. Regardless of whether you believe the full nature of it to be, Christians can all agree that it is given to us as a memorial of what was done. For the disciples, it was a sign of what was shortly to come. In the rush of remembering the Resurrection, we must not rush past the Crucifixion. It is the work of Christ on the cross that secures our salvation. Today is Good Friday and it is today that we remember the death of Jesus Christ. Yet, this death, this good death (the eucatastrophe), must be remembered more than just every Spring. This is why we were given the Lord's Supper, that we might remember the death of Christ for our sins. Is the Crucifixion regularly in your thoughts? There are few things worth meditating on more.

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