On Maundy Thursday, traditionally we remember the Last Supper Jesus had with the disciples before his trial, crucifixion and death on Good Friday. The word ‘Maundy’ comes from the Latin word for ‘command’, and reminds us of the command that Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another (John 13:34).
Easter is an annual opportunity to focus on the incredible truth that God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that all those who believe in Him will have life, now and for all eternity. Jesus’ death on the cross is the pinnacle of God’s love for His creation. And it is this sacrificial love that Jesus commands us to emulate.
But what does it mean for us, as Jesus followers, to ‘love one another’?
I believe it starts with the quality of the relationships we have with each other, and in our unity as brothers and sisters in God’s family.
The psalmist puts it like this:
How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! … For there the Lord bestows His blessing, even life for evermore. (Psalm 133).
Unity is pleasing to God. We are ‘one’ for the sake of the one true God; God who is one, yet is revealed as three – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Godhead challenges and models relationship to us and calls us to an intimacy within the family of God.
Our Father in heaven, like an earthly father, desires His family to live together in harmony. There’s a blessing from the Father bestowed to the children as we live together in unity – indeed, as we manifest the unity already won for us on the cross.
But the blessing is not just for us; we are blessed that others might benefit from that blessing. It’s a blessing that tangibly manifests the love God has for the world He created.
In a strange and mysterious way, it seems as if the reality of who Jesus is is made known as we, his followers, demonstrate the love and unity of the family to the world – thus making visible the invisible through the love we have for each other.
This Easter, as we reflect on the extravagant love of God revealed to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, let’s also remember that it’s by our love for one another that the world will know we are Christ’s disciples.
Our unity is not just for unity’s sake – it’s a missional imperative: so that the world might believe.