This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. – 1 John 4: 9-12From Martin Hayward:
Today, Maundy Thursday, is the day when the church remembers Jesus’ last full 24-hour day of earthly ministry. It was the day when he had that last supper with his disciples after which he washed their feet. It was the night he was arrested.
I have been looking again at a book entitled “Love Unknown” by Ruth Burrows and in it she reminds us that it is only when quoting the ten commandments as part of the Shema (the Jewish declaration of faith) that Jesus tells us to love God. At all other times he tells us to fear God; to hold Him in reverence and awe and to trust Him. It is our neighbours that we must love. And the prime way in which we can demonstrate our love and service to God is by the way we treat our neighbour.
And this brings us face to face with the paradox of Easter – the paradox that Peter found so hard to accept – the demonstration by Jesus of how God wants to serve us and for us to imitate him by serving others. Do you remember how Peter wanted to wash Jesus’ feet rather than to have the master kneel down and wash his dirt away? But Jesus said Peter must accept his service to him. Mary and Martha had struggled with this same conundrum some months before. When Jesus had visited their home as a guest, Martha rushed around so that she could show him proper hospitality. But Jesus said that it was Mary who had the right idea as she sat at his feet and listened and allowed him to serve her.
Mary had the right idea at the end of Jesus’ ministry, too. Once again poor old Peter kicked against what was happening – he tried to put Jesus off his course towards the cross and ended up fighting with the Roman soldiers. Mary, however, accepted that Jesus had to be allowed to die and used her prized jar of perfume to anoint him ready for death. Patently unfair though it would be, she saw that somehow, in ways as yet beyond her understanding, Jesus’ coming torture and death was his way of serving us.
On Maundy Thursday Jesus demonstrated God’s love for us by washing feet. The next day he demonstrated his love by dying for us. And all he asks in return is that we should serve and love each other. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.