On the church calendar, the day before Good Friday is known as Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” comes from the Latin phrase dies manda ti…The Day of Christ’s Great Mandate.
During the course of that evening, Jesus stripped Himself to a loin cloth, picked up a basin and a towel and washed the feet of His disciples. Following this very awkward and uncomfortable event for the disciples, Jesus got dressed, reclined again at the table and spoke these words, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this will all men know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35).
This commandment is Christ’s Great Mandate. Within it we find three significant statements to which we need to pay close attention:
The Command…Love one another.
How……………..Even as Jesus has loved us.
Why……………..That a watching world will know that we are His disciples.
The visible evidence that we are truly Christ’s disciples is not our devotional life, our church attendance, our giving, our T-shirts, jewelry or bumper stickers, but the love that we display to one another, love displayed towards our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Later, that same evening, Jesus reiterated the Great Mandate. John 15:12 says, “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you.”
How is Jesus asking us love one another? He said, “Just as I have loved you.”
You might say, “That’s impossible!” The only reason that it is impossible is because we choose to make it so.
Here is where the struggle begins, not so much a struggle between God’s Word and our intellect but a struggle between God’s Word and our will.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “God does not make us holy in the sense of character; He makes us holy in the sense of innocence; and we have to turn that innocence into holy character by a series of moral choices”1
In dealing with matters of the will, C.S. Lewis said, “Every time you make a choice you are turning the central part of you, the part of you that chooses (your will), into something a little different than it was before. And taking your life as a whole, with all your innumerable choices, all your life long you are slowly turning this central thing either into a heavenly creature or into a hellish one. Each of us at each moment is progressing to the one state or the other.”2
When an individual is born again, their heart is cleansed and they are made new in the righteousness of Christ (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). It is then, through the actions of our will, that our character is developed along the line of our clean hearts.
God does not call us to do anything for which He has not made every provision through the Cross of Jesus and through the Holy Spirit that lives in every believer. The grace of God is sufficient for every detail of our lives. The Apostle Paul said, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).
What is the key that releases the power of God into our lives so that we might find the capacity to do His will? The key is obedience. Faith is a matter of do and acquire, not acquire and do. When, in faith, we obey the commands of God, contrary to how we feel about the command, God will release His power into our lives to complete that act of obedience.
Jesus said, “This I command you, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12). The command to love one another has nothing to do with how we feel about it. Rather, it is a call to obedience.
By His prayer in Gethsemane, we know that Christ was in the battle of His earthly life. But, in the end He obeyed! Love for His Father, love for us, drove Him on to the Cross. And to all those who have come to call Him Savior and Lord, He gives the capacity to love as He loved.