On Sunday we unpacked what Jesus meant when he said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). We saw from Matthew’s use of the word “fulfill” in other passages that Jesus brought the commands God gave Moses to their fullest and final significance. Jesus communicates this in the remaining verses of Matthew 5 by telling us that God’s intention for his people is not merely to avoid murder and adultery but to be free of hate and lust toward others. This is, of course, impossible apart from a life of repentance and desiring the righteousness that only God can produce in us. Such righteousness is realized as we submit ourselves increasingly to the rule of King Jesus, down to the motives of the heart.
This is not a life that Jesus demands from a distance; it is the life he himself modeled. No ounce of hate or lust compromised his dealings with people. No impure motive tainted his words of rebuke or instruction. Jesus lived out in front of us a life that was entirely right toward God and toward others. And he gave us a word that captures the essence of this life: love.
Apart from the cross, Jesus’ most poignant display of love came in the upper room when he took the basin and towel, knelt down, and served his followers by scrubbing their dirt-caked, dung-encrusted feet. Following that display of the law’s fullest expression, Jesus summarized how we should live this out: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34).
On Thursday evening at 6 PM we will gather for dinner in homes to meditate on Jesus’ love for us and his command for us to love one another. Assumed in this gathering is an acknowledgment that our hearts do, in fact, produce hatred and lust, and that the life of love Jesus calls us to is only possible through repentance and trust in the heart-cleansing sacrifice he made for us. To feed such trust we will partake of the meal that anticipates this Good Friday sacrifice. And we will discuss what it means to receive Jesus’ love for us and show his love to one another.
These are profound realities: our sin, Christ’s sacrifice, a life of love. I hope you will plan to be a part of the Maundy Thursday gathering as we remember these together.
P.S. You can sign up for Maundy Thursday by e-mailing me [firstname.lastname@example.org] or signing up on the sheet in the foyer on Sunday. I will contact you with what home you will meet in.