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Thursday, April 5, 2012

As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth.
John 17:18-19

We stand on the holiest of ground today, as on this Maundy Thursday Christians gather to remember Jesus’ last night before the cross. Maundy is derived from the Latin mandatus, the “mandate” of Jesus’ “greatest command” that night: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

On that night Jesus acted out a living parable as He humbled Himself to wash His disciples’ feet, and commanded: “Love one another as I have loved you”. Here forever stands the absolute, irrevocable, and sovereign command of Jesus: that we love as He has loved. It is by this, and this alone, that others will know that we follow Jesus (John 13:35).

As this fateful night comes to an end, we hear Jesus praying with steel determination, dedicating Himself to the work ahead. Carefully drawing on language from the temple ritual, Jesus says that He “sanctifies” Himself, as when a priest was set apart to offer sacrifice (Exodus 28:41). Jesus dedicates Himself to finish the work of revealing the Father’s love, offering Himself as sacrifice for the sins of the world (I John 2:2). “For their sakes I sanctify myself.

Bible commentator F. B. Meyer writes of Jesus’ prayer of humble submission to the Father: “The cross with outstretched arms waited to receive Him; the midnight darkness to engulf Him; the murderous band to wreak their hate on the unresisting Lamb – and yet He flinched not, but went right forward, consecrating Himself”.

As Jesus consecrates Himself to the Father’s work, so He consecrates us to the Father’s work. Jesus sets us apart for God’s holy service: “As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world”. Just as Jesus was sent into the world by the Father, so we are being sent.

We will not run from the world’s threats against us, or isolate ourselves from those who oppose God. We will live as those set apart and marked as different by Jesus’ kind of love. Like Jesus, we will live ready to offer up ourselves in daily service for others, to draw them close to the Father’s heart. “For Jesus died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them” (II Corinthians 5:15).

Go out into the world in peace;
have courage; hold on to what is good;
return no person evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted;
support the weak; help the suffering; honor all people;
love and serve the Lord rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
—The Book of Common Worship


What are there in Jesus’ words today to know; to feel; to do?

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