The command of Maundy Thursday is found in John 13:34. It comes after the disciples had eaten together, and just after Jesus washes his disciple’s feet.
Scripture says, starting in verse 31, “When he” (Judas) “had gone out, Jesus said,
"Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.”
And dropping to verse 34, “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. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."
It’s a new commandment, to love one another. Is this a new commandment? I can go way back to the time of the Exodus, in Lev 19:18, and find the command, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.” In fact, the Old Testament is filled with loving commands about showing mercy, about justice. Are these new?
The apostle John also talks about the Old-New nature of this command in his first epistle. In 1 John 2 John writes,
“Whoever says "I know him" but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling.”
So, the commandment to love is an old commandment, but it is one made new in the light of the Savior’s love for us. The Savior who is Glorified, and God, who is Glorified in Him, reflecting perfectly the image of God.
This is a love that, though it comes from the One who is God above all, yet he washes the feet of His sinful disciples. Though this love comes from the righteous life giver, yet it comes from him who laid down his life for us, when we were dead in trespass and sin. This love comes from the one who goes to prepare a place for you, though he came to dwell where he had no place to lay his head.
We know what happened next on the cross - that great sacrifice, when Jesus became sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God. The disciples had no idea yet of the extent of the love Jesus had for them. But they knew Jesus wanted them to love each other, just as He loved them.
So on this Maundy Thursday, we remember the extent of his love, because we too have been given this old commandment made new, to love one another as he loved us.