Perhaps no other week in the year is as full of dramatic turnarounds as this one.
Good Friday turns into Easter.
Winter melts into spring.
Sadness turns to joy.
Despair is trumped by hope.
Death is trounced by life.
Christianity is marked by those defining moments when everything changes: Creation. Exodus. Incarnation. And so it is with Maundy Thursday. On that night, the whole tilt of the earth shifted. On that night, Jesus made a proclamation that reframed all that was and all that will be:
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
The English word Maundy comes from the Latin word mandatum (mandate or command), the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new command I give you . . .”).
The Old Testament records some 600 laws and rules. Yet in that seismic shift the night before his death, Jesus installed just one new law that covered all the old ones. Love, he said. Love, love, and more love.
But before new could replace old, before life could replace death, before Easter morning could dawn in all its glory, there had to be that long, dark night between Good Friday and resurrection.
According to Watchman Nee, the same is true for us:
God must bring us to a point—I cannot tell you how it will be, but he will do it—where, through a deep and dark experience, our natural power is touched, and fundamentally weakened, so that we no longer dare trust ourselves. . . .
We would like to have death and resurrection put together within one hour of each other. We cannot face the thought that God will keep us aside for so long a time; we cannot bear to wait. . . . All is in darkness, but it is only for a night. It must indeed be a full night, but that is all. Afterwards you will find that everything is given back to you in glorious resurrection; and nothing can measure the difference between what was before and what now is!
Do not fear that dark night. It must come to make space for new life. For Easter. For resurrection.