The Latin word “mandatum” that gives us “Maundy Thursday” reminds me of another Latin word: “manus,” meaning “hand.” (Think of our English words manipulate, manual, and manicure.) “Mandatum” and “manus” are not related, but I’m fascinated by the connection I see between them as it pertains to Jesus the Servant: His command (His “mandatum”) was to love as He loved, to do as He did, to serve as He served—and so often, Jesus loved and did and served with His hands.
With His hands, He healed: “Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly” (Mark 8:25 NIV).
With His hands, He blessed: “And he took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:16 NIV).
With His hands, He confirmed: “He said to them, ‘Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet” (Luke 24:38-40 NIV).
And with His hands, He holds: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:28 NIV).
Today, on this Maundy Thursday, we see the Servant’s hands, washing His disciples’ feet. May we also hear His voice, giving us a new command:
“Be my feet, and go. Be my hands, and serve.”