Maundy Thursday

John 13:1-17 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him. When Jesus came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.” Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” 10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you disciples are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. 14 And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them.

We’ve reached Thursday of Holy Week. This day is called Maundy Thursday. The word Maundy is taken from the Latin root mandatum or commandment. Jesus shared this commandment in John 13:34, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.” Earlier in John chapter 13, we see the recorded account of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. Jesus was displaying sacrificial love, a love that had eternal significance.

Back in the days that Jesus walked the earth, there weren’t any comfy tennis shoes or stylish shoes to cover the feet. Most people wore sandals or perhaps no shoes at all. There weren’t any cars either. Foot traffic was literally just that. They walked from place to place for the most part. You can only imagine how dusty and dirty those feet were at the end of a day of traveling. It was proper to wash those dirty feet at the end of the day. The owner of the home would offer a basin to the guests to wash their feet, but the guests were expected to do the washing. Gentile slaves may have been tasked with this lowly job of washing the dirt off of someone’s feet, but even the Jewish slaves usually didn’t have to endure this degrading task.

Yet, here we see that Jesus, the Messiah, King of kings, Lord of lords, got up from the table, tied a towel around His waist, poured water in a basin, and began washing the feet of His disciples. Jesus, Lord of all, willingly took on the position of the lowliest of servants and washed the feet of the ones He loved. Our Savior dropped to His knees in the lowly position of a servant to wash the feet of the disciples. They were shocked and taken aback. Their Teacher and Master could not be allowed to do such a demeaning task. Simon Peter, of course, was the one recorded to speak out. He told Jesus that He would not allow Him to wash his feet, but quickly asked for a full body cleansing when Jesus informed him “Unless I wash you, you don’t belong to Me.”

This foot washing session wasn’t just about having clean feet. No, it went much deeper than that. Jesus was showing an extravagant act of love. The Master became the servant. He took on the role of a slave in this simple act of washing feet. He lowered Himself to the status of a slave. He served like a slave, and this act, unbeknownst to the disciples, was a foreshadowing of things to come. Jesus knew that He would soon be dying the demeaning death of a slave.

Yes, when He took on the cross, Jesus offered an eternal cleansing for each and everyone of us that accept the great gift of salvation. He showed love in a manner that was never seen before and has never been seen since. Jesus lived a life of a servant. He was King of kings, but He taught, He loved, and He served humbly and beautifully teaching His disciples and all of His children how to love.

As you go out today, please remember the gracious gift Jesus gave you. Show His love to those you encounter.

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