Maundy Thursday, April 9th
Jesus Washes The Feet Of His Friends, John 13:1-17
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
Reclaimed from Dirt
This story is just incredible. I cannot imagine what it would have been like to be one of the disciples. Footwashing was a common practice in Jesus’ day. It was like offering a guest a cool drink on a hot day. However, the host would never wash the feet of their guest, that was too humiliating of a task. Let’s be honest, feet are gross. It was unheard of for a man, nonetheless a superior, a teacher, to wash another person’s feet. They would have a servant do it, or leave the basin of water for their guest to use.
Picture the disciples all reclining on thin mats around a low table, each leaning on their left arm. Then Jesus pushes himself up from his mat. He begins undressing. First, taking off his tunic, then his skirt, so he is left standing there in his loincloth dressed like a servant. Then he grabs a towel and basin of water. He gets down on his hands and knees. He dips the cloth in the water and begins washing their feet.
What an amazing act of love and service. Jesus displays his love by doing something everyone else thought too low to be done. He is not there thinking about himself. He says this is how far I am going for you and indeed he would go further even unto death for us. Jesus, being God, took the form of a servant and humbled himself to the point of death.
This must have been incredibly embarrassing. The only comparison I could think of was when my mother in law visited. I come home from work to find her folding my underwear, which I found rather embarrassing to have my mother-in-law folding all my laundry.
Peter says, “Lord not me!” He is so embarrassed. The truth is we are a lot like Peter; we have a hard time being forgiven. Maybe you feel unworthy, depressed, hopeless, like God you don’t know how dirty my feet are. Whatever is going on in your life Jesus can and will clean: that’s the point!
Accepting forgiveness can be incredibly hard. It’s hard to humble ourselves and accept it. It’s hard to see past that sense of guilt or shame. Jesus washes us from all of that, when you accept him and allow him to wash you. When you do that he will reclaim you from whatever dirt there is in your life.
What things have dirtied up your life?
What do you sense God saying to you right now?
What do you think God might want you to do in response to what he is saying?