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HOLY WEEK: THURSDAY APRIL 1, 2021


 


BIBLE READING



JOHN 13:1-17

 

13 It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.


2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.


6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”


7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”


8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”


Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”


9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”


10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.


12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.


JOHN 13:31-35

 

31 When he was gone, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will glorify the Son in himself, and will glorify him at once.


33 “My children, I will be with you only a little longer. You will look for me, and just as I told the Jews, so I tell you now: Where I am going, you cannot come.


34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

 



The parade is over. The singing of Hosanna and celebrating Jesus of Nazareth’s arrival in the city are now just a memory from last Sunday. The palms are all cleaned up, and the city of Jerusalem is quiet. Thursday of Holy Week presents us with one last meal between Jesus and his disciples. But, before the action picks up in Garden tomorrow, we receive an important lesson from Jesus.


He tells us to love each other, and He does not just give it lip service. He gets down on his knees, pours water into a bowl, and washes the disciples' dusty feet. This is the love he speaks about. Humble, lowly devotion to the ones you love. It's a love that carries no great appeal, I suppose, to wash another’s feet. It is a love that gains you nothing other than strange and bewildering glances from others perhaps, who would never do something that they consider beneath them.


Can I ask you, if you knew that this Sunday in our in-person service we were going to practice foot washing, how many of you would opt for our online video instead? When I was in Seminary, I was taking a course on Christian Worship at a Mennonite College in Winnipeg, and the instructor announced that in our next class we would taking time to practice the ceremony of Foot Washing. Many Mennonite congregations do practice Foot Washing. In the Christian tradition I grew up in we did not. So, guess what? I skipped the next class! I wonder what valuable lesson I might have learned by showing up.


Jesus, here in John’s gospel is showing us that love is costly. But more significantly, it is holy. It is how we identify ourselves as followers of Christ. It is our “calling card” for the world.


Jesus sets the example, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.”


Notice that this takes place, this Foot Washing by Jesus, at the Passover Meal. The other Gospels tell us about a “New Covenant” meal of remembrance that Jesus institutes, Communion, The Lord’s Supper. The way I see it, both Foot Washing and Communion demonstrate Jesus sacrificial love in action.


Think about this for a moment, Jesus knowingly broke bread with Judas, the man who would soon betray Him and hand Him over to be killed. He also ate with the disciple who would deny Him three times in a few short hours (Simon Peter). We often talk about sharing a meal with people as a way we build relationships, trust, and friendship, but Jesus was sharing His last meal with men who would betray or turn against Him.


What does it say about Jesus that he shared His Passover meal with the man who would turn Him over to the authorities and with the one who would deny knowing Him?


To answer that question maybe we need to answer these questions, I did. How are you apt to treat those who are unkind to you? How do you respond to the co-worker who is always competing with you, the neighbor who consistently judges you, the family member who regularly slights you in some way, puts you down, or publically embarrasses or tries to humiliate you?


Here is what I came up with that even in the face of betrayal, Jesus lavishes his love on all who are present.


I pray we hear this lesson. I pray I hear this lesson. People will know us by how we love each other. People will know. People will see where our hearts and our values are by how we fall to our knees and reach out in service to our neighbor. I pray that with God’s help this identity shines brightly and clearly through each of us too.

 



 

PRAYER




Lord Jesus, servant of all, we lift up our hearts to your command. Give us the strength to love as you love us. Amen

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