Holy Week – Maundy Thursday
“After Jesus 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.’”
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
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.
On Maundy Thursday, we again come to an account of washing of feet. Mary had spontaneously anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume, acknowledging Jesus’ infinite worth and belovedness. Her actions heighten the significance of the scene that now unfolds. Peter argues with Jesus that he should wash Jesus’ feet, with water and a towel, in response to Jesus’ intention to wash the disciples’ feet.
Jesus places himself on a par with those – normally ignored – who wash the feet of others. Peter is trying to restore the normal social order. Jesus firmly challenges it.
Peter needs his own feet washed – his view of the world, his hierarchising of people, needs transforming, so that he stands with others in a fellowship of grace. The disciples cannot work towards transformation unless they are first transformed. They cannot work towards transformation from a place of superiority – only as fellow human beings, equally sinful, and equally beloved.
Lord Jesus, we lay down our pride and ideas of superiority before you: wash us clean, and renew our minds and imaginations that we may follow you more truly. Amen.
Today’s family challenge
Read about Jesus washing Peter’s feet
This week’s Bible reading from John 13 shows Peter at first refusing to have his feet washed by Jesus. But he needs Jesus’ love and care to be able to care for others.