Thursday, April 2, 2015

Touching our will: A Maundy Thursday reflection

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not 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, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, ‘He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” ~ John 13:1-20
Maundy Thursday, also known as “Holy Thursday,” is the Thursday of Passion Week, one day before Good Friday. This is the day that Jesus Christ celebrated the Passover with His disciples (the Last Supper) before they were aware of his crucifixion to come on the very next day.

The word Maundy is derived from the Latin word for 'mandate' or 'command,' thus referring to the commands Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should serve one another as He served them upon washing their feet, that they love one another as Jesus has loved us, and finally to offer the Eucharist "in remembrance of Me."

Alyce McKenzie, in a past Patheos article, shared something quite profound about Christ's footwashing:
...to allow Jesus to touch our feet is to allow him to touch our will. We all have a mind; we all have emotions; and we all have a will—our decision making power. Our feet are how we put our decisions in motion and get places, do things. We can think about doing something. "I think I'll go to her father's memorial service out of respect for her." We can feel we ought to do something. "I have a feeling it would be a good thing to do." But if we are going to actually show up and walk up to her afterward and offer a comforting embrace, our feet have to be involved.

To allow Jesus to cleanse our feet is to remove all that prevents us from using our feet to follow him. To scrub away our insecurities, to wash away our weariness, to buff off our bitterness. ...

If we don't allow him to cleanse our feet, our story with him stops now. The week goes on, but we have chosen darkness rather than light. Jesus' words to Peter are also addressed to us: "Unless I wash you, you have no share in me" (Jn 13:8).

Not everybody in this story wants Jesus' hands on their feet. Peter didn't. Pilate didn't. Caiaphas didn't. Pilate chose to use his feet to pace about his palace, back and forth in front of his medicine cabinet, searching for some salve for his sore conscience. Peter chose to use his feet to stand by a fire warming himself while denying his Lord.

Just before this foot-washing scene, Jesus says to his disciples, "Whoever sees me sees the one who sent me."

It is the Son of God who takes off his outer robe, ties a towel around himself, and now kneels before you requesting the honor of washing your feet in the hopes that, this year, he will not have to walk the hard, uphill road that lies before him all by himself.
This year, won't you take up your cross and follow Him?

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