We are in the next to last week of Lent, almost to Easter. Before we get to Easter, we have Holy Week. There are a lot of different ways to observe Holy Week. Two of my favorites are the services of Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Today, we are going to talk about what makes Maundy Thursday such an important day. There are a couple of elements of this service that make it special, one that we know a lot about, the other perhaps not as much.
Maundy Thursday is the service where we remember the last night Jesus spent with his disciples. While there, they celebrated the Passover meal together, which we know was where Jesus instituted what we now call the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion. We come to the table to remember what Jesus did for all of us, to experience Christ’s presence, and proclaim what we believe. This last piece is a critical part to me. As the Apostle Paul says, “For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1) As we gather on this night, we get to say to the whole world, “we believe in Jesus, in his death and his resurrection!”
The other wonderful element is the ritual of foot washing. The Gospel of John, the only Gospel to share this story, presents it in John 13: “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 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.” (2) What is so striking to me is that Jesus knew that God had given him the power and authority and then how he chose to use it. He used his authority by being a servant and doing one of the lowest tasks, washing others’ feet. Jesus could have called on someone else for this task, yet he didn’t. He washed their feet himself, and challenged them and us today to do the same. We have the opportunity to show the new life Jesus gives us when rather than insisting on our greatness, we wash each others’ feet.
I hope you will join us on Thursday, April 18th at 6:00 at the Lord’s Table and at the wash basin as we proclaim Jesus as Lord and as we serve one another.
(1) 1 Corinthians 11:26, NIV
(2) John 13:3-5, NIV