John 13:1-17, 31b-35
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Traditionally in the Christian Church, this day is known as Maundy Thursday, sometimes called Holy Thursday. Three main events take place on this night before the Passover festival which are –Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, the institution of the Eucharist our Communion meal, and his giving the “new” commandment of love. The lessons for the day and the Liturgy which will be celebrated bring these to mind. As we begin this day, Judas has already betrayed Jesus and he, with the remaining disciples, are beginning their final meal together before Jesus’ arrest—though the disciples didn’t know that it was.
“Jesus got up, took off his outer clothing and wrapped a towel around his waist. He poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel. In this culture, foot washing was done by slaves. Peter can’t handle this and objects. He says, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”… “Never.” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”… “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” Jesus washed their feet to illustrate humility and the spirit of servant hood. He says, “Do you understand what I have done for you?”… “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…” He will give another example, but that is tomorrow’s story.
After washing, Jesus’ puts on His robe. He tells his friends that He is going away, soon, and they can’t come with Him this time. Then He says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” This Great Commandment is Jesus’ desire for his friends. That includes us.
In the lesson from I Corinthians 11:23-26, the apostle Paul reminds us of Jesus’ words at this common meal – the Last Supper, “that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’” These are the words that are still used today in our common meal, the Eucharist.
After this meal, Jesus and his disciples leave for the Garden where Jesus prays and the disciples sleep. Stay tuned.
Tonight at Trinity, these stories will be lived out in our service, which begins at 7 pm. If you can’t join us, take some time today to read these lessons. As you read and pray, imagine yourself as a disciple (apprentice) in these stories and events. What are your thoughts and feelings as you accompany Jesus and as you listen to him? If you can, do this even if you are planning to be at the service. These next few days of our journey with Jesus are intense and we want to pay attention, be aware, and not let them pass by lightly.