1 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.2 The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, 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, "A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his 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 I tell you the truth, 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."
31 Jesus said, "Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him. 32If 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 all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
Love and Service Go Together--Mandamus
It is Thursday. It is the evening.
It is the last day of his life.
It is the day he will be executed.
It is the day of the festival of Passover, the day celebrating God rescue of his people from genocide and extinction being carried out on them in the ancient land of Egypt.
It is the day that begins his return to his Father in heaven.
It is evening before the Seder meal begins.
At the end of the dusty day, feet need to be washed. There is only one servant present. He loves them all and is about to begin showing them his love.
He takes off his outer cloak, binds a towel around his waist and pours water in the basin. He washes the feet of his disciples, those whom he had called to be his followers. He wipes their feet with the towel he has fastened around his waist.
It's Peter's turn-Peter the boisterous, the outspoken follower, the first often to give a reply, often putting his foot in his mouth and worse. He thinks it is an outrage that the Teacher washes the disciples' feet. He declines to have his feet washed by the Teacher.
Without this washing, the Teacher declares that Peter will not be a part of the group. Peter wants his whole body washed. Not necessary. Because if the Teacher makes you clean, you are completely cleaned.
The explanation of this foot washing is explained. He acknowledges that the disciples are correct in calling him Teacher and Lord. So if the Lord and Teacher does this, what are the students to do?
Yes, wash each other's feet. Literally, perhaps. Figuratively, for sure. This humble "doing" is what is to be the life of a follower, the "doing" of the disciples of the Lord. Neither the servant nor the messenger about this Lord is greater that the one who sends.
There is no one who can distain, despise, decline service to others.
There is a person present who thinks this is for the birds, nonsense, a total loss of position, an act of loss of position if you give service to those lower, less worthy, less in a position to demand just the opposite. This is to be a blessing-something that is in accord with God's desire for people.
How can there be a blessing in serving? Cleaning up after someone messes up the whole situation? Helping when all it has resulted in is failure to pick him/herself up and get going? Being helpful to one who has just bitten your head off or worse, who has declared him/herself to be your enemy?
How can this be a blessing, oh, I dare not say it should I? How can this be doing what God wants me to do? That is, be a blessing to someone, to yourself?
It's later now. The festival meal isn't over yet. The one who thought Jesus was out of it has gone to do his business.
The Teacher tells his disciples about what is going to happen. He will be glorified and his Father will be glorified in him. Through the actions of this Teacher/Lord, what God is all about will be revealed. The bright light of all times will shine on God through the coming acts of this Teacher. All will be able to see, to understand, to be amazed at the depth and purpose and consideration of God. It will be impossible not to fall down and worship him for what this Teacher/Lord is going to do.
For once, this group of disciples will not be able to follow him, as they had so faithfully in the past. That is quite in contrast to many who had given up on him much early in his pilgrimage. But then this group can't follow? It didn't take long before they also didn't want to follow him, wouldn't follow him, yes, couldn't follow him.
Where is he going, this Teacher/Lord? He is going on a service project. This project had been designated by his Father. It was a project that would require every ounce of strength, every determined effort on his part, more, it would require him to give up his life.
So what kind of persons would deserve this kind of service?
How about these kinds of persons: People who thought they could do without any reference to God in their lives. People who believed their own inner self was more instructive than any outside set of values. People who thought getting the most out of someone else, quite figuratively sucking other dry to have a little more. People who rebelled when asked to give, give anything. People who thought they came to be served and not to serve others. People.... People such as you and I. They all, we all are known as "sinners." That is failure to act on, rebellion against the basic attitude for which we were created-to serve each other and all.
So the Maundy of this day, the new mandamus, the way we show that we really are followers of this Teacher/Lord. This commandment is not new to you and me. In fact we have heard it all of our days: "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you mustlove one another."
This love is not an emotional stirring in the heart, mind or wherever in you. It is a way of life. It is what we "will" to do. We don't do this kind of love because we like or are attached to someone emotionally, although we are to serve those with this kind of love as well.
We are to serve all. Well, I suppose that is going a bit too far, right? Just as Jesus set the limits of his forgiving love, just as he was willing to suffer only up to a point, just as he was willing to stop short of the cross, so that is where we set the limits.
If you are alive, Dr. Martin Luther always suggested that we pinch ourselves to see whether we are still alive. If you and I are alive, we rebel against this commandment, we think anyone who really practices this is nuts. We are filled with guilt because we have despised some and found it easy to forget about serving them. But so what? So what if I think only of myself, and love only myself?
So this day, whatever the time it is, come again to the meal, the Passover meal. Come eat the bread, drink the wine. This is the body broken, the blood shed, for you, for me, for all who surround you this hour, and that is the entire world of people.
This body and blood is given and shed for you so that you might have all your un-love, your dis-service, your egotistical thoughts that we deserve good when we deserve evil removed from you as far as the east is from the west, that you might believe that God's purpose of the whole life, death and resurrection of this Teacher/Lord is to forget about sin, failure, and all the other satanic drivel which accuses you, that we might again have joy in our rescue from failure.
It is in this meal that we receive not only forgiveness and the very presence of our Lord Jesus in our lives, but through this meal we are provided with the power and strength and the will to revel in this command to love. You cannot face the events of this evening and tomorrow and do anything but want to serve others as you have been served, to love as you have been loved, to go with joy into each day seeing all the opportunities to serve, to love, and thus to willingly and joyfully fulfill this new commandment.
"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." Do the people who know you know that you are a disciple of Jesus? I know they do. And that always calls for a: "THANKS BE TO GOD!" Amen. Oh, yes, need your feet washed?