Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. [Matt 13:1-5]
Maundy Thursday or Holy Thursday.
For years I totally missed the significance of today. Possibly because I can’t think of any other time an english speaking person uses the word maundy or maybe just because I wasn’t paying attention. Luckily we have wikipedia to help us out on where the term comes from:
Most scholars agree that the English word Maundy in that name for the day is derived through Middle English and Old French mandé, from the Latin mandatum, the first word of the phrase “Mandatum novum do vobis ut diligatis invicem sicut dilexi vos” (“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you”), the statement by Jesus in the Gospel of John 13:34 by which Jesus explained to the Apostles the significance of his action of washing their feet.
In short, today is the day we celebrate the institution of the Lord’s Supper and Jesus washing the disciples feet. I guess if I had to pick a favorite day in Holy Week, I should pick Easter, but really my favorite is actually today. Jesus’ actions are just so powerful to me. I think it is because the things we celebrate today are physical examples of the spiritual reality that is accomplished on Sunday. We see him literally take the nature of a servant and hear him say, “This is my body.”
With full knowledge of what was to come, he knelt before Judas as a servant and washed his feet. He offered the cup of salvation and the bread of life to Judas. I type those sentences and want to use all caps, lots of exclamation marks with bold and underlining because it just seems so crazy. The Scripture tells us that Jesus had complete knowledge about what was to come and he still served him with the other eleven. The humility just blows my mind.
Then all of a sudden, I realize that is exactly it. We are all Judas. I am Judas. Every one of us has sin that put Jesus on that cross. In a moment, I am transported to the story of the prodigal son and understand that to read myself into today’s story in a place of superiority is to be the older brother. God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – knows exactly who we are and the betrayal that we will commit but throws a feast for our return anyway. He is the author of the universe but loves us so much that he is willing to kneel down at our feet and wash the most unbecoming parts of us.
Through all of the suffering and all of the pain that Christ went through, God is crying out to us, “I love you! I love you! If only you could see just how much.” Lord, give us eyes to see your great love for us.