Today is Maundy Thursday, a strange name arising from the Latin word ‘mandatum’, referring to the new commandment that Jesus gave His disciples to love one another. (John 13:34-35) It’s a day when, in countless church services over the world, we remember how Jesus washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:1-17) and shared the Last Supper with them. (Luke 22:7-38) It’s also the day traditionally when the Queen gives money to ‘deserving senior citizens’ in a ceremony dating back to Edward I. (I’m giving you all a history lesson here for the children!)
As we journey through Holy Week, reading the Gospel accounts of this last week of Jesus’ life (told in far more detail than all the preceding years!), I’m struck by the chaos and confusion all around, and yet how Jesus walks through this with sorrow but also with serenity. The story of the washing of the disciples’ feet begins with the words, ‘Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father.‘ (John 13:1) The ‘leaving’ part would involve anguish, suffering and sorrow, but He would endure the shame of the cross because of the joy set before Him (Heb 12:2), knowing all that His death would accomplish and knowing also the joy of going to His Father. Jesus’ love for others was shown in His very mundane and humble task of washing dirty feet. We are told that we are blessed if we do such things. (John 13:17) We might not be able to wash people’s feet today, but this passage is a challenge to us to find creative ways of serving and helping other people at times like these.
So… how can we wash feet today? A phone call? An e-card or literal card posted to someone? A picture sent to a lonely person, brightening their day and reminding them they are loved? A bunch of flowers delivered to someone? Delivering shopping to an isolated person? Let’s find ways to serve others and receive God’s blessing as we do so for we are then being obedient to this new commandment.