Easter is this weekend, and churches are gearing up all around the world for the most important celebration in history.
Most people are familiar with Palm Sunday and Good Friday. If you keep up with the Holy Week, today is Maundy Thursday, traditionally the day that Jesus and His disciples joined in the Last Supper. I remember in one of my worship classes in college, my professor Roger Thomassen, who has since gone on to be fully in Jesus’ presence, taught about the significance of Maundy Thursday even for evangelical worship leaders and pastors. I recall him being so impacted in his own reading aloud of John 13 that he began to weep. He was such a dear, dear man to everyone who knew him. I cannot think of Maundy Thursday and what it signifies without thinking of him and his amazing legacy.
After Jesus and His disciples ate up the Passover feast, Jesus rose from the table, removed His outer robe, and donned a towel. Then He began to wash His followers’ feet – even Judas’, who had already made up his mind to betray Him.
Now an upstanding Jewish citizen in that day would never have touched his own feet in public and especially no one else’s. It was highly uncouth. Since all were either barefoot or wore sandals, though, having your feet washed was necessary; otherwise you would track dust and mud into homes. But there were servants to do all the washing of the feet.
I’m not sure if we can even imagine the disciples’ shock and perhaps repulsion at their Master bending down to perform such a lowly task. It’s recorded that at least one disciple, Peter, tried to stop Christ. “You shall never wash my feet!” he cried (John 13:8), but Jesus insisted.
What does this say to us?
It’s a perfect picture of love.
Jesus removed His robes; He laid down His defenses. He took on a humiliating position. He filled a dish with water and scrubbed the feet of the one who would betray Him. And then He said, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you” (13:12-15).
What a charge! Jesus asked His disciples to replicate what had just been done to them, and He is saying the same thing to His disciples today, us. He is asking us to willingly take the place of a servant. And, ah, it may be easy to serve someone who is kind and gentle, but Jesus washed Judas’ feet. Are we willing to humbly lavish honor on someone who disrespects us? Someone who told a hurtful lie about us? Someone who may be cruel and hateful? Someone who deeply wounded us? If we aren’t willing to do so, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to melt down the hardness of our heart that prevents us from being obedient and loving.
Like Jesus, we need to lay down our pride, our defenses, and our ulterior motives, and serve those around us through a heart of humility and selflessness.
What will best serve the people around you? A friend may need his car washed. Your boss may need you to have a better attitude. You can bless your significant other at work with their favorite snack. Maybe you can buy movie tickets for that guy who is cruel to you. Service is not a one-size-fits-all… pray and see how you can best serve each of the people you encounter… even when he’s being frustrating or she’s being proud.
Above all, we must learn to authentically love one another. Let me leave you with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
And for a challenge this Easter week… insert your name into the above verse. Every time it says “love,” I replace it with my name: Josh. Josh is patient, Josh is kind. He does not envy, he does not boast… How does it line up? What areas will the Holy Spirit illuminate that I need to be aware of?
Let’s serve one another and practice genuine love, for Jesus’ sake and renown. I pray you and yours have a very wonderful Easter!
P.S. I want to share with you some of the worship set that our church Transit Assembly is doing for Easter Sunday – in case you need some last minute inspiration!! Also, after the jump is a page of my top 20 Easter songs for worship.