John 13:1-17,31b-35

                Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him.         And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”

                Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”

                Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”

                Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

                Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”

                Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

                After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord–and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

                “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 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.”

 

From Rev. Dr. William B. Allen

Regional Minister Emeritus

Our Holy Thursday gospel reading in Year B (this year) is from John – and, as we have come to expect from John, it is quite different from the accounts of the Last Supper that we find in the other three gospels. There is no institution of the Eucharist, no breaking of bread, no sharing of the chalice.

There is, however, the dramatic washing of the disciples’ feet which we do not find in the other gospels and the giving of a new commandment.

We – like the twelve – need to learn and relearn the lesson of the washing of feet. “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” “So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” What a dramatic invitation to care for one another in unified submission to Christ!

And then that new commandment (this is where we get the name “Maundy Thursday,” Maundy coming from the same root as command): “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you should love one another.”

And while this is not our usual, upper room take on Holy Thursday, it certainly illuminates the place of the holy supper in our life, an extravagant infusion of mutual love and care.

 

Lord Jesus Christ, when we gather at your table,

empower us to care for one another as you care for us,

to love one another as you love us. Amen.

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