Maundy Thursday, 2014
John 13:1-17, 34
"Love...as I have loved You"
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our world desperately needs to be loved. When troubles abound and fears persist we often feel abandoned and alone. At the close of World War II an American soldier was on sentry duty on the outskirts of London on Christmas morning. Later in the day, as he walked to the city with a few GIs, he came to an old gray building with a sign: "Queen Anne's Orphanage."
To see what sort of Christmas party might be going on inside, the soldiers knocked on the door. An attendant told them that all the children in the orphanage had lost their parents in the London bombings. The soldiers went inside, and seeing no tree, no decorations, and no gifts, they gave out as gifts whatever they had in their pockets--a stick of gum, a coin, a stubby pencil.
One soldier saw a boy standing alone in a corner. He went to him and asked, "My little man, what do you want?" Turning his face up to the soldier, the little boy answered, "Please, sir, I want to be loved."
It was the Thursday, Maundy Thursday as we now call it, during the week of Passover. Jesus would be meeting with His disciples to celebrate the Passover meal. A meal that would mark the best of times and the worst of times. A meal that recalled the bitter suffering of the Israelites as they were slaves in Egypt; a meal that recalled God's wrath on His enemies; a meal that recalled God's faithfulness in saving His people...even after His people began to believe that God had abandoned them.
Soon the Disciples would feel that sense of abandonment as their Lord would be arrested, beaten, and murdered on a cross. So on this night, the very night He would be betrayed, Jesus meets with His Disciples one last time.
"Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not 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, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, 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 also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another." (John 13:1-17, 34)
On the very night that our Lord would be betrayed ...Jesus shows His Disciples how much He loves them and all His children. Jesus shows them that He came...not to be served...but to serve His people. While the Disciples did not understand what our Lord was doing...Jesus was still lovingly teaching them His love. Love by serving. Love by helping others even when they don't want help. Love your enemies. Love those that persecute you. Love by serving those that despise you. Love as Jesus has loved you.
But this is the very night Jesus would be betrayed! When we get betrayed we think of ways to get revenge...to punish our betrayer...to get even. This was the very night Jesus would be given over to be killed. Yet our Lord's mind isn't set on His impending betrayal. His mind isn't set on His impending death. Jesus' mind isn't set on revenge or judgment. His mind is set on love.
Jesus fully knew what was going to happen...even as the Disciples were utterly confused at the situation. Jesus was ready to go to the cross where He would give Himself over to death on the cross out of love for us. On that Thursday of Passover, Maundy Thursday, He would serve His Disciples by washing their dirty, smelly feet...and would then give them His very body and blood in the Lord's Supper to wash away their wretchedness; their very sin.
On the very day that He would be betrayed, handed over to His murderers, be mocked and beaten, and prepare to die...Jesus had you on His mind. Jesus was born to serve you...by allowing Himself to die on the cross for your sins. Jesus' mind was set on loving and saving you. Everything that our Lord did on this night was done for you.
As we mourn the sight of our Lord being betrayed...as we feel downtrodden by the guilt of our own sin that caused our Lord to die...as we cry at our own betrayal of Christ by our sin...come to the Lord's table this day. Come to the place our Lord gives us His very self...His body and blood. Come to the place where Jesus' love flows freely in the forgiveness of your sins. Come, take and eat...be strengthened and forgiven...as Jesus continues to serve you.
Christ Jesus loves you to death...death on the cross. He truly shows us how to love your enemies and those who persecute you. Love by serving. Love by sharing Christ. Love as Jesus loves you. Amen.
Now may the peace of God which passes all human understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen.