Thursday, April 17, 2014

Maundy Thursday: Washing the Feet of the Unfaithful Faithful

Reading for Maundy Thursday:  John, chapter 13

Having loved his own who were in the world, Jesus loved them to the end.

All of them.

Even Judas.

in whose heart, Satan and the power of evil was moving.

Judas who walked with Jesus, shared meals, shared life.

Judas who sat at his feet,  followed him, called him master and teacher.

Judas who paired with another disciple, was sent out, two by two, to go ahead of where Jesus was going, proclaiming the good news, healing and casting out demons.


Who loved Jesus.

But somewhere along the line, sin got the better of Judas.  John tells us that his objection to Mary using that very expensive perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet, was because he was a thief and stole from the common purse.

The one who was trustworthy enough to keep the common purse, began to embezzle from it - maybe it was love of money that was Judas’ downfall.

Or maybe it was a misguided attempt to get Jesus to claim his kingdom.  Some think that Judas was disappointed that Palm Sunday procession and clearing out the marketplace in the temple didn’t grow into Jesus openly declaring himself to be king, raising the people to fight against Rome.  So Judas’ actions were a way of forcing Jesus to assume his kingship.

What ever it was, Jesus knew what was going on.  He knew what was in Judas’ heart, what his plans were - most of all Jesus knew that it was time.

And knowing this, he had one this last meal with his disciples.

Gathered around the table, telling stories, joking. Remember that time when....

Even Judas.

And after the meal Jesus got up and took a towel and started washing their feet.

I think he probably prayed as he did. I think each name was a cry.

James, John, always seeking advantage. Help them understand what I am doing, that to lead is to serve.

Phillip, Nathanael- will they be able to see through the fear of the next few days?

Thomas, Simon, James, Thaddeus, Andrew, Matthew, give them courage Father.

Peter needs your love and peace so much -he will be so ashamed that he denied me.

Judas, oh, Judas, Father, walk with him down this dark path he’s choosing.

Father, help them all remember that I did this, that I love them  - no matter what.  Let this act give them strength to seek forgiveness.  To forgive one another.  To care for one another.  

After this example of loving service, Jesus announced that one of this beloved group is going to betray him.

The disciples looked around the room - disbelief, shock, surely not!  Who could it be?

But they can’t ask - what if he says it’s me?

Finally, Peter nudges John who’s beside Jesus - ask him who it is.  John asks.

Jesus says, “The one who I give this bread dipped in oil.”  

A gasp of disbelief - when the host of a dinner gives someone a morsel of bread that he himself has dipped in oil, it’s a mark of honor.

Even then, the disciples can't believe it when Jesus gives bread to Judas.

As clear as Jesus was - the bread is going to the one who betrays me - here Judas, take the bread and do what you have to do - the others don't understand.  Maybe Judas is going to give alms, going to get something needed for Passover.

Judas takes the bread, that mark of honor, and gives into the darkness in his soul, and leaves.

Jesus then begins his long good bye.  To give his friends, these ones he loves so dearly something to hold on to in the days ahead.  Something to give them strength, give them hope.  To explain.

What's going to happen is God's doing,  God's glory will be shown, God's power will be revealed.  I am going - I have to do this alone.

I know you don't understand.  You'll look for me, but won't find me.

Just do this- love one another as I have loved you.

As I have loved you...

washing the feet of those who will shortly abandon me,

showing honor to the one who betrays me,

giving a look of compassion to the one who denies me,

forgiveness for those who set this in motion, and perverted justice, and 
mock me and who will nail me to the cross, and for those who just stood by and let it happen.

Wash one another’s feet.

Do as I have done to you.

Love as I have loved you.

This is love beyond warm fuzzy feeling, beyond passion, love greater than mere emotion. This is love in action -loving regardless of feelings, loving despite long-held grudges, loving through fears.

That’s the kind of love we’re called to - to forgive and care for those who betray us, abandon us,deny us, wrong us in any way.  

Loving as Jesus loves us - this is what these three days are about- a love that knows no bounds: 

Love that is patient, 

not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude, 
does not insist on its own way,
not irritable or resentful,
does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth,  
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  

Steadfast, unconditional, self-giving love.

Having loved his own who were in the world, Jesus loved them to the end.

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