April 1,2021

April 1,2021

April 1, 2021

John 13:1-17, 31-35

Joseph L. Ratledge


Tasso/Charleston Charge



Focus Scripture

John 13:1-17, 31-35


Happy Maundy Thursday, church!  What is Maundy Thursday and should I even say “Happy”?  Give me a second, I have to look it up.  So, Maundy Thursday… Oh!  It’s the day Jesus washed the disciples feet and had the Last Supper!  Of course I knew that, so did you!  So now that we’ve established what Maun

May you be blessed.  May you bless others; and may everyone you meet know that you are a disciple of Jesus through your love of one another.  Amen.

by Thursday is, if you haven’t taken a moment to look at today’s scripture verse, do so now.  Our scripture is John 13:1-17, 31b-35.

Wow, I love this passage!  It’s focus is on Jesus washing the disciples feet and honestly, I didn’t start grasping the richness and depth of this passage until my young adulthood.  I was youth pastor at Keith Memorial UMC in Athens, TN and this young upstart Associate Pastor had this newfangled (at least to me) idea of doing a foot washing for the Maundy Thursday service.  I thought that it sounded at least a little interesting so I asked my then fiancée (now wife) to come along too. 

For the moment, though, let’s get back to the Scripture passage.

The scene is set with Jesus, knowing of his impending departure to the Father.  He is with his disciples whom he loved to the end.  We move immediately from Jesus’ perfect love for his own tribe to the reference of the betrayal by Judas, whom Jesus also loved to the end.  This knowledge that Judas will betray Jesus doesn’t deter Jesus from going ahead with his preparations for the foot washing. No, instead, Jesus’ love and his knowledge lead to his following actions. 

The dialogue here between Jesus and Peter is quite moving.  There are twelve disciples, but Peter is one who witnessed the transfiguration; Peter went with Jesus to the garden of Gethsemane; Peter was the one that stepped out of the boat to try to walk on water.  Peter is the one who now speaks up. 

Many times, throughout the Gospels, the disciples are awestruck at Jesus’ actions, looking at each other proclaiming (as if this is new to them) that Jesus is the Messiah.  It’s as though Peter in this story now, really, truly gets it; and yet he is somewhat suspicious of Jesus’ actions.  Jesus didn’t say what he is doing, he just did it.  Jesus stood up, prepared himself and the basin, then approached Peter.  Peter asked him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” 

You should read that question in the voice as though you are asking a toddler if they are going to put that lollipop in their mouth - the one they dropped on the floor of the grocery store.  Both actions are inconceivable in their own ways. Jesus, the Messiah, the Lord of Peter and the other eleven, on his knees with a towel and basin of water about to wash the dust and dirt off of their road-weary, calloused, odorous, foul, and dirty feet. 

Yet it is not about the water or the dirt.  It’s about Jesus providing in word and in deed the gift of his example, an example of equality:  servants are no greater than their master, nor messengers greater than the one who sent them.  It’s a message about unconditional positive regard and love for others:  “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.”

Back to that fateful day in the early 2000’s with those in attendance at my first foot washing.  I let that message of equality and love sink deep into my soul.  It also sank deep into my wife’s soul too.  Not too long after that particular Maundy Thursday, we asked the Associate Pastor if he would help officiate our wedding later in the year.  We had one request.  Would he speak a little about Jesus washing the disciple’s feet; and she and I want to wash each other’s feet at our wedding to demonstrate to those in attendance we have the same heart regarding equality toward each other and amongst all of humanity.  We also wanted to remind people of Christ’s deed of love and his command that we should love one another in life. 

So, I suppose it is good to say,“Happy Maundy Thursday!”  If just for the fact that Jesus’ perfect love was demonstrated on this day.  He also commanded us to do our part in ushering the Kingdom of God into our own part of creation by loving one another just as Christ loved each of us.  Remember: Jesus didn’t just wash Peter’s feet that night.  He washed Judas’ feet too and he would have washed every single one of our feet.


May you be blessed.  May you bless others; and may everyone you meet know that you are a disciple of Jesus through your love of one another.  Amen.


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