Tomorrow is Maundy Thursday, also known as “Holy Thursday” or “Covenant Thursday.” It is the Thursday before Easter Sunday, commemorating the Last Supper of the Lord Jesus Christ, which He celebrated with His disciples before Good Friday.
The word “Maundy” is taken from the Latin mandatum, meaning “command.” We get our English word “mandate” from mandatum. The command that Maundy Thursday recalls is Jesus’ command to His disciples in John 13:34—“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
The scene at the Last Supper is stark and unforgettable. One of the most significant events of that time in the Upper Room is the act that Jesus performed on the feet of the disciples.
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. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
In ancient times, there was no act so low as washing feet. It was reserved for servants. The feet of those who were traveling would be filthy from walking dusty roads in sandals. Upon entering a dwelling, the servant would perform the washing of the feet. Obviously on this night of nights, the night when Jesus was to be betrayed, there were no servants present to wash anyone’s feet. So in an act of unimaginable humility, Jesus Christ, the God-man got up from the table, picked up a towel and a basin, and washed the feet of His disciples.
[Christ Jesus], being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
The picture of service that Jesus paints for us is as beautiful as it is unbelievable. The King of kings and Lord of lords humbled Himself to perform an act of service that no disciple would ever be required to perform. The responsibility of disciples who were following a rabbi was to attend to all his needs, except one: washing the feet. No disciple was ever required to wash the feet of his rabbi; the task was considered too low for even the newest student. But here, the Rabbi—the Redeemer, the Righteous One—set the ultimate example of what it means to be a servant. And no servant is greater than his Master.
There really is a special blessing that can only be received on the other side of service. When we are following the model of our Master, we are living the life God has called us to live. When God told Pharaoh to let His people go, it was for the expressed reason to serve Him. To live a life of significance is to live a life of service.
So . . . as we are advancing through Holy Week, on our way to Good Friday and Easter Sunday morning, consider how you have been pouring yourself out for your Savior. To be sure, there is no greater joy than to be serving our God by serving others. Who in your life right now needs your service? Perhaps a phone call or a text; a note of encouragement; a hug or a holy kiss; a little washing of the feet? There are so many things we can do to strengthen, encourage, and serve others! The key is to be willing to let God use us for His glory and the good of others . . . all others.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!