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John 13:1-17; 31b-35, Maundy Thursday

Key Verse

He said to his disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.
— John 13:1

RCL Daily Devotion for Thursday, April 18, 2019

RCL Daily Devotions written by Dr. Kimberly Leetch from RCL Worship Resources (see more).

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Main Idea: Jesus handed off the mission and ministry to his disciples in an intimate and vulnerable way.

By now the disciples were getting used to Jesus’ puzzling words and unusual actions. Even so, this one took them by surprise once again. For as often as Jesus spoke of justice and equality, their social structure was just too well ingrained to conquer quickly. They had been following Jesus for three years, learning from him and emulating him – he, their rabbi, and they, his disciples.

But on this Passover, Jesus turned the tables once again. He put on a towel and washed their feet – traditionally the job of the lowest servant in the household. How jarring it must have been, in a culture where class is everything, to have their rabbi demean himself in such a manner!

Peter’s response is priceless. All puffed up, he refused to be part of Jesus’ demeaning himself – until Jesus made it clear that the foot washing was necessary for them to have a share with Jesus. How quickly Peter turned! Well, if foot washing produces a share, then Peter wants to be washed head, shoulders, knees, and toes – a lion’s share of the blessing! I picture Jesus chuckling at this as he points out that isn’t necessary – the feet will be enough.

It might be hard for us to truly understand how incredibly moving and meaningful this act would have been. We are not bound by quite as stringent manners and rules of class as they were. But if you have ever washed another person’s feet, you will know how intimate and vulnerable an experience that can be. For Jesus, who has been at the top of the food chain for 3 years, the vulnerability shown here was just the tip of the iceberg. This vulnerability was tender and intimate – the next would be humiliating and disgraceful.

But it was more than just a preparation for the events to come. It was a handing on of the mission and ministry God had given him, and would continue through his disciples. It was a painfully tangible goodbye – a show of kinship for the suffering they would all endure as a result of carrying the torch. This moment is the calm before the storm – a sweet breath before the turmoil that is to come.

Almighty God,

You took on the role of a servant when you gave everything for our sake. Teach us to humble ourselves for the honorable work of serving others. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

 

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John 13:1-17; 31b-35

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