Easter Week Devotional Day 4

Maundy Thursday: Jesus Washes the Disciples Feet and Last Supper

John 13: 1-17

Maundy Thursday, or Holy Thursday, is most notable because Jesus spent this day washing the feet of the disciples and sharing the last supper with them. There are two truths that we must acknowledge today in our Holy Week preparation for Easter; namely, that the pattern of Jesus’ leadership stands in stark contrast to what we think of as ‘traditional’ leadership and that we have been given a seat at the table of God in spite of our own failings.

Jesus washing the disciples feet is so shocking to us as readers of John 13 and it seems perhaps even more shocking to the disciples who were having their nasty feet washed by their Lord. Peter, always the first to speak up (13:8), at first refuses to have his feet washed by Jesus. This shows us how counter-cultural it was for a revered leader, much less the Son of God, to do the dirty and humble work of washing feet. So we find ourselves faced with the same jaw-dropping question that must have been on the minds of the disciples as Jesus explained why he washed their feet (13:12-17): Have we really been so wrong all this time about what it means to lead? The answer is a resounding yes. In Christ, we discover that God defines the quality of leadership is found in humility and service. We so often mistakenly define leadership as ability, decisiveness, intelligence, and skills, but when we actually encounter meaningful leadership, we find that its greatest strength is in building up the ones being led. This is an important truth that we can all take into our lives, because we all lead in some capacity. Be it in our home, at the office, in our church community, or with our friends people look to us for leadership and we have the perfect model to show us how to lead in Christ.

There is much intrigue and tension at the last supper. After all, the revelation that one of the disciples has betrayed Jesus shook the small group of Jesus’ followers to their core. Judas’ betrayal is not, however, the focal point of the supper. The reason that the last supper is such a powerful moment in the life of Jesus and all of our lives is because Jesus invites us to the table!! Much of Jesus’ ministry has been accomplished through table fellowship. Why is that you may ask? That is because when we share a meal together we discover the most intimate and praiseworthy setting for community and communion with God. At the last supper in Matthew 26:26, Christ blesses the bread, breaks it and gives it to His disciples. This pattern of blessing, breaking, and giving is seen in many of Jesus’ miracles, and it is here that we find the symbolic heart of being invited to the table of God.

The table is, first, a place of great blessings; we are sustained and nurtured at the table, not just physically but spiritually and emotionally. The table is the place where we receive God’s goodness and mercy. At the table, we find our constant journey for more … always more … surprisingly satiated. At the table where we receive our blessings from God we are finally full. The table is, second, a place of brokenness. At the table of God, when we are closest to Him we view His Holiness in all its splendor and we discover that His holiness is wholly other than ourselves. Initially the realization that we are not like God is difficult for us, but as any meal progresses we find comfort, even in proximity to the Almighty. With the intimacy that table fellowship with God brings, we discover that even in our brokenness we can find rest for our souls because He holds us close. The table is, lastly, a place for giving. When we sit at a table with others we cannot avoid offering much of ourselves. Around the table we give two things to our neighbors: our best flavors and our best stories. Both reflect, in an easily palatable way, all of life’s sweetness, bitterness, joy, and sorrow. We give all of ourselves at the table, and that is exactly what Christ did at the Last Supper. When He offers us the bread and the wine, He is offering us all of Himself! We can receive that generous gift together.