Holy Thursday – a hugely important day in our faith. We have many ideas happening here and frankly it’s a day that shapes many of the denominations throughout the world. You have the establishing of communion, the lord’s supper, Eucharist, and you have the washing of the disciple’s feet, which in and of itself was a monumental moment in establishing how Christ viewed himself.
So where do you begin? Let us start in John 16:7 – “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”
I’m sorry what? It’s better for us that Jesus leaves? Jesus himself said this. So think about that for a moment – Christ said basically – “you need me to leave.” Can you imagine what the disciples listening to this thought? This is the man that they had poured their lives into for years telling them essentially – “I’m going away, but it’s ok, you’re better off.”
Think for a moment that if the single most influential person in your life came to you and said – “Listen, I’m going away and you cannot follow yet, but don’t worry – you’re better off.” You’d have to be absolutely confused, plus he refers to the “advocate” coming which had to make the disciples’ heads spin. Jesus is throwing a ton at them and I imagine that the disciples are sitting around slack-jawed and confused.
I still don’t entirely know what he means. I mean Jesus is there with people in the flesh and he says “no, no, there’s something greater out there.” Let that soak in a moment. Jesus – the “God-Man,” the Saviour of the world is looking at the disciples in the eyes, and at millions more to follow and says – “there’s more just around the bend.”
That’s what Maundy Thursday, Holy Thursday, whatever you call it, says to me. It says – get ready. Get ready because what’s coming and what’s next is beyond anything you can imagine or fathom at this moment. We get wrapped up in communion, there’s arguments over how often we should do it, what does it mean, is the Eucharist true, set all that aside for the moment and understand this – you take communion and you join in with the disciples themselves. You are saying – yes I remember, I remember that at that moment around the table Jesus tore apart everything that had come before. He had hinted at so much before, but John 14, 15, 16, and 17 really spell it out – and it’s unlike anything anyone expected. Jesus says – look, what you expected is not what you’re getting. You’re getting something more, something new, something different, something that will alter the shape of who you are and what you are.
This is what Holy Thursday is. It’s the early warning sign. It’s the set up. It’s the beginning of a new dawn of man. It’s when God reveals his plan. Reveals the life altering plan that not only saves mankind but brings his spirit to us. It’s the moment that forever splits time. Without the set up, without the beginning, there is nothing. We need this. We need Christ telling us that his power, his mercy is available to us. We need Christ telling us that he himself is laying down on the line. That he is a sacrifice, not a tragedy.
The sacrifice makes all the difference. If it’s a tragedy, it’s not full of power.
So then what do we say of the foot washing? We say – Christ establishes himself as a servant. Servants only do what a master asks – an allegory to what Christ fights through internally as he wrestles with the plan laid out before him. So what does this mean for us? It means we must be servants as well. It means that we must come to others as Christ did – helping, humbly, and serving beyond what we have been called to do.
Jesus knew full well that he was “above” foot washing yet still measured himself a servant and served. This foot washing before setting up the end of his life and his final mission/purpose can teach us so much about “perspective” but that’s a shallow layer. The deeper layer is that we have no choice but to be servants. We are compelled by Christ/the Advocate/God and if he himself can lower and serve, you have no excuse. I have no excuse. May this Thursday remind you of that.
God bless you this holy week.