An Ancient Christian Rite
Pastor Ryan - April 4, 2022
At the Last Supper, the disciples ate, probably sang songs, and we know they enjoyed each other’s company with food and wine. This would be the last time they would be together as they had; as a group doing life and ministry together. After that last supper everything would change. They didn’t understand it then but they would see Jesus in a new light. His rightful light, as the God incarnate. Knowing that everything would change for them, Jesus wanted to teach them. He wants to give them one final lesson. He knows that, soon enough, each of them would become leaders. Apostles, no longer disciples, sent out to start communities and teach the world the good news of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ final lesson to them was to stay humble. Stay humble and not fall into the traps that the world has set for people of leadership.
Church must be different from the world and so Jesus gave special commands to those who would lead His people. He says “whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. 28For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many (Matt 20:27-28).” Just as Christ, who is LORD, gave himself and humbled himself, so too must those who would lead be humble and like slaves.
To keep his leaders humble, Jesus told the disciples to do as he does, then He washed the feet of the disciples. We can see in this act not so much a cleaning of the person but a humbling of the leader. Peter (why is it always Peter?) told Jesus to clean his hands and his head too. To this Jesus replies that they’re not dirty. That is, this act isn’t as much about getting clean as having a right relationship. The one who washes feet cannot pretend to be glorious. They must concede that they are a servant.
Jesus says, after washing the disciple’s feet, “ I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 I tell you the truth, slaves are not greater than their master. Nor is the messenger more important than the one who sends the message. 17 Now that you know these things, God will bless you for doing them (John 13: 15-17).”
Fulfilling the prescription from our Lord Jesus I (Pastor Ryan) will be washing feet. We will have a station set up on Maundy Thursday, during the Seder meal, not unlike the Last Supper. I hope that you would take the time to partake in this ancient Christian tradition. I know that this can be awkward. We don’t wash each other’s feet regularly. Maybe never. Usually it’s our job to keep ourselves clean. But I hope that you will see that this isn’t about clean or dirty. It is about community and humility. We who would be leaders must be slaves. All of us have a part to play in our community and I would like to model, as our Lord has, how we should act.