It took five decades of living for me to discover the delight of a pedicure. While issues with nerves in my feet make it less pleasurable to experience the pedicure itself, the final result feels liberating to to my calloused soles. Even in the dead of winter I wear sandals, for various reasons, so my sorry feet get a little worn and weary and a little dirty and dry. My every-days usually begin with a shower, but by bedtime my feet are ready for a nice washing. I always sleep better with clean feet, and I feel so blessed to have fresh water so readily available.
Today, as part of my preparations for Easter, I read in the New Testament book of John, giving extra attention to chapter 13. Holy Thursday, or Maundy Thursday, is a great day to read John chapter 13. Go ahead, it's only one chapter. You can do it.
I was especially struck by verse 10:
Verse 10, as I read it, refers to Jesus telling his apostles that they're already clean, in the more spiritually holistic sense. All that needed to be washed, at that moment, were their feet. He took this opportunity to tell them they were all clean, spiritually, except for one. (That one was Judas.) I think it's interesting that He would note the fact that they were clean men. I guess He wanted them to really know that they were OK. They probably didn't get what He was talking about until much later. Funny how that happens to us humans.
I don't think there is a single thing that was done during Jesus' ministry that was coincidental. I mean, He is the most intelligent and creative soul in the past, present and future of this earth, so I am pretty sure He knew exactly what he was doing and what He chose to say, especially during his final hours with his disciples.
So, after He had washed all of their feet and was sitting again, He asked them to tell Him what he had just done. Rhetorically, perhaps, because He answered his own question. What He seemed to be doing, looking back on it, was setting the stage for a new commandment. In the past, Jesus had been dutiful to testify about keeping God's commandments. If He had new perspective to bring, He usually gave it in the form of parables, which could be safely and broadly interpreted. But now, when the wheels had been set in motion, He could speak plainly. He was finally, beautifully, emboldened. He had always, always, been empowered; but for so long, in order to fulfill His ministry, he had to be restrained. I inhale as I think about the kingly boldness He exhibited repeatedly after he returned to Jerusalem on that donkey.
Maundy Thursday, the day that would end in the darkness of a Garden, was the day that brought to mankind forevermore one distinct new commandment. "Maundy" is based on the Latin word mandatum, which means "command, or order."
Love One Another - it's a Christian mandate. Except there is more, and we sometimes forget that something more, but I think it's really important. We are commanded to love each other as He loved his apostles. With exactness, with purity, with reverence, with expectation but with an embracing sense of brotherhood. With forgiveness, with patience, but without dismissing out of compassion that which is against the other commandments of God. To Him, actually doing what is commanded was as absolute as 2 + 2 = 4. We of the let's-love-the-way-it-feels-good-to-love mentality get a little confused, and boy does the Adversary use that against us. Loving like Jesus loved requires serious spiritual intelligence.
I hope for the focus and determination I need to prayerfully study-out the way Jesus loved while he was on the earth. He came, after all, to give us the pattern. I need to lay myself down on His pattern.
Tonight is the anniversary of that holy event where Jesus broke bread and initiated the sacrament, a sort of "feet washing" ordinance we repeat weekly, that helps keep us spiritually clean. It was the night when He felt the sting of betrayal, the incomprehensible burden of atoning for the weaknesses of humankind, and the loneliness of the withdrawal (to what degree I do not know) of His most faithful and devoted companion. Imagine how weary He must have been when finally they raised Him onto that cross.
Oh, my heart!
Tonight, at the close of Lent, I finish with my own witness that He lives, as He lived. I believe this, and trust it as it directs my daily actions. I believe that He loves me, with a perfect love. And I want to love Him, and my brothers and sisters who share my faith as well as those who don't, with increasing Christlike perfect love. While I have given, in my Lenten offering, many words to bring me closer to Him and to those I love, in the end there are no words to adequately express my heart.
Let my life testify where words fail.
Tomorrow, Good Friday, let's pause to remember. The heartache of loss is such a beautiful indigo wash against the brilliant landscape of hope that was given to all mankind on that Easter morn.
|He is mine,|
and I am His
A happy Easter tide to one and all.