Posted on Fri, Apr 18, 2014
John 13:1-17, 31-35 (Maundy Thursday)
April 17, 2014
Gospel Text: John 13:1-17, 31-35 “The King does WINDOWS!”
Jesus Washes the Disciples’ Feet
Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4 got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ 7 Jesus answered, ‘You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ 8 Peter said to him, ‘You will never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.’ 9 Simon Peter said to him, ‘Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!’ 10 Jesus said to him, ‘One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.’ 11 For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, ‘Not all of you are clean.’
12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. 14 So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. 16 Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. 17 If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.
The New Commandment
31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, ‘Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32 If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33 Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” 34 I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’
The name "Maundy Thursday" is derived from the Latin word mandatum meaning "commandment." It may be the root of the word, “Mandatory.” We know the Greatest Commandments that Jesus told us; first we are to love God with all our heart, mind and soul. And the second is like it in that we are to love our neighbor. But what does that mean we are to do or think? Is it a “kissy, huggy, warm feelings” kind of love, or something a deeper that may require us to get a little tired, dirty or even uncomfortable. Does it cost us time, talent and/or treasures? If it does, people will sadly ask, “How much?” We seem too busy with our own agenda’s, video games or whatever before we understand that the time we begin to mature is when we realize that we aren’t the center of the universe and there is more reward in giving, sharing and establishing relationships with our family, neighbors and our world.
Today’s text goes right to the point of explaining service. Jesus, the Son of God, in order to teach His disciples what it means to be a Follower of Jesus will need to see as the highest form of service… and it all begins with humility.
When the disciples followed Jesus into Jerusalem, they saw the people welcoming Jesus, and them, as future kings or rulers of Jerusalem. And the disciples had it in their minds that the triumphal entry just confirmed their personal hopes and dreams of them sometime soon sitting on King Jesus’ right and left in the throne room, high and mighty after they have booted the Romans out and they are now the rulers of Israel…
In the upper room, as they were about to celebrate the Passover, Jesus shatters their dreams of grandeur and demonstrates to them what the Great Commandment, the mandatory acts of being a disciple of Jesus entails, he begins to show what “Loving God and neighbor” means; He takes the position of a lowly servant or slave and washes their feet.
When Jesus prepares the bowl used to wash feet and remove his outer garment, you can bet the disciples began to squirm!
When a guest would come to the house the guest would enter the home, sit in the chair in the entranceway, and the servant, WITHOUT MAKING EYE CONTACT with the guest, would wash the stinky feet of the honored guests. We can assume that while the slave is washing the guests feet, there is a conversation going on between the host and the guest and the slave should never even be acknowledged. Making eye contact is a human act that will establish relationship. A slave was more like a vacuum cleaner or blender.
The disciples knew what was expected from a servant as Jesus prepared to wash their feet. They were uncomfortable!
Jesus is demonstrating what we really need to do for our own faith and in order to make God’s Light of Truth and Mercy known in the world. When we respond to a need, especially when if we are called to do something we aren’t comfortable with, we are forced to rely on our faith. If you don’t push yourself, or if you don’t allow God to push you out of your comfort zone, you won't grow strong in faith. Only doing what we want to do, is like sitting on a couch eating potato chips, but when we look out the window and see a need and actually apply the gifts we have, be it time, muscle or money, then we grow in faith, we strengthen relationships with other people, we begin to open our mind because we are exposed to the reality of people in need, and we strengthen our society.
The disciples were thinking like immature children only thinking about themselves, their needs, and what benefit they will receive when Jesus becomes the king they perceive in their minds. Jesus shows them a mature faith where the focus is not on us but on the ones in need, and the reward is the act itself, nothing more. A child only is concerned with their needs; an adult understands and acts on the needs of others. The same goes for faith.
There is another factor about I want to explore; the feeling of satisfaction or even joy, a person receives when they volunteer to serve… because it is true.
POSTED JUNE 26, 2013, 11:35 AM
There’s something gratifying about volunteering. Whenever I work a charity event—which I try to do with some regularity—I often get more out of it than I give.
I already knew about the mental health benefits of volunteering. Studies have shown that volunteering helps people who donate their time feel more socially connected, thus warding off loneliness and depression. But I was surprised to learn that volunteering has positive implications that go beyond mental health. A growing body of evidence suggests that people who give their time to others might also be rewarded with better physical health—including lower blood pressure and a longer lifespan.
Evidence of volunteerism’s physical effects can be found in a recent study from Carnegie Mellon University, published this month in Psychology and Aging. Adults over age 50 who volunteered on a regular basis were less likely to develop high blood pressure than non-volunteers. High blood pressure is an important indicator of health because it contributes to heart disease, stroke, and premature death.
It’s impossible for this study to prove that volunteering was directly responsible for the lower blood pressure readings. People who volunteer may be more likely to do other things, like eat a healthy diet or exercise, that lower blood pressure. But the results are in line with other findings on the topic.
The benefits of volunteering
How might volunteering contribute to lower blood pressure? Performing volunteer work could increase physical activity among people who aren’t otherwise very active, says lead study author Rodlescia Sneed, a doctoral candidate in social and health psychology at Carnegie Mellon University. It may also reduce stress. “Many people find volunteer work to be helpful with respect to stress reduction, and we know that stress is very strongly linked to health outcomes,” she says.
As with any activity thought to improve health, researchers are trying to identify the specific characteristics of volunteering that provide the greatest benefit. For example, how much time would you need to put into volunteer work to lower your blood pressure or live longer? In the Carnegie Mellon study, 200 hours of volunteering per year correlated to lower blood pressure. Other studies have found a health benefit from as little as 100 hours of volunteering a year. Which types of volunteer activities improve health the most? No one really knows. Sneed speculates that mentally stimulating activities, like tutoring or reading, might be helpful for maintaining memory and thinking skills, while “activities that promote physical activity would be helpful with respect to cardiovascular health, but no studies have really explored this.”
One key for deriving health benefits from volunteering is to do it for the right reasons. A 2012 study in the journal Health Psychology found that participants who volunteered with some regularity lived longer, but only if their intentions were truly altruistic. In other words, they had to be volunteering to help others—not to make themselves feel better.
The Greek philosopher Aristotle once surmised that the essence of life is “To serve others and do good.” If recent research is any indication, serving others might also be the essence of good health.
Like so many things Jesus did, in teaching us how to apply and appreciate the faith He would give us, Jesus does something very surprising! He bowed down like a servant and washed his disciples dusty, dirty, stinky feet. This is our King… This is our Servant King. And greater surprises were just about to begin… wait until Easter!
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