Maundy Thursday: The Last Supper, The foot-washing.
For most of us, it is easy to see our weaknesses. Even more so, we know the secret mutterings of our hearts. We know the ugliness and the fight to trump ugliness with kindness. When mercy, kindness or simply “doing the right thing” wins, we know we have been victorious! The wrestling match between pride (fueled by fear) and humility (fueled by love) takes place in the secret recesses of our hearts – and there, facades are either crafted or broken down.
And then, some things are easier to see. The outward decline of a body and soul ravaged by drugs are plainly visible. Even more visible are the garments of pride, which blind ya from embracing the knowledge of our poverty. Yet, the grand finale is anger, and it emerges with a thunderous roar. Exploding into a storm of murderous intent, it is impossible to ignore, and it offers a temporary fix until the carnage stops us in our tracks. “What have I done,” we may ask ourselves.
Deep inside our hearts, battles wage war and the rules of combat are tricky. For not every victory is a true victory, and not every loss is a true loss.
Then, in time, part of what takes place in the darkness is exposed in the light. The overflow of our hearts is made known – never to be hidden for too long. But still, somehow there are things that remain unseen and within this realm there forms a graveyard of sorts.
In this graveyard exists the “casualties of war” soil, the injuries of childhood thrown in open graves, the neglected pains of the past fertilizing neglected ground – the unseen to the naked eye core of our humanity where we are either healing or rotting in our wounds.
Graphic, yes, but the wounds of the heart are surely an underground cemetery of buried and seemingly lifeless things. There beneath lies our secret shames, internal struggles, our deepest pains, past failures, abuses incurred, walls of pride and highly organized legions of anxieties.
Deceptingly, these burial grounds seem to be deadened, yet they work quietly in the under currents of our being, their wastelands aiming to reform our identity into a casket like shape that seeks the stench of death rather than the fragrance of life.
On this Maundy Thursday, I think of my wounds. They are so deep in my heart, I can ignore them effortlessly until BOOM! The trigger is pulled, and I find them still swirling into my being, stealing my breath away and rendering me helpless- like a child alone in a wilderness of waters, yet dying of thirst.
On this Maundy Thursday, I think of my pride. For others, it may be a covering of accomplishment, but for me it is an undergarment of insecurities. I am not brave; I am too shy; I am not skilled; I am too sensitive; I am not enough; I am too introspective; I am not thin enough; I am not attractive enough; I am too quiet, too serious, and am too small for my big big dreams. In a sense, it is the “why can’t I be like and liked by everyone else” of my childhood coming into play, torturing me until I mask my insecurities with faux humility.
On this Maundy Thursday, I think of my internal agonies. The ones I won’t say out loud; the ones that bring the most pain; the ones that demand justice; the ones that send me weeping into a garden like Gethsemane, except I’m dreading the past instead of shaping the future.
I think of them often as I get older, and I soothe them with the balm of Jesus.
ON this Maundy Thursday, I see Jesus taking care of some things. After all, it was his last day to be free, to be alive, technically. For us, that would mean saying goodbye to family and making sure our affairs are in order. For Jesus, that meant breaking bread, feeding those around him and than doing the unimaginable.
Washing the feet of his friends…
Yes, He would wash their feet….dirty from walking dusty roads. Unattractive, from years of labor and offensive until properly cleansed. The cleansing was a job meant for a servant, not a friend, and certainly not a king.
Yet, Jesus ministered to his disciples in His final hours. His hands touched their feet and cleaned them in a parallel of what was to come – such a tender servant-sacrifice preview.
Peter could not handle this. And, I say that we are Peter, too. We cannot handle His healing touch on our feet and to those who say that we can, I say you are wrong.
For though His touch washes the dirt and grime from our most unattractive sin-stained bodies, it also brings the fire of conviction into our souls. It says to forgive, even when when the offender is unrepentant. It says to let go of offense, even when we’ve been wronged. It says to surrender our hearts to humility, even when we are due recognition. It says to WASH THE FEET OF OUR BRETHERN (literally) yet we run away from the foot washing basin, run away from the call of Jesus and STILL call ourselves obedient and here……
Here, we are Peter too, unable to handle the touch of the Servant-King on our feet and His wildfire flames of conviction flushing Holy Spirit conviction throughout our veins.
For, if we could “handle” it, than we would not need Him; we would not need His healing touch, His perfect sacrifice, the resurrection leap, the Holy Spirit helper…. If we could “handle it”, then we would not need Jesus, who was humble to the point of washing the feet of His betrayer on the night He was to be betrayed. If we could “handle” it, then we wouldn’t be betrayed by anxieties, fears, and we would walk perfectly in grace and mercy like Jesus did ….. We would be on equal footing with the One who walked straight to the foot washing basin to the cross and who chose to lay down His life for his friends AND His enemies.
We can’t handle it, and until we know what we don’t know, we won’t know! However, it is okay indeed, because Jesus knows US and our secret burial grounds. Now, we can bare our ignorance and our bare feet because despite being fully known, we are fully loved and that’s LIFE.
So today, let us remember that the greatest challenge in our humanity is in allowing Jesus to touch our dirty feet.
I am not speaking of before we knew Christ. The disciples knew Christ; they were His closest friends.
I am speaking of the after. We are eternally cleansed, but our feet still touch dusty roads. They are tinged and sooted with the dirt of unrepented sin, bitterness, pride, anger, pain, and distraction.
Jesus would like to come and wash our feet but will we allow Him to? Will we allow Him to soothe away our pride, heal our pains, cleanse our wounds, humble our crippling pride?
Don’t forget that evil roars like a lion in wait, pouncing, hiding, and destroying. But, hooray! There is hope in sight, for our Servant King will not allow us to be ill-equipped. For Jesus takes care of our greatest needs, feeds us in our weakness, kneels before us, washes our travel-weary, sin-exhausted feet, and in the receiving we are protected from that preying lion!
But still and most importantly, Jesus goes out and dies for us. It’s not the earthly victory we understand, but its the heavenly victory God has understood for us. And now we can get up and truly walk on the road to Easter Sunday.
Even through failure, rejection, and loss, we will find Jesus there! On the other side of Easter, we will find Jesus there! For He has burst through the grave, defeated the last enemy – death forever crushed – and has opened up the road of praise directly into the throne room! Jesus is with us on our journeys, now and forever. He is our Lord, our Savior, and our compassionate King, tending to us, dirty feet and all.
So, on this Maundy Thursday, let us remember the former darkness for it is there God has encountered us, shining His light. He works there, creating, molding and cultivating beautiful souls, readying them for their debuts, and equipping them for the battles ahead.
Let us remember the power of the cross defeated and wield the victory given to us over the graveyards in our hearts. For with us we have a soul saving, Lazarus raising, tomb raiding, death breaking, life resurrecting, forever crushing the dead places in the name of Jesus- look at what He has done for us- the son of man, slain Lamb, Risen King to come again!! (Woooooooo!)
My friends, let us sit to rest with Jesus, but not hide our feet from Him. He has come to wash them…and we would do well to receive.