MAUNDY THURSDAY – MARCH 24, 2016
TEXTS: JOHN 13:1-5/I COR. 11:23-32/EXODUS 12:1-14
IF I DO NOT WASH YOU, YOU HAVE NO SHARE WITH ME.
DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I HAVE DONE TO YOU?
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

 

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.  Holy Thursday!  Maundy or Mandate or Commandment Thursday!  The Upper Room!  The chosen twelve!  The Passover Prepared!  The night Jesus gave the Last Supper!  The night Jesus spoke of His betrayal by one of them.  The night when their questions about which one might betray Him telescoped into arrogant dispute over which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:7-30)


Mandate Thursday!  The Upper Room!  What an occasion for ugly pride to raise its head.  Perhaps they thought that one who lost the argument and was labeled least among them might be pressed into service for the lowly duty of foot-washing.  Jesus had to once again verbally correct their vision of greatness in His kingdom.  St. Luke records Him – “let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.  For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves?  Is it not the one who reclines at table?  But I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22:26-27).

 

Holy Thursday!  The night of loving service that has no end!  Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end…Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.  He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet.”

 

 

MAUNDY THURSDAY – MARCH 24, 2016
TEXTS: JOHN 13:1-5/I COR. 11:23-32/EXODUS 12:1-14
IF I DO NOT WASH YOU, YOU HAVE NO SHARE WITH ME.
DO YOU UNDERSTAND WHAT I HAVE DONE TO YOU?
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.  Holy Thursday!  Maundy or Mandate or Commandment Thursday!  The Upper Room!  The chosen twelve!  The Passover Prepared!  The night Jesus gave the Last Supper!  The night Jesus spoke of His betrayal by one of them.  The night when their questions about which one might betray Him telescoped into arrogant dispute over which of them was the greatest (Luke 22:7-30)


Mandate Thursday!  The Upper Room!  What an occasion for ugly pride to raise its head.  Perhaps they thought that one who lost the argument and was labeled least among them might be pressed into service for the lowly duty of foot-washing.  Jesus had to once again verbally correct their vision of greatness in His kingdom.  St. Luke records Him – “let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.  For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves?  Is it not the one who reclines at table?  But I am among you as the one who serves.” (Luke 22:26-27).

Holy Thursday!  The night of loving service that has no end!  Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end…Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper.  He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel tied it around his waist.  Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet.”

 

This opportunity for service in the Upper Room had waited for some time that evening.  The dust and dirt between toes was normally washed away by a servant when guests entered the room for a meal.  When Jesus rose and girded himself for this lowly task the meal was well underway.  It is an amazing scene!  He who wraps the flowers in color and the hills in splendor, wrapped round himself a towel.  He who pours water into Lake Michigan and the rivers and oceans of the world poured water into a basin.  Very God of Very God – before whom every knee will bow (Phil 2:10) – stooped down on His knees to remove dirt from human feet.  On his knees, He washed also the feet of His betrayer.


Holy Thursday!  The night Jesus gave the Last Supper!  The night Jesus washed the feet of His friends and His betrayer.  Some groups such as the Brethren still embody foot washing in their celebration of communion.  The Pope is reported this day to have symbolically washed the feet of immigrants an refugees.  But is repeating it symbolically in these ways what it really means?


To see the true light and meaning of Jesus’ cleansing work, the words of Jesus and the question of Jesus are essential.  He asked – Do you know what I have done to you?  You see, it was in the Upper Room that Jesus gave the New Testament in His blood – the gift of forgiveness with the blood He shed the next day for the world.  It was in the Upper Room that He gave His body for food – the Bread from heaven that He would, the next day, sacrifice once for all – for all sin.


Do you know what I have done to you?  The foot washing was not done on the spur of the moment nor in a vacuum but when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father.  He knew that all things necessary for men’s salvation were given into His hands – that is – given for Him to carry out.  He was the Passover Lamb without blemish that our heavenly Father had chosen.  He knew that the Father’s will was His sacrificial death to be carried out before another nightfall came.  He was obedient to the Father’s will – obedient even to the death of the cross. 

 

Having loved His own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.  The phrase “to the end” does not mean merely time – that is - until His death.  It carries also the meaning of to the highest degree of love or the supreme magnitude of love.  Jesus loved on to the extreme end of what is possible, not only love until death, but love to every limit – to the final possibility of seeking and winning sinners - to the ultimate gift of saving mankind. 


Holy Thursday!  The Upper Room!  There - to His own He did something not seen by the High Priest or by Pilate or by the soldiers the next day.  It is a humble picture of Divine Love bowing deep before each of His own – loving them with tender actions so full that they declare – “there is nothing I would not do for you.”  Two of them with feet cleansed by Him of beautiful feet are named –    Judas   and   Peter. 


Loving to the end, the Savior is on His knees washing and drying the feet of the man who would soon slip out to betray Him.  Judas was finished with His Lord.  He had enough and was seeking something else in this dying world.  Yet Jesus, in love, is not finished with Him.  In humility Jesus stretches a seeking and serving hand to care for Judas’ feet.  He loves to the end – to the extreme limit.  Judas would have heard the searching question Jesus asked of them all - Do you know what I have done to you?  By the devil’s leading Judas did not know.  He refused to be loved so much - rejecting Jesus’ love to the end. 


While Judas is silent – not so with Peter!  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?”  Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.”  Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.  Peter struggled against his Master’s love that humbled itself so deeply.  “You shall never wash my feet,” Then Jesus made clear that receiving the Savior’s humble washing service was a matter of communion with Him.  If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.  When Peter understood that fellowship with Jesus was at stake in receiving Jesus’ washing he desired more than he needed.  “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!”  Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean.  And you are clean, but not every one of you.”  For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”  


Do you understand what I have done to you – Peter?  Satan will sift all of you like wheat.  But when the rooster crows twice – I am loving you to the end!  When you weep bitterly – I am loving you to the end!  When I am crucified and because I am so sacrificed – I am loving you without limit!  When I speak peace to you on the other side of My death – you are clean – your denials are mine and my faithfulness is yours!  Do you understand what I have done to you - Peter?  Jesus loves to the end – to the extremity of the cross – to the wonder of the open tomb – to His ongoing intercession – to the forgiving provision of His holy body and His holy blood – to His return and the completion of what He has begun in us! 


Beloved of God – do you ever struggle with God’s love that humbles itself or with your need for the washing Jesus does during the meal He provides for you on this day?  Maundy Thursday!  Commandment Thursday!  The love commandment Jesus speaks can keep us from imagining that our need is not desperate – that we are doing just fine.  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.   The magnitude of His love and His command is beyond calculation. 


Is the magnitude, the intensity, the steadfastness of your love beyond calculation – to your spouse – to your children – to your parents – to your pastor – to your fellow members – to your neighbor – to a lost world – to your enemies?  How inward our love can turn!  How cold our love can grow!  Is the obedience of your love in your vocation perfect in fulfilling God’s will – joyfully doing what you are given to do – speaking what God speaks and not what the world whispers - not what your sinful nature suggests. 


Sometimes we compare and actually feel that our service is supreme – surpassing what is expected of us.  Jesus new commandment of love as law is the sure slayer of this monster of pride.  Thoughts and arguments about human greatness and human goodness cannot stand before the love Jesus requires here – “just as I have loved you.


However, Jesus new commandment of love as gospel is the most profound gospel!  A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  His love for you is not determined or limited by your love for others.  His perfect love for you it is not a reward for but the source of your love for others.  His love continues and His love for you surpasses all that you can know!  His is a seeking, suffering, sacrificial, cleansing love.  “If I do not wash you, you have no share in me.” 


See how He loves and washes you!  You have beautiful share in Him because the One who is bathed is clean.  Beloved - your bath was a holy one – clothing you with Christ – baptizing you into the very death of Christ and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).  His washing that cleanses you is ongoing - flowing from love to the end – that is from love to the extreme.


Maundy Thursday!  Thank God for another commandment – another mandate He spoke on this night in the Upper Room – “Do this (keep on doing this) in remembrance of me.”  “This is my body which is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”  That is – do this in faith that I am here reaching out to wash not your feet but to wash away your sin in this gift. 


His new mandate in His New Testament brings more - “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.  Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.  That is – do this believing that I am here to cleanse you with my blood.  In this Supper I am among you as the one who serves and in it I place my intensive, unwavering, love in your midst.  My body is given “for you” to eat – My blood is given “for you” to drink.  My love to the end – to the extreme - is weighty enough for the extreme trouble of all your sin and all your guilt.  Peter’s attempt to add his own prescription to my cleansing service was futile.  So also you have no need to fret or to try to invent some additional way to get cleaner.  Dear child of mine - My blood cleanses you from all sin!  (1 John 1:7)


Afterward you will understand – Jesus said.  This Maundy Thursday is afterward and you do understand in faith.  Jesus has gone to the Father and sinner that you are – you have full share in Him!  All things are still given into His hands and He comes among you even now with sure promise - My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.  Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 


Beloved, The Lord is gracious and merciful.  He provides food for those who fear him; He remembers His covenant forever. 

 

In the Name of Jesus, AMEN

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a