Gospel Reading: John 13:1-17,31b-35 Jesus washes his disciples’ feet
13 Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He now showed the disciples the full extent of his love.* 2 It was time for supper, and the Devil had already enticed Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to carry out his plan to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. 4 So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, 5 and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him.
6 When he came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, why are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now why I am doing it; someday you will.” 8 “No,” Peter protested, “you will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “But if I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me.” 9 Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!”
10 Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet,* to be entirely clean. And you are clean, but that isn’t true of everyone here.” 11 For Jesus knew who would betray him. That is what he meant when he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? 13 You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because it is true. 14 And since I, the Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. 15 I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you. 16 How true it is that a servant is not greater than the master. Nor are messengers more important than the one who sends them. 17 You know these things—now do them! That is the path of blessing.”
31 “The time has come for me, the Son of Man, to enter into my glory, and God will receive glory because of all that happens to me. 32 And God will bring me into my glory very soon. 33 Dear children, how brief are these moments before I must go away and leave you! … 34 So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. 35 Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Gospel Reading: Matthew 26:17-31 The Lord’s Supper
17 On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where do you want us to make the preparations for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is near; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ ” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover meal.
20 When it was evening, he took his place with the twelve; and while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” And they became greatly distressed and began to say to him one after another, “Surely not I, Lord?” He answered, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that one by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that one not to have been born.” Judas, who betrayed him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” He replied, “You have said so.”
26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30 When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Special Reading: Luke 22:39-54a Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane
39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.
51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.
52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.” 54 Then seizing him, they led him away.
Sermon for Maundy Thursday
The Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
‘Jesus got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel he had around him.’
The Servant King, Christ Jesus, demonstrated the way of salvation, and the right relationship we have with our Saviour in this living parable.
‘When he came to Simon Peter, Peter said to him, “Lord, why are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now why I am doing it; someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “But if I don’t wash you, you won’t belong to me.” In his pride, Peter resisted the simple act of love and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ. So many in the world today show that same pride, even among followers of Christ Jesus. I hear words just like Peter’s. “I don’t need to read the Bible to be a Christian.” “I don’t need to worship to be a part of the Church.” “I don’t need to pray to be in a relationship with God.” “I don’t need to be baptized to go to heaven. After all, I’m a Christian and a good person.”
Yet, I say, if we do not receive the gift of salvation, renewal, and eternal life, with humility before our Saviour, we will have no part of him. From the earliest gathering of followers, they devoted themselves to the Apostle’s teaching of the words of Jesus, they devoted themselves to fellowship living their faith in community, they devoted themselves to prayer strengthening their relationship with God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, and they devoted themselves to the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion to receive the fullness of Christ’s presence with humility before the Lord and confidence before the world. Even in our isolation this year, we are still a community of faith, devoting ourselves to the teaching of the Apostles, and sharing our fellowship by phone and electronic media.
But then, Simon Peter exclaimed, “Then wash my hands and head as well, Lord, not just my feet!” To which, Jesus replied, “A person who has bathed all over does not need to wash, except for the feet, to be entirely clean. And you are clean.”
In the waters of Baptism, we are washed clean from the sin we inherit from Adam. In the faith we receive by the work of the Holy Spirit, we are given the right to be called Children of God.
But still we gather upon us the failures and sins of our broken world around us, just as a traveler picks up the dust of the earth on his journey.
And just as Jesus washed this dust from the Disciples’ feet, he removes the stain and guilt of our sin each time we come to him in repentance to remember the forgiveness we received at the cross of Christ. But we must come before him in humility to receive the grace and mercy that he so eagerly wants to bestow upon us. Just as the Disciples allowed their master and Lord to wash their feet.
And then we are prepared to receive the fullness of Christ’s presence in his body and blood. Not because we deserve it, not because we have earned it, but just because it is freely given by the one whom God sent out of his great love, and the whom we have received out of our simple faith.
We come to the Lord’s Supper recognising our need for Christ Jesus. We come not deserving but accepting. We come to his presence in body and blood to remember Christ’s sacrifice and celebrate Christ’s victory, and ours. We come, because we are invited by God through Christ to join together in fellowship, to eat and drink, and give thanks.
We come as people who are reminded of the presence of Christ Jesus in our lives every day.
The Lord knows how short our memories are, so throughout the Bible we find Him reminding us of things again and again, and even doing things to help us remember. Jesus used parables and items around Him in those parables, to help people remember what He taught; but in the whole Bible there is no reminder more important or significant than the one He established the night before His crucifixion. It is Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper, our shared Meal, when we receive the real presence of our Lord’s body and blood. In verse of the passage we shared this evening, Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of Me.”
As we join Jesus at the table of his grace tonight, to receive his body and blood, and we prepare to confront the suffering and death of our Saviour, as well as His awesome resurrection, may the grace and peace of our Triune God, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN.
Rev David Thompson.