John introduces the story of the Upper Room on that Thursday evening long ago by recording —
“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.”
(John 13:3-4 NRSV)
Jesus acts as a servant, humbling himself to wash the disciples’ feet. He could abase himself because of who he was, and to whom he belonged. So much of what we do is rooted in what it will achieve or, perhaps more often, how it will appear. For Jesus at the end – as at the beginning – his deeds are rooted in his belonging to the Father.
Author Gordon McDonald writes –
“You can tell whether you are becoming a servant by how you act when people treat you like one.”
Jesus’ washing of feet is the beginning of hours of humiliation – betrayal, arrest, torture, agonizing death. Yet who he was shines through even the dirt and grime of the coming hours.
Prayer for Holy Thursday
O God, by the example of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ,
you taught us the greatness of true humility,
and call us to watch with him in his passion.
Give us grace to serve one another in all lowliness,
and to enter into the fellowship of his suffering;
in his name and for his sake. Amen.
from The United Methodist Book of Worship —
(W. E. ORCHARD, ENGLAND, 20TH CENT., ALT.)