The familiar actions of that first Maundy Thursday, with Jesus sharing bread and wine with his disciples, and using those words that are deeply imprinted in our minds, are simply not there in John’s Gospel. Today we are again taken to Jesus’ Last Supper as we read John 13 vv.1-17 and 31-35.
John probably assumes his readers are sharing regularly in the Lord’s Supper and know the words and the actions, so he wants to show us other aspects of that first Lord’s Supper, in particular, he is focusing on how Jesus used the meal to show ‘the full extent of his love’ (v.1).
By washing his disciples’ feet, he showed the depth, the humility of his love, ready to take the lowest place, the start of an evening when he was to be arrested, abused, and illegally tried for sedition, painfully, humbly going even to death.
By cleansing the disciples (v.10) he showed that that, out of the depths of his love, he was not taking the lowest place just to make a statement, but that his death would, through his love outpoured to the fullest extent, cleanse them through and through.
By taking the path of death, he would also reveal the glory, the very character of God himself (vv.31-32). At the lowest point, the greatest glory would be made clear and, out of the full extent of his love, he was prepared to go to that lowest point.
I love Maundy Thursday – it is one of my favourite days of the year, and I have always loved coming together at the Lord’s Table to relive that first Maundy Thursday. None of us can do that this year, but we can take time with John to enter more fully into those other aspects of this Lord’s Supper, the betrayal that we focused on yesterday, the foot washing, the cleansing, the glory, that otherwise we might miss out on; as we do that we enter more deeply into the full extent of his love, and shall bring something even richer to our worship when the day comes where we can gather again at Jesus’ Table.
O Lord, the King of Kings, who led and taught not as a mighty ruler, but a servant leader, show me how to lead and live through love. Teach me how to love and serve others with a gracious and humble heart. Help me to always remember your words, being reminded each time I come before your table to share in the cup and the bread. As I come before you to eat the bread of redemption and drink the cup of your salvation, may I recommit my heart to serving you and leading through love. May you, O Lord, who are mighty to save, pour out your mercy and grace and lead me in your way. Amen. Kathryn Shirey