Wednesday of Holy Week
APC 8th April 2020
Introduction and Welcome
Good morning and welcome to the third reflection in our holy week series as we follow in the footsteps of Jesus’ final week using our 5 senses. Today is entitled ‘the touch of holy week’ when we will reflect on what lessons we can learn from the story of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet. But before we read about this humbling encounter, let us take a moment to speak to God. Let us pray…
You sent your Son into the world,
And before his hour had come,
He washed his disciples’ feet.
You had given all things into his hands.
He had come from you, and was going to you,
And what did he do?
He knelt down on the floor,
And washed his friends’ feet.
He was their teacher and their Lord,
Yet he washed their feet.
Loving Father, help us learn from his example;
Help us to do as he has done for us.
The world will know we are his disciples
If we love one another.
Strengthen our hands and our wills for love
And for service.
Keep before our eyes the image of your Son,
Who, being God, became a Servant for our sake.
All glory be to him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
One God, now and forever.
Let us say the Lord’s Prayer together…
Our Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name,
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day, our daily bread, And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those who trespass against us,
And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the Kingdom, the power and the glory,
For ever and ever, AMEN.
Bible Reading John 13 v 1-17 “Jesus washes his disciples feet”
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Reflection ‘The Touch of Holy Week’
What sort of jobs have you been asked to do that made you feel- “I don’t want to do that or I’m not doing that, that’s somebody else’s job!”
We have all had times when we’ve felt like we were too important to do a certain job. We have all had times when we haven’t wanted to do something because it’s just not a nice job or it’s not very exciting.
No-one would have been tempted to feel like that more than Jesus. Jesus knew who He was. John tells us in His gospel that “Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, that He had come from God and was returning to God.”
Jesus knew He was special. He knew He was the Son of God. He knew that because of this, that God the Father had put all things under His authority. He knew that soon God the Father would raise Him up from the dead and seat him at His right hand in heaven. He knew that one day the whole world would bow at His feet and acknowledge that He is Lord. If anyone was ever tempted to think, “That’s not my job!” it was Jesus. If anyone ever had the authority to say, “I know my rights, get somebody else to do it!” it was Jesus.
But the amazing thing is, Jesus taught His disciples to have a very different attitude. He taught them to be servants. What’s more, Jesus didn’t just tell them, He demonstrated it by the way that He lived.
In our bible reading, John records one very famous incident when Jesus shows his disciples what it means to be a servant. Jesus and his disciples were sitting eating a meal together just before the Annual Jewish Passover Feast. Soon Jesus would be arrested and put to death on the cross. Knowing this, Jesus tells His disciples that soon he will be going away. He also takes this opportunity to teach them a lesson that they will need to put into practice when He is gone.
So while the meal is being served, Jesus gets up, takes off his outer clothing and wraps a towel around his waist. He then pours water into a basin, walks around the table and washes the feet of his friends. Initially Simon Peter objects saying, “No, You shouldn’t be washing my feet!” but Jesus persuades him with the words, “Unless I wash you Simon, you shall have no part with me.”
These words provide a wonderful picture of what Jesus would do at the cross. He would die to wash away the sins of the world, including Peter’s. In truth, that was the greatest example of what it means to serve. As the gospel writer says, “He came not to be served but to serve and give His life as a ransom for many”.
Jesus moves slowly around the table washing the feet of each of the disciples. He even washes the feet of Judas, the one who he knows will betray Him.
When Jesus has finished washing the disciples’ feet he puts his shirt back on, empties the basin and sits down at his place. Then he looks around at his friends and says,
“Do you understand what I have done for you? You call me teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I your Lord and teacher have washed your feet, you should wash each other’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”
In a nutshell, Jesus says, never be too proud to wash feet. You see, where Jesus lived the roads were dusty. The people often wore shoes that were open like sandals. When you walked your feet would get dusty. In those days if you went to someone’s house, it was the custom for them to wash your feet. It was their way of saying, “Come in, make yourself at home, let me take your coat.”
But the custom was also that people would get their slaves or household servants to do this job. The owner of the house certainly wouldn’t do it.
In essence what Jesus says to His disciples by washing their feet is, “Never be too proud to do any job. Be willing to be a servant of others. That way, people will be reminded about me and I will give you my blessing.”
What sort of jobs at home or at work or in church could be described as ‘foot-washing’?
Jesus says to us this morning, “Don’t be too proud to serve.”
Let me take this opportunity to thank all of you who do your bit to help our church function so efficiently. It could be cleaning, arranging flowers, cutting hedges, playing music, doing accounts, teaching the children, photocopying announcements, doing bible readings or power-point, phoning builders, fixing a light bulb, updating the website, attending meetings, giving a lift or one of the many other jobs that you do.
Let me encourage you to keep on serving because through your example Christ is being seen in this place and in this community.
Let me encourage you to keep serving because as we do so we will be a blessing to each other. Let me encourage you to keep serving because God will be pleased and one day He will reward you for your faithfulness.
Let me also say, if you haven’t yet got involved in serving in the church then please consider helping out. We’re all in this together, we’ve all got different gifts and it’s only as we all play our part that the church can function as effectively as it should. Why not speak to me or one of the elders and we can find you something that you might like to do?
But of course, the place where we spend most of our time is not at church. It’s at home with our family, it’s at work with our colleagues. It’s at the clubs and societies and committees that we are part of. That’s a good thing. We are to be salt, bringing God’s goodness and flavour to bless the lives of others. That can only happen when we get out of the shaker…
Think about those places for a moment.
What sort of jobs in each of those contexts would you describe as foot-washing?
Who normally does those jobs?
What does it mean or what would it mean for you in those scenarios to take up a towel?
Even if you are already doing that, what sort of attitude do you do it with?
Who is your Judas? What will it mean to wash their feet? Are you willing, like Jesus, to do that?
Let me encourage you to take time to prayerfully reflect on these questions. It’s easy for us to listen to a talk like this and nod in agreement, to feel good about having listened, but for our actions and attitudes to remain unchanged. I know, I’ve done it plenty of times. So let me encourage us all to make time to allow the Holy Spirit to search us through this story, through these questions and let’s ask Him to give us the power to change…
May God help us all to be humble servants wherever we live, wherever we work and wherever we go…
And may the people who benefit see through this that God is good.
Prayers for Others
Let us pray to God, who alone makes us dwell in safety.
Gracious God, we pray today for all who are affected by coronavirus, through illness, isolation or anxiety. May they find relief, recovery and peace of mind.
We remember all those who are guiding our nation at this time and shaping national policies. Help them to make wise decisions.
We pray for doctors, nurses and medical researchers and ask that through their skill and insights many will be restored to health.
We think of the vulnerable and the fearful, for the gravely ill and the dying. May they experience your comfort and peace.
We pray for the isolated and housebound. Help us to be alert to their needs, and to care for them in their vulnerability.
We remember our homes and families, our schools and young people and everyone in any kind of need or distress.
Lord, we ask for your blessing on our local community,
that our neighborhoods may be places of trust and friendship,
where all are known and cared for.
We take a moment to pray particularly for people known to us who are in need of help, comfort, strength and courage at this time…
Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.
Thanks for logging on. I hope you’ve been blessed by our time together. Please remember to tune in again tomorrow as we continue our journey with Jesus through Holy week. We will be reflecting on the ‘taste’ of holy week as we continue our conversation around the table with Jesus and his disciples as they share in the Last Supper together.
Don’t forget to look at our church website or on our Facebook page for latest information. If you’d like to record a little message of encouragement or a fun clip of something you’ve been doing, please don’t hesitate to send it on to Dave Hendry or myself. Do keep everyone in your prayers and look out for anyone you can help. So let me close with a benediction after which, as always, I invite you to join me in saying the grace together…
After washing the disciples’ feet Jesus said these words –
“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
So may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all now and forever more. Amen.
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