Today is Maundy Thursday, the day the church has often set aside to commemorate the incredible act of humiliation as our Lord girds himself with a servant’s towel and washes the feet of his apostles (John 13:1–11). That, I’m sure, was a sight the Eleven didn’t soon forget. For several of them, this display constituted the last intimate moment between them and their Teacher. A few short hours after washing and supping, that humble Leader of men would be led himself to the place of his execution. And, as they say, the rest is history.
But in that moment, as the apostles’ feet were being scrubbed by their Lord and Master, we’re given a pristine image of what St. Paul refers to when he writes that Christ Jesus “took upon him the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:7). The Son of Man evidences that very idea in this scene, not only assuming the form of a servant but the function, too. He lowers himself to where his apostles were — which is precisely what he was about to do on a tree erected on the slopes of Calvary. Chad Bird wrote eloquently about this very moment between Christ and his Twelve in an article entitled, “What Kind of God Washes Feet?” Here’s an excerpt:
Today we remember that God washes our feet. The fingers that crafted the universe scrub scum from between toes. The hands that painted the cosmos wash feet painted with dirt and sweat. The One before whom all angels bow gets on his knees to labor as a slave. We become clean, he becomes filthy.
In doing this, Jesus our God gives us a humble epiphany, a revelation of who he is. He is the God who makes his glory visible in lowliness and servitude. He is the God who gives his cheek to the betraying lips of Judas — his face to the slapping hand of the high priest — his countenance to the spit of the Sanhedrin. He is the God who gives — his head to the thorns — his feet to the spikes — his side to the spear. He is the God who embraces rejection, shame, torture, and death, to give himself to you.
And here is why: because that’s who God is. He is the God who is love. Therefore he loves you by giving to you. For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son. What he gives you is nothing less than himself.
God gives, you receive. This is everything.
Christ shows us that Jehovah is unlike any other god. And this is nowhere more evident than in his willingness to descend into the ruinous realm of his creatures and there make reconciliation for them via his own blood. He is the God who gives because he loves, so much so that gives himself — his very life — for those he loves (John 3:16). Everything, indeed.
Happy Easter week! Grace and peace.