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Maundy Thursday - washing

By Charlie Osewalt | 1 April 2015 | Comments (2)

Stained glass window of Jesus washing feet

“Just before the Passover Feast, Jesus knew that the time had come to leave this world to go to the Father. Having loved his dear companions, he continued to love them right to the end. It was suppertime.

Jesus …got up from the supper table, set aside his robe, and put on an apron. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with his apron. When he got to Simon Peter, Peter said, “Master, you wash my feet?”

Jesus answered, “You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”

Peter persisted, “You’re not going to wash my feet—ever!” John13: 1-8

Imagine Peter quiet.  As Jesus - his master, his teacher, his friend - works around the table washing the disciples’ feet in almost unbearable silence. I picture Peter slowly seething inside: why don’t any of them stop the Master? It should be us washing his feet! Finally, as Jesus bows before him, Peter speaks:

  “Master, you wash my feet?”

Jesus’ response is a statement for Peter and for all of us who lead with our hearts, speak quickly or react immediately:

“You don’t understand now what I’m doing, but it will be clear enough to you later.”

Maundy Thursday is about many things: foot washing; servant leadership; community; food. But for the Peters of our world, it is about not insisting on washing ourselves in our own way.  It is about letting Him wash us.

How does He clean our feet today?

He washes us with the people around; we are soaked by those He brings into our lives. He transforms our hearts into tender tools of his love for the hurting and in generous love, a true and first love, He washes our sin away.

Allow Him to wash your feet. It is how He loves.

Posted by Charlie Osewalt

Charles Osewalt is a husband, father of four children and former elder at Redeemer Church NYC. He has worked in schools for the last twenty years as principal in the Morrisanna section of the Bronx. He formerly worked as a content and curriculum specialist for Stewardship. He tweets at @charlesosewalt


Fran Foreman

March 24, 2016 8:42 AM
Maundy Thursday hardly ever remarked on and less explained. This is a timely reminder of what Jesus has done for us and the events leading up to this momentous event.

Thank you

Sara Lee

March 24, 2016 9:46 PM
Washing. I keep my own self and environment clean, certainly, but as I stated previously, thanks to your site I might now do things with a new sort of consciousness--things that I just seem to do automatically, because they need done.
Yesterday when I went out for my walk, I had an idea to take my weeding implement--sort of a forked stick with which you detach weeds from their roots. I am a fanatic about pulling dandelions, so I thought I'd take my weeder with me around the neighborhood and see what I could do. (I didn't want to clamber into anyone's back yard--people can be kinda funny, so I stuck to just at the sidewalks.) Yeah, I found a few dandies. It was fine. And I didn't hafta tell anyone about it, which was better. (except you, for the sake of telling the story.
Also, on a nice afternoon, I will cruise over to church and pick up cigarette butts in the prodigious parking lot--and there are always many. (A neat trick; rather than getting frustrated, just take action.) I've got one of those squeeze picker-upper things with the handles to save my back, then in the garbage the butts go! And in nice weather I keep my "garden tool box" plus a branch lopper in the car --if I see tree branches hanging down anywhere during my trip, I'll just spring out of the car and cut them off with the lopper, or do any other quick straightening that might need doing. It has also been my mission to clear a section of neighborhood roadway for joggers and walkers, or those who might not have cars. It's great exercise, I sweat like crazy, and hopefully I've made this area a little easier to walk on for others.
While my little acts may not make much of a hill of beans (Americanism! Look it up!), they make me feel less of a damage on this earth, and maybe even a tiny bit useful. And the gardening/weeding always reminds me of the Heavenly Gardener, who helps us grow and weeds us when we need it.
Thanks for letting me share my story. -- Sara

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