Today in Holy Week is called Maundy Thursday. This day we remember Jesus' Last Supper with His disciples before the crucifixion and His washing of their feet. Maundy is a word derived from Middle English and Latin meaning mandate or command. On this day we remember a command Jesus gave. Let's look at that command found in the book of John.
"It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for Him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved His own who were in the world, He now showed them the full extent of His love.
The evening meal was being served, and the devil had already prompted Judas Iscariot, son of Simon, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under His power, and that He had come from God and was returning to God; so He got up from the meal, took off His outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around His waist. After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around Him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to Him, 'Lord, are you going to wash my feet?'
Jesus replied, 'You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.'
'No,' said Peter, 'you shall never wash my feet.'
Jesus answered, 'Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.'
'Then Lord,' Simon Peter replied, 'not just my feet but my hands and head as well!'
Jesus answered, 'A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.' For He knew who was going to betray Him, and that was why He said not every one was clean.
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. '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 also should wash one another'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." John 13:1-17
So, what is the command or Maundy in this passage?
We must first examine what Jesus did. Jesus, the greatest in the room by far, assumed the role of the least and washed the feet of the disciples. In that culture the servant that washed the feet of people had a crummy job, the guest of honor would never do this job nor would the least honored guest if there was a servant around. Jesus assumed the role of servant even though He was aware of His actual place amongst the other men in the room.
Jesus also washed the feet of Judas Iscariot, who He knew would betray Him that same night. Jesus assumed the role of servant even for His enemy.
So, what is the command? The Maundy of Maundy Thursday is to do as Jesus did. Christians must be the servant of all, both high and low. There is no one too low for the Christian to serve. If the Almighty can wash the feet of some lowly men from Israel, then you can and must serve anyone.
Christians must also not only tolerate our enemies but also serve them. If Jesus can wash the feet of the man who would betray Him in a matter of hours then so we must follow suit. You might not use the word 'enemy' but is there someone you'd be shocked to have to serve? Is there someone you'd rather avoid than serve? Maybe it's the Syrian man or woman needing refuge. You may be scared because of what had happened recently, but Jesus commands us to serve them. Maybe it's the person who votes differently than you. Maybe it's the one whose sexuality differs from yours. We aren't commanded to bend the truth in any way, He's not asking you to call right what is wrong; He's telling you to serve them anyway.
Here's what Jesus is not commanding: "I served you, so you serve me." This would be easy. There are a billion reasons to serve Jesus. Jesus said, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another's feet." Jesus commands us to serve one another, even when the one anothers in our life don't deserve it. Remember in Matthew 25 Jesus said "Whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sister of mine, you did for me." We serve Jesus by serving others, especially those that society deems are below us or our enemies.
Remember Jesus' Maundy or mandate for us. Be a servant like your Master Jesus today.