The Thursday of Holy Week (the week before Easter) is called “Maundy Thursday” or “Holy Thursday.” On this day, the Church commemorates Jesus’s Last Supper and Foot Washing with his disciples. You can read about it here.
There is a lot going on at the Last Supper. Jesus eats the Passover Meal with his disciples, predicts his betrayal, and washes his disciples feet. The word “Maundy” is derived from the latin mandatum, meaning “commandment.” Jesus interprets this radically humble action–washing his disciples feet–as an example of the kind of humble, sacrificial love he is commanding them to have for one another.
Traditions vary. Many churches have foot washing ceremonies in the evening of Mandy Thursday. Our church has a Communion service. We have grape juice and bread–which reminds us of the Last Supper, and symbolizes Christ’s blood and body given for us.
Christ’s example in foot washing is very instructive for the Christian life. Think of it! The Creator of the Universe stoops to wash grime off of his disciples. It’s helpful to note that his disciples had a habit of arguing amongst themselves about which of them was The Greatest–like a verbal match of “King of the Hill.” Jesus rebukes them and explains that the proper use of power and influence is not to shove people down, but to serve. Christianity is not a power trip–it’s deferential service.
While I was in seminary at Dallas Theological Seminary, there was a beautiful bronze statue of Jesus washing Peter’s feet. It was located in a very prominent place on campus–a visual reminder of why we were there studying–what our education was for–what our future leadership was supposed to look like. Similarly, the local Christian College, Taylor University, gives each of their students a Servant’s Towel–an important symbol of Christ-like humility.
This Maundy Thursday, may we experience the humbling intimacy of our maker washing our feet. And receive the inspiration to go and do likewise.