top of page
  • Pastor Gary

Maundy Thursday

There are lots of people named Peter.  Not so much Judas. It has kind of gone the way of Adolph or Osama. Peter on the other hand remains a strong, popular name.  

Most of us think that we would be more like Peter than Judas.  Most of us see Judas as a much worse character.  That is except for John, the writer of tonight's Gospel.  John holds both characters in similar esteem.

It is the evening of the passover.  Jesus is gathered with his friends.  It has been one wild ride of a week.  What started out as a clear victory for this group as Jesus entered a welcoming joyous jubilant Jerusalem was now a  jaded Jerusalem of judgment and danger.

WE know the story as it unfolded.  Jesus knew the story as it would unfold.  Judas and Peter did not.

What was clear to the disciples that night was that Jesus was doing something remarkable.  Their rabbi, their master, teacher, friend and Lord removed his outer robe and began to wash their feet.  Extraordinary! they must have thought.  The master does not wash the servant's feet.  That was a job for slaves or at least women which were often the same.   Peter makes a loud protest.

Remarkably, Jesus continues to set the example and teaching for Peter and continues on performing the inglorious bathing.  

From our perspective, perched as we are many centuries later, we can appreciate the shock that they must have felt but we are let in on a little secret.  A secret shared with us that gives us an even more profound understanding of this text.  Jesus was in the know... He knew what Judas was about to do.  Knew that Judas was going to betray him and yet he continues to wash his feet. 

Jesus was in the know.  He knew what Peter was about to do.  Knew that Peter was going to deny him. Deny and lie would be Peter's modus operandi that dire night.  And yet Jesus continues to wash his feet.

A remarkable thing to the disciples is an even more remarkable act for us.

The very ones who would betray, desert, and lie were willingly washed as equals by the master as if he were their slaves.

I am not a big fan of foot washing.  I do it because it is important not because it is my favorite thing in church. I much prefer the sumptuous songs of Sunday to the toes of tonight.  Most people here aren't too crazy about it either.  I completely understand why Zion Baptist Church in Blythville, AK ran an announcement in the local paper a few years ago saying, "Please make sure you wash your feet before coming to the foot washing on Thursday."

 It is a custom that is foreign to us, strangely intimate and easily out of place in liturgy.  But as uncomfortable as it is, imagine kneeling before someone who was going to have you arrested and sentenced to death tonight.  Imagine kneeling before someone who is going to deny and desert during  the lowest points in life.

On this night it would be easy to preach: Don't be like Peter or Judas!  Undoubtedly many preachers will.  What will be more difficult for us all to preach is: "Go and kneel at the feet of those who would harm you. Humble yourself at the feet of your oppressors.  Wash tenderly the dirt from your enemies."  In fact Jesus told his followers that they are to do to one another as he is doing for them.  

This night is not about Peter or about Judas but about Our Lord Jesus and his love for Peter and even Judas.

In a few moments, we will hear the words "Do this in remembrance of me."  As we hear these words quoted by Paul, the Gospel of John wants us to remember as we dine that Jesus knew full well the type of people he was washing, what they would do, what sins they would commit, what wounds they would cause and yet he continued to be their servant.  If you needed proof of Jesus' divinity-this miracle of voluntary servitude and love for your enemy is as rare as the resurrection.

Does he love us any less for the failures we have?  No, in fact he becomes our servant.  

Dr. King said: “the end is reconciliation; the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the Beloved Community.   It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opponents into friends. It is this type of understanding goodwill that will transform the deep gloom of the old age into the exuberant gladness of the new age. It is this love which will bring about miracles in the hearts of all.” ( Accessed 04-15-13)

Peter, Our Lord's denier.  Judas, Our Lord's betrayer.

Jesus, Peter's servant.  Jesus, Judas's servant.  Why, those names are sounding better all the time.

73 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page