“Love One Another”

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Maundy Thursday, April 1, 2021

The Rev. Todd R. Goddard, Pastor

Rush United Methodist Church

John 13:1-17, 31b-35

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.

He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “One who has bathed does not need to wash, except for the feet, but is entirely clean. And you are clean, though not all of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; for this reason he said, “Not all of you are clean.”

After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.

When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

| Centering Prayer |

Today’s message comes in three meditations with a moment of silent reflection following each.

1. Knowing

That the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas to betray him,

Jesus loved his own who were in the world,

He loved them to the end;

Yes, Jesus even loved Judas Iscariot.

Knowing

That the Father had given all things into his hands,

And that he had come from God

And was going to God,

Jesus washed the disciples’ feet and wiped them with a towel,

An act that would have usually been relegated to

The servant of the lowest stature.

It must have been an interesting dynamic

When Jesus stoops to wash the feet of Judas.

What was Judas thinking?

Were his eyes filling with tears?

Or were his teeth clenched in rage?

John leaves little to the imagination what Jesus was thinking:

Love and service.  

Love, then serve.

Start with love.

Always lead with love.

“Have you loved them first?”

I gently asked a fellow Christian,

Who was filled with frustration and anger

Over the apparent apathy of others.

Granted, apathy isn’t in the same league as betrayal;

But both are to be turned back to

Our Lord’s ultimate concern …

Judgment is God’s affair,

Not yours, mind, or anyone else.

Lead with love.

Love the easy to love.

Love these who are more difficult to love.

Love one another with the same love that Jesus had for Judas.

A question for your reflection:

How does the fact that Jesus loved Judas

Enough to wash his feet,

Enough to love him to the end,

Impact your life

And your relationship with Christ?

(Silent reflection)

2. Resistance.

While we don’t know how others responded,

Peter responds with resistance.

He resists Jesus’ effort to love him

Every step of the way.

Knowing

That his hour had come to depart from this world

And go to the Father,

Jesus comes to Simon Peter with a bowl and towel in hand.

Unlike Judas,

Who had conspired with the devil

And had already put his plan of betrayal into motion,

Simon Peter probably hadn’t even thought of denying Jesus.

It mind not even crossed his mind.

Denial had no discernable premeditation.

Bold, brash, and full of himself;

Peter’s self-confidence

And personal belief that

He was taking part in some grand, history making political insurrection

Probably keep him blind to his greatest vulnerability:

Denying Jesus if cornered and threatened.

To one degree, or another,

Isn’t our Christian bravado similar to Simon Peter’s?

Of course, we’d never deny Jesus,

Even if put in a pinch,

We say to ourselves.

Of course, we’d never allow Jesus to wash our feet,

Even though our life might be a wreck and

We are soiled and covered in filth.

Of course, we’d never allow Jesus to love us,

In such a way that would crack our most stubborn defenses.

But then, we find ourselves

Whistling while walking past the graveyard at night,

Wondering,

If it could happen to Simon Peter,

Maybe it could happen to me, too.

Would you or I deny Jesus if cornered or threatened?

(Silent reflection)

3. Christian bravado and pride

Has a potent antidote,

Jesus teaches us;

Humility.

Humble service.

Loving service.

Practically speaking,

Should we be in the business of foot washing for cleanliness sake?

Or, should we be in the business of serving others

To remove all that makes one and the world unclean?

Christ’s love is leading us to clean up the world,

Starting right here,

Right now,

With you and me

Before this Table.

There is no greater symbol of humility,

Of service and love,

Than our Lord, Jesus

Sharing his body and blood

For the forgiveness and salvation of creation.

His body and blood makes us clean.  

The loving sacrifice of Christ’s body and blood

Is cosmic in reach, while

Personal in experience.

Bread and wine fill us

And remind us,

Of God’s great love for us.

Love tenderizes the heart

And leads one to roll up the sleeves.

Love spreads faster than Covid-19

And is more powerful than any treatment, surgery, or therapy.

Love teaches by example

Causing all the world to take notice.

Love one another,

That all the world will

Know

That you and I

Are disciples of Jesus Christ.

Does the world see Jesus in your love?

(Silent reflection)

Amen.

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