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Holy Week – Spirit of Service

The Reading: John 13:1-17

“If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” (v.17) RSV

Maundy Thursday is commonly the day we think of Jesus and his disciples having their last meal together in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. John dedicates four chapters to this Last Supper. The evening starts with Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. This was the role of the menial servant. It was obviously a rather threatening action as far as the disciples were concerned. In fact Peter was so incensed that he refused. “You shall never wash my feet” (v.8), he huffily said.

Peter liked a hierarchical order in his life. Jesus was Master and he should behave suitably. However, when Jesus explained that he could not be his disciple if he did not allow the washing, Peter immediately capitulated. Jesus was not going to wash their feet as a regular activity, but sometimes it is necessary to show that all of us are ‘deacons’ – servants. In fact we are all part of the ‘Laity’, the people of God.

St Paul went so far as to call himself a ‘slave’ (or ‘servant’) of Jesus Christ (Romans 1:1 and 1 Corinthians 1:1), and named himself ‘the chief of sinners’ (1 Timothy 1:15). He was prepared to work with his hands to support the mission. No pride there, nor standing on ceremony.

Jesus told us that we should have the same attitude: “If I your Lord and Teacher … you also ought to …” (v.14). Whatever our role in life, however high or lowly we are, we should never presume that we are ‘above’ others. We are called upon to follow our Lord with a spirit of service. Mother Teresa was remembered amongst other things for cleaning the latrines. What lowly task might our Lord be calling us to do?

Forgive me Lord when I think that certain things are beneath me. Thank you for the humility of Jesus who emptied himself of all but love. May I follow his example. Amen. 

Explore More

1. What two stories did Jesus tell to illustrate that we must ‘do’ what he teaches and not just listen to it?

Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 10:29-37

2. What did James teach about ‘doing’?

James 1:22-24





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