So I set out to write about Canadian holidays this year and honestly Easter is pretty daunting… what do chocolates, rabbits and Jesus have in common? Exactly. This is why I just share links to the history instead of trying to write it myself.
There are several things I could have written about at length in this post. The debate of whether or not I should enjoy chocolate in oval and bunny shapes. (I like chocolate any time of the year in any shape and but I will teach my daughter that bunnies are mammals).
What I will talk about is that about an hour ago my husband and I filled our bath tub with a few inches of water, I put a rose bath bomb in it, and we washed each other’s feet. Not a usual evening activity for us. In the process I learned that between my toes is very ticklish. It is such an uncomfortable feeling I don’t know how it makes people laugh… how does this relate to Easter??
Today is known as Maundy Thursday. The day that Christians remember Jesus’ last dinner with his disciples before he was betrayed and arrested. In an incredible act of love and service Jesus did the job of a servant for the men who would betray him, deny him or run away in his time of greatest need. In a world with cars, shoes, bicycles and showers it is hard to appreciate how utterly gross this job was. Feet were caked with mud, dust, sweat and most likely some animal dung. And there were no rose scented bath bombs.
“Before the Passover celebration, Jesus knew that his hour had come to leave this world and return to his Father. He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end. It was time for supper, and the devil had already prompted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had given him authority over everything and that he had come from God and would return to God. So he got up from the table, took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, and poured water into a basin. Then he began to wash the disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel he had around him.”
John 13:1-5 NLT
There is so much richness in this passage! It is like really dark chocolate that you can’t swallow too quickly. It has to sit on your tongue and slowly melt as you savour all of the flavours. There is the Passover dinner about to be celebrated with elaborate symbols telling the story of God’s faithfulness to His people. I have celebrated Passover meal a couple of times and I highly recommend it!
Then there is Jesus’ knowledge that he will soon leave the world he grew up in as a little boy, teen and young adult. He would soon leave his closest friends for the last three years. He knew that even after he washed Judas’ feet that he would still leave reject him in the worst possible way.
In the midst of this knowledge was Jesus’ response. “He had loved his disciples during his ministry on earth, and now he loved them to the very end.” In this time of anticipating incredible pain Jesus got on his knees to serve and care. The most amazing thing is that he did this because he knew who he was. He knew he was going back to glory with God and that he had all authority. He knew that he was important. In contrast, when I think that I am important I usually want people to serve me more. I want to be on the podium looking down at honouring masses.
What would happen if I really knew that I am important? Not because of my own abilities or dreams but because I am loved? Loved all the way to the foot basin. To the cross and the grave. How would that affect how I serve others?
“After washing their feet, he put on his robe again and sat down and asked, “Do you understand what I was doing? You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am. And since I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash each other’s feet. I have given you an example to follow. Do as I have done to you.”
John 13:12-15 NLT
Honestly, I found it quite easy to wash Forest’s feet. They were clean. He is a businessman who stays inside in a cool basement and he showers often. I love giving foot massages and getting close to people.
What is hard is serving him by taking my turn cooking and washing dishes (he does that too) when I am tired or would really like to do something else.
It is hard to do that or anything else for him without seeking compliments or trying to prove my superiority in these tasks. To humbly serve without seeking status elevation or a break? Give me foot washing any time!
My feet may be clean but my heart needs a scrub. What does it mean to follow Jesus this Easter? I can’t crowd into a building with a joyful host of people singing and praying. I can’t have many or any guests over in my home to enjoy a nice meal. I can’t give chocolate to my niece and celebrate with her all of the beauty and new life in this Spring season. But I can know that I am loved. Loved enough. Completely, fully, extravagantly. And I can show love to my husband who I take for granted way too often.
Happy Easter. You are loved. I pray that this weekend will be memorable and special even as it is different.
Ps. Check out this lovely video by Hannah Yoo, a leader at my church, who shares more insight on John 13.