Maundy Thursday: The Hardest Thing Jesus Asks of Us

This is the fourth in a series of devotions based around the events of Holy Week. Read the intro to the series here.


- Scripture - 

Maundy Thursday is the fourth day of Holy Week. Traditionally it commemorates the last supper and Jesus washing his disciples feet. Maundy is derived from the Latin word for “command” and refers to Jesus’ command to his disciples to follow his example of service. 

Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 

John 13: 3-5, 12-15


- Reflection -

I hate feet!

Several years ago I was helping to lead a youth group. One night the group’s leader decided to reenact this story. The plan was for the youth to eat a meal together and after pudding the youth team would go round washing the young people’s feet. It was chaos. Gross, disgusting, watery, chaos. Half the young people were too awkward to let us do the feet washing. The half who were up for it were all very ticklish and far more interested in splashing us then reflecting upon the poignancy of the moment. Worst of all though, is I couldn’t get out of it. I still shudder at the memory of having to rub soapy water through sweaty, athlete’s foot ridden, teenage boys’ toes.

I wish I wish I wish that Jesus had chosen a different demonstration of serving others. Indian head massage, doing the washing up, making a cup of tea. Anything! But no. It had to be feet! I’m convinced he chose this because it was literally the grossest thing he could think of! Ok, so it probably also had something to do with the fact that in that culture this was normally the job of young servant girls, and Jesus was making a point to his disciples about being humble enough to empty themselves of any dignity or status in the way they served one another. I’m not great at this bit either.

I generally think I’m quite good at serving people. But then I read this story and think, “no way!”. I’m not prepared to do that! I like my status, I like my dignity and I don’t like feet! Yet Jesus is desperately serious and completely clear about this:

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. “

No job should be beneath us. No job should be too embarrassing or too awkward or too gross for us. This challenge is so important that we have a whole day in our calendar devoted to making sure we remember it.


- Prayer - 

Jesus, I recognise that my default is to cling to my dignity and look for ways to gain status rather than lose it. I’m so sorry that I’m so quick to say no to things that don’t appeal to me. Thank you for the example you set. Thank you that you emptied yourself of all power and dignity for me. Help me to become more like you. Please give me more opportunities to serve others in ways that challenge me, and help me to say yes to these opportunities.

Michael Wadsworth

Fusion Training Developer

Michael develops Fusion’s internal and external training. He also studies Theology part time and is part of an experimental church plant in Derby.

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