Maundy Thursday Reflection 2016: Authority to Serve

Each day this week, we’ll offer a short reflection on a reading, or a portion of a reading, for Holy Week. We hope that you find this to be helpful as you observe this week of the proclamation of the death and resurrection of Jesus for us sinners. The Gospel reading for Maundy Thursday is John 13:1-15, (34-35). We will reflect on just a portion of that.

–By Elizabeth Ahlman

During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him (John 13:2-5, ESV).

The altar of the Erfurter Dome in Erfurt, Germany. (Photo by Elizabeth Ahlman)

The altar of the Erfurter Dome in Erfurt, Germany. (Photo by Elizabeth Ahlman)

“All things” have been given into Jesus’ hands by the Father. Jesus has all authority on earth given to Him by His Heavenly Father. All things have been placed under His feet, in His charge. Jesus could do with this authority whatever He pleases. So what does He do?

He removes His outer garments, wraps a towel around His waist, takes a bowl of water, and begins to wash the dusty, dirty feet of His disciples.

Jesus’ authority is the authority to serve. Jesus’ authority is the authority to become the Servant of all. It is the authority to kneel before the ones whom He has taught, rebuked and loved in service to them. It is the authority to lay down His very life upon the cross in service to all. It is the authority to take that life back up again after three days in the grave.

Jesus’ authority is the authority to wash us in our Baptisms and make us fellow servants. It is the authority to forgive our sins through the mouths of our pastors as they proclaim the absolution to us. It is the authority to serve us with His body and blood in, with, and under bread and wine so that we, too, might be strengthened for service. Jesus’ is an authority which serves and which authorizes others for service, so that all might know Him as the Lord of all Who humbly comes to serve them and bring them into His Kingdom.

Let us pray. O Lord, in this wondrous Sacrament You have left us a remembrance of Your passion. Grant that we may so receive the sacred mystery of Your body and blood that the fruits of Your redemption may continually be manifest in us; for You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. (Collect from the Maundy Thursday propers in The Lutheran Service Book: Altar Book, p. 509).


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