Summary: In a day of "me-first mentality" it is beneficial for us to be called back to a heart of service to others.
This is “Passion Week.” If this were the very week that Jesus rode into Jerusalem, and we were there, imagine the mixed emotions that would dominate the week. Jesus throwing the money-changers out of the temple… and on and on.
The Church has long recognized this day – this Thursday before Easter – as Maundy Thursday. Maundy Thursday celebrates the night when Jesus shared His last meal with His disciples. The word Maundy, a Latin word, means command. It refers to one of the last commands Jesus gave His disciples that night – to love one another. He was getting ready to show them just how great His love was for them.
It was on this night that He tells His friends that His time has come – He would soon be leaving them. He tells them that one will betray Him into the hands of sinners, and He tells Peter that he will deny Him three times before morning. He comforts them with the words we find recorded in John 14: “Let not your heart be troubled.., He says. He promises a Comforter, and tells them to remain in Him, as the vines abides in the branch. He tells them that it will be no picnic, but that they will be hated because of Him. And then, He assures them that their sorrow will turn to joy. In chapter 17, Jesus prays: First, for Himself – “Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:”; He then prays for the disciples – READ 17: 6-19; then, He prays for you and me – READ VERSES 20-26.
This was the Upper Room Discourse; the longest of the four discourses, and the most poignant. It was on this night that Jesus instituted communion and feet washing.
We come together this evening to take part in these commands, or ordinances. Ordinance is defined as “a decree or authoritative order.” As Free Will Baptists, we recognize three such ordinances, instituted by Jesus Christ. The first is Baptism; symbolic of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The second is the Lord’s Supper, which we will now observe of which, the bread and cup are symbolic of the death of Jesus Christ. So, this evening, we will share in that Lord’s Supper, and as we do, let’s allow the Holy Spirit to minister to our hearts. As Jesus broke bread, and instituted this ordiance, he was aware that Peter would deny Him. He was aware that Judas would betray Him. He knew that these seemingly strong men would follow like a group of cowards. He knows your weaknesses and mine, and still calls us to His table – to commune with us. And once we come, He speaks to us, and ministers to us. Communion is a wonderful time to evaluate your walk with Him, and your determination to follow Him.
AT THIS TIME, I WILL ASK OUR DEACONS TO COME FORWARD AS WE PREPARE TO SHARE IN THIS PART OF THE SERVICE. Open Communion…
Scripture Reading from Mt. 26: 17-30
Bless the bread, and bless the cup.
AFTER THE COMMUNION SERVICE…
And the third ordinance that we recognize is Feet washing. But, what is it? Why was it practiced? And, who was responsible to do it?
1. What is Feet Washing?
In the day that Jesus lived, public baths were the custom. You would go to the public bath, and that is where you would “bathe.” After which, you would put on your clothes and sandals and return home. However, as you would make your way back to your house, you would get your feet dirty and dusty in the streets, which were dirt, and often littered with trash and waste. Upon returning to your home, there would be a pan at the door where your feet would be washed from the pollution that you had just journeyed through. In Jesus day, folks were more careful of washing their feet, than they were their hands. It would not be uncommon for children to be asked as they came in from playing, “Have you washed your feet? Show me your feet.”
Washing feet was a custom that addressed hygiene.
2. Why was washing feet practiced?
Well, as I have already mentioned, trash and waste were commonly dumped in the streets. There would also be the issue of animals fertilizing the streets where they walked. If your feet were not clean when you went to the table, there would be an unpleasant aroma at the table where others were eating. There is also the germ factor. Folks who lived in such an environment would have tough feet, calloused and blistered, and cracked. The bacteria that would be present in the streets would lead to infections and disease.