Holy Week, it starts on Thursday.
Written by Plant With Purpose on March 24, 2016 in General
“A new commandment I give to you: love one another as I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this, everyone will know you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35
Today is Maundy Thursday. While few take the time to recognize this holiday, it is one close to my heart. From a young age I was taught the importance of standing in reverence and spending time with God from Maundy Thursday through Easter Sunday, but I just didn’t understand. Why not just worship God on Easter? Easter is the most important part of the story, right?
I wasn’t until a close friend modeled for me the importance of holy week in its entirety that I came to fully appreciate. It is through his passion that Jesus fulfills the act that our entire faith hinges upon. It all begins Thursday, a scene described vividly in John 13.
Teachers often introduce a topic with an engaging activity, teach the lesson, and then have the students apply what they have learned. Even with a heavy heart, Jesus took time the time to sit down and teach his disciples one last lesson.
Jesus’ lesson in John 13 is that stated above – to love one another as he first loved us. Instead of just bluntly saying this, Jesus leads with an activity; he washes his disciples’ feet. In a hierarchal culture focused on tradition, Jesus is quite literally taking on an act of servitude. In those times, feet were absolutely disgusting (I mean, they still are…but worse then). People walked miles with sandals or bare feet and did their hardest labor with little foot protection. Feet were nasty business. Nobody wanted to touch others’ feet. This was only a servant’s task, but Jesus chose to lead with an act of humility.
Theologians share that servants were often the ones to be crucified – an act to discourage dishonesty, retaliation, and rebellion among the slaves. Jesus became a slave so that he could die as a slave.
The application of Jesus’ lesson comes later and continues today. Unlike many lessons where students immediately apply what they learn, Jesus gives time to process the lesson and offers one last example — sacrificing himself on the cross. Immediately following his death and resurrection the disciples tangibly apply the lesson of loving others as Jesus showed his love for them.
This is why Holy Week is essential for Christians. God teaches the most important lesson through his death on Friday and resurrection on Sunday and on Thursday he sets the stage.
Plant With Purpose’s partnering farmers exemplify Jesus’ teaching in John 13. Through savings-and-loans groups and agriculture training, community members work diligently with people who might have wronged them in the past. They value their land and behold the dignity of their fellow community members.
Jesus’ lesson is applicable to us today. We must humble ourselves before God and love – love the outcast, those who have betrayed us, those who will never be perfect, love the seemingly unlovable, even those that cause terror throughout our world. I encourage you to the time this weekend to reflect on Jesus’ example—his intimate lesson of washing his disciples’ feet, and his ultimate sacrifice.