John 13:12 After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?
It is perhaps no accident that the last Maundy Thursday should fall on April 1. Is God laughing at the world which still sits in darkness, No, not laughing, but he may well be weeping. What are we going to do about Serbia? That’s what’s on our minds now, although there might also be some still asking – what are we going to do about y2k? There are so many things, so very many things for us to do – and the common wisdom is – and if I don’t do it, who will? While some may say, what’s new? This is the way its always been. What I say, is Where is God? How does He fit into our lives? And if there is no God, then all is lost, for we have seen time and time again that we cannot save ourselves, we cannot redeem what we’ve lost or rescue what has been captured, we can fight – but for all our fighting, we cannot win, we cannot free ourselves.
Which brings us back to the question of our text – "Do you know what I have done to you?" Can you answer that? Does Jesus washing your feet make any sense to you? Has anyone ever washed your feet? John the Baptist, in speaking of Jesus says that he is not worthy to loosen his sandals – now the reason why anyone would loosen sandals was to wash your feet – and it the days when there was a lot of walking on dusty roads – washing feet was basic hospitality – so basic that it was very bad manners not to offer it to guests – which is why when Jesus sent out the disciples, if a village would not receive them they were to wipe of their own feet on leaving as testimony against them. Now when it came to the washing of feet, it was not the job of the host – but usually fell to the lowest of all the servants.
We generally do not talk much about foot washing, it has no place in the church’s liturgy today, at least not here. But what happens this night is important, for this night we remember how the Lord’s Supper was celebrated the first time – this we do, to share in the forgiveness of sins that come to us in the body and blood of Christ given and shed for us. This night, the center is not foot washing – but forgiveness. But the question – "Do you know what I have done to you?" haunts us – for it is in footwashing that we see the measure of what forgiveness is.
We may well pray – Forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us – but I do not think we take the words seriously. We forgive, but we do not forget. We forgive, and hold it over the other persons head to keep them down and to lift us up. But in foot washing we see that forgiveness is not merely forgetting – but it is lifting the other person up. "Do you know what I have done to you?" These words are Jesus lifting us up – by our sins we are not even fit to come into the presence of God – and yet God lifts us up, lifts us up not to debtor in the presence of the Lord – but the forgiveness which comes to us by grace through faith in Christ lifts us up to be children of God, members of the household, heirs with Christ.
"Do you know what I have done to you?" If Christ has lifted us up, lifted us out of sin, lifted us into the household of God – if we are indeed a new creation – if we are indeed the children of God – then being part of the family means following our Lord’s example – No, it is not a call to wash one another’s feet, as though there was something magical about footwashing – but it is a call to lift one another up, in prayer, in admonition, in example. We know this from the conclusion of our text:John 13:34 "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another."
In the Lord’s Supper, we see the highest expression of the love of God – a love that was willing to sacrifice everything, that we might be forgiven. "Do you know what I have done to you?" Imagine how the world would change if everyone would love, as God in Christ has loved us? But, perhaps that seems to large as task – and it is, if were all up to us – but that is just the point, because it is not up to us – for God never calls on us to do anything without also giving us the means to get it done. All this brings us back to the beginning – the problem there besides too much to do, was I was in the center and it was all up to me – the answer is that God needs to be in the center, and when God is, everything necessary is provided, just as we have in the Lord’s Supper – for what can we bring to the Lord’s Supper, except our sins, and the need for forgiveness –Christ has provided everything necessary.