Also known as Maundy Thursday, today is a day in the Christian calendar that is rich with layers of symbolism. Holy Thursday happens in conjunction with the Jewish remembrance of Passover, the last supper that Jesus has with his disciples, the evening where the sacrament of sharing in the body and blood of Jesus was first demonstrated and commanded, and it was the night for Jesus to serve His followers by washing their feet. Since I don’t have time here to delve into more than one of these, I want to dwell on the significance of foot-washing.
As Christians we view Jesus as the Son of God. We hail Him as the King of kings. Yet kings don’t typically get down on their knees and wash their servant’s feet. It’s the other way around. Kings don’t demonstrate humility and servant-hood. They demand respect. They demand fear. They demand whatever they want. They demand that others get on their knees and wash their feet whenever they command it.
Yet here Jesus is yet again turning everything on its head. The King of kings is redefining everything. For Jesus’ mission to make any sense at all, He had to wash the feet of His disciples, even though they themselves wouldn’t allow Him to at first, nor did they understand what was happening or why.
For us, this model of servant-hood is imperative. We too, as staff of The Salvation Army following in the steps of Jesus, can find ourselves literally washing the feet of folks who come in from the streets. I remember working in our foot clinic when I was younger, and seeing feet that were shockingly brutal to look at and even worse to smell. Diabetic feet, feet with shoes that were either too big or too small or no shoes at all, feet with frostbitten toes, feet of folks who have been on 4-day crack runs with no sleep, no food and no showers. When we wash and take care of these bruised, battered and broken feet, we follow in the footsteps of the servant King Jesus.
So today on this Holy Thursday, let’s keep in mind that, as our mission statement says, we are sharing the love of Jesus Christ as we go about our work of serving the poorest of the poor on our streets.
Let’s keep on trying our best to be The Hand of God in the Heart of the City.
Dion Oxford, Director of Mission Integration
Servant King of kings
Thank you for washing your servant’s feet
Thank you for washing our feet
Give us your strength to follow in your footsteps.