Sermon: Maundy Thursday RCL B – “Washing Judas’ Feet”

The podcast can be found here.


How much will you love? How far does it extend? At what point do you say of a person, “I will love them no more.” According to Scripture, “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude” and so on. And according to the same passage, we also read, “Love never ends,” but we all know, that’s just a figure of speech. Right? Love does end. We’ve all experienced it and probably more than once. However, just because it ends, doesn’t mean it should.

Our Gospel reading does not tell us about all the events surrounding the Last Supper, only the foot washing and then Jesus speaking about how the Father would glorify him. However, a closer examination of the reading tells us that we skipped a few verses. We read 13:1-17 and 31-35. Question: what happened in verses 18-30?

In these verses, Jesus says, “The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.” He says, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” Scripture says that Jesus gave the bread to Judas Iscariot and he ate it. Scripture says that Satan entered Judas. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” Go about your business of betrayal and Judas did.

This sequence of events tells us that Judas received the Lord’s body and blood at the Last Supper and then sat in the chair before Jesus, who was kneeling before him, and allowed Jesus to wash his feet. Knowing what he was about to do, that took a lot of nerve on Judas’ part, but knowing what Judas was about to do, Jesus allowed it. Jesus knew that Judas was about to betray him, but he still gave Judas the gift of his life. Jesus still humbled himself and washed Judas’ feet.

Reflecting on this episode, Thomas à Kempis writes, “I praise and glorify you for your patient sufferance of that disloyal disciple, for though you foresaw that he was hastening to betray you, nevertheless, you did not manifest any anger toward him, nor did you speak any harsh words to him. You did not make his evil intentions known to others, nor after so villainous a deed did you remove him from his office or refuse him Holy Communion.” But then, Thomas, always aware of his own shortcomings continues, “How great is your patience, most gentle Jesus, and how great my impatience. Alas! How poorly I tolerate a brother when he has said or done something against me. But you, for so long a time and without complaint, have endured your disciple Judas, who would soon sell and betray you, while I, for a paltry insult, quickly yield to anger and think of various ways of vindicating myself or of offering excuses. Where then is my patience, where is my meekness?”

For the betrayal of Son of God, Dante Alighieri, in Inferno, concludes that Judas is in the 9th level – the lowest and most tortuous level of hell. Somebody has the audacity, the unmitigated gaul to disagree with some point I’ve posted on Facebook and I want to send them to the same place. What’s wrong with this picture?

How much will I love? How far will the love I have in my heart extend to other people? Apparently not very far.

Jesus told Peter that he was going to wash his feet. Peter responded, “Not in this lifetime.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” I’m with Peter on both his points. “I’m not worthy to untie the lace of your sandals and you want to wash my feet? No, my Lord.” I’m no better than Judas. How can I sit before you and allow you to wash my feet. I don’t have enough love in here to be worthy of such kindness. And Jesus responds: “You don’t, but I do.” Jesus says, “Allow me to love you and I will make you a part of me so that you can learn to love others. So in horror of my own sin, I cry out, “Yes, my Lord. Wash me. Wash all of me.” And my Lord, responds, “I will wash you, whiter than snow.”

To sit in the chair and have your feet washed is to be loved by God. We will never be worthy, but his desire to wash us never ends, because His love never ends.





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