Jesus’ Mandate

Jason Micheli —  March 28, 2013 — Leave a comment

Who has believed what we have heard?  And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?

He had no form or majesty.

Nowhere did we see that we should desire him; He was despised and rejected by others.

He had no form or majesty.

And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  He was despised and rejected by others.

He had no form or majesty.  He had no form or majesty.

– Isaiah 53:  1-3

Today is known as Maundy Thursday. ‘Maundy’ from the Latin for ‘mandate’ refers to the scene where Jesus washes his disciples’ feet and then mandates that they ‘love one another as I have loved you.‘ images

     The Foot-Washing is found only in the Gospel of John.

     In John’s Gospel Jesus always means more than the obvious. In John’s Gospel Jesus never leaves a miracle or a teaching moment at its literal level. Rather, they are always occasions to reveal more about his identity.

In John’s Gospel, when Jesus feeds the multitudes he announces that he’s the ‘Bread of Heaven’ and tells the confused crowds: ‘feed on me.’

In John’s Gospel, when Jesus meets the woman at Jacob’s well and she asks about water, Jesus tells her he’s ‘Living Water’ that can quench her thirst forever.

In John’s Gospel, after Jesus heals the man born blind he turns the conversation to the blindness of those who can see and declares that he’s the ‘Light of the World’ that no darkness can overcome.

So when Jesus washes his friends’ feet in John’s Gospel we should read it as more than an obvious object lesson about our love and service to others. In fact, in the years following Christ’s death and resurrection, the first Christians recalled the Foot-Washing and they interpreted it as a parable of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant.

When Jesus removes his outer robe, he’s emptying himself of his divinity. And when Jesus lays his robe down, he’s laying down his life. When he puts on a loincloth, a slave’s garment, he’s putting on our sinful nature. When he kneels down at his friends’ feet, its God stooping down from his throne as the incarnate Son. And when Jesus washes their feet it’s him washing us of our transgressions. 

     “I’ve given you an example,” Jesus says. 

And because this is John’s Gospel, Jesus means more than the obvious.

He’s given them an example of the meaning of his death; so that, they will know:

even though has no form or majesty,

even though there’s nothing about him others might desire,

even though in less than a day he will be despised and rejected,

in his suffering and humiliation is the power to annul the wages of Sin.


Jason Micheli


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