The Christian Passover will not be understood apart from keeping watch, waiting, anticipating. The Paschal Triduum requires of us a liturgical piety that prods us to put everything else aside - even time itself - in the presence of the awesome mystery.
- Peter Mazar, Triduum, LTP, 1996
18I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But it is to fulfill the scripture, ‘The one who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.’ 19I tell you this now, before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am he. 20Very truly, I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me; and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.” 21After saying this Jesus was troubled in spirit, and declared, “Very truly, I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22The disciples looked at one another, uncertain of whom he was speaking. 23One of his disciples—the one whom Jesus loved—was reclining next to him; 24Simon Peter therefore motioned to him to ask Jesus of whom he was speaking. 25So while reclining next to Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” 26Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” So when he had dipped the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas son of Simon Iscariot. 27After he received the piece of bread, Satan entered into him. Jesus said to him, “Do quickly what you are going to do.” 28Now no one at the table knew why he said this to him. 29Some thought that, because Judas had the common purse, Jesus was telling him, “Buy what we need for the festival”; or, that he should give something to the poor. 30So, after receiving the piece of bread, he immediately went out. And it was night.
31When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man has been glorified, and God has been glorified in him. 32If God has been glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself and will glorify him at once. 33Little children, I am with you only a little longer. You will look for me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’ 34I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
A Little Bit for Everyone
Oremus Online NRSV Text
General Resources for the Texts this Maundy Thursday
Textweek Resources For John's Gospel
Some interesting articles on this passage:
William Loader's "First Thoughts"
Chris Haslam's clippings blog
Infinite, intimate God; this night you kneel before your friends and wash our feet. Bound together in your love, trembling, we drink your cup and watch.
New Zealand Prayer Book
Much like the place of Maundy Thursday as the beginning of Christian Passover or the doorway into the Triduum, our passage is the beginning through which the disciple walks into the important teachings in following chapters which then lead directly into the crucifixion.
Most scholars including Raymond Browne see that our passage falls into three distinct sections. The action in 1-5, the interpretation to the disciples, and the further interpretation to those who read the Gospel and believe.
Section One: The Action
13Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. 2The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper 3Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, 4got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. 5Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him.
We see a clear Johanine understanding that Jesus is returning to the Father. We might remember the earlier teachings on John wherein I talked about how Jesus clearly is the incarnate word come to dwell int he world. Furthermore, we see the very deep roots of our orthodox faith which understands that it is Jesus' loving of the disciples that brings them into the family of God. Despite the work of those that would destroy the community and creatures of God, Jesus will be victorious. He washes their feet. This may be a sign of baptism. What is clear is that Jesus serves the disciples and loves them as if they were his own to care for and tend.
The Second Section: First Interpretation
We shall remember that this is Commandment day, this is the meaning of Maundy. Here we have the essential ingredient to all of Christian teachings about discipleship. While avoiding words that are liturgically connected with baptism he offers this very basic exercise of cleaning and washing. Jesus is enacting a sign of hospitality. It is a welcoming into the company of God's family, formally in baptism, here signified with the tenderness of a mother or father. Jesus is uniting all of creation and all of humanity with God. We are being adopted into Christ's household as a person might be brought into one's own home (Genesis 18:4 1 Samuel 25:41; Luke 7:44; 22:27). We know that the outward washing of the body does not cleanse the soul, but it is clear that this love and care is to be a hallmark of the inward grace. The hospitality of God is to be echoed by all who come after him. 1 Peter 2:21, the author writes: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps”.
The Third Section: The Second Interpretation Here it is as if Jesus stops focusing upon his disciples and steps out of the Gospel in order to focus on us. When we welcome, when we open ourselves up to those who have been sent by Christ into the world we too become part of the family. While certainly he is to be betrayed the we are to act in accordance to the witness we have been given. We are to “love one another”. this is the basic sign of ones salvation and knowledge of God and his Son Jesus. We witness in this text the breaking of bread and sharing of wine, the emblems of a self-giving God. We are to love and keep his commandments.
And in a miraculous way, beyond all that pulls at our church, all that works to destroy and condemn us, all that we do to one another in word and action, in our most broken and most divided, it is tonight, this holy night that we pause, and remember. We pause and put down our destruction and remind ourselves of the service and hospitality of our God. We remind ourselves that it is his grace and love which unites us one to another and into the family of God. It is his love which binds us forever. And so, it is on this night that we are challenged to be a better people, a loving people, a hospitable people, a kind people. This is our work should we choose to follow.
"O Lord Jesus Christ, though didst not come to the world to be served, but also surely not to be admired or in that sense to be worshiped. Thou was the way and the truth - and it was followers only thou dist demand. Arouse us therefore if we have dozed away into the delusion, save us from the error of wishing to admire thee instead of being wiling to follow thee and to resemble thee." Soren KierkegaardThe Lambeth Bible Study Method
This Bible study method was introduced by the African Delegation to the Lambeth Conference of the Anglican Church. It is known by both names: "Lambeth" and "African." This method is derived from the practice of Lectio Divina. The entire process should take about 30 minutes.
Question #5: "Briefly identify where this passage touches their life today," can change based upon the lesson. Find lesson oriented questions at this website: http://www.dcdiocese.org/word-working-second-question
Opening Prayer: O Blessed Lord, who caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning. Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them that we may embrace and hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. One person reads passage. This person then invites a member of the group to begin the process.