The washing of the feet

Today is Maundy Thursday, and Christians all over the world commemorate the Last Supper that Jesus Christ had with his disciples. It was the night before He was to be hanged on the Cross, which He already knew will happen, and the man who had betrayed Him was also at the table. Jesus took bread and wine in an act that transformed them into His flesh and blood. He was giving Himself as a supreme sacrifice to show us He was giving up His own life for our salvation.

But there is another meaningful event that took place that night, something that many Christians overlook or simply fail to appreciate. It was the act of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples. It was a great act of humility that Jesus did to set an example that He had wanted every believer to follow: Service to others. And even though He knew Judas had betrayed Him, he didn’t leave the traitor out. Jesus also washed the feet of Judas.

Indeed, most people fail, or even refused, to understand the washing of the feet as their mandate to help and serve others, and even forgive their enemies. Peter protested when it was his turn to have his feet washed. Jesus was master and mentor. The act of washing his feet was humiliating. But Jesus overruled Peter. If He, Jesus, who was master and mentor, could wash the feet of His disciples as an act of service, then how much more his disciples and ordinary mortals? It was servant leadership at its height.

This is an important point for reflection as we commemorate Maundy Thursday. Many of us live without regard for the welfare of our fellow human beings. We live only for ourselves. Many make so much money and do not even think for a second how part of that money can feed the hungry or heal the sick. And Jesus gave His life for us; how many of us are willing to die in the service of others? The sad truth is that only a few — too few — will think about putting themselves in harm’s way even if this will save others.

Our political leaders, too, ought to reflect on the example set by Jesus. They call themselves “public servants” but do little to give meaning to that title. In fact, many political leaders prey on the people, stealing from the public treasury horrendous amounts of money that should be spent to improving people’s lives. Few of them come close to the model set by Jesus for servant leadership.