I was discussing Jesus’ Thursday night before the cross with a group of 7th graders. Jesus showed up after dinner in a towel and began washing the disciples’ feet. I was hoping to really play up how unusual this would seem to a first-century crowd, wildly trying to get any of them to notice I was even in the room (I think that’s one of the models of purpose-driven youth ministry). “The king of the universe is dressed like a servant, washing feet!” I was probably going for a laugh, but one of my favorite moments in ministry happened next, when one kid looked at me with a big grin and said, “that’s crazy!”
The first few sentences of John 13 are some of the most densely beautiful I know. Everything comes together, so conflicted yet so clear:
Now 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. The devil had already put it into the heart of Judas son of Simon Iscariot to betray him. And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself.
It’s Thursday of Holy Week. To the extent we have clarity about it, who are we truly? What should we wear to show that?