Maundy Thursday: To Lead is To Serve

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Text: John 13:1-16

The story of Christ, without an ounce of pride or self-importance, kneeling before his disciples, and washing their feet is perhaps one of the most powerful stories in the New Testament.

Now it isn’t the first time that Christ gave himself up in service to others. Up until this point he had performed miracle after miracle. He had healed the blind, cured the lepers, chased out demons, fed the masses and raised the dead. He had given of himself time and time again to help those who suffered and struggled, those who had been cast out by society and those in need of hope.

Yet, this was something different altogether. Simon Peter had to think so as well, objecting when Jesus came to him, declaring “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” In his mind it was clear that this was beneath his Lord and Savior. It was one thing to heal, but this was debasing and demeaning to who the man was.

Christ’s response said it all. “If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.”
Though it perhaps seems a bit harsh, as with everything that he did, there was a deeper lesson that our dear Savior was trying to impart on his Disciples, the only way that you can possibly lead is if you humble yourself enough to serve, putting aside all pride, arrogance and conceit, and give of yourself freely without hesitation.

All too often in our lives that seems like it is a lesson that is lost on us. It’s not entirely surprising though, because it is one that this world doesn’t seem to understand. Though we are perhaps taught along the way to give back, or do good for others, we are never really taught to serve, not in the way that Christ teaches us to serve. We are never really taught that true service means putting aside our pre-conceived notions, our sense of pride, our sense of self, and give of ourselves even when it means that those watching may think it is beneath us or disparaging, like we should be above that. Yet, as Christ himself tells us, “The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”

Disciples of Christ, given to be imitators of him, we are called to abide in love, and to give freely of ourselves, edifying and uplifting those around us even at the cost of our own pride and conceit, at our own sense of self-importance. This is ultimately how we truly lead, by setting that example, remembering that just as “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” so too is it with our lives as we give ourselves over to the deeper lessons of our Lord, knowing this is where our freedom rests. If Christ, who is truly the Son of God, is thus willing to put aside his glory to serve us in the most lowly of ways, should we not then ask ourselves what more can we do to set aside ourselves and serve others in all ways and in all things?

Ask yourselves then dear brothers and sisters, do you set aside your pride and vanity to truly serve? In grace and mercy Christ has set you free. Now you need to evaluate how you use that freedom as it is meant to call you to be a true leader in his holy name, by serving, in love, those around you just as Christ himself served his disciples, and served you.

Now may the peace of the Lord that transcends all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus even unto life everlasting. Amen.

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