Commanded to Love

In Awe of Grace

Maundy Thursday, Year A

Maundy Thursday. Or perhaps you prefer Holy Thursday. Either fits this day. But the title you choose might depend on the emphasis you wish to provide during this act of worship.

John 13:1-17, NIRV

Jesus Washes His Disciples’ Feet

13 It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world. It was time for him to go to the Father. Jesus loved his disciples who were in the world. So he now loved them to the very end.

2They were having their evening meal. The devil had already tempted Judas, son of Simon Iscariot. He had urged Judas to hand Jesus over to his enemies. 3Jesus knew that the Father had put everything under his power. He also knew he had come from God and was returning to God. 4So he got up from the meal and took off his outer clothes. He wrapped a towel around his waist. 5After that, he poured water into a large bowl. Then he began to wash his disciples’ feet. He dried them with the towel that was wrapped around him.

6He came to Simon Peter. “Lord,” Peter said to him, “are you going to wash my feet?”

7Jesus replied, “You don’t realize now what I am doing. But later you will understand.”

8“No,” said Peter. “You will never wash my feet.”

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you can’t share life with me.”

9 “Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet! Wash my hands and my head too!”

10Jesus answered, “People who have had a bath need to wash only their feet. The rest of their body is clean. And you are clean. But not all of you are.” 11Jesus knew who was going to hand him over to his enemies. That was why he said not everyone was clean.

12When Jesus finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes. Then he returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord.’ You are right. That is what I am. 1 I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet. So you also should wash one another’s feet. 15I have given you an example. You should do as I have done for you. 16What I’m about to tell you is true. A slave is not more important than his master. And a messenger is not more important than the one who sends him. 17Now you know these things. So you will be blessed if you do them.

Bible verses are from the New International Reader's Version (NIRV) Copyright © 1995, 1996, 1998, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.


Vehicle rearview mirror hanger with song printed on it. (Families may already have downloaded a hanger from Holy Week House Party, which is great! Reinforce this by having more hangers to hand out at the conclusion of this message.)


In today’s Bible passage, we find Jesus spending time eating a special meal with his disciples. It happened right before he was arrested and crucified. During that meal, Jesus did something that surprised those who were there with him. Jesus got up from the meal and washed his disciples’ feet! In those days, people wore sandals and walked everywhere they went, so their feet got very dirty and dusty. I wonder if you have ever gone barefoot outside to play. Did your feet get dirty and dusty? (Allow children to answer.)

Usually, a servant would wash the feet of the dinner guests around the table. Jesus wanted to serve others himself to demonstrate what it means to serve one another. He told his disciples that they should follow his example and be willing to serve others.

Jesus was teaching the disciples that we should serve others instead of always trying to be first. Jesus demonstrated humility as he reminded his followers to put others before themselves. I wonder how it feels to put someone else before yourself. How could serving (putting others’ needs before your own) help us feel humble? What is one way that you can serve others? (Allow children to provide answers.) Those are all great ideas for putting someone else before ourselves. You know, that’s exactly what Jesus tells us to do.

Today, as a reminder of this attitude that Jesus demonstrated, I have a car mirror hanger for each of you. (Hand out car mirror hangers to each child.) Do you know the song, “Jesus Loves Me?” I have changed the words just a little bit to remind us of why Jesus loves us and what he offers us when we choose to follow him. Would you sing this song with me? I will sing the first part and you join in with the “Yes, Jesus loves me” part, okay?

Jesus loves me this I know
For the Bible tells me so
Little ones that do believe,
Life eternal they’ll receive.

Yes, Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
Yes Jesus loves me
The Bible tells me so.

Take this rearview mirror hanger with you. Place it in your family’s car. This week, spend time having conversations with your family about the events that happened to Jesus. Sing the song in the car while you ride.

When you wash your hands this week, as the water runs from the faucet, sing this song as a reminder of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples.


God of joy, we are thankful that Jesus reminds us that being humble and putting others before ourselves is a joyous way to live and remember him. Help us always remember to be the example of Jesus. Amen.

In This Series...

Palm/Passion Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Maundy Thursday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Good Friday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Holy Saturday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes Easter Sunday, Year A - Lectionary Planning Notes