Maundy Thursday


How shall I repay the Lord for all the good things he has done for me?
I will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.


We bought the place next to us mostly because we needed the pasture for our horses. One of the first things we did was put a gate to get through to the pasture then a little “pass through” by it so we could get to the pasture without having to open and close the gate every time.  Then to that I nailed a 2″x4″ and put a cross bar towards the top of that. Then to that I looped a piece of barbed wire into a circle then nailed it to the two pieces of wood. Sort of a crude cross with a crown of thorns.

It’s been there for years now. The barbed wire is rusty. It’s been there so long we probably don’t even see it most days. Yet there are days that I do. Sometimes there are days that I need to. Sometimes there are days I’d rather not –  but there it is and it reminds me. It reminds me of Someone and what that Someone did for me and asks of me.

In this ancient story from Exodus God tells his people to identify themselves as his people and to never forget it. And from that day to this, the Jewish people have not.

And we are part of that promise and that injunction.

Many of us wear crosses. Many of us have crosses in our homes – on the walls maybe as decoration as much as anything. Some of us might even have pictures of our Savior in our homes. Many of us might even say a blessing or prayer before the beginning of a meal. Or maybe a prayer if something happens that disturbs us. There seems to have been a lot of That. Or maybe even occasionally when something good happens to us.

We are in a season of the year in which we examine our lives and our relationship with the One who is our Creator. Today we’ve heard the words of the psalmist asking, “How shall I repay the Lord? How shall I repay Him? Maybe for the very gift of life – and the good things that can come with it – a family, a special one to go through life with, friends, the opportunity to work, to support myself and my family, my children, the opportunity to learn, to experience, for schools and colleges, for the joy of good books, great art, music – music of every kind and type – to enjoy, to summon reflection, for the joy of good food, to enjoy, to enjoy with others…

How do I repay?

On the last night of His earthly ministry Jesus thought of a way to remind his closest followers of what his message was – is – all about.

So, He begins to wash the feet of his friends, his disciples,. It was uncomfortable for them – very uncomfortable – as I suspect it us for us. I think He intended it to be so.

And He couples that with a law, his law, his “mandate.” Mandamus which means “mandate” which leads to Maundy, hence Maundy Thursday.

Interestingly, his law, his mandate is as difficult in its way as washing feet: “love one another.”

For we know what hypocrites’ other people are. And occasionally – rarely – we know how sometimes we ourselves can be a hypocrite. Maybe more to the point, we know better than anyone else how we fall short. We recall the time we were short with someone. How really, we were unkind in a certain situation. How maybe we were a little thoughtless.

He wants us to do better.

Maybe He’s touched a nerve.

Now is the time for the “good thoughts.” You know what that is. We’ve been sort of caught. Our conscience has been ever so slightly singed.

So, we go for the “Good Thoughts.” All we have to do is think about what we’re going to do better, to make amends, to reform, to even – horror of horrors – repent!

But don’t worry! Don’t sweat it. Just like the time before that and the time before that! We go home, we sleep it off, we forget about it, something comes up that gets our mind off it – and, presto! We forget about it.

And the bonus is that we have enjoyed having the Good Thoughts – we’ve enjoyed seeing ourselves in our imagination doing the right thing – what wonderful people we are! And all without having to do a thing!

How we can be short with others. How we can be unkind. How we can be thoughtless. How we can be lazy. How we would really prefer someone else do it.

So, in addition to telling them, Jesus asks them to do it – to love one another.

To do something that’s sort of embarrassing, maybe even a little demeaning, but that shows in a real, actual, a real, actual doing of something, we truly do love one another.


Guess what? He’s asking that of us tonight.



Richard Robertson