Maundy Thursday: A Family Tradition to Engage in Godly Love
I went through my entire childhood and into my adult years not knowing what Maundy Thursday was. Do you know what it is?
What is Maundy Thursday?
It’s an opportunity to create a beautiful family tradition and how to engage your family in this practice of showing Godly love.
Maundy Thursday is the day before Good Friday, the same day as the Last Supper. It is the night before Jesus was crucified as well as the night that Jesus washed his disciples dingy, dirty feet in the middle of breaking bread with them.
The word Maundy is derived from a Latin word mandé which means mandate. This particular Thursday can also be called Mandate Thursday. A mandate is a command and Jesus’ actions at this time were symbolic of the actions and attitudes we should have as Christians to our fellow man.
As Jesus was washing His disciple’s feet, even one which would betray him and was His enemy, He said in John 13:14,17, “… you should wash one another’s feet…,” and “now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” He told the disciples this is something they should be doing.
Maundy Thursday is an Opportunity to Create a Family Tradition
For many years now our family has set aside Maundy Thursday as the night that we read the word and literally wash each other’s feet. It is a much-anticipated tradition in our family, and although it’s a simple act, it powerfully engages us in what it means to show Godly love.
There are 6 ways that the literal washing of feet helps us show Godly love and works in our hearts to continually remember to show His love throughout the year.
Godly Love is Putting Ourselves Aside & Sacrificing
Anything that requires more of you at the same time you are putting yourself aside, is a sacrifice.
Jesus may not have felt like washing the feet of his friends right in the middle of eating what He knew to be his last supper on earth. One friend was abrasive. Another friend would betray Him. Someone else was prideful and they were all transgressors in one way or another. Godly love is putting ourselves aside and sacrificing our wants and needs like Jesus did so we can minister to others. We are reminded that kneeling and simply washing one another’s feet will demonstrate a self-sacrifice.
Sometimes we do this after my husband has had a long day at work or it falls on a day that has been really rough with the kids. These are the days we may want to skip the tradition but we don’t because we know what Jesus did and that He wants us to put our druthers and feelings aside. It’s the least we can do!
Godly Love Shows Humility
Kneeling at someone’s feet is pretty humbling not in a humiliating way but a serving way.
Keep in mind the disciples wore sandals and they were grown, men. I bet their feet were very dirty and maybe didn’t smell the best. Jesus, who is Almighty, did not pridefully expect the fanfare of a king. Instead, he humbled himself to the position a servant by kneeling at his friend’s feet while washing them.
Philippians 2:3-4, 7 “Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests but also for the interests of others. “…. but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant…”
Godly Love Requires Repentance
Before serving someone we need to be sure we are right with God.
We need to ask Him to search our hearts and cleanse them. We need to make sure that we are not harboring bitterness or resentment. It is not through our strength that we can get rid of these things. It is through a surrendered, repentant heart and God’s grace and strength that we will overcome and truly love. Repentance is necessary for service to another so our heart is pure and right in the Lord’s sight. Jesus is perfect and had nothing to repent of but we, as humans, need to be right with those whom we are washing their feet. Although this is something we should continually be doing, Maundy Thursday is the perfect day to be sure that we have repented of our wrongdoings by acknowledging them and making it right with our Savior. It’s a good idea to spend time in prayer before the foot washing ceremony and ask God to cleanse hearts and mend bridges.
1 John 4:20 “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.”
Godly Love Evokes Forgiveness
After that time of repentant prayer, it is a great time to ask forgiveness of anyone that needs it. Jesus washed His enemies feet. Judas would betray Him that same night yet he still had perfect love for him and forgave him for what was to come. What a great example of Godly love and forgiveness. God demands we forgive others and He, through His Spirit, will give us the strength and ability to forgive.
The power of love comes from the Holy Spirit “God gives what he demands.” Augustine
We have found that this purposeful time often brings to the surface areas of unforgiveness in our kids’ relationships and even in our marriage relationship. It has been so beneficial to intentionally take time out on Maundy Thursday to forgive each other.
Godly Love Serves One Another
We actively have to choose to serve.
Washing someone’s feet is a practical way to serve a person. This act helps us to remember that we are no better than another and that we need to put ourselves in the position to serve others because of our walk with God and love for Him.
When our oldest son washes his younger brother’s feet, he is representing Godly love and service and figuratively saying, “It is on my mind to serve you, edify and make you a better person.” I love this picture in a marriage as well. Even though a husband has the Godly role of leading his home, he still serves his wife, in love by literally and figuratively washing her feet.
Galatians 5:13b “…serve one another humbly in love.”
“Washing of feet is not an ordinance – just a clear example of serving one another. It is not an outward right but an inward eagerness.” Pastor Greg Reider
How To Engage Your Family in this Maundy Thursday Practice of Showing Godly Love
Supplies You’ll need:
You’ll need your Bible, water, big bowls for wash basins, towels for placing under the bowls if you are doing this on the carpet, towels for drying feet, a washcloth for washing feet and optional essential oils for anointing. We like Lavender, Myrrh, and Roman Chamomile. You could even use my DIY Holy Anointing Oil on Maundy Thursday.
Keep it Simple & Worshipful.
It doesn’t take long; maybe 5 minutes per person. Playing music can help set the tone.
Here are some songs you can play before, during or after your Maundy Thursday Service
- Beloved, Let us love one another 1 John 4:7-8
- Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord
- How He Loves ~David Crowder Band
- City On Our Knees ~Toby Mac
- Forgiveness ~Matthew West
- Speak Life ~ Toby Mac
- With Every Act of Love ~ Jason Gray
- Audience of One ~Big Daddy Weave
- Leave a Legacy ~Nicole Nordeman
In the beginning, it’s important to read John 13 to set the context for the tradition. Then, have some prayer time. After that, humbly take turns washing and drying each other’s feet. My husband always likes to make sure he washes my feet and I like to wash his. It’s such a symbolic act of love for us. Be sure to get the little ones involved too! Children love to wash the tiny baby’s feet. Getting the toddler involved can be powerful for building family bonds and relationships as well.
The Outcome of Observing Maundy Thursday
You’ll find when you’re intentional in observing this special day that your family will engage in demonstrating God’s love for His people throughout the year. Remember that the Thursday before Good Friday is called Maundy Thursday and it’s when Jesus washed his disciple’s feet. It’s a powerful day to turn into a tradition for your family. In doing so you will authenticate putting yourselves aside, self-sacrifice, humility, repentance, forgiveness and serving your fellow man. Keep it simple and worshipful and I know you’ll want to purpose to make this a tradition in your home every year!