Maundy Thursday: Say No to Ritualistic Religious Acts – Jesus Showed Us the Better Way

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

feet on sand
Photo by Luis Quintero on

The first time I heard of Maundy Thursday I thought someone was confused about the day of the week! Today commemorates the Last Supper and Jesus washing the feet of 12 disciples.

Eww. Washing other people’s feet?  2000 years ago, people walked everywhere. Jesus walked hundreds if not thousands of miles on foot, traveling from town to town in Israel, preaching and healing the sick.

You can imagine then how sandals would become filthy and the wearer’s feet as well. It was custom, polite, good manners, and classy to wash a guest’s feet when they entered your home. Generally, it was a servant who would do the actual washing.

On this evening, Jesus and his disciples were in the upper room of a home that did not belong to any of them. Perhaps this is why no one had taken the responsibility to wash anyone’s feet, I do not know. Jesus knew he was about to be betrayed to death, he knew he would not be with these men much longer.

To set a lasting example of how he wanted believers to love each other, he knelt and washed everyone’s feet. As the leader, the teacher and Lord of this small cluster of ordinary humans, no one expected him to do the dirty work.

That was his point exactly.

Jesus left a legacy of humility and servant-leadership for us to copy. When he was done, he said to the group, “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

He meant those specific men to take on the humble role of foot-washers, and to maintain a servant attitude as their fame and ministries grew. This was not a command for believers of all time to wash each other’s feet in a ritual that bears little practical meaning.

woman staring through window
Photo by David Cassolato on

Jesus was saying if we see that another of his followers needs something, we are to step off our high-horse, so to speak, and meet that need if we can. He commanded we show no favoritism, whether to the rich or the poor.  Throughout his ministry he equalized the value of women and men, Jew and Roman, children and adults,  and the marginalized with those society loved.

He went on to give his life. How much more can we do easy things like offering rides, or sitting with a lonely person, applying our skills to free services, or giving food or money to those in need?

In honor of Jesus, on this Maundy Thursday we can do better than wash each other’s feet.

Today’s Helpful Word  

John 13: 3-5 

 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God;  so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist.  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.


NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.



Submit a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.