Holy Week 2022 begins on April 11. The Christian Church marks the days leading up to the crucifixion of Jesus on Good Friday and anticipates Easter and the resurrection two days later.
This hymn is focused on Maundy Thursday, the moment when Jesus washes his disciples’ feet as a sign of his place as the servant King.
John 13: 6-17 tells the story:
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 round 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 round him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, ‘Lord, are you going to wash my feet?’ Jesus replied, ‘You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.’ ‘No,’ said Peter, ‘you shall never wash my feet.’ Jesus answered, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.’ ‘Then, Lord,’ Simon Peter replied, ‘not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!’ Jesus answered, ‘Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.’ For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean. When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. ‘Do you understand what I have done for you?’ he asked them. ‘You call me “Teacher” and “Lord”, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.’
What quality of love is this that washes a betrayer’s feet? What kind of majesty, a king who kneels before a friend’s deceit? It is a love for those, like me who know of grace but choose to sin; a love that waits until I must return to Calvary again. What quality of ruler, this who lays aside his royal right? What kind of power which takes a towel and stoops to lift our blinkered sight? This is the ruler of all realms and yet the one who calls me friend; the one who, knowing what would come, still chose to love me to the end. What quality of Saviour comes to bring salvation by his death? What kind of battle-plan to hang forsaken, beaten and bereft? This is the Saviour who, for me, endured the cross with all its shame; who, dying for a world, can still remember and call out my name.
Gareth Hill. Copyright 2004 © Gareth Hill Publishing/Song Solutions CopyCare, 14 Horsted Square, Uckfield, TN22 1QG www.songsolutions.org