Jesus took off his outer robe

I don’t know if anyone has noticed but the modern world has become much more about self-service.

I walked into my bank the other week totally confused that the bank looked like a coffee bar. All the tellers had gone and had been replaced by self service machines. There were copious amounts of sofas, colourful house plants, modern slatted screens, and a man with an iPad that said I could wait for twenty minutes to transfer some money. I asked him where the tellers were and he said oh they don’t do those transactions anymore.

I sat on the modern minimalistic sofas with a group of other bemused people, it was the sad equivalent of an adult crèche that no one really wanted to be in.

I realised that today self service was now becoming the norm. In supermarkets we wrestle with the joys of the self scan checkouts. When we phone up companies they are automated. When we check in at hospital we scan a barcode. We report crime online. We speak to MPs on Twitter.

Jesus took off his outer robe

It’s like culture today is tearing us away from serving each other face to face. Perhaps it is because it takes too much time. Society is moving at a much faster pace year after year. People are having to adapt to that pace or face being left behind. By removing human interaction we can get what we want faster, without fuss, and without seeing any other people. In reality we are missing out on important relationships and what it looks like to be a community that works together and serves each other.

Jesus took off his outer robe

Today on Maundy Thursday we reenact and remember the most personal and humbling service and lesson from Jesus as he washes his disciples feet. Jesus takes off his outer robe to begin and this action has much to say to us today. That love has to do with complete self giving to another.

What outer robes are we wearing when we are out and about in the world. What barriers are we putting up that stops us from stooping down and serving our fellow human and giving ourselves to each other.

Is it pride, or is it just not expected of us anymore?

Cultural boundaries are becoming the outer robes that we are wearing today, and our need to do everything ourselves is pushing away the building of love and deeper relationships and giving of self to others.

Jesus took off his outer robe

Even in Jesus’s time what Jesus did by assuming the role of a servant was shocking, Peter articulates this quite clearly by saying to Jesus that you will never wash my feet! How often have we felt this when someone offers to serve us?

I did it just last week, a friend offered to help me out and I found myself telling them no! Fortunately they knew me enough to ignore me – but it is so easy isn’t it?!

It’s so easy to head to the self service checkout instead of having to let someone do it for you isn’t it.

And wouldn’t that be a thing if we actively chose to let people serve us and for us to serve them.

Jesus took off his outer robe.

Peter changes his mind after Jesus says that if he doesn’t let Him wash Peter’s feet then he has no share in Jesus.

Peter immediately becomes less self serving because he knows what he will be missing out on by following Jesus. Peter realises that to be in love, to be in Jesus’ love he has to give himself completely to Jesus because that is what Jesus is doing to Peter and the other disciples as he washes their feet and institutes the communion feast, the bread and wine, become His body and blood. Jesus. Here in complete self giving of Himself to us is the risky Holy love that ultimately ends in His execution on the cross for all of us.

Pride, expectations, boundaries, culture, society, all go out of the window when responding to Jesus because he cuts through all of these things with calm delicate vulnerable serving love.

He models a new shape of love one that is hands on, soaked in water, and poured out in wine and broken bread. A shape of love that cries out for us to seek out each other and to love each other. A shape of love that compels us to give a complete self-giving to one another.

Jesus says I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

By stripping away our outer robes, we are entering into the love that Jesus commands us to dwell in, to just “be” in because it is a love so amazing so transformative that everyone will look up and take notice and know and see that Jesus is present through and in us.

Jesus took off his outer robe

There is nothing convenient or quick about stepping away from modern comfort and society of self service, it requires effort not just to do it but allowing other to serve us too.

We cannot be blinded by comfort thinking that is all we need. We cannot be blinded by the shallowness that is provided by the illusion of comfort, just like my experience at the bank.

We can’t be seduced into thinking that we can rush through to Easter past Good Friday because it takes too long or makes us feel uncomfortable.

Removing our outer robes, getting down on our knees, rolling up our sleeves and getting our hands dirty for the sake of others is the depth of love we must wash in.

Maundy Thursday strips back everything that doesn’t matter, and this is reflected in the dramatic stripping of the church too, so that we are left with the starkness of Christ alone and power of his cross on Good Friday.

It isn’t in the grandeur of the items around us that Jesus is known, it is in the rough wood of the heavy cross that held his body, it is in the crude iron nails that pierced his flesh, it is the crown of thorns that rained his blood onto his face.

Jesus took off his outer robe, for you, for me, for the whole world, and we must be bold enough to do the same for His sake.


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