April 6, 2023

Communion at the Washbasin

A Maundy Thursday devotional

by Hannah Packard


Luke 22:14–20 
John 13:1–16


On the night before His death, Jesus ate and drank with His disciples and washed their feet. Nothing was more important to Him at that moment than this—what He gave them to carry forward. 

He gave them Communion, a remembrance of His sacrifice, experienced in community. 

He gave them a heart-stopping lesson on humility, a remembrance that the King of the universe not only took on flesh but is the Servant of all, exemplified by washing feet. 

As we meditate on the glory of God this Holy Week, let’s pause at the washbasin. 

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
     did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
     by taking the very nature of a servant,
     being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
     he humbled himself
     by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
     and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
     in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
     to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:5–11)

Jesus is not humble because He became incarnate. Rather, humility is the very nature of God—He uses His glory and divinity not to His own advantage, but as a Helper and Servant of all. There is a direct connection between the height of Jesus’ exaltation and the depth of His humility and obedience. It is exactly because He is God that Jesus humbled Himself to death—because God is love, and the greatest expression of love is to give of Yourself for those You love (see 1 John 4:16; John 15:13). It is also because of the depth of Jesus’ humility that He is therefore exalted and glorified above anything or anyone else. God’s glory shines in His humility.

As Jesus knelt and washed His disciples’ dirty feet, He wanted them, and us, to remember and follow in His example. This is how we lead—by service. This is how we love one another—with mutual submission and humility. In God’s Kingdom, true honor doesn’t come from money, power, or how many influential people you know. It comes from how you are like Christ. Will we love? Will we serve? Will we extend grace to one another? Jesus said, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”

(Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.)

There is an inherently communal and corporate dynamic to the Lord’s Supper. When Jesus first gave it, on this night, He ate it with His friends. And He won’t partake of it again until the day when His Bride is with Him in the Kingdom. When we take Communion, we remember not only Jesus’ sacrifice—His blood and body given for us—but also His Body, the unity we have under His blood. With Jesus, we long for the day when His Kingdom will come in fullness.

I hope you are able to take Communion today. When the elements are served to you, remember Jesus’ lesson at the washbasin. And when you partake of the bread and the cup, remember the Cross, and set your eyes ahead to when He returns to make all things new and we can have the Lord’s Supper all together. 

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