Maundy Thursday Family Worship: Footwashing

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It has been said that the final days of Jesus’s life were the most important days of the most important person who ever lived. In fact, the final week of the earthly life of Christ is often referred to as “Passion Week,” after the Greek verb pascho, meaning “to suffer.” It began with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and culminated in His atoning death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection. During this time Christ revealed His love for us in the excruciating suffering He willingly endured on our behalf. Through His life, death and resurrection, Christ reconciles us to God (Rom 5:10; 1 Pet 3:18) and gives eternal life to all who believe in Him (John 3:16).

As we reflect upon this extraordinary week, however, it can be easy to focus only on days such as Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. One day that is just as significant to also remember is Maundy Thursday. The word “Maundy” is derived from the Latin word for “command,” referring to the command Jesus gave to the disciples at the Last Supper, that they should love and serve one another. Two important events are highlighted on Maundy Thursday. First, Jesus celebrated the Last Supper with His disciples and instituted the Lord’s Supper, also called Communion (Luke 22:19-20). Second, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet as an act of humility and service, thereby setting an example that we should love and serve one another (John 13:3-17).

A great family activity to help you and your kids remember Christ’s example of love and humility is to wash each other’s feet. Here is a suggested outline of the devotional time:

  1. Opening Prayer. Focus your prayer time on giving thanks to God for His great love for us, offering us salvation through Jesus Christ. Reflect upon how God “shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:8).
  1. Musical Worship. Select 2-3 songs to sing together with your family. Here are some suggested songs that focus on Christ’s humility and sacrificial love for us. You can find many of these songs online with lyrics included:
  • All I Have Is Christ
  • And Can It Be
  • Before the Throne of God
  • Behold the Lamb (Communion Hymn)
  • Beneath the Cross of Jesus
  • Come Behold The Wondrous Mystery
  • How Deep the Father’s Love for Us
  • Jesus, Thank You
  • May the Mind of Christ, My Savior
  1. Read John 13:1-17 (Jesus Washing His Disciples’ Feet). Read through this passage together, having each family member read a couple verses at a time. 
  1. Pre-Activity Discussion. Make sure to highlight to your kids how the act of washing people’s feet was considered to be a job reserved for the lowest servants, and yet Jesus sets the ultimate example of humility and servanthood by taking on this role. Remind them that in a culture where people walked long distances on dusty roads in sandals, this was a very dirty task! You can also mention how Jesus washes all of His disciples’ feet – including those of Judas, who later betrayed him, demonstrating His love for even His enemies. Furthermore, you can talk about how Jesus performed this amazing, sacrificial act during the last moments of His earthly life. Instead of simply thinking about Himself as He faced His imminent death, Jesus was still focused on how He could love others and glorify God.
  1. Family Feet-Washing Activity. Prepare a basin of (warm) water and some towels. Starting with the oldest member of the family, have each person wash another family member’s feet.
  1. Post-Activity Discussion. After everyone is finished, take time to discuss how it felt for everyone to wash another person’s feet, both for the person doing the washing and for the person receiving the service.Talk about how Jesus redefines what it means to be truly great in contrast with how this world describes greatness (you can read Luke 22:24-27 for Jesus’ instruction to his disciples on being the greatest). Pastor C.J. Mahaney describes what Christ achieved for us through his life and death, stating, “True greatness is attained only by emulating the Savior’s example – and made possible only by the Savior’s sacrifice.”

    Finally, ask your kids what is one way that they can be like Jesus and humbly serve those around them, whether it is helping out with chores around the house, helping their younger siblings with their homework, looking out for certain friends or classmates at school, etc. 

  1. Closing Prayer. Take time to close in prayer. If you want to close with a passage of Scripture, you can read through Philippians 2:1-11, describing the humility of Christ.
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