Listen here: A series of
short sermonettes (alternating between Pastor Amen and Vicar Brown) highlighting different aspects of our Lord’s Passion. In between the conflation of the Passion of the four gospels from the LSB Altar Book.
Part 1: The Upper Room
In the middle of the meal Jesus rose from the table, took off His outer clothing, tied a towel around His waist, and began to wash the disciples’ feet. The fingers of the One that crafted the universe scrubbed scum from between man’s toes. The hands of the One who brilliantly painted the cosmos washed feet painted with the filth of dirt and sweat.
His action is unexpected and surprising. Normally you would wash your feet upon entering a person’s home – not during dinner. Normally this would be done by servants – never by one’s Lord and Teacher. Even more astounding is that Jesus washed also the feet of Judas. Satan had already entered Judas and Jesus was aware of Satan’s presence with Judas. As Jesus is washing their feet – He “knew who was to betray him” (John 13:11.) Not only does Jesus do the work of a servant in the middle of a meal, He also does this humble work for the very man who would soon hand Him over. Why? Why would Jesus wash the feet of His devil-infested betrayer?
For John the answer is simple. When Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
Since we walk around on such filthy pathways in this world, it can’t be avoided that even the baptized at times “mess up their feet.” The Christian Church is not a place for perfect people. It is a refuge for repentant, forgiven sinners.
He then sits back down at the table and institutes the Lord’s Supper. The Christian is to first be cleansed through Baptism, then to repent and be forgiven, and then to partake of the Lord’s body and blood.
The example shown, the mercy given to us then changes how we deal with the shortcomings and sins of one another. Jesus did not suffer and die for perfect people. He stooped to serve unclean, betraying, back-stabbing, denying, prideful, and ignorant men. He redeemed all these sins in the blood that was soon to come from His hands, feet, and side. Remember, having loved His own, He loved them to the end.
This is irony as Jesus sets off into the night. The foot-washing Servant who tied a towel around His waist would soon have nothing around His waist as soldiers roughly took hold of His feet to secure them to the cross. For He loves you to the end.
Part 3: The Praetorium
What price or value would you put on a human life? The question seems like a horrible one to ask. But yet, in many ways, prices or values are nevertheless put on human lives all the time. Economists do it, insurance administrators do so with benefits analysis, people do it all the time with consideration to money and having children.
For Judas it was thirty pieces of silver, and thus was fulfilled the prophecy. Not very much quite honestly, today about $200 today. Surely you and I would put a higher price or value on Jesus, would we not? We understand the keeping of the Ten Commandments to flow out of our relationship to God: we should fear love and trust in God above all things, and our fear and love of God in turn should lead us to love our fellow human beings. If we look at how we fail to keep the Ten Commandments, then perhaps we could conclude that we put a low price or little value on Jesus. Likewise, we at times put equally low or lower prices or values on the lives of our fellow human beings and maybe even on ourselves.
Judas looked for an opportunity to betray Jesus and found one. Of his sin he was given the worst advice any could be given, “see to it yourself if you want to make it better.” Judas threw down the pieces of silver into the temple, as apparently Zechariah had done, and, instead of trusting God to forgive Him for Jesus’s sake, Judas went and hanged himself. He trusted himself rather than His Lord whom He betrayed.
A low price and value had been put on Jesus’s life, but He put a high price and value on our lives. Economists’ “value of a statistical life” and health-insurance plan-administrators’ value of one year of additional life range anywhere between $50,000-$130,000. But of course, life itself is invaluable and thus people unable to be bought as property. Jesus’s being sold for thirty pieces of silver that bought the potter’s field, helps us realize not only the much lower value that the Jews put on Jesus’s life but also the inestimable value that He put on our lives. For you He marches on to pay the price of sin, silently, humbly, and willingly.
God grant us appreciation and thanksgiving for the cost of our life, the high price Jesus pays for you.