I had a Martin Luther moment this morning. No, I didn’t nail any theses to a church door. It happened like this. I had a busier than usual early morning for me, which means I was dressed and doing some slightly physical labor outside by 9 am. Mornings are hard for me anytime. My arthritic joints complain loudly when pressed into action too soon after I get up.
All of that is to say that my outside chores required more exertion than they used to, and I managed to work up a sweat. I hadn’t planned on showering this morning because I wanted to work out later in the day, but I had a PT appointment and wasn’t fit to go without a shower. As I finished the shower I remembered the story that Martin Luther always reminded himself that he was baptized whenever he bathed. At that moment I realized how fresh and renewed I felt. It was like the warm water had had not only washed away the sweat and relaxed tight muscles, it wrapped me in the grace-filled water of baptism.
This being Holy/Maundy Thursday I had read two devotions earlier this morning about Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, including those of Judas. The familiar story of Jesus overruling the objections of Peter who argued their roles should be reversed reminded me of Jesus’ own baptism where John makes a similar plea that Jesus should be the one doing the baptizing.
One of my favorite moments in the musical “Godspell” is the baptism scene. When John asks Jesus what he’s doing there Jesus simply replies, “I came to get washed up.” And on this Holy Thursday I marvel anew at the integrity and consistency of Jesus’ ministry. From baptism to foot washing he shows us the meaning and the power of humble servanthood. He arrived in Jerusalem that Sunday not in a Lincoln limo, but in a beat up Volkswagen bug. He came to show us in everything he did in the words of the great old hymn by Ernest W. Shurtleff (1887) that it is “not with swords loud clashing, or roll of stirring drums, but with deed of love and mercy the heavenly kingdom comes.” (From “Lead On, O God Eternal”)
Micah 6:8 is the verse I would pick from the whole Bible if I could only have one to describe the meaning of messianic living and what it means to take up a cross and follow Jesus. Holy Week provides the whole story of Christian discipleship in a nutshell as Jesus shows us what God requires of those who would fulfill the human potential our creator has instilled from birth/baptism in all of us. In those 6 days Jesus did justice, he lived mercifully, he did it all in humility, and like God the creator he rested on the Sabbath. And then comes rebirth and a new creation early on Sunday morning.