“Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:3-8
This verse epitomizes Maundy Thursday for me. Jesus has entered Jerusalem triumphantly, at the height of his ministry career. He could have grasped that power and rode the success train, but instead he empties himself to do the will of the Father for those whom he loves. He enters the Passover meal the night he’s betrayed, knowing full well the extent of his power and the direction in which his story has to go. Despite this knowledge, he enjoys a meal with his friends, including Judas, the one who would betray him. Not only does he have a meal with them, he stoops to the lowest level of a servant and washes their feet. All of their feet. Even Judas’. Knowing full well Judas would betray them and the rest would leave him, he shares his last dinner on earth with them and serves them in the most humble way possible. What a true emptying of oneself.
Paul exhorts his followers and us to do the same. Our attitude is to be the same as Jesus’. Our first thought should be the significance of others above our own. We are all in positions of authority. You may not think you have power to wield, but we all have authority over someone. We are all either parents or employers or neighbors or community leaders or coaches. We all have people to serve. Is our first instinct to self-preserve by grasping for power or is our first instinct to look not only to our own interests but also to the interests of others? My prayer this Maundy Thursday is that I would do much more of the latter.