People love to talk about their Bibles. Despite what you see on the news, there are still quite a few people who take what’s in the Bible seriously. Some take the Word literally, but that can be to the detriment and morale of an entire community. You see, the Bible (the Old Testament) forbids eating shellfish. Well, if we on Ocracoke gave up on the shrimp, we’d go out of business. Most of our island looks the other way when it comes to Deuteronomy 14:8. Moses tells the Israelites not to eat the pig. We do love bacon and sausage. We may love God and Jesus but we’re ignoring the Bible on this one lock stock and Cracker Barrel. So as devoted to the word as we may be, as committed to Jesus as we are, a literal interpretation would hold a bacon wrapped scallop is as bad as breaking one of 10 commandments. We pick and choose what we believe. We need to apply common, contextual sense to how we read the Bible. Eating a bacon wrapped scallop isn’t the same as killing a person. Our faith doesn’t grow weaker when we do this kind of reading, it gets stronger.
We love to do what Jesus tells us to do. Read through all four gospels and you’ll find Jesus’ commands (that’s where get the word Maundy) are short, sweet, and simple. He tells us to love our neighbors as well love ourselves (a quote from Leviticus). His stories put prodigals and prostitutes as priorities over money and selfish ambition. Jesus is easy to sum up. There is nothing ambiguous about his goals and priorities. Jesus is easy to emulate; that’s one reason following him is so difficult. We try to make it harder than it should be. If we read Jesus literally, we don’t have these internal conflicts and put ourselves into these absurd moral pretzels to justify our positions. Even when we read Jesus at his most literal, you will never find Jesus advocating murder, stoning, or death. We read Jesus differently. We can take Jesus at his word.
So tonight, when we come in and see these chairs, pans, pitchers, and water; what do you think? Oh, no, foot washing? Or is it something different? We are taking Jesus at his word. Jesus did this and so do we. We let Him touch our feet.
We ignore many crazy parts of the Bible (there are plenty of them) and for good reason. This isn’t one of those sections. This is Jesus, serving his disciples and friends on the night before he died. It may be a little dirty and gross; feet usually are. It’s not crazy. It’s love.