Deliver Us From Evil - Part One
John 13:1-35

I love the way we begin our Easter journey together each year, we gather around a table and remember the meal that Jesus shared with his nearest and dearest as he prepared them for the days ahead.  There’s a real sense of love and caring going on in the scene that is portrayed in the gospel and re-enacted in parts as we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together again.  We don’t often gather together in the evening for a service which includes the Lord’s Supper, so it is unique in our worship calendar, it is a time to come together over a meal that is the body and blood of Christ, given and shed for us for the forgiveness of our sins.  What a blessing that is!

There’s another important element within the last meal that is sometimes overlooked, the symbolism is amazing and powerful.  When Jesus gets up from the table, takes off his outer robe, ties a towel around himself and washes the disciple’s feet.  You can only imagine how dirty these men’s feet would have been, there could be all sorts of gunk and grime on them from walking in streets that are shared by humans and animals alike.  It makes us cringe at the thought of it.  Even the thought of re-enacting the foot-washing ceremony makes some of us cringe.

Cleanliness is becoming more and more of an issue in our lives, when we visit hospitals we are asked to use antiseptic gel on our hands before, during and after the visit.  We are afraid of spreading things like swine flu, bird flu or any other kind of virus.  I read again this week an email that says we used to think nothing of drinking water from a hose or a creek, we played outside in the dirt all day, and shared cups with our friends.  This kind of thing is frowned upon today. In the midst of all that the message that Jesus was willing to stoop down and wash his disciple’s feet is perhaps evern more dramatic.

Jesus wasn’t just washing the disciple’s feet, he was also showing them how to live and love, he was giving them a connection to their sins being washed clean through baptism.  He was demonstrating to them in perhaps a cryptic way that he was about to take the filth and dirt of their sins on to himself as he journeyed to the cross.  He came as a humble servant, he taught, and he healed and now he was about to take the sins of the world one hundred percent and to wash us clean.

This was Jesus’ way of delivering us from evil.  We are all sinful and unclean, but through baptism we are washed clean by the water, God’s word and his promise to us, and given new life, a new life that leads us through all of the sin and death in the world to a place of hope and deliverance in his kingdom. 

We are reminded of this and experience it regularly in our worship services and especially tonight.  As we heard in the Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup your proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”  Every time we come and share in the body and blood of Christ in, with and under the bread and the wine we proclaim to each other and to the world that we believe that Jesus did die on the cross for our sake, to forgive our sins and then rose again to give us that new life. 

Not only in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper but also in the way we show love to one another throughout our lives, not just on Sunday but throughout the week.  And not just to our fellow Christians but to all people everywhere, without prejudice, we are to love our neighbour as ourselves.  Importantly we remember tonight that it begins with loving our fellow Christians so that the whole world will know that we are Christ’s disciples.

Christ didn’t just die and rise for the ones who believe in him but for all people around the world, throughout the centuries. The goal is not to stop at those who are in the churches around the world now, but to reach out into the world and spread the message of forgiveness, of new life, and of resurrection from the dead and life in the world to come.  Jesus wants us to make disciples of all nations, through baptising, preaching and teaching.  We spend an awfully large percentage of our time focussed wholly on ourselves, without so much as a glance outward to the people of the world who may not have heard the true message of Easter, or who have heard it and palmed it off as myth and legend.

Jesus is the way and the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through him.  Easter is one of those special and unique festivals in the year where we have a touch-point with the community, where they may actually be asking questions about us and what it is all about even more than they would at any other time of the year.  Jesus has washed our feet, our hands, our bodies and our souls clean and we are his disciples, let’s share the wonderful message of salvation with others as we proclaim his death until he comes again to take us to be with him in paradise.

As you remember Jesus gift to us in the coming days, remember his deliverance from evil for you and for all people, rejoice at that deliverance, share his forgiveness with others and live in the hope and blessing that he has given you.  And as you shortly come forward to receive the body and blood of Christ, give thanks to God for all his goodness to you and for the forgiveness that he has given you, without merit or favour as he delivers you from evil.

Amen