The song “Believe” made popular by Brooks & Dunn talks about a young man’s life influenced by an older man’s faith. This older man is called Old Man Wrigley in the song. Give the song a listen, and pay attention to the lyrics:
Hearing my mom Jean Edge Ballinger read daily devotionals to my grandmother in the next room while I’m working from home reminds me that being an Old Man Wrigley has nothing to do with age, or position in life — just that strong pull of faith, of gratitude for what was laid down on Good Friday and raised back up on Easter Sunday, and an eager willingness to share honestly with others the reason for our hope.
I have plenty of pastor friends, and most of them look at the Old Man Wrigleys of this world with more awe and respect than they do the crowd gatherers. And some Old Man Wrigleys have such a clear and understandable reason for their hope that crowds gather very regularly to listen to them, not just on a front porch.
You might see Old Man Wrigley on a front porch, or an old man taking a boy fishing, a step parent adopting a child to love as their own, or a neighbor spending time with you, or a loved one taking care of a family member, or a preacher sharing the Good News, or a recovered addict helping run a shelter, or a business leader teaching and mentoring other professionals — but look past the veil of this world, and you might just catch a glimpse of Jesus and His disciples washing feet.
Maundy Thursday is a remembrance that some Christians practice in remembrance of the night before He went to the cross. The key with Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter, Christmas, or even weekly church gatherings isn’t about carrying on the consistent religious tradition of such things — but that we actually remember and appreciate and “worship in spirit and truth” our Savior and Lord.
On the text, we see that Jesus first demonstrated by His actions the principal of living service to others:
Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, do you wash my feet?” Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
John 13:3-17 ESV
Then after He had demonstrated with His actions, He told His disciples what to do:
When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:31-35 ESV
Believers, we must be like Jesus and like Old Man Wrigley, letting our lives’ actions speak so loudly of the gospel that others might ask us, “How are you like this?” Or “Why do you believe?” Because this is real faith that they can see and discern is quite different and peculiar from the self-righteous and from the hypocritically religious and from the lost clearly trapped in sin and pride and selfishness. Because you can tell a child all day what to do with your words, but if you don’t first instruct them with your actions and your example, it is futile.
…you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if someone asks about your hope as a believer, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
1 Peter 3:15-16 NLT