Christ Washed The Feet of Judas (George Marion McClellan)

Christ Washed The Feet of Judas (George Marion McClellan) June 1, 2019

Mary and Martha, prayer and labor, grace and justice: that is the balance we all must achieve. Labor without grace can degenerate to ideology: mother of tyranny. Grace without works transforms amazing grace to platitudes masking cowardice or cooption

God save us from academics who talk and do not do. God deliver us from works without grace. When weary, we should turn to good examples of the balance: Christians who knew ora et labora. 

Prayer without works is dead, prophetic calls to justice without mercy is deadly. No man ever truly bowed the knee to God without laying down his life in service. 

Educator, activist, minister: George Marion McClellan hated injustice actively. He knew that the greatest enemy of the Church was not external, martyrdom can be the seed of new Churches, but the injustice Christians do. We must fear the Judas more than the Romans. The Romans kill the body, but unjust Judas betrays the Lord and would (if he could) crucify the Son of God anew. The enemy within is more deadly, because though we often think in our arrogance we play the role of Peter (or God help us Jesus!) in the gathering of his disciples, we, all of us, have the capacity to be Judas.

Judas is an easy role to play, we just have to love gold more than God, and resent anyone who gets in the way of our grift. Yet Reverend McClellan, a prophet for liberty and justice, was also a poet, a man who could look within himself and see his own need for mercy. The prophet was also a man of prayer, a Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.

We pass over the words of Jesus that we must love our enemies too easily if we are comfortable in our cooption by the plutocrat. Our enemies are the unwashed, those people who have nothing we wish to have. Our enemies become those whose sins are those we do not commit so can safely judge.

Against this canting cooption stands a whole Christian soul like that of Reverend McClellan. He had real enemies, because he identified with those who were oppressed and yet he had grace. He recalled that Jesus washed the feet of Judas: Jesus was there to minister cleanliness, service, and grace to Judas.

This was not submission to injustice, but one final chance for change from the Savior before Judas went out and hanged himself. Jesus did not serve Judas so the grifter could keep stealing. McClellan with beauty:

 

THE FEET OF JUDAS

Christ washed the feet of Judas!

The dark and evil passions of his soul,

His secret plot, and sordidness complete,

His hate, his purposing, Christ knew the whole,

And still in love he stooped and washed his feet.

Christ washed the feet of Judas!

Yet all his lurking sin was bare to him,

His bargain with the priest and more than this,

In Olivet beneath the moonlight dim,

Aforehand knew and felt his treacherous kiss.

Christ washed the feet of Judas!

And so ineffable his love ’twas meet,

That pity fill his great forgiving heart,

And tenderly to wash the traitor’s feet,

Who in his Lord had basely sold his part.

Christ washed the feet of Judas!

And thus a girded servant, self-abased,

Taught that no wrong this side the gate of heaven

Was e’er too great to wholly be effaced,

And though unasked, in spirit be forgiven.

And so if we have ever felt the wrong

Of trampled rights, of caste, it matters not,

Whate’er the soul has felt or suffered long,

Oh heart! this one thing should not be forgot,

Christ washed the feet of Judas!

This message would be easy to misunderstand from any man save a man like Reverend McClellan who lived a heroic life. He is not saying to let Judas keep stealing, to ignore evil. Instead, the Christ, soon to be crowned King of Glory, could forgive in Himself and so be free in Himself of the evil Judas would not allow to be purged in Him.

The prophet knows and forgives, because the reckoning is coming. Grace is offered because judgement is coming.

Judas had his feet washed by Jesus to condemnation. May I never be such, but instead like broken, flawed, beaten Peter repent my evils and allow the grace to triumph. When that happens, may I act and do good.

God help me to be like like Reverend McClellan and fight for justice with grace even to my enemies.


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