Links Daily Devotional

Our Certain Role

“I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:15, NIV)

When Francis Ouimet won the 1913 U.S. Open, defeating legends Harry Vardon and Ted Ray at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts, it was a hard pill for some to swallow. After all, Ouimet was a one-time caddie and now a shelf-stocker at a sporting goods store. What business did he have competing in such a gentleman’s game?

Maybe Ouimet got a sentimentalist’s pass because he was young, just 20 years old, and a local favorite. Vardon received no such mercy. As a professional, he was consigned to a class below the members, spited for forging a way out of the poverty that had been his family’s “station in life.” Golf brilliance aside, Vardon had no pedigree—and his professionalism, like that of his colleagues, was disdained because he was deemed to be unworthy of the enclaves of the intellectuals and the moneyed.

We might not, in the broader egalitarian thinking of our time, brush aside the lowly so quickly today. Indeed, a rags-to-riches story tugs at most every heartstring. But we are still far happier to know a person when they possess the riches than when they don the rags.

Is this better? Is this right?

We can say this: wealth, position, and authority can all be defended in the pages of Scripture. God allows such earthly blessings, instructing those who have such things not to abdicate them but to use them for his kingdom work.

But we must also say this: defend what you will in terms of what you’ve been given, but recognize that you cannot deny your role as a servant.

Jesus set an example for us in many ways, but rarely did he telegraph his examples as such. The account delivered to us in the opening lines of John 13 is different. Jesus set an example and then said plainly, “Do as I have done.”

The scene was an upstairs room on the night of the Passover. It was the eve of his death, and Jesus knew it. The evangelist wrote that in this act, Jesus loved his disciples “to the end,” with the Greek allowing for this to mean either that he loved them until the last moment or he loved them to the fullest extent. In truth, he did both.

What did Jesus do? He washed the disciples’ feet. The feet of them all, including those of Judas, the betrayer, and Peter, the denier. There was none he did not love in this way. Servile and menial—here was the King of creation in the hours before his death. Remarkable.

This is our role. In fact, as followers of Jesus, we have no other. “Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all’” (Mark 10:41-43).

Not so with you. In Christ, we are different, and the difference shows up when we serve. Jesus, the highest, made himself lowest. Let it be the same for us.

Jeff Hopper
July 29, 2014
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