So, I perceive that the Daily Lenten Devotional is only going to be coming during the weekdays, and I am on my own during the weekends. I’ll manage. And my apologies for getting Monday’s devotional to you on Tuesday! Great thoughts though. I am always challenged by Jesus servant leadership.
Your Daily Lenten Devotional
February 27, 2012
The Measure of Greatness
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. (Luke 22:24-26)
During supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. (John 13:2b-5)
I find studying the disciples in the Gospel to be a hopeful exercise for struggling Christians like me. About the time I feel that I am hopelessly lost, I read a passage such as Luke’s account of the Last Supper where, as Jesus was preparing for his crucifixion, the disciples were sitting at the Passover meal secretly arguing over “which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest” (Luke 22:24). After three years with Jesus, this is what they were arguing about?
It was sometime around the sixth grade that I encountered the idea of popularity. At my school there were certain kids who were considered to be “cool”–defined by some combination of their appearance, their parents’ wealth, their self-confidence, and their sporting prowess. By high school the characteristics of greatness were expanded to include those students nearly universally recognized by the student body for their talents. At the same time there was a second tier of greatness, defined within particular groups. In the band it was the “first chair” kids. In sports it was the “starters.” Among the anti-social kids it was the kid who could be the most anti-social.
We do not stop disputing which of us is considered the greatest when we reach adulthood. How does society generally define greatness today?
Jesus, knowing that the disciples were arguing about which of them was greatest, did something most surprising. He got up from the table; went to the door; and picked up the pitcher of water, towel, and basin that had been left there so the disciples could wash their feet as they entered the room. None of them, apparently, had washed their own feet; and certainly none had thought about offering to wash the feet of their fellow disciples, or even the feet of Jesus. Performing such a task, like the meal preparations Jesus had sent Peter and John to make earlier that day, was the responsibility of a servant; and they were not servants–they were disciples. To their great discomfort, Jesus sank to his knees and one by one washed their feet. To make sure they understood the meaning of his gesture, he said in essence, “This is what true greatness looks like.”
By washing his disciples’ feet, the Son of God assumed the most humble of roles. Then he called all who would follow him to strive for that kind of greatness: to live their lives as humble servants. Long before the business world discovered the concept of “servant leadership,” Jesus was calling his followers to adopt that lifestyle. Would those who know you describe you as one who in humility seeks to serve others?
Lord, you know that, like the disciples, I yearn to be considered great by others. Grant me a servant’s heart so that I may discover that true greatness is found in humility and service. Amen.
24 Hours That Changed the World Daily Devotions
Retail Price: $9.99
CBD Price: $6.99
In this companion volume that can also function beautifully on its own, Adam Hamilton offers 40 days of reflection and meditation enabling us to pause, dig deeper, and emerge changed forever. The reflections, ideal for use in Lent, include Scripture, reflection on the events of Jesus’ final day, stories from Hamilton’s ministry, and prayers.
Used with the kind permission of our friends at Abingdon Press.