The Greatest and the Least

Author: Valerie Principe — Host: Natty AndersonPosted on: August 14, 2023

Unlocked: Daily Devotions for Teens
The Greatest and the Least

READ: MATTHEW 23:1-12; LUKE 22:25-26; JOHN 13:1-17, 34-35

Wyran, kitchen servant in the palace of Ardh, studied the king’s table, ensuring that not a single grape was out of place. King Terrian had insisted that everything be perfect for his guest.

For months, the territory had echoed with praises for the ruler of the distant kingdom of Beulah and his seemingly supernatural abilities. King Elam. “A formidable foe in war and a valuable ally in peace,” King Terrian had called him. Still, Wyran was sure the stories were mostly fictitious—after all, a king who could control the weather and raise the dead? Just part of some intimidation plot, no doubt. Wyran expected to be run ragged during the foreign king’s entire visit, fetching and retrieving anything this royal desired. In Wyran’s experience, the more powerful a leader was, the more pitiful he made those beneath him feel.

When King Terrian and his guest swept into the hall moments later, servants flew into action, pulling out chairs, adjusting robes, and producing glimmering basins to wash the feet of both kings. But to Wyran’s shock, the visiting king waved the servants away with a gentle sweep of his hand and, instead, carried one of the basins to Wyran. He gestured to his own seat at the king’s table, indicating that Wyran should take his place.

Wyran stood paralyzed. Surely the famous King Elam was not going to clean a servant’s feet! To even sit in a royal’s chair could mean execution. Unless this visitor was using Wyran to show off his supernatural abilities—if he truly could restore life, who knew what limits his terrible power had.

But in the following moments, there were no supernatural tricks or transformations—only the gentle swishing of water as the king cleansed Wyran’s feet and wiped them dry with his own robe. King Terrian, who had been watching in shocked silence, finally spluttered, “Stop! I cannot have it known that the great King Elam washed my servant’s feet!”

King Elam, still kneeling, smiled gently and replied, “Better had it been known you had done so yourself.” • Valerie Principe

“The greatest among you will be your servant.” Matthew 23:11 (CSB)

• Today’s allegorical story is based on John 13:1-17 when Jesus, the King of the universe, washed His disciples’ feet. Most earthly leaders see ruling as a right to be served, but Jesus ruled by serving others. When people saw Jesus commanding nature and raising people from the dead, they were amazed by His power and authority. And when they saw how Jesus interacted with those who were considered the least of society, some were amazed by His love and humility—and some were offended. Consider taking a moment to reread John 13:1-17, and then imagine Jesus washing your feet. What do you notice? How do you feel?

• Washing His disciples’ feet wasn’t the only way Jesus served His people. When Jesus died on the cross, carrying the shame of our sins, He was performing the greatest act of service the world would ever know. Though all people are wicked and sinful, deserving of death, the King of the entire universe loves us so much, He willingly suffered the punishment of a criminal so that we could become members of His royal family forever. He conquered death and sin when He rose from the grave, and now He invites us to put our trust in Him. King Jesus waits with outstretched arms for anyone who will receive His gift and believe in Him. If you have questions about what it means to put your trust in Jesus and become part of His royal family, who are trusted Christians you could talk to? (You can also find out more on our “Know Jesus” page.)

• When are you tempted to try to impress those around you? In these times, we can look to Jesus. We can remember the ways He serves us in humility. As Christians, we have the Holy Spirit in us, transforming us to become more and more like Jesus. As we rest in His love for us, we can serve others with that same love (1 John 4:19). What are some practical ways you could serve the people around you today? Consider taking a moment to pray, confessing any sins that come to mind and asking God to help you notice opportunities to share His love.