End of the Line
Originally scheduled for February 28
People who share a common profession often have
stories that circulate within that profession. Such is the case with
this story. It dates to World War II, where it was common among
finance officers in the United States Army.
One of the duties of such an officer was to
conduct the monthly payment to individuals. This was done in cash in
those days; the problem has therefore gone away today. The
difficulty was this: the line was long and those who felt that they
were above such things would simply walk to the front of the line
and demand to be paid. The person doing this was usually at least a
colonel; the finance officer was rarely higher than a captain. It is
very awkward asking a colonel to go to the end of a long line. But
it can be done.
In this particular instance the colonel pulled
up in a chauffeured staff car, walked to the front of the line and
presented his ID card, asking to be paid. He felt a tap on the
shoulder. Turning around he had no time to be annoyed — staring him
in the face was Gen. Dwight Eisenhower.
“Colonel, I think it best if we both go to the back of the
line.” They did.
The story may be apocryphal, but it
demonstrates a characteristic of leadership which can be found also
in Jesus Christ. You will remember the Last Supper. It is the
culmination of Christ’s leadership of the disciples; the last time
he will have them all together, listening.
It is a Passover meal. Indeed, not
just “a” Passover meal — but “the” Passover meal. In this Passover,
the real Lamb is the Lamb of God.
It is the last chance for Christ to
give instructions. If you look at those instructions they set in
order the relationship between the church, Christ and God the
The most memorable event of this
meal, however, is Christ washing the feet of the disciples.
Eisenhower did not send the colonel to the end of the line; he took
him there. Christ set the example of humility in washing his
Communion should hold the Last Supper as an
example. How are we to approach this memorial meal derived from
We must recognize in this meal the
sacrifice of the Lamb of God.
We must recognize the sacrifice made
in all humility, and approach the throne of grace the same way.
Like the disciples — remember Peter
asking to be washed all over — we must approach it asking for the
forgiveness of our sins.
Examine yourself. Set your heart and mind on
the sacrifice of Christ, seeing his humility as an example for us.
Commit yourself to repentance, and ask for forgiveness. Then take,
in memory of the Lamb of God.