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Loyalty and Devotion

By Tracy Jessup

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            “So Jesus asked the twelve, ‘Do you also wish to go away?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.’” (John 6:67-69)


In their book Known, Dick and Ruth Foth share a touching account of loyalty and devotion:

“Edinburgh, Scotland, is famous for a story of a dog and its owner that express devotion and tenacity in equal measure. The story began in 1850 when John Gray came to the city to be a gardener. Unable to find work, he joined the police force as a night watchman. To keep him company through the long nights, he would take his small Skye terrier named Bobby with him on his rounds. They became part of the living landscape of the city night after night for years.

John later contracted tuberculosis and died in the winter of 1858; he was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard. What happened next became a legend in the city. Bobby, the Skye terrier, would not leave his master’s grave. Except for accepting midday meals from the kind people in the area, Bobby stayed there day and night with his master. The caretaker tried on many occasions to evict the dog but to no avail. Finally, he provided the little dog with shelter by the grave.

When the city passed an ordinance that all unlicensed dogs would be destroyed, the Lord Provost of Edinburgh, William Chambers, purchased a license for Bobby and had a collar engraved for the little dog. Until his death fourteen years later, the citizens cared for Bobby while he guarded his master’s body. If you walk to Greyfriars Kirkyard today, you can’t miss the statue that stands across the street. It is a sculpture of Bobby with these words inscribed on the base:

Greyfriars Bobby – died 14th January 1872 – aged 16 years. Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all” (pp. 168-169).

Today’s passage comes on the heels of Jesus saying to his disciples, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.” (John 6:53). The difficulty for many who heard Jesus’ teaching was not so much understanding the symbolism but accepting the demand of Jesus for participation in his death as the means to sharing in his life. Indeed, the only way to life is through Jesus’ death.

Jesus knew some profess allegiance to him, but when following Jesus gets hard, they turn and walk away. The ones who wanted to make Jesus king did just that when they realized his kingdom was not of this world. But Peter, speaking for the other disciples when asked to clarify their position, reaffirms their loyalty and devotion to Christ. “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:67-68).

Bruce Milne writes, “Being a true believer will involve going the way of the cross…Among others things, that will mean remaining true to Jesus when he and his word are dismissed. Being a true believer will mean following him loyally when his truth is hard to understand and even harder to apply…” (The Message of John, p. 115). Whether we are beginning a new school year, a new church year, or simply a new day, may the Spirit enable us to “believe” and “know” so that we will be unwavering in our loyalty and devotion to Christ.

Prayer: Lord, we commit ourselves to you, confident that you are the Holy One of God – the only one who has the words of real life, eternal life.


Dr. Tracy Jessup serves as vice president for Christian Life and Service and senior minister to the University. He is a graduate of Gardner-Webb with a B.A. in Music and earned his M. Div. degree at Samford University’s Beeson Divinity School. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He also teaches in the undergraduate department of religious studies and enjoys the opportunity to serve the local church through interim pastorates, pulpit supply, and preaching revival services. he and his wife, Teresa, have two children, Christian and Anna.

Read more Good Christian News from Dr. Jessup HERE.