By David Timms
In 1938 and 1939, as war loomed in Europe, a young British stockbroker changed his plans from taking a skiing holiday in Switzerland to helping in a Jewish refugee camp in Czechoslovakia. With that last-minute change of plans, he was able to help rescue 669 Jewish children from Czechoslovakia just before the Nazis took control.
He found those children new homes in England and raised funds to guarantee each child could return home when (and if) it became safe to do so. He also quietly recorded their names, the names of their new parents, and the addresses of the new families they joined.
For five decades—yes, 50 years—Nicholas Winton told nobody what he had done. No one knew of the many young lives he had saved.
Finally, in 1988, his wife Grete, who had lived completely unaware of her husband’s selfless heroism, stumbled across the lists of children. The records had been boxed away in the attic of their home for decades.
And so, after all those years, 79-year-old Sir Nicholas George Winton became a reluctant national hero.
Winton’s humility is extraordinary. Who would keep such a secret? Who could resist the temptation to seek a little glory and honor? What savior would remain so silent?
But it’s a mere glimpse of the profound humility of Christ who, “although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant” (Philippians 2:6, 7, New American Standard Bible).
Unlike Winton’s spontaneous plan, God’s plan has been in motion since the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden. This is what we remember at the Lord’s table. The cross of Christ was no last-minute decision. Instead, God instigated his rescue plan the very day Adam and Eve sinned against him.
Christ lived and died with humility. His birth attracted little attention—except angels and a few shepherds. His death attracted little attention—except a few disciples and followers who hung around at the foot of the cross. His resurrection was just as quiet—with Mary even mistaking Jesus for a local gardener.
As we eat the bread and drink the cup together, we declare the relentless love of God who remained faithful to his plan for millennia. We also give honor to Jesus who humbly emptied himself on the cross for us. And we thank the Father for the new home he promises us, safe from the enemy.
David Timms teaches at William Jessup University, Rocklin, California.