The MacLean Clan moto is “Virtue Mine Honour” and it literally means it is my honor to be virtuous. It’s actually rare for a Scottish clan to include their moto on their family crest because typically mottos changes so often throughout time. However this moto stems back to the origins of the clan in the 1300’s and as remained the same ever since. The family castle pictured here was originally built in the early 1300’s as well and was home of the Chief of the Clan until 1691 when the Spaniards seized it. It was left in ruins in 1751 but on Sept 11, 1911 the 26th Chief of the Clan purchased the ruins and rebuilt it. It remains the private home of the Chief of the Clan to this day.
Why do I tell you all of this… to point out what true honor really is. No it’s not summed up in a moto that lasts for centuries and it’s not something that is displayed from time to time. It is something so deep inside someone that it is on display at all times and never needs to be pointed out.
John the Baptist had such honor. Though he was meant to lead the way to Christ, he says this of Jesus, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:26-27) But it’s not even that display of honor I am referring to. I am talking about the display of honor and respect at the end of his life, in fact a display which actually lead to the end of his life.
Herod the Tetrarch was a powerful and ruthless leader. John saw the sinful ways of this man and rather than simply wait for his sins to catch up with him, John actually confronted the man that could simply have him killed. He pointed out the unlawful relationship Herod had with his brother’s wife and said, “It is not lawful for you to have her.” (Matt 14:4) Now these words caused Herod to have John thrown in prison and then even later to have him beheaded. But John was honorable to the end.
The amazing things is that Herod could feel the honor in John. He knew something was different and more real and true about him. So much so that when he heard stories of Jesus’ miracles, he ascribed them to John (whom he had already beheaded). “This is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why these miraculous powers are at work in him.” (John 14:2)
The kind of virtue and honor that John displayed, followed him beyond death and left a lasting legacy behind. It’s the kind of honor that our Lord would ask the he be the one to baptize Him. It’s the kind of honor that lead many to follow him even when the social norms said not to. It’s the kind of honor that kept him constant with his message of hope in Christ, despite any potential harm to himself. It’s the kind of virtue and honor that we should all aspire to.
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