Luke 22:24-38, NIV 201124: A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” 35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. 36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” 38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That’s enough!” he replied.
Luke alone includes this story of the disciples arguing over who was more important. I find it interesting that Luke included the story immediately following Jesus’ pronouncement that a betrayer was among them – although he does address a similar situation in different places (Mark 9:33-37; Luke 9:46-48). As they argued among themselves about who was ‘greater’, the charge of betrayal seems to have lost all sense of significance.
Seems about right.
We all seem to suffer from an unending hunger to feel important. Strangely, most of us resort to making others feel insignificant to feel better about ourselves. I wonder what fueled the argument. Perhaps one or two of the disciples had been talking about all of the people who responded to the message when they were speaking and some others had to one-up them. Maybe there was some argument about who got to sit at the table next to Jesus because it was important. Maybe they had been listening when Jesus said he was going to sacrifice himself and they began wondering “who will lead us when He is gone”. Maybe they were making subtle comments about whom Jesus liked more.
Strange isn’t how nothing really changes. Don’t we spend an unreal amount of time trying to prove our worth to other Christians? It’s subtle, but it happens. Followers of Christ are their own worst enemy at times. Jesus tells the disciples that they cannot be like everyone else they know. They can’t use their influence to overpower each other or anyone else. They aren’t allowed to take advantage of those who trust them and are willing to let them walk all over them. Instead of using their authority to rule, they must use it to serve.
That’s what Jesus has been teaching them.
That’s what Jesus intended them to be.
That’s what Jesus will be doing for them when He goes to the cross.
One last thing: pray for each other. Jesus knew that the disciples were about to face something that would challenge the very fabric of the family. He knew that in the midst of all that was coming, Satan would feed their fear to get them to turn on Jesus and each other. Notice that Jesus tells Peter that Satan has asked to sift “them” and that in all likelihood they will fall away. So Jesus prayed for them and he told Peter “I know you will fail, but when you realize it come on back. In returning, you will lead others not to do the same.” Then he tells them to prepare themselves (swords) for an enemy is coming and they must protect themselves. Because the enemy will be wanting blood and he’ll take it from anyone not paying attention.
What would happen if we were able to let go of our “authority” for only a few minutes?
How many people could we help if we were willing to use our power to serve?
What would change in our lives if we realized that by praying for people we were protecting them while getting our swords ready as well?
Go in Peace.