May 10, 2024

JD Wilhelm
For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
Luke 22:27

In the book of Luke, this is the last teaching of Jesus before his betrayal and crucifixion. It occurs during the Last Supper after Jesus has broken the bread and drank from the cup. He has spoken to the disciples about the significance of the elements: the giving of his body and the shedding of his blood for them. Jesus foretold that one of the disciples would betray him. So the disciples begin to question who will be the one to do it, and at some point, the conversation turns, and the disciples start to argue about who is the greatest. Jesus, hearing the argument, begins to teach about greatness by pointing to his own life as an example. It is a fitting and important comment to notice at this juncture. This is Jesus’ farewell discourse for his disciples and occupies a place of significance in Luke’s narrative. I love the rhetorical strategy Jesus employs here. Common sense would tell you that the one who reclines at table is greater than the one who serves. Yet Jesus points to his own life to answer the question differently: he is amongst them as one who serves. The disciples have been following Jesus long enough to recognize his greatness. Jesus’ pattern of life did not take advantage of the privileges he could have expected. So, as his followers, we are to embody the same pattern of life. We are called to abandon our self-serving quests for greatness and power because they are contrary to the example of Jesus’ own life and the way power operates in the kingdom of heaven. This is a countercultural concept in a world where we are conditioned from a very young age to chase and pursue greatness. We can only do it by keeping our eyes on Jesus as the model and example for our lives.