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Remember earlier in the gospel of Luke after the disciples had been on a field trip where they participated in healings, saw a leper healed, distributed the food the day Jesus fed 5000 and some of them saw Jesus in all of His glory at the transfiguration, and THEN they began to grumble among themselves on who was the greatest? Well, in this passage during Jesus’ last week of ministry on earth, they are up to it again.A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 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. 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. You are those who have stood by me in my trials.
Now think about this. This time the disciples are in a most grave dinner scene where Jesus has just revealed to them at the Passover meal that one of them is about to betray Him. And in the midst of this tension and seriousness, a conflict breaks out again about who of the disciples is the greatest.
The human disease continues to run rampant today. It’s the disease of self-centeredness and selfishness. It’s all about positioning and competition around the wrong thing for the wrong reason.
And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus then says that He is giving these disciples the responsibility of living and carrying out the Kingdom lifestyle to the world. You see, the Kingdom lifestyle is inside out and upside down. Instead of finding greatness by pushing and positioning yourself as a leader, try being a servant. Leadership and greatness emerge out of serving others. We call it servant leadership. That’s the Kingdom way!
NOTE one more thing here that’s most encouraging. Here are these disciples participating in all of these embarrassing conflicts with one another to become greater than the other in the Kingdom, yet it’s this very week that Jesus promotes them in an interesting way. In Jesus’ prayer to the Father, the real Lord’s prayer in John 17, Jesus pronounces these stumble bums as passing the test of faith. He says that they have come to believe, have accepted and have learned to obey the message the Father sent through Jesus. This is what Jesus reported to the Father in this prayer. These who, when they have time on their hands, in the most inopportune time still let their self-centeredness and immaturity show. Do you know what this means? It means that there is a lot of hope for you—and for me. Jesus sees through our weaknesses and idiosyncrasies and sees our potential of being faithful, obedient followers of Him. When I look in the mirror and see myself, I tend to become a little depressed. But when Jesus looks at me, He sees me in the most positive light ever. I think I’ll go with His viewpoint. That feels so much better. How about you?