30 June 2012

Luke 22:24-38

"I am among you as one who serves." (v. 27)


The Jesus we meet in this passage is a Jesus who is still focussed on his mission, and those he has called to share it with him. Rather than his own suffering and death, his words are directed towards building up the fragile faith of the disciples.

The Gospels contain several passages where the disciples argue about their pecking order in Jesus' kingdom - one of several occasions when the evangelists refuse to edit out material that could be embarrassing for their reputations. But only Luke's Gospel includes such a story within the setting of the Passover meal. Because this is the last piece of teaching before Jesus is arrested, it has the special significance of a final testimony - what needs to be remembered most. And what Jesus does is to suggest to the disciples something of how they are to cope with the testing times ahead - both those associated with his own passion and death, and those that will await them as they continue his ministry into the future.

Yes, they will have positions of power and authority, but this can only come about through service. They are to take Jesus as an example and not imagine that they are in any way like those who lord it over others in the world.

But they are also to expect and deal with failure. Peter, who we read about in yesterday's passage receiving the keys to the kingdom, is to let Jesus down in an intense and humiliating way (Luke 22:54-62), yet such failure will not be the end and his relationship with Jesus will in time be restored.

Finally, the disciples are urged to go forward, following the same path as Jesus himself, along a way that will involve danger and suffering, where they will need to keep all their wits about them. Even at this stage they don't understand what Jesus is saying and take his remark about swords (verse 38) too literally. As Jesus is counted among the lawless, so may they.

To Ponder

What might being "one who serves" mean for you?

What are the main challenges to Christian discipleship that you face at the moment?

What failures do you still carry with you as a burden instead of asking God to remove them? You could use this time to ask God to remove them now.

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Richard Clutterbuck

Richard Clutterbuck is a minister of the Methodist Church in Britain but since 2004 has served the Irish Methodist Church as principal of Edgehill Theological College in Belfast. His ministry has been divided between pastoral appointments in North London and theological education in the South Pacific (Tonga), Britain and Ireland.