24 August 2016

Luke 22:24-30

“… the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (vv. 26-27)

Psalm: Psalm 145


This is the second time that Luke's Gospel records the disciples of Jesus arguing among themselves as to who is the greatest. The first time, following Jesus' ominous warning about his coming death, they were about to set off for Jerusalem; on that occasion, Jesus took a child, made him stand in front of them and declared that those regarded as least were the greatest (Luke 9:46-48). Clearly, the disciples did not get the message, because, in this incident during the Passover meal, they were still arguing about status and position.

The Passover meal was - and is - one of the most solemn and significant of Jewish ceremonies. The participants are reminded of how the Lord, their God, rescued them from persecution in Egypt, of how God cared and continues to care for them. Along with lamb and bitter herbs, they partake ceremonially of bread and wine. Jesus had just shared bread and wine with his friends, referring to these as his body and his blood (Luke 22:19-20). He had served them, and given of himself to them.

Jesus referred his disciples to patterns of authority in the world around them - some rulers exercised power; others, rather more subtly, used benevolence. Jesus, both by example and in word, showed that moral authority lies in a life of service. This is the thrust of much of his teaching. The teacher of the law, for example, whose question led to the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37), was urged to "Go and do likewise". Service is about action. The prophet Micah asked, "What does the Lord require of you?" and concluded, "To do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). Perhaps this is what Jesus had in mind when he spoke about the fulfilling the law and the prophets as being foundational to his teaching.

To Ponder

  • When you hear the words 'Go and do likewise', to what are you challenged?
  • Who do you feel are the people who are most difficult to serve? Why is this, do you think? And how might you try to serve them?

Bible notes author

Gillian Kingston

Gillian Kingston is a local preacher on the North Tipperary Circuit of the Methodist Church in Ireland and a part-time university chaplain. She is interim Vice-President of the World Methodist Council.