Monday 25 August 2014

Bible Book:

“But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.” (v. 26)

Luke 22:24-30 Monday 25 August 2014


Can you name all twelve of Jesus' chosen disciples? In today'spassage, they're having an argument about who is the greatest amongthem. Just an ordinary day, you might think, with this group ofyoung men showing their natural competitive tendencies! Actually,it wasn't an ordinary day; it was the night of the Last Supper. Itwas the supper Jesus' had longed to share with his closest friendsand follower, when he would have the last opportunity to teach themwhat it was all about. And they're arguing among themselves!

When you look back to the previous few verses, it's easy to seehow the argument would start (Luke22:21-23). Jesus says one of them will betray him. "Not me,Jesus!" "I'd never betray you!" "Come on, who would then?" "Well,certainly not me - I've been there through thick and thin - I'm notgoing to bail out now." And so it goes on. One by one they'dcompare their credentials as to why they wouldn't betray theirLord. Until, before you knew it, they would move on to the greatdiscipleship league-table!

So who was the greatest? There was Simon Peter, obviously theleader who Jesus had a special role for (see yesterday's passage). There was hisbrother Andrew, one of the first, who actually led Peter to Jesus.Then John, who turns out to be the one Jesus had a specialaffection for. There was James his brother, again there from thestart, and one of the inner circle. There was Thomas, alwaysoutspoken and not afraid to ask the difficult questions. AndMatthew, the former tax-collector turned Gospel-writer. MaryMagdalene would later have a greater claim than most, being the'apostle to the Apostles' who first told the men about theResurrection. But, in the end, like so much of our squabbling inthe Church today, it's a pointless and futile argument. Each iscalled for a reason, and each is gifted with a special role inGod's kingdom. Jesus points them to the real truth: and it's himright there among them - the servant-king; the one who is trulygreat, making himself least of all, for their sake. This is thesort of greatness we all need to aspire to.

One of the disciples who wouldn't be near the top of anyone'slist is Bartholomew. And yet this reading was chosen for his feastday today. Why? Perhaps because he wasn't the greatest and didn'tclaim to be. Perhaps because he was one of the unspoken apostles,who simply played his part. There are no stories for Bartholomew,apart from the traditional (and often gruesome) tales of how he wasmartyred spreading the gospel. He may have indeed been Nathanael(John 1:43-51, John21:2), as some claim. But all we know for sure is that he wascalled to be one of the Twelve, and (despite abandoning Jesus likethey all did on Maundy Thursday) was there to witness the Ascensionand received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. The rest ofthe time, we can assume, he just went about doing what God requiredof him. God's reward for him? A throne in his kingdom judging oneof the tribes of Israel. Not bad at all!

To Ponder

  • Who are the ones in your church or community who make no claimsto greatness but go about doing their job and serving others? Whatdo you think their reward will be from God? (And how could you showyour appreciation to them now?)
  • What do you know about St Bartholomew? See what you can findout.
  • We live in a culture that praises 'leadership' and 'executivepower' and likes to rank people and put people on a pedestal. Whatdoes Jesus have to say to our attitudes about power andgreatness?
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