Saturday 24 August 2013

Bible Book:

Luke 22:24-30 Saturday 24 August 2013


Today, we move from the heavenly throne-room in the Book ofRevelation to the scene of the Last Supper as Luke's Gospeldescribes it. As we do so, we may find a clue to the question ofwhat connects the Church on earth with the Church in heaven. Here,Jesus rebukes his disciples for imagining that there is any routeto a share in his kingdom except through service. The disciplesfound their contemporary models of leadership too seductive; theycould not resist playing power-games even as they followed Jesus onhis way to the cross. This was in spite of the example Jesus hadjust shown. In John's Gospel we see Jesus giving an example ofservice by washing the disciples' feet during the evening justbefore his betrayal (John13:1-15). Here, Jesus is the one who has just served them withthe broken bread and the poured-out cup of wine and now he tellsthem in no uncertain terms that they need to follow his way ofleadership through selfless service. Service - the word is'diakonos', from which we get the word 'deacon' - is the hallmarkof Jesus-shaped ministry. Yet still the disciples don't 'get it'.In a few hours' time, Jesus will have submitted himself to arrestand to the abuse of those in power and most of the disciples willhave scattered. Even Peter will find himself too cowed by thepowers around him to allow himself to be called the disciple ofJesus (Luke 22:54-62).

Luke, as he shapes the story of Jesus for his Gospel, wouldcertainly have been aware of the challenges already facing newChristian communities. Then, as throughout Church history,Christians found it hard not to imitate the power-structures thatsurrounded them rather than follow the example of Jesus. Today isSt Bartholomew's Day and this is the Gospel reading to be read inmany churches as they remember him. Bartholomew appears in the listof disciples in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, but we onlyhear of his later life through legends. Perhaps his very obscurityin the story of Jesus and the early Church is a sign that he, atleast, did not grasp at a leadership role but led a life of quietservice.

To Ponder

  • Which models of leadership are most seductive in your context?How do they compare with the example given by Jesus?
  • What would it mean for you to follow the words of Jesus in alife of radical service?
  • Become aware of those you have known who have led through theirservice of others. 
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