24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. .
Some people have really bad timing. We are reading the account of Jesus last time with the disciples before he was taken away and crucified.
John’s gospel shows that before this meal, Jesus had washed their feet. He gave this service as an example to them to serve each other and to forgive each other.
In Luke we read that they took the Lord’s Supper together. In this he took the bread and the cup from the Seder Meal and reinterpreted them as being about himself. He is the bread and he is the wine. They gain life by believing in him. All this is symbolized by the Lord’s Supper.
The Disciples chose this moment to have an argument over who was the greatest. It is natural whenever we get together with others to look around and compare. We notice if we are older or younger than the others. We notice if we have more or less hair. We wonder who might have the most money or the most advanced degree. It is human nature to create a sort of pecking order.
The Disciples of Jesus were not above this. They started to Argue over who was the greatest. We are not given their actual words. But I imagine that it went like this:
I am sitting closer to Jesus than you are!
Yes, but I started following him before you did.
You always say the wrong things.
You never say anything, but wait for me to go first.
Jesus rebuked them. He said that they were acting like unbelievers. The kings of the gentile nations were all about being the Lord. The emperor of Rome claimed worship as a God. They fought wars, raised taxes and enslaved the defeated. The Rich dominated the poor. It was all about power.
This is not what it means to follow Jesus. We are brothers and sisters here. We serve each other. Jesus said, “If you want to follow me you need to do what I do. You cannot fight to get to the top. The way to follow me is to go to the bottom.”
If you want to be served, you will not be great in my kingdom. Do you want to be great? Then serve.
we have come together today to remember and honor the sacrifice of Jesus. On that day he gave himself for all of his followers – from those who had this meal with him, down to all who shared this meal in faith down through time.
So shall we get into it over who is greater? Is Grace or Bethany a better church? Is Dave or Jeremy a better preacher? Is it better to follow Tim Keller or John Piper? Oh we could get into a good argument. Is a hymn better than a chorus? Is the King James better than the NIV. Do you follow Wesley, Luther or Calvin?
Jesus told us what He wants us to do.
26 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. 27 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.
We need to put all that fight for greatness aside. We need to quit trying to climb the mountain of importance. We need to follow Jesus into the valley of service.
Whom has the Lord given to you to serve? Will you get credit? Will you get points or fame? Will they be loyal to you?
None of that matters. Jesus went into the valley of the shadow of death, to make for us a way into the Light of life.
We received that life by Faith in him. There is not credit there.
We walk in that life by following Jesus commands..
And what does he command? Beloved, let us love one another.