Sunday February 14, 2010 | Greg Boyd
They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 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. 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. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus came both to save us and to reveal the character of God to us. Rather than coming in great power God came and served. Jesus calls us to “opt out” of the worldly desire to be better than others and learn to love them even when we profoundly disagree with them.
Greg started by explaining that heaven will be when God’s kingdom is manifest here on earth. So, how we live as Christians now is supposed to be in anticipation of that new reality coming with the second return of Christ. One of the main ways God’s coming kingdom differs from this world is in what “greatness” means and what it looks like.
In Luke 22:23-30 the disciples were discussing who among them would be the one to betray Jesus. This went from each person denying that it would be them to the other end of the spectrum, who among them was the “greatest”? It’s typical for us to move away from blame and toward credit in the same movement, isn’t it? In fact, Jesus knew that each one of them would betray him in the coming hours, so it must have been especially painful for him to hear this. Instead of rebuking them—which they soundly deserved—he reminded them that they are not to be like those who are considered “great” in this age. Instead, he pointed out that they had already stood with Jesus through many trials and that greatness is expressed in serving rather than being served.
Greg reminded us that the disciples behavior was no different that Christian behavior in general through out history. Many wars have been fought between nation that understood themselves to be Christian. In fact, our own American history is no different. It is critical to the health of our faith that we not become confused about this: Christianity is not to be mixed with any other ideology, political agenda, or any other human construction. To be a follower of Jesus is radically different than any other human idea and when we blend Christian faith with other things, we undermine its power.
Jesus called us to quit the “Who’s the Greatest Game”. We are not greater than any other human being. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. When we forget this, we begin to fall into the trap of elevating ourselves over others and judging them as less than us in some way.