When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!” 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.
But I am among you as one who serves.
Amy and I are watching a TV show about firefighters called, Station 19, it’s pretty well written and tackles some interesting issues. One of the themes that runs through it is leadership. So far there have been multiple captains of the firehouse. Each with a different leadership style. It’s fascinating to see how the showrunner displays the different styles and the impacts and effects that they have on the house.
The oldest and wisest Captain practices a pretty clear form of servant leadership. He sees himself as someone who is trying to create community and connection within the house. He’s looked at as a father figure. He’s gentle but at the same time doesn’t take any crap. This old wise captain tries to coach and direct the new captains but they largely ignore him to their detriment.
This passage that we are reading this morning hits a little different in these days and times. We are seeing a large number of people who want a leader like that of the Gentiles, one who declares themselves a “Benefactor.” Jesus says, this is not my way. The way of the strongman is not the way of Jesus.
Jesus argues that the leadership that he desires is one rooted in serving. From his other teaching we can know that this servant leadership is rooted in subversive-gracious-love.
The disciples were arguing about who the greatest disciple was. Those of us on this side of the text know that the greatest in the room was Jesus. They knew that too, of course. But, these were young dudes and like young dudes do, they were jockeying for power and prestige over the group.
Jesus in the way that only Jesus can basically says, “Boys, boys, boys, take a breath. You’ve got the whole thing upside down and backwards. Greatness in my kingdom is not found in who sits at the head of the table. Greatness in my kingdom is determined by who serves. Look at me, I’m the Son of God and here I am serving you. I don’t lord my power and authority over you. I don’t need to. I’m going to serve you and love you and show you that real power is rooted in subversive-gracious-love.”
We have things so twisted.
Leaders are not
or the most bombastic.
and the compassionate.
Real power, the power that comes from God, is not the kind of power that says, “Look at me! See how I am the best and greatest for you!”
Real power, the power that comes from God, is the kind of power that reflects to the world a subversive-gracious-love.
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