7730 - Arguing

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This scene we study today observes the apostles around the table as they celebrate the Passover meal with Jesus the night before his crucifixion. Listen to Luke 22:24-30:

Also a dispute 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.

During this final, intimate dinner with Jesus, after he had instituted the taking of bread and drinking of wine in remembrance of his own life and death; there around the table they began to argue with one another over which of them was considered to be the greatest.

It seems they were ignoring all the teaching Jesus had poured into them during the past three years. However this was not the first time the apostles argued among themselves. Once on the way to Capernaum they had been arguing as they were walking along the road. Jesus confronted them after they reached their destination about their argument, but they kept quiet because they had been quibbling about who was the greatest (Mk. 9:33-34).

At this point he seeks to contrast the perspective of the world’s way of doing things, to the kingdom attitude about these things. Jesus points out that the kings of the Gentiles lord it over their subjects, and then think of themselves, or even call themselves Benefactors — a title used in their society to indicate a position of importance and authority. Surely all of them had observed this way of action by some leaders in their society. It was an accepted attitude in the world system.

Jesus seeks to instill within these kingdom members the difference that should be observable in their attitudes. Bluntly he tells them, “You are not to be like that!”

Then he lays out the proper kingdom attitude. The greatest among you should have the attitude of the youngest. That means that you will not demand position, but you will earn respect by serving those over whom you have authority.

That old argument still echoes in the halls of society today. Insolence and arrogance are often the trait of the leader. Its a power thing. Who’s in charge? Do what I say because I am the authority.

Jesus teaches that real leaders in the kingdom of God are humble and have the attitude of being servants, being helpful, wanting the best for those being shepherded. Even though you are in authority your attitude should be an attitude of service, not lording it over the subjects.

Even as he speaks Jesus points out the example of one who sits at a table and is waited-on by a lesser figure, a waiter.

Then he points out that he is in the world as one who serves, so we likewise are not to seek elevation and power, but opportunities to show forth the indwelling Christ who lives within us.

Oh friend, this kind of attitude and action is impossible in the flesh — or in the world system, and that’s where the apostles were at that time. What I mean is this; they did not have the permanent indwelling Holy Spirit of God living within them. That did not happen until Pentecost, about fifty plus days later.

In this age in which we live we are so blessed, each and every Christian has the Triune God living within us. He is the one who shepherds us as we walk in obedience. He is the power who lives his life in and through us; thus, we may live as Christ taught. We can live humbly, because we realize without him we can do nothing. He it is who accomplishes his purpose in our lives.

May we never attempt such servanthood in the flesh, as we will fail miserably.