““But look, the hand of the one who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man is to go just as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!”
So they began to question one another as to which of them it could possibly be who would do this. A dispute also started among them over which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.
So Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those in authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ Not so with you; instead the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is seated at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is seated at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”
You know, every one of those guys betrayed Jesus in one way or another. Peter denied any connection, Judas turned Him in, and John, while he knew the High Priest well enough to gain access to the inner chambers of the estate, stayed quiet.
We’ve all been there, right? “I was so shocked, I didn’t know what to say!” The thing is, we say what we’ve been practicing all along. That’s why ninjas, Navy Seals, and police can respond in the middle of intense pressure. They trained and they practiced.
So here is Jesus, at the Last Supper, continuing to train and prepare the disciples for what lies ahead. And the formula to get through it?
“The leader [must become] like one who serves.”
That is how He is about to lead them to victory. He has served as a healer and a teacher. He has been the Rabbi of all Rabbis, and now He is going to be the sacrifice for all of us.
He has already been training to be a servant King, and now in the moment of greatest intensity, He will continue to do it.
Jesus invites a comparison of these two paths. One is of the betrayer, choosing his own route and doing his own thing with his own goals. This path is often successful. You get all the money and the wealth and the attention and the personal satisfaction for a while. But was it worth it? How much will a person give up for such things?
And then there is the path of Jesus. To graciously serve, not with the extortion that your victim must do something in return for your service or change their mind about something, but to graciously serve is the path of Jesus. There were only two people that Jesus healed and then said “now quit sinning” after they were restored. He didn’t do it on the condition of their devotion.
And to what limit do we serve? I mean, do we really have to do everything for everybody? That is a good and realistic question to ask, and only the Holy Spirit can answer it in each one of us.
The Lord Jesus left us a pretty strong example, and the more we look to that example of service, the more we tend to surrender our own selves over to His.
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