So Who’s Greatest?

Luke 22:27: “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?  Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.”

“A hero fell, but good prevailed.”  photo taken by twitter.com/AndrewShayde

For New Year’s Eve, we had a superhero birthday party with a photo scavenger hunt.  Here I am with my dear friend Mark posing for a picture as a fallen hero. Yes, I am so noble that I gave my life to save the planet. Or something like that.

The verse from Luke above is from the Last Supper after a squabble among the disciples about who was greatest.  This happens before Jesus’ arrest and subsequent crucifixion. The struggle to be seen as the best is not unique, and neither is the story of someone dying for his cause or laying down his life for others. In history and literature, there are many examples of both power-struggles and selflessness.

I look to the stories of Jesus to help me understand who God is. The dominant culture encourages us to try to be the greatest, and to seek after the biggest and the best seat in the house. But this verse shows us that this climb to the top does not describe the way of God. Rather than showing up with a lot of power and pomp, God chose to enter this world as a servant. Jesus dined with the outcasts, the tax collectors and sinners, and advocated for the poor. Jesus did not seek power over others but worked for reconciliation and healing.

Where does this leave me? I want a God who enters the world and cleans up injustice with a mighty sweep of a powerful arm. And I want to be, myself, the greatest, top of my class, the one with the most blog views, etc. But God is not who we expect, and calls us to a life we may not have bargained for. Jesus came as a servant and worked for liberation, peace and healing. God calls us to do the same.

Unexpected God, You do not always come into the world in the ways we want. Show us where you are. Lead us in the life of a servant, following the example of Jesus. Walk with us today and always as we try to find meaning and belonging in our lives. Thanks, and Amen.

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