I AM Among You As One Who Serves

Luke 22: 24-30

After the Third Cup of Redemption
Friday evening the fifteenth of Nisan

DIG: Why was it surprising that the apostles would argue at that particular time? What was the culturally established rule regarding seating arrangements? How does this help to explain the conversations between John and Judas at the Passover table? Why was the arguing over their seating arrangements so intense at that time? How did Jesus handle that situation? How did He encourage them? What would be their surprise?

REFLECT: Where are you on the servanthood scale? Do you vie for important positions in the congregations of God, or do you merely use your spiritual gift(s)? Do you care where you will sit at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb (Revelation 19:6-10)? Why? Why not? What constitutes faithful service in your eyes?

Inexplicably, right after Yeshua mentioned His coming Kingdom, He said: I tell you the truth, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink new wine with you in My Father’s Kingdom (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25), that the apostles started arguing about who was the greatest. Obviously, vying for the best seat in the Kingdom next to King Messiah. We know that the Pharisees were contentious about the same issue and were seated according to their supposed rank. But the talmidim arguing was surprising in view of what Christ had just said about one of them betraying Him.

Jewish documents are extremely clear as to seating arrangements. It seems to have been quite an established rule that, in a company of more than two, the most important person – in this instance it was of course Messiah – reclined in the middle of the U shaped lowered table. We know from John’s Gospel that the apostle whom Jesus loved reclined to His right. But the place of highest honor next to the Master would be to His left. On this night of nights, Judas actually occupied the most honored position.

This explains how, when Christ whispered to John how to recognize the traitor: It is the one to whom I will give this piece of matzah when I have dipped it in the bowl (John 13:26a), none of the other apostles heard Him. It also explains how the Lord would start the Paschal ritual of dipping the charoset, and giving it to Judas firstwithout calling undue attention to the false apostle. Lastly, it accounts for Jesus affirming that Judas was indeed the betrayer: The words are yours, with no one else at the table hearing it.

As regards to Peter, we can only imagine how, after Christ’s rebuke of the apostles’ self-seeking ways: Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all (Mark 9:35), he would have rushed to take the lowest place at the far end of the U shaped table, on the same side as Yochanan. It was from there that he motioned to John and said: Ask Jesus which one He means because John was reclining next to the Lord. The rest of the talmidim would occupy places that were most convenient, or suited their fellowship with one another.1407

Evidently a dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest (Luke 22:24). Christ had previously promised the apostles that when the Son of Man sits on His glorious throne, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Isra’el (Matthew 19:28). The fact that the Passover would find its fulfillment in the kingdom of God (Luke 22:16) led them to anticipate that the Kingdom would soon be instituted. Therefore, they concluded that the positions they would occupy in the future Kingdom would be determined by the positions they occupied at the Passover table that night. If the truth be known, from the time that the previous announcement had been made these men had been seeking positions of honor at Messiah’s right and left hand (Matthew 20:21).1408

But the issue had never been settled as to the order of preference. Evidently it seemed to them that the decision could no longer be postponed. So they came to Pesach selfishly seeking positions of honor. Jesus then told them that such thinking is that of the pagans. He said to them: The kings of the Gentiles lord it over their people; yet those who exercise authority over them are called “friends of the people” (Luke 22:25 NLT). But you are not to be like that (the you is emphatic). Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest (people who possess the least claim for ruling over others), 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 (diakonon) meaning serves in a lowly way (Luke 22:26-27). Although Jesus is clearly greater than the apostles, His behavior during His earthly ministry was one of serving them (John 13:3-17; Philippians 2:6-11). Thus the one who would follow Yeshua also should be the servant of all.1409 There was no question that Messiah should occupy the place of honor at the Passover table, and that honor came to Him because He was the Servant of ADONAI. But the Lord did not seek that honor for Himself. Rather, His Father gave it to Him due to His faithful service.

Ultimately, He said, they would have places in the Kingdom because they stood by Him in His 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 Isra’el (Luke 22:28-30; also see Mt 19:28). They would be honored along with Him. But their positions would be determined by faithful service, not by their covetousness. Little did they know that their faithful service would end in martyrdom (see Cy – These are the Names of the Twelve Apostles).

Jesus didn’t have to wash the apostles feet, yet He did. There were servants who did that job, but Messiah chose to serve them. Today’s society insists that we should aim to “be somebody.” We want the best-paying job, the highest position in the company, or the top leadership in the congregations of God. Yet whatever position we are in, we can learn from our Savior to serve.

We hold different roles as parents, children, friends, workers, leaders, or students. The question is this: Do we carry out those roles with an attitude of servanthood. Even though my everyday routine is sometimes tiring, I’m thankful the Master will help me because I do want to follow His steps and willingly serve others. May God help us to do this each day.1410

 

< previous page
next page >

Genesis | Exodus | Isaiah | Ruth | Esther | Jeremiah
Life of David | Jonah | Jude | Life of Christ | Hebrews | Revelation
Acts | Ezra-Nehemiah
News & Updates | Links & Resources | Testimonials | About Us | Statement of Faith
Home | Español | Our FAQ