devotion 5-2-15

Good Morning! May already!

Luke 22:24 – 34

24 A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. 27For 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.

28 ‘You are those who have stood by me in my trials; 29and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, 30so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

31 ‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded* to sift all of you like wheat, 32but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ 33And he said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ 34Jesus* said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.’

Jesus has shared the bread and the wine, saying it is his body and his blood; he has told them that there is a betrayer among them. And so, like childish siblings, they argue, first, about which one is the betrayer, and then about which one is the greatest. Can’t you hear them? “I could never betray him for I am the most faithful of all of you.” “Well, I love him more.” “Ha! When he comes into his kingdom I will sit on his right hand! I am the greatest of you all!” How many times did the disciples have this argument? Such arguments show us that, even near the end, they just do not “get it.” Do we? Are we any better? Don’t we argue? “My denomination is nearer the truth than yours.” “We can’t allow them into our church.” “We are better than those at that other church.” Sometimes, we are even worse than those arguing disciples!

Jesus says, that is the way Gentiles act! Their kings lord it over them, and those in authority are called benefactors (patrons is a better translation). The Roman system, adopted by the powerful of society in Israel, was based on patronage. A wealthy man gained power, and could demand favors of those who owed him. This, I think, is how the high priest, Caiaphas, would bring out an early morning crowd to appear in front of Pilate. That, Jesus said, is not the way Christians would act. Instead, leaders would be servants, as he served them. And then he tells them that because they have stood by him through his trials (they would run away) they would have the kingdom, and they would eat and drink with him at the heavenly banquet, and sit on thrones with him to judge Israel.

But then, he warns Peter, calling him Simon – this is sort of like your mother calling you by your full name, it means sit up and pay attention! He says that Satan will test him, but Jesus has prayed that his faith will not fail, and when he has turned back, he will strengthen his brothers. Simon denies that he will ever fail in his faith, but Jesus warns again, “the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”

The climax of the story draws near. These are the preparations for it.

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