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A Reflection for Tuesday of Holy Week
Who’s The Greatest
Luke 22: 24-53
In today’s reading from Luke 22, we see Jesus dealing with argumentative disciples as he’s trying to explain to them what is about to happen. They’re not really interested in listening to him because they’re more concerned about which of them is the greatest, and there’s a real sense of entitlement. Then we move on to Jesus’ turmoil in the Garden and the reading ends with his arrest.
All the way through, it seems as though the disciples aren’t ready for what is coming and Jesus probably felt pretty alone and possibly apprehensive. In John’s gospel, after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, we’re told that Jesus was troubled, and I wonder how we react to hearing that sort of language used about the Saviour of the world – alone, apprehensive, troubled.
It’s important we remember that when Jesus was on earth, he wasn’t just “God in skin” but was fully human with all that involves. So, when we’re troubled, lonely or apprehensive, as many are now, we know that Jesus understands. He’s been there.
I love the fact that, in spite of what he knows he is going to face alone, Jesus is concerned for his disciples, their welfare, and their future. And he reminds them that he’s there to serve them, and that he wants them to serve others rather than arguing about who is the greatest. In fact, he’s saying, the one who serves is the greatest.
Jesus is a great role model, he’s just washed their feet, he’s talking about serving others, and we’re being reminded at the moment that the truly great people are those who serve others. Where would we be without the truck drivers, bin men, care workers, NHS staff, supermarket workers, and all those who put themselves at risk for others? We seem to be managing quite nicely with less input from some professions, but others we know we really can’t do without. It’s often said that a society shows how much it values roles by how much it pays people to do them, in which case many societies, including our own, are seriously out of kilter in Jesus’ terms. Interestingly, it seems to be the case that some of the best paid in our society also have the greatest sense of entitlement, and the biggest resistance to sharing what they have with others.
When we face tough times, as we are at the moment, it’s very easy to retreat into ourselves and forget about helping others, but Jesus models a better way for us; he encourages us to think about others rather than looking out for ourselves. That is true greatness – not being given a high place because we have served, but because the servant is great in God’s eyes.
The king of kings was and is the servant of servants.
Revd Canon Libby Wilkinson