An Argument about Greatness
24 The apostles got into an argument about which one of them was the greatest. 25 So Jesus told them:
Foreign kings order their people around, and powerful rulers call themselves everyone's friends. 26 But don't be like them. The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant. 27 Who do people think is the greatest, a person who is served or one who serves? Isn't it the one who is served? But I have been with you as a servant.
28You have stayed with me in all my troubles. 29So I will give you the right to rule as kings, just as my Father has given me the right to rule as a king. 30 You will eat and drink with me in my kingdom, and you will each sit on a throne to judge the twelve tribes of Israel.
(Matthew 26.31-35; Mark 14.27-31; John 13.36-38)
31Jesus said, “Simon, listen to me! Satan has demanded the right to test each one of you, as a farmer does when he separates wheat from the husks. 32But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others.”
33Peter said, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to jail and even to die with you.”
34Jesus replied, “Peter, I tell you that before a rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will say three times that you don't know me.”
Moneybags, Traveling Bags,
35 Jesus asked his disciples, “When I sent you out without a moneybag or a traveling bag or sandals, did you need anything?”
“No!” they answered.
36Jesus told them, “But now, if you have a moneybag, take it with you. Also take a traveling bag, and if you don't have a sword, sell some of your clothes and buy one. 37 Do this because the Scriptures say, ‘He was considered a criminal.’ This was written about me, and it will soon come true.”
38The disciples said, “Lord, here are two swords!”
“Enough of that!” Jesus replied.
I’m the king of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal. Sound familiar? Looking for status and power? The disciples are. Jesus flips the disciples’ thinking with, “Forget the power play. Serve others. Later, there’s a kingdom where you will sit at the banquet table with me, like kings. But for now, do everything you can to help someone. Don’t think you are better than others. You stood by me all this time – surely you get the picture: serve others. If I served them, you serve them.”
Jesus warns. “Satan’s got it in for you, Simon [Peter]. And for all of you. But I have prayed that you will be strong.” Jesus predicts how Peter will soon deny him, and Peter protests. But Jesus doesn’t dwell on it. He tells Peter, “When it’s all over and you turn back to me, help the others.”
Jesus looks past Peter’s pending denial to the disciples’ future work of spreading the gospel. “I always provided for your journeys, didn’t I, though you didn’t pack a thing?” They agree. “Well, from now on, prepare. Pack a bag, take money, wear a coat and a sword. It’s going to get rough.”
From “Who’s the king of the castle?” to “serve others” to “strengthen your brothers,” Jesus realigns his disciples with his purpose on earth – to draw all people to himself, to the friend forever.
In all of us, just as in Peter, there is a deep humility borne through our personal failures that can rebound in compassion for others who struggle to persevere. If we are in Christ, he is faithful to restore us to him. And we can be his hands to help restore others.
Heavenly Father, thank you for looking past my sin and error. Thank You for leading me out of failure and giving me a heart for others. Increase my love for all your people. Use me to help them. In Jesus’s name, Amen.