How will I serve? (part 2 of 3)

September 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

Today’s post continues this series titled, “How will I serve?” based on a statement Jesus said about leadership and service to others.

In order to properly understand Jesus’ statement we will need to look at the entire passage of what He was saying and study the historical and cultural context which He lived in.

The entire passage in which Jesus says His statement about leadership and service is this:

14When the time came, Jesus and the apostles sat down together at the table.15Jesus said, “I have been very eager to eat this Passover meal with you before my suffering begins.16For I tell you now that I won’t eat this meal again until its meaning is fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” 17Then he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. Then he said, “Take this and share it among yourselves.18For I will not drink wine again until the Kingdom of God has come.” 19He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” 20After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you. 21“But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. 22For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays him.” 23The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing. 24Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. 25Jesus told them, “In this world the kings and great men lord it over their people, yet they are called ‘friends of the people.’ 26But among you it will be different. Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.27Who is more important, the one who sits at the table or the one who serves? The one who sits at the table, of course. But not here! For I am among you as one who serves. 28“You have stayed with me in my time of trial. 29And just as my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I now grant you the right 30to eat and drink at my table in my Kingdom. And you will sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. – Luke 22:14-30

I have put the statement we are studying for this series in bold.

To appropriately understand this story and what Jesus’ is saying we first need to
know who Luke was and who he was writing to.

  • Luke was a companion of the apostle Paul and he also wrote the New Testament book of Acts (Acts was written after Luke and all the things which are written about in Acts happened after Jesus’ time on earth).
  • Luke was a Gentile physician/doctor who wrote one of the four accounts of Jesus. His account is called, The Gospel According to Luke.
  • Because Luke was a physician he was a meticulous researcher and writer. He was such a meticulous researcher and writer that his gospel is considered to be one of the most accurate and well pieced together historical accounts of any literature that still exists today.

To appropriately understand this story and what Jesus is saying we also need to know when Luke wrote his Gospel and who he was writing to.

  • Luke wrote his gospel to people in general: Jews and Gentiles.
  • Luke was writing his gospel during a time when the church and its members were experiencing a lot of persecution and trials from others.
  • Because Luke also wrote his Gospel and the book of Acts, we have the unique situation where we can see some of the teaching and messages Luke is hoping to convey in his Gospel lived out in the book of Acts. It is possible that when Luke sat down to write his Gospel and book of Acts, he knew the stories and teachings he
    wanted to present throughout both as a testimony to who Jesus was, what
    Jesus came here to do, and how we are to respond to him.

To appropriately understand this story and what Jesus is saying we need to also know what happens before this verse.

  • At this time Jesus is having the Last Supper (the final meal with His 12 disciples before His crucifixion) with His disciples and He tells them that one of them will betray Him.
  • The disciples then ask each other whom among them might do such a thing.
  • This leads them to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them. The gospel books of Matthew and Mark give more description saying that during this same time period James and John (two of the twelve disciples) actually ask
    Jesus if they could sit in the places of honor to Jesus’ left and right. They wanted special treatment.

Jesus who was a master leader and teacher always recognized a teaching moment when He saw one: this was one of those teaching moments. He saw a situation in which He needed to dedicate some time to teach and mentor these young disciples to help them understand their faith and how to live it out not for themselves, but for others.

Now that we have discovered some of the background information relating to Jesus’ statement and the context which He said it in, tomorrow we will deduce what exactly He means by what He said and then we will figure out what that means for us as people living in our current time.

Question: Do you have any additional insights to the historical and cultural context which Jesus said these words in?

Christopher L. Scott

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Christopher Scott is Small Groups Pastor at Rocky Hilly Community Church in Exeter, CA. He has more than ten years of experience leading volunteers, running nonprofit programs, and teaching the Bible in small group settings. He holds a bachelor's degree from Fresno Pacific University and master's degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I also may have received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."