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Thursday, April 7, 2022
Today’s Scripture Reading | Luke 22:14–38
When the hour came, he took his place at the table, and the apostles with him. He said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. But see, the one who betrays me is with me, and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!” Then they began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do this.
A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For 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.
“You are those who have stood by me in my trials; and I confer on you, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
“Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” And he said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.”
He said to them, “When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “No, not a thing.” He said to them, “But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, ‘And he was counted among the lawless’; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.” They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” He replied, “It is enough.” (NRSV)
Servant-leader (noun): A person who focuses on the growth and well-being of others and the communities to which they belong; A power sharer who puts the needs of others first.
What a concept in today’s top-down, might-is-right, authoritarian world in which the Golden Rule means the person who has the gold rules.
Yet in this passage from Luke, Jesus models this self-giving, servant-leader love for us. At the Last Supper, Jesus is, quite literally, among his disciples as one who serves. He gives thanks and offers them bread saying, “This is my body, which is given for you,” and wine, “This cup that is poured out for you.”
Jesus shares with his disciples—including one who would betray him later that night and another who would deny their relationship three times before dawn—and shows them, and us, what it means to be a servant-leader.
Today’s news headlines are filled with Strongman leaders: “Putin Invades . . .” “Xi Imprisons . . .” Each sends the message: I am the sole leader, and you are not.
However, beneath the surface of these enormous egos and dictator edicts, we see the true servant-leaders in our midst: nurses and doctors who care for the sick in a raging pandemic; subway workers who offer homeless riders clean blankets and face masks; organizers who arrange child care when schools close. Yes, servant-leaders. Hard work. Christ’s work.
Can you spot the servant-leader in James Ensor’s Christ’s Entry into Brussels in 1889?
Lord, I pray that your church and our world will be led by people who are servant-leaders, not people who want to lead first, serve second. I pray each of us will be a servant-leader. Amen.
Written by Phil Calian, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church
Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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