Who do you think is the greater? The one at the table or the one who serves?

Who do you think is the greater…the one at the table or the one who serves?

Luke 22:27

For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

The Carnal Dispute

There was a controversy, or really a dispute, among the disciples about who was to be regarded as the greatest of them all (Luke 22:24). Jesus rebuked them for this attitude because He showed them that they are no better than the Gentile kings, who lord it over their subjects and vainly proclaim themselves to be the greatest, when they strive to be greater than others (Luke 22:25). In God’s way of thinking, the lesser are the greater and the servant is greater than the one who is being served. The greatest of them all is to be the one who serves (Luke 22:26), just the opposite of the way the world operates. Is the one who serves at the tables not better than the one who is served (Luke 22:27)? To God this is a hearty yes! Isn’t it typical that God’s ways are not like that of man because we don’t think like God (Isaiah 55:8). Everything the natural man thinks is contrary to the way that God thinks (Prov 21:2), and the foolish ones think that what they’re doing is right in their own eyes, but it is in godly counsel that there is true wisdom (Prov 12:15).

The Servant is Greater

Jesus was the Master Teacher about servanthood. Even the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, didn’t come to be served, but He came to serve to the point of making His own life a ransom for those who would believe in Him (Matt 20:28). Whoever desires to be first must put himself last (Matt 20:27), not the other way around. Just before Jesus went to the cross, He washed the disciples’ feet, even the one who would betray Him. He did this so that they would have an example for how they are to serve one another. He asked them if they knew what He just did. He said He set an example for them, that they ought to wash one another’s feet (John 13:14) as a way of keeping them humble and in the right frame of mind to be serving one another, not fighting over who would be the greatest.

The Older Will Serve the Younger

When Paul was writing to the church at Rome, he used God’s selecting the younger Jacob over Esau and said that the older will serve the younger as a way of showing God’s good pleasure at one serving the other, even though Paul was actually talking about election. The more we serve others, the less we’ll serve ourselves. The more we serve others, the more we serve Christ because ministering to the least of the brothers and sisters is seen by Jesus as ministering to Him (Matt 25:40). We shouldn’t think too highly of ourselves (Rom 12:3) and in fact shouldn’t think of ourselves at all. Even more, we are to esteem others better than ourselves (Phil 2:3). In other words, serving those who the world least regards and maybe even despises is like you are doing it to Jesus Christ Himself. Don’t you want to be doing that for Christ? Then do it to others.

A Closing Prayer

Great God in heaven, please break my pride if necessary so that I might be a servant to others. In essence, being a servant to Christ for doing service to the least in the kingdom is the same as doing it for Your great Son, Jesus Christ, and it is in His beautiful, most precious name I pray.


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