Luke 22: 24-27 – Greatest Among the Disciples of Jesus

As Luke reports it, Jesus’ teaching in gospel of Luke 22: 25-27 is occasioned by a dispute among his disciples about who would be the greatest in their group (Lk 22: 24). If one of the disciples could be so disloyal as to betray his Master (Lk 22: 21-22), the others are led by ambitions for places of honour and authority (Lk 22: 24-27). Luke 22: 25-26 are paralleled in Mark 10: 42-45. But gospel of Luke does not retain the saying of Jesus about the saving value of his death in Mark 10: 45. Luke brings in a different saying of Jesus in Luke 22: 27 which seem to have some resemblance to John 13: 13-16 (cf. Lk 12: 37).

Jesus’ sayings in Luke 22: 25-27 are both a warning and an exhortation. He warns his disciples not to have the mentality of pagan rulers who display power and domination by exercising ‘lordship’ over their subjects. “Not so with you,” Jesus tells them. Contrasting the exercise of authority by pagan kings, Jesus tells his disciples that all authority among his followers is for service. “The greatest must become the youngest and the leader as one who serves.” Jesus exhorts them to learn the meaning and purpose of authority and leadership. These are to be exercised in the community of his disciples in humble service. Jesus, of course, was not giving a mere theoretical exposition of the ideal manner of exercising authority. He illustrates this ideal by his own life; Jesus himself is the supreme example of humble service. “I am among you as one who serves” (Lk 22: 27).

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