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Is there someone you are planning to meet today whom you can serve?

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Bible passage: Luke 22:24–38

 24 Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. 27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials. 29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

   31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

 35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?”

   “Nothing,” they answered.

 36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”

 38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.”

   “That is enough,” he replied.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


Being a servant
Meals are for conviviality not confrontation, so our passage begins on a sad note. Maybe we are shocked at the insensitivity of the disciples, but beware. The desire to be ‘top dog’ is deeply ingrained in each of us. Would we have behaved any better? The unseemly argument leads to a memorable saying as Jesus, the Son of God, describes himself as their servant (v 27). And then challenges them to follow his example.

But how? Well, it will require courage to be different (v 25), willingness to stay close to Jesus (v 28), radical self-awareness (v 33) and wise preparation (v 36). Is that all?! How are you doing in this area? It would seem that living a servant life is not for the faint-hearted.

Freedom of service
Why do we want to be in control? Often it is the desire to appear better than the next person. Was that Peter’s problem (see Matthew 26:33)? Peter had to learn the hard way (see 22:60). Maybe every time he heard a cock crow, he was reminded that he was only an unworthy servant.

But there was no need for him to despair. Nor for us. Christ himself promises to deliver us out of the bondage of having to be in control, into the perfect freedom of service.

David Bracewell


‘Father, forgive my pride and boastfulness and make me, this day, more like Jesus who came not to be served but to serve. For his name’s sake, Amen.’

Deeper Bible study

Jesus called, and calls, his disciples to play a key role in his kingdom and in the refounded people of God (vs 29,30). Until now, these disciples had stood by Jesus in his trials (v 28), but at this moment of crisis they are focused on the wrong thing. They don’t know their own lack of strength, or the spiritual battle they are to face. It is the second time they have argued about who would be the greatest (see Luke 9:46) – Jesus’ words about the kingdom being fulfilled seem to have reawakened their personal ambition. Jesus, however, is ‘one who serves’ (v 27). Ultimately, the cross will teach them that service is greatness in the kingdom of God. The kingdom will be fulfilled when the servant of the Lord gives his life. Jesus anticipated this suffering as he quoted Isaiah (v 37) (Isa 53:12).

When Jesus had sent the disciples out without resources and they had no alternative but to trust him, they had lacked nothing. This time, Peter is sure he has the personal strength in himself to follow Jesus to the end. He has no idea about the ‘sifting’ (v 31) they are about to face – but Jesus sees beyond Peter’s future denials to his future ministry.

The disciples’ personal aspirations and self-delusions are recorded for our benefit. We also can expect a sifting, as our motives are tested. We also can convert previous experiences of God’s faithfulness into trust in our own strength. However, like Peter, we can also expect restoration and further fruitful discipleship. It is after and in spite of their debates about greatness that Jesus ‘confers on them a kingdom’ (see v 29). When we learn again that our own resources are not enough (v 36), God’s grace and faithfulness remain. The cross is as much for failed disciples as repentant sinners.

Why do we never learn? What are our recurring failures in discipleship? How can we draw on God’s grace for lasting transformation rather than repeated forgiveness?

Graham Cray

Bible Background: Meet Peter

Peter is one of those great, larger than life individuals.

● Prepared to leave his livelihood and follow Jesus without knowing where it would lead (Mark 1:16–18).

● Spending time with Jesus and seeing him at work.

● Ready to step out of the boat – only to find that he lacked the faith to proceed (Matthew 14:22–36).

● Having a deep insight into the nature of Jesus as the Son of God, but completely misunderstanding what that meant and being rebuked (Matthew 16:13–20).

● Refusing to have his feet washed and then demanding that all of him be washed (John 13:1–11).

● Waving swords in the garden and then finding himself unable to speak for Jesus when challenged by a housemaid (John 18:10,11,15–18,25–27).

He is a brash, impulsive, inconsistent, unreliable, perhaps insecure individual. But also determined, courageous, willing to try anything.

Desolated by his denial he went back to his fishing only to be met by Jesus on the beach to experience the gentle rebuilding and restoration (John 21:15–19).

His time with Jesus was life transforming. The scene on the beach was crucial but so was the filling with the Spirit at Pentecost. When he preached he did so with a new power and authority (Acts 2:1–41).

And yet the journey is still not over. He has to discover that the good news is for Gentiles too (Acts 10:1–48).

In his hope and his failure, his trust and his doubt, we meet someone we can identify with. The way in which Jesus forgives and restores him reassures us. Seeing him empowered by the Spirit gives us hope. 

John Grayston

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Judges 13,14

Mark 4


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Once again (Jesus, Christ)
Matt Redman
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Stuart Townend
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  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    Jesus had just spoken of His imminent death once again, and instead of the disciples feeling compassion for Him, they were consumed with promoting their own worth. This is in stark contrast with the actions of these same men after the Day of Pentecost and graphically illustrates the difference that the Holy Spirit makes in a person’s life. V32 Either the Lord made an exception for Peter and the other apostles because they were not yet “born again” or He established a precedent that there can be forgiveness and reinstatement back into the ministry after sin.

  • Angela Munday | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    HUGH & RAY - Thank you for your regular comments. I too enjoy the beauty and quiet observational skills of the owls in God’s creation. I am reading John Stott’s “Understanding the Bible” at the moment; God always provides me with the right book just when I need it most.

  • Angela Munday | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    Jesus knew everything He had read and learned about Himself in the Scriptures was true and “must have an end.” Jesus knew who he was and where the path ahead of him would lead; He hoped and prayed that he had taught his disciples well. The work of Christ Jesus continues in the lives of the followers who mirror Him......And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose. ( Romans 8:28 )

  • Stuart Philips | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    Today's reading and the commentary are very apt. The heading unfortunately is not at all biblical. We cannot save anyone. It is the Holy Spirit that moves in a person and ultimately the death and resurrection of Jesus that saves. In a way,' thinking of someone we can go and save today', is a little like trying to be the leader among disciples. Instead we need to pray in humility and gratitude to our Lord and Saviour and ask for the ability to serve those we long to see come to Christ.

  • Jack Russell | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    "Those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors." I've realised in the last 18 months that I have had experience of this with someone saying they love me unconditionally where in reality they have been trying to relieve themselves of their own guilt for misconduct they have admitted to and to make themselves look good. It was a shock to me to come to this awareness and that I had been enabling this. I had thought myself to be assertive but I had been complicit with misconduct and for me that resulted in resentment and anger initially when coming to awareness than then to hurt and disappointment. The individual was unrepentant. And I have come to a place of realising there is a difference between making a judgement and being judgemental. When Jesus said not to judge, he was saying that you will be judged by the same standard that you judge others. What he was not saying to do was to be lacking in discernment, passive and a doormat. When he talks of the one who rules serving he is talking about treating everyone with dignity and to those who have much, much is expected. I've learned that enabling someone to lord it over others is as bad as lording it over others and I have changed. I've found this has taken courage and required compassion for the person I am talking about. We are to love others as ourselves and they must be suffering in their relationships with others if they need to be in control with everyone they meet. It can't be pleasant for them and must feel lonely for them.

  • Jack Russell | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    Stuart - the heading for today has the word "serve" not "save". Perhaps you misread it?

  • Jack Russell | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    Gilvin - yes agreed with what you say about contrast and the Holy Spirit making a difference. Peter for example - it may be significant that Jesus addressed him as Simon here, him perhaps not becoming fully fledged. Yet I think it is fair to say that in their humanity, the disciples were of support to Jesus as far as they were able indicated by him saying "you are those who have stood by me in my trials" and them being rewarded with being conferred with the kingdom. I take from this that I have a responsibility to show grace just as Jesus did with anyone not filled with the Holy Sprit and not impose expectations on anyone that are too much for them to bear. Perhaps this is what Jesus was getting at with saying not to judge others?

  • Roger Hall | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    Oh dear. As is abundantly clear, serving others is not as easy as we think. I really don't think I should think of someone I judge has not committed to Jesus, then rush off and serve them! I wouldn't know what to do. Stuart, you are right. However, it's odd, we long to see people turn to The Lord. From the folk we see in the coffee shop to the person we buy the paper. The person who turns to you in fear for the grandson to the one who faces a failing liver. There's no time to worry about who is important.

  • Rebecca Huie | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    Please join me in praying for the people of Paris and the loss of a historic Christian landmark, the Notre Dame Cathedral. Please pray also for its restoration. Thank you.

  • Brian Patrick | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    I’m still puzzled by Jesus suggesting buying a sword in v 36. Any ideas ?

  • Jack Russell | Tuesday, 16 April 2019

    Brian - this is something I have used to argue the case for serving in the armed forces. It seems to me that Jesus telling the disciples if they don't have a sword to sell their cloak and buy one that the sword be used at least as a deterrent. "Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth" doesn't mean being a doormat, timid letting anyone do what they want to you and sitting that and taking it. It means being strong and capable of using a sword but under the control of the Holy Spirit with a rule of minimum force. When Jesus said to Peter to put away his sword when he was arrested, it wasn't a commandment universally. Yes those that live by the sword die by the sword but history teaches what happens when a country is left undefended. It's not clear whether he intended anyone to use their sword however if that were the case then I think it's safe to say that it would be in self defence and only if absolutely necessary.

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