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Surprised by True Greatness - Understanding Servant Leadership

by Stephen Davey

Introduction: Redefining Greatness in the Shadow of the Cross

In our modern world, the concept of greatness is often tied to power, wealth, and influence. But in Luke 22:24-30, Jesus redefines greatness in a way that might surprise many of us. Despite spending over three years with Jesus, witnessing His miracles, and hearing His teachings, the disciples still misunderstood true greatness. They were caught up in their own ambitions, even as they gathered for the Last Supper. Let's explore how Jesus turned their understanding—and ours—upside down.

The Disciples’ Misguided Ambition

Imagine being in the upper room with Jesus, expecting a moment of deep spiritual connection, only to find the disciples arguing over who among them was the greatest. Luke records this embarrassing moment in chapter 22, verse 24: "A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest." This dispute reveals their misunderstanding of what it means to be truly great.

Jesus’ Lesson on Servant Leadership

Instead of reprimanding them harshly, Jesus used this opportunity to teach a profound lesson. He highlighted the contrast between worldly greatness and divine greatness. In verses 25-27, He said, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves."

To illustrate this, Jesus performed a shocking act of humility. According to John’s Gospel, He got up from the meal, wrapped a towel around His waist, and began to wash His disciples' feet. This was a task reserved for the lowest servant, yet Jesus, the Son of God, took it upon Himself to demonstrate what true greatness looks like.

Humility and Service: True Marks of Greatness

Jesus’ actions were a stunning example of humility and service. In washing their feet, He not only demonstrated His love and humility but also set a standard for His followers. Serving others is the true mark of greatness in God’s kingdom. This act of washing feet can be seen today in various forms—whether it’s a parent caring for their family, an employee taking on an unpopular task, or a volunteer serving quietly in the church.

The Shocking Grace of Jesus

What stands out most is Jesus’ response to the disciples' argument. Instead of disqualifying them, He commended their faithfulness despite their flaws. He promised them a future in His kingdom, saying, "You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom" (Luke 22:28-29). This shocking grace reminds us that Jesus sees our faithfulness, even when we fall short.

Conclusion: Embracing True Greatness

The lesson from Luke 22:24-30 is clear: greatness in God’s eyes is not about being served but about serving others. Jesus’ example calls us to humble ourselves and serve those around us. As we follow His lead, we embrace a greatness that will be rewarded beyond measure in His coming kingdom.

CLICK HERE to watch, listen, or read Stephen's sermon from this passage in Luke.

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