The full lectionary reading from the gospels is almost all of Luke 22 AND 23. It makes for an awesome read as we prepare for Palm Sunday to kickoff Holy Week, but one section really caught my eye. The account of the dispute among the disciples about who is the greatest fascinates me, especially this time of year. There are two major sporting events happening right now. The bigger one is March Madness, the annual tournament for college basketball. There is a selection committee that picks out the teams to compete. This group certainly mirrors the disciples, but ultimately those teams actually compete to find the champion. The other major, over-hyped (which I continue to follow) sports news is the up-coming National Football League draft. I think the disciples would have loved the NFL draft. It is all about speculation based on partial knowledge about ability and translate-ability. And while the draftees do compete, ultimately there is not a pairing off like in March Madness where you can see the number one team play the number four team. We never get to see the second draft pick face-off directly against the fifteenth draft pick. Even looking at the draft in hindsight isn’t all that helpful. Would player X really have been a bust in system Y? Jesus points out that the disciples are acting like everyone else, obsessed with position and status. He says the disciples need to give up their first round draft status to become undrafted free agents. He also shares with them that it will not be easy. In the first half of verse 27, Jesus acknowledges the difficulty of giving up power and authority, but then in the second half he offers them the answer to the dilemma. It’s kind of like the children’s sermon at Church. If you just say Jesus, you are on the right track. Jesus’s own life provides the example for them to follow when the distractions and trappings of power of the world creep in. If God can take the form of humanity and live as an itinerant preacher, teacher, and healer, why can’t they?
Jesus then offers them true power and authority, the chance to share the table with him in the Kingdom. But what table does Jesus eat and drink at in the gospels? Many different ones: the tables of pharisees and tax collectors, sinners and saints, friends and enemies. Sharing the table with Jesus is not always easy. The invitation to follow Jesus can be more troubling than we first expect, but the example has been laid down for us.
Are you ready to give up position and status in this world to share the table with Jesus? To change your first round draft status for undrafted, so that you might find yourself sitting on a throne with the King?