Here we are, the day before the crucifixion, the day before Jesus was cruelly beaten and then nailed to the cross. Completely innocent of all charges but it was never about the charges and always about the Father's plan. Jesus' death was not a mistake but the plan since before the beginning of time. Unfortunately Jesus' disciples could not imagine what was about to happen and so missed all the foreshadowing Jesus gave them.
Now imagine that you are about to face a time of cruel torture. You know what is about to happen and you know it is not your fault but you are still going to be facing the hardest moment of your life. And while you are preparing yourself and your friends for what you are about to go through, your friends start fighting over something insignificant. Not only is it insignificant but it goes against what your life has stood for. They just don't know you at all. I wonder if that is how Jesus felt.
Here Jesus was, preparing his last meal, stealing himself for the onslaught that will take place in a few hours, and his disciples start arguing about who of them is the greatest. The argument arose when Jesus revealed that one of them would betray him. I can see how that could happen to these pre-Spirit-filled disciples.Each would be defending themselves from the thought it could me one of them which would lead to "I love him more than you" which would lead to "I am greater than you, look at all I have done." Jesus must have lost his appetite.
In his typical nature, Jesus gently corrected his disciples and reminded them what he had been teaching and demonstrating from the beginning. It is a lesson we would do well to learn and apply to our own service to the King:
Foreign kings order their people around, and powerful rulers call themselves everyone’s friends. But don’t be like them. The most important one of you should be like the least important, and your leader should be like a servant. (Luke 22:25-26, CEV)
We hear far too much about leadership these days. All people seem interested in is developing leaders and everyone wants to be a leader, but what we need to be doing is developing servants. "Don't be like them" is what Jesus says but we run after classes and courses that are based on best business practices in leadership development,from the world. Crazy. The only example we should be learning from is Jesus.
I have met too many pastors who act like world based leaders. They are powerful, professional, intelligent and run a well organized church. Their church is run like a well oiled organization or small business. But they act like the church owes them something, like a CEO expecting good bonuses for his hard work. Yes, they work hard but no one owes us anything, at least not in the sense the pastors think. God says that people need to take care of those who minister to them but it is a completely different sense than what these pastors were thinking.
Ministers of the gospel are servants and their purpose is to live and die for their sheep. They sacrifice in the same way Jesus did, where there is nothing held back and everything that is given is poured out. It is not a life of ease or popular vote. Pastors have to teach just as Jesus did, whether people like it or not. They have to deal with the tough stuff and if it costs them their lives to bring the truth then so be it.
Pastors are not managers. They do not manage finances, buildings or people. Pastors are servants who minister the Word of God, operating through the Spirit of God, to bring good food to God's children, to be wise in God's will and to plead for the lost to turn to Jesus. Unfortunately too many of us still have the mentality of the early disciples and try to be the "greatest" in the Kingdom. Jesus is not interested in how big the church is we "manage" but instead looks to our faithfulness in our service, regardless of where he has placed us to serve.
We who are pastors have a great responsibility to sacrifice everything to share with everyone everything we have been given by the Spirit. It is wrong for us to measure success in offering amounts, size of our building or the numbers in our congregation. The number of books we have written, the time spent on speaking tours amounts to nothing compared to setting it all aside to sacrifice all we have achieved to bring Jesus to those who need him at that moment. We are servants here, not lords. We are servants, not kings. We are willing to be abused in order to have one opportunity to help someone with Jesus.
As we consider the cross and what it cost Jesus, let's consider whether our attitude and service are pleasing to him. After all, it isn't about us and all about our King.