Upending Power

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 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. 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. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
- Luke 22:24-30

It’s not just kings and politicians who “lord it over people” - it’s every single one of us. Jesus sees power very differently than the rest of us. We love to feel important, we love to feel in control, we love to feel better than others, we love to feel safe, we love to feel successful - and these feelings can so easily lead us down a path of consolidating and leveraging power for ourselves alone.

When Jesus says, “But I am among you as one who serves,” he’s reminding us that his entire life on earth was an exercise of service. Almighty God taking on flesh and blood, being born in a sheep barn, and living as a peasant with no running water or electricity, no fair representation and no civil rights! All because he loved us, wanted to be with us, and wanted us to be with him in this life and the next. That’s how he sees power - something to be surrendered to serve.

Ask Jesus for that perspective on power today - not just to think about it differently, but to act differently this very day.