St Luke 22: 24 – 38 A dispute also arose among them as to which one of them was to be regarded as the greatest. But he said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one 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, just as my Father has conferred on me, a kingdom, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. ‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ And he said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death!’ Jesus said, ‘I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have denied three times that you know me.’ He said to them, ‘When I sent you out without a purse, bag, or sandals, did you lack anything?’ They said, ‘No, not a thing.’ He said to them, ‘But now, the one who has a purse must take it, and likewise a bag. And the one who has no sword must sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you, this scripture must be fulfilled in me, “And he was counted among the lawless”; and indeed what is written about me is being fulfilled.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ He replied, ‘It is enough.’
Reflection The prophecies of old are being fulfilled, reinforced by Jesus’ stark warnings to the disciples of what is to come, spelled out in evermore detail – there will be betrayal, failed attempts with swords to save Jesus, many hiding away, and Peter of all people denying him – ‘Peter, you couldn’t believe it when he told you so!’ Until Jesus, left alone to face the powers of Sin and Death, dies on the cross, the loneliest place in history. To those at that last supper, it seemed they’d reached the point of no return – it all becomes inevitable, it has to happen and it’s going to happen now.
Jesus tries so hard to prepare the disciples for what is coming, though they just can’t take it in. But they will remember when it’s all over. Hidden in locked rooms they will hear stories from the women, from Cleopas and friend, from the gossip of the city – it has all happened as foretold, and as Jesus had said it would. They do remember his words. Now, turn from your Sin, your failings – really big ones – Peter, you cowardly followers, you fickle crowds, you politicians and religious leaders and face Jesus – now the risen Christ, who calls you out of your despondency and guilt, fears and anger – for a new life with new hope and a new strength of will, as you have never known before.
Jesus calls us still, all of us, whoever we are, whatever we have been – are you ready now for this new life? Above all it is a call to deny yourself for the sake of others, serve not your wants and desires, but instead serve your sisters and brothers – this is the Kingdom of Love Jesus kept describing, and now it is real – welcome, friend! Let’s follow Him together!
Prayers Depth of mercy! Can there be mercy still reserved for me? Can my God His wrath forbear? Me, the chief of sinners, spare? There for me the Saviour stands, shows His wounds and spreads His hands: God is love! I know, I feel; Jesus weeps, but loves me still! Pity from thine eye let fall; By a look my soul recall; Now the stone to flesh convert, Cast a look and break my heart.*
*by Charles Wesley
The Rev’d Kevin Watson, retired minister, Northern Synod