Jesus predicts his betrayal
21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!”
23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
24 A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. 25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 26 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. 27 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. 28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials.
29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, 30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Observations & Reflections
This short passage in Luke has two events happening. Jesus is letting his betrayer know that he is in serious trouble. I am sure that when Jesus announced his betrayal , Judas’ heart stop still. How could Jesus know? Did someone tell him? Will he call me out among the others?
It seems a bit odd that Judas saw Jesus perform miracles and yet Judas never thought to himself that Jesus would find him out. Did Judas believe that Jesus’ miracles were a sham? Either way, it was Judas’ last chance to come clean and he failed. As such, his fate was sealed.
After Judas was put on blast, a dispute broke out among the disciples about who would be the greatest in the new kingdom (still assuming that Jesus would soon usher in the new kingdom). However, Jesus does not issue a strong rebuke. Rather, he uses it as a learning experience and teaches the disciples that the greatest is the one who serves not the one who gets served. This is, perhaps, another indication that the disciples never really did mature yet.
Jesus also says something rather strange. He tells them that the 12 disciples would be sitting at Jesus’ table judging the 12 tribes of Israel. This small mention of the kingdom rule is possibly hinting at Jewish tradition that comes from the Wisdom of Solomon. In a passage about those who are righteous it is said,
They will govern nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord will reign over them forever.
(Wisdom of Solomon 3:8)
While this mode of thinking seems to be abnormal for Luke, it’s possible that he views the final kingdom as Paul did, with Jews and Gentiles merged (grafted). Paul preached a similar theme of Gentile Christians,
Or do you not know that the Lord’s people will judge the world? And if you are to judge the world, are you not competent to judge trivial cases? (1 Corinthians 6:2)
Whether or not there is a division implied in Luke’s gospel, it is fair to say that all Christians (Gentile & Jewish) will have righteous leaders even in the new kingdom. Those leaders will be chosen from among the followers of Jesus who are (as Jesus was) the servants, not the ones being served.