More Sayings of Jesus
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from ploughing or tending sheep in the field, “Come here at once and take your place at the table”? Would you not rather say to him, “Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink”? Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!” ’
Today’s reading follows straight on from yesterday’s verses from the 17th chapter of Luke’s gospel. Taken by themselves these verses can leave us feeling confused and wondering what Jesus was trying to say. As in the first six verses of Luke chapter 17, the themes upon which we should be reflecting are forgiveness, faith and obedience. The small collection of Jesus’ sayings that Luke has gathered into these few verses all point towards the same thing … the humility that must be learnt by true disciples of Christ, by true Christians. That humility needs to be rooted in our ability to forgive others, to demonstrate our faith in God by allowing him to lead us through every moment of every day, and to a degree of servitude that reflects the obedience demonstrated by Our Lord, an obedience that shows we acknowledge that we are called to a life of service and not mastery.
Too often we fail to see ourselves in the role of the servant (or ‘slave’). We demonstrate a lamentable lack of humility as we push ourselves to the front of the queue. We consider it our right to be waited upon, rather than to fulfil the role of the one waiting upon others. This lack of humility is anathema to the teachings of Jesus Christ, the one who would, as his life on earth was drawing to a close, get down upon his knees and wash the feet of his disciples.
The life of Christian service, the life to which we are all called, will never seem attractive to those who struggle with the concept of humility. For such people life is a matter of ‘balancing the books’, of tit-for-tat, of receiving just as much, if not more, than one gives. But, as we do our best to serve God, we should never fall into the trap of believing that God is indebted to us. Such an attitude ignores all that God has already done for us, all that God continues to do for us.
As we are reminded in the third chapter of John’s Gospel: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. God has already poured himself out for us, completely and unconditionally. It is now our turn to love and serve him as we forgive and obey, as we love and serve, as we strive to find that small speck of faith that will empower us to change the world to the glory of God, and to change it in humility, thankfulness and praise.