One of the things I like to do from time to time on this blog is simply reflect on the portions of Scripture I’ve been meditating on. This morning I was reading Luke 22:24-32, where Jesus is trying to have an important final dinner with his disciples before his crucifixion, but his disciples are busy arguing about “which among them was considered to be the greatest.”
Jesus first describes how “the kings of the Gentiles” rule. They “lord it over them” and consider themselves Benefactors; they want to be in charge, tell people what to do, and have everyone fawn over their graciousness and generosity. In other words, their ambition is to be thought of as “great.” Jesus pretty firmly contrasts this with how his disciples are supposed to act: “You are not to be like that” are his exact words. Instead the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. Radical, counter-cultural stuff the church has yet to practice consistently.
However, what caught my attention this morning was that immediately after this, Jesus warns Simon Peter that Satan had asked to sift them all like wheat. Mentally I’ve never put these two texts together, but they are really part of the same passage that began with the dispute about who was the greatest. In other words, Jesus isn’t giving Simon an isolated warning about something unrelated to the situation at hand. In fact, the opposite is true: the fact that they were about to be sifted like wheat had everything to do with their undisciplined ambitions to be “the greatest.”