The discussion of the disciples about who is greatest is hard to fathom. Matthew and Mark give us the details of a similar discussion between James and John. The other disciples are only angry toward them for their arrogance. This episode in Luke 22 must be a different encounter even though Jesus’ response is very similar. We know this episode is different because all of the disciples are involved in the discussion.
Secondly, the timing of the discussion is different. In Matthew and Mark, the discussion happens on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. In Luke, this discussion is happening on the heels of the Passover meal in the upper room. This timing of the dispute in Luke adds to the ridiculous nature of the disciples’ request. Add to this scene the detail added by John about Jesus having just washed their feet and you realize how far off the disciples were from where they should be. The great irony of this debate is that they apparently had forgotten Jesus’ stern rebuke about leadership days before as they journeyed from Jericho to Jerusalem.
Give special attention to the way that Luke presents the dispute of the disciples. In verse 23, each disciple is questioning whether he could be the one to betray Jesus. In verse 24, the disciples have started questioning whether they are the greatest. In perhaps a matter of minutes, they have moved from one extreme to the other.
Like the disciples we are most vulnerable to pride when we seek to avoid dealing seriously with any wrong in our lives. The mistake of the disciples is that they should have lingered longer over the first issue. If they had been more concerned that they could be the one who would betray, they would have been too humble to get into the second discussion.
Devotional by Steve Horn. Scripture links by www.biblegateway.com.