In Luke, Chapter 22, Jesus sits down to have a Passover meal with his disciples. Starting at the top of verse 24, Jesus immediately begins to interject into an argument between the disciples over who is the most faithful. Jesus, rather, intercedes to say:
“The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over others like to be called, ‘friends of the people’. But you must not be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the leader should be like the servant.” (Luke 22:26)
This is an important moment for Jesus’ disciples on a personal level, because at this point in time, they all would have lived through one of the most difficult times in Israel’s recent history. They would have seen various rebellions waged against the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, none of which were successful and all of which provoked Rome unnecessarily. Jesus had seen the Roman occupation for what it was, an inconvenient change of circumstance that only affected the political structure of Jerusalem.
Jesus believed that matters on one’s own internal spirit were where the importance was, and so his statement to the disciples is more than just a generalization regarding their attitude as his followers. It’s a personal rebuke of the mindset most Jews would have lived in, especially from the poor, hard-working classes of people from whence many of his disciples came from. For the people at the bottom of the totem pole, Jesus knew, it mattered not who was at the top. His disciples, and most of us at large, are yet to truly understand that as well as Jesus did.