We saw last time that Jesus promised Peter a reward of authority in the next life as a result of the sacrificial choices that he and the other disciples made as they followed Jesus here on Earth. A cursory look through the gospel accounts reveals that the disciples frequently talked about their part in eternity future…however, most of the time they ended up arguing about who would be the greatest in Christ’s kingdom.
The argument about it even came up again, of all times, during the Last Supper. Jesus even had to step in and correct their focus:
Then a dispute also arose among them about who should be considered the greatest. But He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who have authority over them have themselves called ‘Benefactors.’ It is not to be like that among you. On the contrary, whoever is greatest among you should become like the youngest, and whoever leads, like the one serving. For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”
Once again, Jesus did not rebuke them for discussing – or even arguing about – levels of authority in His future kingdom. Since He didn’t even address that part of their discussion, Jesus confirmed that the subject matter they were discussing was, in fact, a reality: there will be varying rewards and levels of authority in Christ’s kingdom!
Instead, Jesus corrected their assumption that those who are high up on the food chain now will also be the ones who later obtain the higher authority in Christ’s kingdom.
Jesus was quite clear when he pointed to Himself as the example. If anyone had the right to claim greatness on earth, Jesus did above all others. However, what He chose to do with His authority did not match the disciples’ expectation. Jesus’ rightful seat was at the head of every table; however, He chose to be among you as one who serves.
To make sure the disciples understood this change in perspective, He continued:
You are those who stood by Me in My trials. I bestow on you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one on Me, so that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom. And you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Standing with Christ in His trials proves that they have understood the importance of imitating Christ’s choice of service enough to make serving others their priority over everything else. The reward for this choice is clearly greater than any authority they could lord over others in this life.
And as John tells us in Revelation, we have the opportunity to make the same choice as the disciples:
…The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His servants will worship Him…and they will reign forever and ever.
Serve now, rule later…as Servant Kings.