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Mutual Submission and the Eternal Feast

I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” ~ Jesus of Nazareth.

What startling words from our Lord! Jesus invites us to receive from him what the rulers of this age have desired throughout history: divine sanction, feasting in the hall of greatness, and the authority to sit in judgment. For those attracted to power, here at last is ultimate power. For those attracted to influence, here at last is the opportunity to produce lasting change. As followers of Jesus we can attain what kings and queens have long sought: true power, complete authority, and a place of lasting honor.

Imagine sitting in a banquet hall where every word, every gesture, every intention is reinforced with the authority of heaven. Politicians, generals, royalty, and despots should line up to curry favor with the King of kings. Every dreamer who envisions a better world should befriend the giver of true power. Artists who dare to hope that paintings, music or dance could capture the hearts of humanity should press in to this Kingdom table. Yet so few of them--so few of us--yearn for this feast. Why?

This majestic offer from Jesus comes at the end of a longer conversation, held on a remarkable evening: that night when the King of Glory was betrayed into the hands of men and led away to his death:

When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God . . . Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22: 14-16 and 24-30)

On the night when Jesus gave us bread and wine, he taught (and showed) the meaning of mutual submission, and the secret to power—the kind of power built to last not for re-election, nor even a dynasty, but beyond the reach of time.

Why does the world equate submission with domination? Because the rulers of this age force others into submission: men over women, rich over poor, the learned over the ignorant.

More important for us: why does the church quarrel over leadership and church rules and gender roles in church structure? Is it because our standards for leadership are drawn from a source other than the Master’s? Women demand their place at the ecclesial table and fight for their rights; men appeal to a self-serving interpretation of holy scripture, insisting that God’s way look exactly like the world’s way through the ages. While claiming to be Benefactors, we actually reinforce the values of another kingdom, the dying kingdom.

And yet we have an example. The message is not theoretical or sociological. It is personal. It is addressed to each student of Jesus. Not a political model. Not a system of laws. Not method to be employed. We have a Person, One who submitted himself to others in order to liberate everyone. No one was more aware of the sin and limitations of mere men, yet Jesus stooped to serve them. No one is more aware of the frailty of those who lead God’s people than God himself, yet he placed his church in the hands of such people. His way is not political, nor ecclesial, nor economic. His way is the way of the basin and towel. His is the way of mutual submission so that everyone can find freedom. Perhaps this is why His servant, Paul, said, “Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ.”

The only true authority is the authority of compassion: the ability to suffer with others in a manner that shows the way to freedom. We are afraid of joyful, loving, mutual submission because we have not captured a vision of the Eternal Feast.

Reader Comments (3)

"We are afraid of joyful, loving, mutual submission because we have not captured a vision of the Eternal Feast."

So true, Ray, and well written. In addition to what you express here, I wonder if we are missing a sense of God's great and loving passion for us, his people, his Bride. Reading through Song of Songs a few times has opened my own eyes to that...a little...as much as I can absorb at this time, anyway!

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMarcia Janson

Spot on, Marcia. Of course, reading Song of Songs is "dangerous" because people become convinced God loves them passionately! And knowing the love of God allows us to stoop low on behalf of others. Peace to you!

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRay Hollenbach

Oh Ray, you can get in trouble with the "authorities" if you keep meditating in all honesty. You might even get some heretical responses from the likes of me. I am not empowered to be an authority but I am empowered to serve in all honesty. It was those empowered to administrate the Passover who judged and crucified the first born of God and Man, the Lamb.

Today, we have splintering of churches over how our one in heart and mind God demands we must perform the sacraments, so that we gain His utmost favor. I loved most the office of Deacon for my sole (soul) purpose was as designated servant. I loved the power given to me by the church as an Elder when I could defend the servants with the heart of Jesus from excommunication from His congregation. As you have probably guessed I am no longer an official within the organized and authorized by Man Christian church. Because of so many misinterpretations of the Bible, clearly because only one of the many could be true, I am no longer a student of the Bible. I do use the Bible for reference but I, also, equally use all other reference material graced me by God and explained, as I am ready, by the Holy Spirit in my heart and mind. I was drawn to your blog because you had the audacity to (in lower case, yet) publish under what I am, a student of Jesus.

I have been fortunate enough in a long mortal life to minister in the name of God only because I knew I cannot be the authority. There is enough higher education still available to me that I am promised it will take an eternity to graduate. That is wonderful to me for I have had enough schools where I graduated at the top of my class (some at the bottom) to be certain joy is in the relationship of journey and the destination is fleeting and anticlimactic.

The most dramatic and clear by results ministry I have been called to was in prison ministries, particularly Folsom prison, California in seventies. My growth in sharing Jesus was huge relative to any other field of service. I learned to share in many ways openly and honestly and only departed from direct support from God once, to my shame. What worked the most to introduce the reality and value system of Jesus was what my church at the time could not condone. When given the opportunity I shared with guards and inmates that they did not need me, my church or even the Bible to become true disciples of Jesus Christ. They simply had to get by themselves and honestly beseech God to make himself known to them, in whatever language and vocabulary they were comfortable with. I watched men become freer within those walls than they ever had been outside. I watched men change from intimidation and manipulation to empathetic love and grace. I much more fully understood my own relationship with God and became freer inside the walls of church hierarchy in the administration of rituals, traditions and regulations than I had ever been before.

I would participate in your church if I were welcome. I don't participate in any church today though I remain open to the call. I minister and am ministered to everyday. I am in constant prayer without any restriction from relating to every moment of each day. I do not feel any requirement to honor any theology, rituals or traditions established by any organization serving themselves in the name of God. I do, however, feel bound to empathize with all of mankind for I am one equal in love with each and every one. I will honor the theologies, sacraments, rituals and traditions when they do not crucify falsely in the name of God. I do not hate those who wield power in their organization because I really believe they know not what they do.

Jesus served as the King. I am in awe because I know how ignorant and stupid I am and in most cases I don't even know how to correctly minister to and serve the "out of work veteran" on my street corner ... not without His help and guidance.

I don't give a damn about Heaven or Hell for the fullness of each is way beyond my ability to conceive. I care most for experiencing true and honest relationships that promote life to its fullest for all who accept (submit). I testify after exhaustive testing that in my heart and mind Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit and our Father in Heaven are very real and the only one source for experiencing true and honest relationships.

I agree whole heartily, "The only true authority is the authority of compassion: the ability to suffer with others in a manner that shows the way to freedom."

September 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHerm Halbach

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