"An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest" (Luke 9:46, NIV).

It's scary to realize that a dozen men could be in the company of Jesus day after day, listen to his teaching and watch his ways, and yet not get it. Get what? That Jesus lived by a different politic: servanthood.

His slogan? "The Son of man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Matthew 20:28).

The followers of the Lord grew up in a culture that understood only one politic: power. The power of kings and armies—brute force. The power of the religious community was, shall we say, sacramental (the claimed ability to affirm or deny eternal life). The power of family, village, and tribal tradition nailed people to a mindless conformity to life's ways.

These various concepts of power were hardwired into the souls of the disciples. They were sensitized to locating the source of power and submitting to it. They were used to exercising power if they ...

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