"The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth."The New International Version (NIV) doesn't offer much of a difference:
"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."Both of these versions and many others tow the same line regarding Jesus' statements - with the same sectarian principals they and their institutions have been pushing. They assume that Jesus is a sectarian racist - that he would comment about "Gentiles" and their "kings."
They use the word "Gentiles" because this word describes people of another race and nationality, notably as separate from the Israelites.
So was Jesus a racist? Certainly not. He understood that each and every one of us - regardless of what type of body we are wearing, are children of the Supreme Being. He confirmed this when he said (NIV):
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. (Matt. 6:25)
"Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul." (Matt. 10:28)Even from NIV, these clear teachings and many others confirm that Jesus did not see the person as the body. Each of us is wearing a physical body just as one might wear clothing. Each of us is a soul - the spirit-person within.
To assume that Jesus would denegrade the Gentiles - as a race of non-Jewish people outside of Israel - is to simply not know Jesus nor his teachings.
Rather, the Greek word ἔθνος (ethnos) refers to, according to the lexicon, "a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together - a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus" and its Biblical usage, "not worshipping the true God, pagans." In other words, Jesus is speaking of people who are not focused upon the Supreme Being. They are focused upon matter. Jesus is referring to materialists.
In other words, Jesus wasn't concerned about race. He accepted people of any race. He was only concerned about whether they were focused upon God. Those who are focused upon themselves and their material desires were considered otherwise.
This understanding also explains Jesus' use of the Greek word βασιλεῖς - which refers to a ruler or leader. Jesus is not speaking of kings of a particular nation or country here - he is speaking of those who lead others astry. Those who pretend to be leaders or spiritual guides but are deceiving people. Those who are simply cheating people.
Like the well-known "self-help gurus" today who are esteemed by so many ("dignitaries") and travel around holding seminars, teaching others that we can be happy in the material world if we just love ourselves. Or they teach we can be happy if we just make a few emotional adjustments. Or that if we can figure out how to win at something - and think of ourselves as "winners" - then we'll be happy.
Sorry - but loving ourselves, or making a few emotional adjustments, or thinking of ourselves as a "winner" won't make us happy.
The only thing that will make us happy is to return to our loving relationship with the Supreme Being. This is Jesus' teaching, and the only teaching that will make us happy.
It is like finding a fish flopping on the beach and trying to comfort the fish by offering it a beach towel or some food. None of these will help. The fish needs to return to the water. That's why it's flopping around.
We are each fish out of water. The water is our loving relationship with God. And we have lost that relationship. Returning to this relationship is the only way we will become happy.
This is why we are running around chasing happiness and only finding emptiness. This is why we spend our lives searching for love - and a soul mate.
We are seeking our innate relationship with the Supreme Being. He is the Soul Mate we have been searching for.
But those who take positions of leadership and try to guide people by telling them that materialism will make them happy - or to love themselves, or make a few emotional adjustments and they'll be happy - are cheating people. This is who Jesus is referring to when he says, "The leaders of the materialists lord it over them and those who have authority over them are called dignitaries. But this is not the path for you."
Why is Jesus saying this anyway? Jesus is saying this in response to an argument that broke out among his disciples:
Then an argument arose between them about which one of them should be considered the greatest. (Luke 22:24)This concept of being "the greatest" is actually the disease that landed us in the material world, away from the Supreme Being. Our desire to be "the greatest" - is actually envy of the Supreme Being. It is our reason for falling to the material world from the spiritual realm. This is also made clear in the Book of Genesis.
This is also why Jesus is making this point in response. He states:
"For you, one who is greatest among you must become like the newcomer, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater: One who sits at the table or one who serves? It isn’t the one who sits at the table. Indeed, I am among you as one who serves."Jesus is seeing himself as servant, not as some kind of king or leader. This is an essential part of knowing who Jesus is. Those who worship Jesus as God must carefully read this statement by Jesus. It is clear even in those versions translated by those who don't know Jesus. They still quote Jesus as saying that he is the servant.
But who is Jesus serving?
Jesus is God's servant, and because he is serving God by teaching people, he is also serving humanity.
The fact that Jesus is God's servant is made clear by Jesus in so many other statements, such as (all NIV):
"For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me." (John 6:38)
"The One who sent me is with me; He has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases Him.” (John 8:29)
"For I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me to say all that I have spoken." (John 12:49)
“Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)It is clear from these and many other statements by Jesus that he considers himself God's servant. Why?
Love. Consider the statement in John 8:29 above. Jesus says, "I always do what pleases Him." What is going on when a person says that?
A person who "always" does what pleases another person is someone who is in love with that person.
Yes, Jesus is in love with God. He loves God with all his heart. So Jesus wants to please God. This is what someone does when they love someone else: They want to please the one they love.
This is the key to coming to know who Jesus is. Jesus is God's perfect lover. And Jesus' most important teaching was requesting that each of us also come to love the Supreme Being:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)