to minister, do service
A Clever Verse for Context
There they gave a dinner for [Jesus]. Martha served (διακονέω), and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him (John 12:2)
Martha of Bethany, sister of Mary and Lazarus, is a reappearing character in the gospels of both John and Luke. We first meet her in John when she chews Jesus out for letting her brother die before reaffirming her faith even in the face of her brother’s death (John 11:21-24). Many of us are more familiar with the Lukan story of Martha busying herself with household chores while her sister Mary sits and Jesus’ feet (Luke:38-41). With that story in mind, it is hardly a surprise to find Martha once again serving (διακονέω) Jesus and his companions in John 12. Typical Martha, and yet.
In the early church such serving was not only a matter of food prepared and dishes washed, but ministry and leadership (1 Timothy 3:8). Indeed Jesus himself will take on Martha’s role at his farewell dinner in the chapters to follow. Martha’s serving is a form of discipleship and devotion, ministry indeed.
Plato’s Laws puts forth that the leaders of the land should not require servants or slaves but act as their own ministers (διακονέω) and masters (Laws 6.763a).
Clever Questions for Further Reflection
What are some examples of leading through serving others?
Who are examples of leaders who have led in this way?
What are the challenges of leading through serving?
A Clever Prayer to Close
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
where there is hatred let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
-St. Francis of Assisi