Jesus made himself a model of service in Luke 14.26. He encouraged, "Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves." The Apostles in 1 Corinthians 11.26b remained leaders for there were "great ones among you." But the leader was somehow to become as those held in low esteem, as the young, and as slaves like the Jesus servant model.
The ordinary pattern of kings ruling and of their being benefactors, had something negative about it, so Jesus recommended an extraordinary change. Jesus criticized a benefactor or patron for placing a client in an inferior position, so that they would be indebted to the patron. Some interpreters saw a close relationship to John 13, where Jesus washed the disciples' feet, although the term "serve" does not appear in the Johannine account. John wrote in John 13.3-5, "Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples' feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him." Luke 12.37 in a parable about being ready for the master's coming said, "It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them." Mark 13:33-37 was closer. Slaves in Luke 12.37 waited for the master to come home, who when he found them awake, "will gird himself and have them recline at the table, and will come and wait on them." The Lukan parable of the doorkeeper astoundingly had the master serving the slaves, quite as remarkable as Jesus servant model.
Reading both Luke 12 and 22, interpreters understandably agreed that Jesus was serving others reclining at the meal. Such a symbolic action would have been astonishing in a Greco-Roman house as the wealthier the Greco-Roman house, the farther they "segregated" the kitchen and its slave staff from the dining rooms and their elite.