This week’s Biblical teaching will be part 2 of Luke chapter 22

Who Is the Greatest? There Is No Such Thing

As Far As Christ Is Concerned

[Luke chapter 22, verses 20-38]

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gone astray
Last week when we left off at verse 19, Jesus and the Twelve were seated at the Last Supper as they celebrated Passover together. Today as we take up where we left off, Christ celebrates the occasion with the breaking of bread and the consumption of a single cup of wine that was symbolically passed around between them. This little ceremony Jesus performed with the Twelve has enormous significance, as we will soon see. So let me skip over any further commentary for now so we can get right into this, beginning at verse 20.

β€œIn the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.’ They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the 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 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 any table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’” (Luke 22, verses 20-30)

β€œThis cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” There is an entire Sunday morning sermon in that one solitary sentence! Those who have studied the Old Testament understand the meaning of these words. Those who have not yet done so should refer to Leviticus chapters 1-7. This passage of the Law, as it was called in those days, specifies the various kinds of offerings and sacrifices that were to be made for their respective categories of sin. You will notice right away that the shedding of blood through the sacrifice of various kinds of animals was specified as payment for our sins. So if you’re an animal rights activist, and I see nothing wrong with that, you may get offended by some of what you read there. But try to understand that these things took place well over 3,000 years ago, when the world was a completely different place than it is today. But in the above sentence, Jesus puts an end to all that shedding of blood. He raised a toast to β€œthe new covenant in my blood.” No more would there be the shedding of any blood as an atonement for sin. From then on, Jesus would soon shed his blood only once for the forgiveness of the numerous sins of humankind. His blood would indeed be β€œpoured out” on the cross of his crucifixion, as we will soon see.

β€œThe Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.’ They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles Lord it over them, and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.” So we can clearly see here that the Last Supper at one point descended into a petty argument among the Twelve as to which of them would betray Christ. From there the conversation among them evidently sunk to an even lower level when the apostles began arguing about who would be the greatest among them for posterity’s sake. I can imagine Jesus patiently waiting for the apostles to finish their petty bickering, until he sinks their ship with this verbal torpedo: β€œThe 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.” There it is in black and white, my dear readers, in the words of Christ himself. Hierarchy is man’s way of running things, but with Jesus we all become peers. Granted, Jesus is still the Son of God, and no one can change my view about this – it’s non-negotiable when it comes to my faith. Under Christ and with Christ, we all become peers and equals. Human equality is scriptural!

Jesus then goes on: β€œFor who is greater, the one 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.” So Jesus queries the Twelve, saying, ‘Under your system, the one who is served is the greatest. But from now on, follow my example and be a people of service to one another.’ See how differently Jesus does things? Notice the stark contrast between our hierarchical authority and the kingdom of God, where all serve eagerly and equally? You know, as I was reading this again, it occurred to me that we would all save a whole lot of time and trouble if we stopped bickering about who’s going to run things and just get the job done as a dedicated group of peers. ‘Follow my example’ is precisely what Jesus was saying to them. β€œYou 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 any table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” This was the equivalent of Jesus’ last will and testament before his impending execution. This is going to be the payoff for the Twelve, as well as for all who follow Jesus and obey his commandments to the best of their abilities. All of us will be bestowed positions of royalty, yet we will be on equal footing. And now let’s tackle part 2 of this week’s study, beginning at verse 31.

β€œ‘Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.’ But he replied, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.’ Then Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?’ ‘Nothing’, they answered. He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. It is written, ‘He was numbered with the transgressors’, and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me must reach its fulfillment.’ The disciples said, ‘See Lord, here are two swords.’ ‘That is enough’, he replied.” (Luke 22, verses 30-38)

Simon, whose nickname was ‘Peter’, was a target of Satan because he was a kind of leader over the apostles, though he had no such official function as such. We find similar circumstances in the Book of Job, chapter 1, verses 6-12 where Satan asks the Lord if he may torment Job. God said to the Devil, ‘You may harm him but do not kill him.’ Something very similar was happening with the apostle Peter as the Lord was making him aware of what had transpired. He was also telling Peter that God was already with him, but that Peter would disown Jesus 3 times before the following sunrise. β€œAnd when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers,” Jesus said. That was a command given directly to Peter in the presence of all the remaining apostles. It was a command that Peter would carry out from the time of Christ’s resurrection going forward. We would all do well to emulate Peter in this regard in our own special, unique ways as the Lord enables us.

β€œWhen I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?’ ‘Nothing’, they answered. He said to them, ‘But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.’” Jesus was telling them – but not in so many words – to ‘armor up’ and to ‘man their battle stations’, because confrontation was coming in two ways. The first would be in just a few hours on the Mount of Olives when the authorities would come and arrest Jesus. The second would be in the form of persecution of the early Church starting in the near future. It was also a prophecy about the End Times in which we live. Extremely hard times are coming over the horizon, and they will arrive quickly, so we should all be preparing ourselves accordingly. Buy extra food, extra clothes, a couple or maybe 3 weapons at the most, and don’t forget ammo while you’re at it. This is to protect yourselves against predators of the 2-legged variety, some of whom may be in uniforms of one kind or another. Remember, these people will be the abusive authoritarians Jesus warned us about.

β€œIt is written, ‘He was numbered with the transgressors’, and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me must reach its fulfillment.” Jesus was quoting Isaiah 53 verse 12 when he made that statement, and it had to be fulfilled because it was written in Scripture, and the scriptures and the Word of God comprise the very meaning of Truth. But more than that, this was Jesus’ destiny, to be the Lord and Savior of humankind and the Kinsman Redeemer of us all! Moreover, had Christ not voluntarily gone through with this very thing – suffering and dying on a cross before being raised up on the morning of the third day – not a single one of us could have been saved, and the β€œnew covenant” Christ spoke of at the Last Supper would never have happened. But instead we have the salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ so we can return home to him when our bodies wear out and die. This good news, this most excellent news flash from Jesus himself, is why people like me choose to dedicate our lives to His Majesty Jesus Christ, and I will never stop serving him until I draw my last breath. You would all be wise to do the same. And next week we’ll move on to part 3 of 4 as we continue this ongoing Bible study series. Shalom!

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