The Book of Luke, Jesus' Last Words of Instruction to the Disciples - Lesson 229
We are studying the events that took place in the upper room where Jesus and his disciples have gathered to partake of his last supper.
It is in celebration of the Passover which was part of the old covenant and it is here that Jesus institute an ordinance of the new covenant, the ordinance of communion.
Luke 22:24-30, And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. 25And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26But 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. 27For 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. 28Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
As far as the Gospel of Luke is concerned these are the last words of instruction Jesus gave to His disciples.
The instructions given are of great importance to his disciples as well as to all who desire to follow Christ for they are instructions which will never come from the world.
The world tells us that the strong will inherit the earth while Jesus tells us that it will be those that are meek who will rule the earth.
The world tells us to get all we can get for we only go around once in this life but Jesus tells us that you must lose your life to gain it.
The world tells us to accumulate and gather unto ourselves all that can be amassed, but Jesus tells us to acquire wealth by giving it away.
We learn quickly that Godís ways are not naturally our ways and that if we are to do things Godís ways we must yield ourselves to Him that He might do His work in us and in His way.
Jesusí way of doing things is very often the opposite of the way we would think things should be done.
Men and women of the world are naturally driven by personal ambition.
This drive is encouraged from birth.
It is indeed a dog eat dog world that we live in, for we all naturally seek after our own interests as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians.
We can easily see this destructive spirit of competition in our sports arenas and even see it in childlike games of Tee Ball where children are supposed to have fun but that fun is many times ruined by parental competition and the ambition of coaches and managers to make a name for themselves.
The Corinthian church was rebuked by Paul for that competitive spirit but Paul would today still find churches where power struggles, ambition, and self-seeking are rampant.
This instruction of Christ to his disciples addresses this problem but it takes a humble spirit in order for this instruction to take hold.
Jesus has gathered with His disciples to observe the Passover meal.
At the meal table, Jesus has much to teach the disciples, for this is His last opportunity to speak to them before He is separated by His arrest, trial, and crucifixion.
It seems to be sometime during the meal that the argument broke out among the disciples, an argument which provides our Lord with an opportunity for further instruction and admonition.
Verse 24, And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
The washing of the disciples feet by our Lord was an important part of that which took place at the last supper.
We do not know at what point that foot washing took place but we do know that their feet were not washed by a servant before they entered the room, for if so there would be no reason for Jesus to do so.
But it would seem logical to assume that the strife which arose as to who would be the greatest among them took place before the foot washing which certainly would have quelled such ambition.
When entering the upper room there may have even been a competition to find the best seats at the Passover supper and this may have been the catalyst which caused this strife.
Perhaps the disciples argued because those who thought themselves to be the greatest lost out in the race for the chief seats.
If this were the case, then Jesusí washing of the disciplesí feet was timely and a needed lesson and came about because of the strife.
How civil and polite this debate was I do not know.
But scripture tells us that several of these men were quite volatile.
James and John were known as the "sons of thunder."
These fellows were the kind who could have come to blows over such matters, at least before they met the Lord.
Peter also was not a shrinking violet and Iím sure made known His views.
They all had done mighty exploits on behalf and in the power of the Lord and in this, some of them, Iím sure also had a sub following for they had brought healings and cures and miracles to many.
It would be similar in our day hearing discussions at a Pastorís conference as to how many professions of faith were had at their particular churches while patting themselves on the back instead of praising the Lord for His work.
When they argued over who should be accounted the greatest it was not expecting an accounting from the Lord but instead who was the greatest in the eyes of men.
This dispute did not begin here in Chapter 22.
In Luke 9:46, after the transfiguration of our Lord and the successful sending out of the twelve, the disciples argued about who might be the greatest.
Remember the petition of the mother of James and John asking that her sons sit on the right and left hand of Christ when he came in his kingdom.
This was not abnormal for this is how the world operates.
Personal ambition, desires for power, competition, climbing the ladder faster than others even to the destruction of others.
But this is not the way of the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
This way is not the narrow way but the broad way that leads to destruction and Jesus makes this very plain to his disciples for he says in:
Luke 22:25-30, And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. 26But 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. 27For 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. 28Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. 29And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The disciples thought of greatness in a worldly sense, that of the greatness that is displayed by Gentile rulers over them.
Jesus contrasts the conduct of great Gentiles with what he calls great disciples.
The greatness of Gentile kings is used to dictate, to lead others, to lord it over others.
They use the fact that they give to others by being a benefactor which means a doer of good but it is in reality only for their own advantage.
Their principle of life is "To the victor goes the spoil" and that includes those who follow the victor.
They justify their abuse of power and their dictatorial ways because they do so much good with the spoil.
Politicians who are corrupt justify themselves because they are doing much good for their constituents.
Mafia Dons of he criminal element spread some wealth in their areas in order to gain favor with the populace.
Union leaders garner support from those who benefit from the corruption and graft that is rampant in certain groups.
Robin Hood took from the rich to give to the poor but you can be sure he gained a large following because of his thievery.
But this is not to be in the great disciple!
Jesus does not here argue against greatness.
He accepts the fact that some men are great, some men are greater than others.
The issue is not whether some disciples should be greater than others, but rather how they use their greatness.
In saying what Jesus said he tells his disciples that the first characteristic which should mark the great Christian is that he does not use his position for his own benefit.
While they may be the greatest, they are not to act like it, or to demand they be treated like it.
They are to be like the youngest; they are to regard themselves and act like the one who has the least power.
Any power that they have is to be used within the hedges that accompany that power for all power given to men comes with boundaries.
A policeman who uses his power to fix a speeding or parking ticket for a friend evidences a worldly view.
If he overlooks an offense for a neighbor or a friend he is not being faithful to his duties as a lawman for he is using his position for his own gain, that of keeping a friend.
A person who jockeys for advanced position by using the power of his position is not living the Christian life as given by Jesus Christ.
A board member is not to use the fact that he is a board member to advance what is any personal cause or seek favor for himself or family members.
Even a Pastor is not to pull strings in his community for what he sees as the benefit of his flock using his God given position thinking by doing so to advance the cause of Christ.
The great Christian is to see himself or herself as the servant of others rather than the dictator of others for his or her own benefit.
Great Christians will not use any position of power to elevate themselves but will use their position and their power as a platform of service to others.
The benefits which they could claim for themselves they will pass along to others.
The Gentiles display their greatness in a certain way but he followers of Jesus Christ are to display their greatness in the exact opposite way.
The disciples were not to pattern their lives after the philosophy of the Gentiles, but rather to follow after their Master.
The greatest, Jesus pointed out, was the one who sat at the table ó who was served ó while the one who stood, the servant, was the lowest.
There was no argument that Jesus was the greatest, and yet He told them He was the one who serves.
Luke 22:27, 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.).
When Jesus told His disciples that the greatest must be the servant of all, He was simply reminding them that they must be like Him.
Jesus Christ did not ask them to do anything which He was not doing Himself.
He was asking them to give up power and position in this life but not to give them up forever.
He was asking them to give these things up but he was telling them that they would possess position and power in the next life in His kingdom.
Jesus never commands men to give up life, money, family, and power for nothing.
He calls upon His disciples to give up the temporary and imperfect riches of this life in order to lay them up for the next.
This is what the faith life is about.
Godís children putting aside the accolades of this life knowing that God has far greater plans for his children in the next.
All riches of this world are temporary; they are subject to decay and theft.
But the true riches of heaven will never perish.
So it is also true with position and power.
We are to give up "first place" and the power and position of first place in order to be given a place of honor in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
In His kingdom, the disciples are promised that they will sit at His table, and that they will be given thrones on which they will be seated, and from which they will rule.
The disciplesí debate and strife over their own position, their own prestige, and power was not an appropriate discussion for several reasons.
They were not appropriate because: this is the way the heathen behave;
it is the opposite of the way Jesus has shown Himself, even though He is the greatest of all;
He has not patterned himself after the ways of the Gentiles.
(3) the obsession with greatness is a waste of time, for that which the disciples were seeking will not come in this life, but in the next.
And it is not by their striving for accomplishment that will gain them a place of power in the kingdom, but it is the Lord who wins this for them.
Their blessings and privileges in the kingdom are those which Christ Himself achieves, and then shares with His followers.
The Messiah does not "ride on the shoulders of His disciples," as they seemed to have thought, propelled by their greatness; rather they are carried to their blessings by Him.
It is God who accomplishes, it is his servants who are to be faithful!