The Book of Luke, From Whom Do You Want Reward? - Lesson 230
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.
In our last few studies we have been witness to some of those things which took place in the upper room where Jesus Christ and his disciples had gathered to eat the Passover meal.
It was to be a time of remembrance of that which God did long ago in taking His people out of the slavery of Egypt.
However, we do not see the solemnity of the occasion expressed by the disciples, but instead we see a strife take place among them.
That strife was not for the glory of God but for the glory of the disciples for it concerned which of them should be accounted the greatest.
Now Jesus Christ did not rebuke them for aspiring to be great.
Ambition was not rebuked, but instead Jesus Christ defined what it means to be great in His kingdom.
For He said: he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.
He talked of the gentile kings who see themselves as benefactors, doers of good, dispensing benefits to those under them, but in reality they do it for their own advantage.
They lord over those to whom they dispense benefit and expect favor from them because of those benefits.
In other words there is a corruption in the transaction.
Jesus Christ expects no corruption in the transaction of serving others for he expects purity in all things, and that includes those things in which his servants engage.
There are to be no hidden motives, no serving done in order to receive benefit to the servant.
For benefit to the servant is to come from God himself.
Jesus told his disciples of this is Matthew 6:1, Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
God has his accountant in heaven and when his accountant sees that you have already gotten your reward from men he crosses out that which you have done to be seen of men, thus you have no reward in heaven for you have already received your reward on earth.
What justifies reward, gold, silver, precious stone, wood hay or stubble?
Deferring reward takes faith but faith is what pleases God.
So those that be great in His kingdom are to take the lower place.
They are not to lord over others but to serve others.
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 opportunity of service to others.
The benefits which they could claim for themselves they will pass along to others desiring instead reward from God.
The Gentiles display their greatness in a certain way but the 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.
When they were having strife among them it was because of their understanding of greatness based upon worldly thinking.
The greatest, Jesus pointed out, as far as the world was concerned, 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.
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.
That is what a disciple of Christ desires, to be like Christ.
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, that which is eternal.
This is what the faith life is about.
It is Godís children putting aside the accolades of this life by faith, 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 that desire for 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.
It was not appropriate because this is the way the heathen behave.
It was not appropriate because 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 nor should his disciples.
He did not come to be served, but to serve.
It was not appropriate because 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.
All of the striving for greatness apart from the words of Christ is in vain and will not last past this life.
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 those servants who are faithful who will share in those blessings!
Luke 22:31-34, And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: 32But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. 33And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death. 34And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
This passage is interesting as it follows that passage concerning the strife over position by the disciples.
Could it be that Peter was one of the main characters in this debate over the discipleís understanding of greatness?
Did Jesus use this opportunity to show to Peter that his greatness would fail very quickly?
Did He use this opportunity to show Pete that his lack of greatness would show up in his denying His Lord, three times in a matter of hours?
If Peter felt he was considered the greatest, it seems by his response to the Lord he also looked at himself as one of the most loyal, committed members of Jesusí disciples, so committed that he could not fall.
It must have been inconceivable for him to think of himself as such a weakling that he would deny his Lord when the going got tough.
But Peter and the other disciples, when boasting of their greatness, were not thinking soberly as Paul told the Romans in, Romans 12:3, For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.
Notice that Christ called Peter by his natural name, the name of Simon, and he did it twice for emphasis.
Could this mean that Peter was acting like his old self, and not as a disciple of the Lord.
It certainly would be connected to his denial of Christ for in this he was acting as if he never knew Christ.
He was not acting as Peter, the rock.
He would be acting in his own strength, and not that which the Lord gives.
It was to be the old Simon that was going to fail the Lord however Jesus brought Satan into the mix.
Jesus informed Peter that Satan himself was involved in what was to take place.
Satan is not far away when men enter the realm of power seeking.
This is Satanís turf, this is Satanís area of expertise and men become easy prey for him when they enter this arena.
Note that Jesus did not forbid Satan from sifting Peter and the others.
But instead He said that he had prayed for them that their faith fail not and that because of this trial they would eventually strengthen the brethren because of the trial.
Jesus desired to bring that which was more precious than gold into the disciples lives for as we know the trial of your faith is more precious than gold.
Jesus intended to use Satan to serve His own purposes for the disciplesí good.
Peterís failure was for his own benefit and for the benefit of all the disciples.
Jesus chose to not prevent Satanís attack, but he also chose to pray for Peterís faith not to fail.
And because of this even though he failed the Lord three times, his faith did not fail.
So Jesus predicted Peterís failure but also told us of his restoration.
And when he was restored Peter was then to strengthen his brethren.
Peter could not be used when he was too "great," too self-confident, too self-seeking.
But after he failed, after he experienced the grace of God, then Peter could lead men.
It was not greatness Peter needed to experience, but grace, and this was soon to come.
Peter protested, insisting that Jesusí words would never come true, and that he would remain faithful, even unto prison and death.
There is a sense in which this was true, for it was Peter who drew his sword, seeking to prevent Jesusí arrest, and cutting off the ear of the high priestís servant.
But in the final analysis, Peter was calling our Lord a liar.
Peter, as someone has pointed out, was willing to trust his own feelings of love and of self-confidence rather than to trust in these words of prophecy, words from none other than the Lord.
Jesus therefore must once again reiterate the fact that Peter would deny Him, and not only once, but three times.