The Greatest Serve - Luke 22:21-30 NIV
Today we return to Luke study. We see disciples under stress, suspicion. Their world (Jesus) is about to end and they don’t understand. Questioning themselves & everything - everyone else. They did the same thing we do…
1. We naturally prefer __________ over __________.
“They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who could [betray him]. A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” Luke 22:23-24 NIV
Rather than honest self-assessment - yeah - it could be me. “I’m capable of betrayal-treachery under the right circumstances.” Instead they compare themselves to others. “At least I’m greater than you.”
Don’t we do the same? Makes us look better. Feel better about ourselves. Leads us to a key question during this Lent season and as we finish up Luke. Do we read it in 3rd person. “Oh those disciples… how could they?”
Or do we personalize it? “That could easily have been me.” 1st way leads to information. 2nd way leads to transformation. Clearly Jesus wanted to use this event even at this late hour of his life as a teaching opportunity.
2. Who are the greatest in God’s kingdom? Verse 26a - “You are not to be like that.” Plural “you.” You all. Shouldn’t we read this as to include ourselves in this “you-all?” “We-all” should not be like that. How should we be? Jesus provides 2 descriptions of greatness in God’s kingdom:
A. Those most open to _____________ kingdom ways.
“The greatest among you should be like the youngest.” Luke 22:26b NIV
What does it mean to be like the youngest? Without authority. Humble. Not assuming I know the answer. Willing to stumble and get right back up. Most important quality - GROWTH!
“Unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3 NIV
Not stuck in your way but willing to change. [Close-minded, arrogant, don’t need nobody] need not apply. A child is dependent. Playful. Filled with wonder at almost everything. When it comes to our approach to kingdom living, we can’t ever assume we have it figured out. That would be the end to our growth.
B. Those most open to ___________ the kingdom way.
“The one who rules [should be] like the one who serves.” Luke 22:26c
Great truth, great principle about what it means to be great in God’s kingdom. The greatest ruler (boss, CEO, president - you provide title) is the one who serves the most. No room for arrogance. No “lording it over - being bossy for bossy’s sake.” The one who would be ruler would be he one who wants to serve the most.
How did Jesus demonstrate this?
“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.” John 13:3-4 NIV
Don’t you love how John transitions into Jesus’ feet washing. Jesus could be the perfect servant because he knew 2 key things:
(1) God the Father had put all things under Jesus’ power. Another way of saying Jesus knew he was the most powerful. When you know that with absolute certainty, you don’t have to prove anything to anybody!
(2) Jesus came from God and was returning to God. His own awareness of his divine nature. One of the great statements about the Trinity and the Son of God’s rightful place as the second person in the Trinity! Jesus came from God (not just from Mary as a human baby) and was returning to God. Jesus was fully divine. So He could serve perfectly!
“For who is greater, the one who is 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.” Luke 22:27
To make sure they all (and we all) got it - I’m sitting here at the table as the Lord of this table, yet I have served each of you (washed your feet!) Now - if you want to be great - you do the same for each other!
3. ____________is the beginning of our journey to greatness.
“You are those who have stood by me in my trials.” Luke 22:28 NIV
To insure we don’t misunderstand Jesus here, he isn’t the least bit surprised or exasperated by his remaining disciples. “You’re the ones who have stood by me!” Don’t you want Jesus to be able to say that about you? AND he is saying this before the single biggest trial of his life WHEN HE KNOWS they won’t be able to stand by him.
(Come back next week and hear what he says to Peter!)
Ultimately Jesus had to die and come back to life for them to have the power of God’s Spirit, (“It is good for you if I go away.” John 16:7)
Ultimately our life comes through the death of Jesus as well as this resurrected life of Jesus:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 NIV
This steadfast faith is the beginning - not the end. Stop and think that while the disciples had lived with Jesus for 3 years, it was just the beginning for them too. They had yet to become overcomers.
“Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” 1 John 5:5 NIV
We never get to be so accomplished (good at it) that we deserve it. God’s favor and His willingness to include us in His kingdom is a gift!
4. God’s kingdom is _________ to us because of God’s greatness.
“And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me.” Luke 22:29 NIV
This word “confer” is a special word.7 occurrences in NT - 2 here; Acts 3:25; Hebrews 8:10; Hebrews 9:16 & 17; and Hebrews 10:16. What does it mean?
1st - let’s look at the other usages in the NT. Acts 3:25 talking about God’s covenant with Abraham that God “MADE.” God talks about covenant with Israel that I will ESTABLISH. Heb. 9:16 &17 both times talking about the one who MAKES a will. Heb. 10:16 about the covenant God MAKES with us through the Holy Spirit. When it comes to God’s kingdom it is His to do with as He pleases and He GRANTS /CONFERS to us as our inheritance. Not deserved but still received!
2nd - Let’s look at the Greek word for “confer.” diatithémi: to make, appoint, grant, to place separately, to dispose of by a will.
Break down this Greek word into it’s two parts.
dia - thoroughly (an intensifier)
tithémi: to place, arrange, lay, set aside, establish.
God fully establishes, without reservation, completely sets aside His kingdom for us. It’s already arranged. It’s already established. It’s DONE!
(BTW - where do we get “tithe” from? Wow! Don’t you want to be “dia” too?)
Conclusion: Why is this so important? Just like Jesus’ disciples the night before Jesus’ trial, we have not arrived yet. We haven’t proven ourselves yet. We’re not even sure. But we can have faith about now and trust God for later. And God is faithful. We don’t have to earn His favor. God has already established His kingdom for us. We simply have to live in it with steadfast faith, each day being open to learn kingdom ways and to serve the kingdom way! That’s what will make us great.