The Gospel of Luke - Part 41: Jesus our Sovereign Lord — Luke 9:46-62
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

We are about to answer the question Who is Jesus, Really? ...which Jesus is addressing in Luke Chapter 9. So far in this chapter He has taught His disciples, His followers and you and me that
    A. He Is The One Sent by God
    B. He Is The Son of God
— meaning that He is God, He is divine
    C. He Is The Son of Man — meaning that He was really human. He faced and managed all the challenges that we do, so we can relate to Him, we can depend on Him, He knows what we face.

Today — we will see that
    D. He Is Our Sovereign Lord — And what that means.

Appreciating who Jesus is — Messiah, Son of God, Son of Man — helps us recognize His lordship over us. It also helps us to be totally committed to being His disciples.

Seeing Jesus for who He really is should motivate us to follow Him, to accept His values, to submit to Him and to obey Him. Our knowledge of who Jesus is should always translate into us being more Christ-like.

"Anonymous" has said:  “We should give Christ the same place in our hearts that He holds in the universe.” — unknown

In each section of Luke 9:46-62, Jesus highlights a distinctive quality He desires for His disciples. These qualities help us understand a different view of greatness — greatness as He defines it in His kingdom, for His disciples.

A.   Humility:

An argument started among them as to which of them might be the greatest. But Jesus, knowing what they were thinking in their heart, took a child and stood him by His side, and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” —Luke 9:46-48

An argument started among them ...

I wonder how this discussion got started among the disciples. Maybe it came from Jesus only taking three of them — Peter, James and John — with Him up on the mountain, where those three witnessed His transfiguration.

Luke records that this isn’t the last time the Twelve had this discussion. In Luke 22:24-27, this same question arises again among the disciples.

And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. —Luke 22:24-27
How does the world define greatness? What measures does it use? Jesus re-defines "greatness" for the disciples. He addresses two aspects of greatness by reversing what the world commonly holds as true:

Greatness is shown by:

  1. How we treat/care for people
    “Whoever receives this child …” —Luke 9:48
    Mark 9:33-35 tells us that Jesus was in someone’s home — maybe Peter’s — sitting with His disciples when He had this conversation.
    They came to Capernaum; and when He was in the house, He began to question them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest. Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” —Mark 9:33-35
    As they were talking, there were apparently children nearby. Jesus calls to a little child and the child comes to Him. Jesus loved children and children loved Jesus! And as Jesus holds the child in His arms, He utters the words we read in verse 48.
    Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great. —Luke 9:48
    What did Jesus mean by this statement? I think Jesus picked a child because children have little status and get little attention in a meeting like this of adults. There’s a story later in Luke that gives us a further glimpse into the view of children in Jesus’ day:
    And they were bringing even their babies to Him so that He would touch them, but when the disciples saw it, they began rebuking them.  But Jesus called for them, saying, “Permit the children to come to Me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” —Luke 18:15-16
    Notice that the disciples just assumed that Jesus was too busy, too important to spend time with children. But they were completely wrong.

    The world measures greatness by how people treat you; Jesus measures greatness by how you treat people. Jesus says we should treat the least little child the way we would treat Him — with love and respect and attention. Jesus expect us to see the worth of every person. Here are three reasons why every person is important to God:

    God does the same thing with people. God takes ordinary people who give themselves to Him and uses them in miraculous ways.

    There are other passages where Jesus emphasized the worth of every person

    Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me. —Matthew 25:40

    And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward. —Matthew 10:42
    In a book entitled “The Awesome Power of Your Attitude”, Dale Galloway writes:
    Nothing is worse than ignoring another person. To ignore a person says to them in effect, "You're not worth even talking to," or "You're not worth my time." No matter what age, we are never too young or too old to want and need attention. It doesn't cost any money to stop and give another person the gift of attention.
    As Jesus teaches it, the first aspect of Greatness is shown by how we treat/care for people.
  2. How we serve people
    For the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great.” —Luke 9:48
    What do you think Jesus’ means by this statement? In Mark’s Gospel, this is expressed more clearly for us.
    Sitting down, He called the twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” —Mark 9:35
    Maybe you’ve heard this but it bears repeating:
    “The world measures greatness by how many people serve you; the Lord measures greatness by how many people you serve.”
    What are some different ways that we can serve people each day?
    For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”—Mark 10:45

    Chuck Swindoll says:

    When Jesus took the time to explain His reason for coming among us, He was simple and direct; to serve and to give. Not to be served. Not to grab the spotlight in the center ring. Not to make a name or attract attention or become successful or famous or powerful or idolized. No, quite frankly, that stuff turned Him off. The first-century world was full and running over with strong-willed dogmatists. Authority figures were a dime a dozen (they always are). There were Caesars and Herods and governors and other pompous hotshots in abundance. Some, like the Pharisees and Sadducees and scribes — people with whom Jesus locked horns from the earliest days of his ministry — even used religion as their lever to control others. But servants? I mean the authentic types who genuinely gave of themselves without concern over who got the glory? They were not to be found!
    As Jesus teaches it, the first aspect of greatness is shown by how we treat/care for people, the second is how we serve people and the third is:
  3. How we humble ourselves

    There’s a statement Jesus made here that Luke omitted but Matthew included. And it adds one more characteristic of true greatness:

    Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. —Matthew 18:4

    Jesus wants us to intentionally make choices to humble ourselves. The world teaches us to exalt ourselves — to toot our own horn, to draw attention to our accomplishments, to climb over others on our way to the top.

    But Jesus shows us a different way.

    Philip Yancey, a writer in Christianity Today, says:

    “Humble.” Before Jesus, almost no pagan author had used "humble" as a positive quality. (Philip Yancey)

    What are some practical ways we can humble ourselves? we humble ourselves:

    Henri Nouwen, a modern spiritual writer is quoted as saying:
    Everything in me wants to move upward. Downward mobility with Jesus goes radically against my inclinations, against the advice of the world surrounding me, and against the culture of which I am a part. (Henri Nouwen)
B.   Affirmation:

In addition to Jesus teaching us that humility is an attribute of a great follower of Jesus, He teaches us that affirmation is another attribute of greatness in a follower of Jesus. After teaching them about humility, the last shall be first, Luke tells us:

John answered and said, “Master, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name; and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow along with us.” But Jesus said to him, “Do not hinder him; for he who is not against you is for you.” —Luke 9:49-50
How would you explain what Jesus is saying here?
What would you say Jesus is not saying here?

I called this quality “affirmation” but you may be able to come up with a better, more accurate description. It involves the appreciation of what God is doing through others, other than me and my group. It means that I am not jealous or envious. It also means that I am not proud, thinking that the Lord can only work through me or people like me. It means not having a competitive attitude toward other churches or Christians groups that God is using and blessing.

There is a tendency for churches to criticize and compete with other churches. But the Lord doesn’t want us to be like that.

God is at work in all kinds of Christian communities: Catholic as well as Protestant, charismatic as well as evangelical, contemporary as well as traditional. We want to affirm anyone and any group that is true to the Son of God and the Word of God — and not focus on differences we may have with them.

But Jesus said to him, “... for he who is not against you is for you.” —Luke 9:50
We are not in competition with other Biblical churches or ministries! Related to this, we are not the only ones God is using. In fact, we represent only a very small part of what He is doing. Whether we are exalting ourselves or criticizing other ministries, both attitudes are an expression of pride. We need to celebrate all that God does to draw people to Himself, regardless of who He uses.

Paul tells us:

Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. —Romans 14:4

So we see that we need to be humble and need to support anyone serving Jesus. There are more attributes of greatness in followers of Jesus that we will look at next week.