The Gospel of Luke - Part 93
Preparing the Disciples (2) — Luke 22:24-38

September 2, 2007
(These notes are based on lesson notes prepared by Rob Mahon for connection class leaders at Hoffmantown Church.)

Review:

We are in the section of Luke 22 that we entitled Preparing the Disciples. Remember that we are in the last week of Jesus’ life here on earth, at least the first time.

We outlined Chapter 22 as:
A.   Preparing for the Passover     (22:1-13)
B.   Preparing the Disciples (1)   (22:14-23)
C.   Preparing the Disciples (2)   (22:24-38)
D.   Preparing thru Prayer   (22:39-46)
E.   Preparing for the Cross   (22:47-71)

Preparing the Disciples (2):

Last week, we honed in on the Lord’s Supper and how we should understand it. It is a time to look backward and remember, really remember and comprehend what Jesus did for each of us individually. It is also a time to look forward to His return, which is a major theme of the New Testament. We wrapped up with the fact that it is a time for introspection, to look inward as well as backward and forward. We need to make sure that we are serious about our relationship with Jesus and that we do not take the celebration of The Lord’s supper lightly, or ritualistic. This should be a serious celebration.

This week we see Jesus continue His work of preparing His disciples both for His crucifixion and for their ministry after He ascends into heaven. From our perspective of looking back on the lives of the apostles, we can see that the topics Jesus addresses here — greatness, intercessory prayer, faith in God’s provision, etc. — were absolutely essential to their future ministry. And they are just as essential to us today!

What would you say to your family if you knew that you only had a few hours to live?  These verses record the last words of Jesus to His “family”.  In this passage, notice that Jesus especially emphasizes three important values in His kingdom.  Jesus has just given them the cup and the bread of the Lord’s supper. He immediately follows that with the following statement:

But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this. A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. —Luke 22:21-30
What are some thoughts that stand out to you as you read this passage?  They had celebrated The Lord’s supper. They had been given a New Covenant. They had been told that one of them would betray Jesus.  And then, what did they do?
A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. —Luke 22:24
In the Bible, the disciples are seen as being unfailingly human. Here they are with Jesus in the last hours before His death. And what are the topics of conversation?
(1) Who is the worst among them, the traitor?
(2) Who is the greatest among them, the leader?
Who is the least, and who is the greatest, and where do I fit in? This is the world's way of looking at people but it's not God's way. The world sees some people as better and some as worse. God sees the sinfulness of every person and the worth of every person.

My guess is that the argument here was by factions. It was not so much individual disciples saying, “I’m the greatest!”. We’re more subtle than that. We think about ourselves but talk about others. My guess is there was a “Peter faction” and a “John faction” and probably others. These argued about who was going to be top dog in the Kingdom.

The Greek word used here and translated as dispute, φιλονεικια [philoneikia],  literally means “love of strife”. There’s a bent in most of us toward strife. We would rather argue than agree. Do you like to argue? Are you inclined to disagree?  We need to understand that this is an attitude that neither pleases nor honors God. Paul talks about it.

Do all things without grumbling or questioning... —Philippians 2:14

Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. —2 Timothy 2:23

But avoid foolish controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. —Titus 3:9
James also talks about it.
What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? —James 4:1
But Jesus says, You don’t understand, you're not supposed to be like that.
And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. —Luke 22:25-27
When James and John ask Jesus to let them sit right next to him, on either side, in glory, Mark records Jesus giving the same admonition.
And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” —Mark 10:42-45
Who’s in charge? Who gets to be the boss? Who gets all the credit and attention? That’s what the world cares about. Today there seems to be a lot more interest in celebrity than there is in character.

Jesus calls us to a different view of leadership. The world sees leaders in terms of how many serve the leader; God sees leadership in terms of how many people the leader serves.

Servanthood is often a lost value among Christians. As one person said, “Some people are poor spellers. They think 'service' is spelled 'serve us'!” We are a consumer oriented culture today. We tend to focus on how the church serves us rather than how we serve the church and God.

Albert Schweitzer said, “The only people who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.” Richard Foster wrote: “It is one thing to act like a servant; it is quite another to be a servant.”

What do you think are some characteristics of a godly servant-hearted person? Jesus says: But I am among you as the one who serves. —Luke 22:27   When it comes to servanthood, there is no greater example than Jesus. Over and over again, Jesus exhorted us to be servant-hearted and modeled this quality for us:

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” —Mark 10:45

You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. —John 13:13-14

Jay Kesler writes:

Jesus-style love is the opposite of the world's power based, accomplishment-equals-importance viewpoint. Christian love means putting the other person first, seeking the other person's well being regardless of what it costs.

What kind of servant are you at home, at church, in your neighborhood, at work?  Jesus said, “I am among you as One who serves.”   Jesus had a servant heart.

God wants every believer to be serving. You need to be serving in our class, maybe as a greeter, snack coordinator, care group leader, teacher, whatever. Everyone needs to be doing something to serve the others. If you don't already have a serving responsibility in your class, why not prayerfully take on some responsibility this week? Or ask Charles or me what is needed.

After responding to their world-based question, Jesus continues: “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials.”  —Luke 22:28

It’s challenging to me that at this time when the disciples are about to abandon Him, Jesus still affirms them and speaks of future rewards. In fact, Jesus praises them for the very thing they are about to fail to do at His arrest!  The disciples weren’t perfect but they were faithful. And Jesus didn’t focus on times of failure but on their overall faithfulness to Him over the years. Maybe there’s a lesson here for us as well, in terms of how we view people. Certainly, we need to remember the importance of praise and affirmation.

The next thing we see in Luke 22 is Jesus' preparation of his Disciples, and us, for their (and our) need to faithfully pray. It comes in Jesus’ warning to Peter.

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,  but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” —Luke 22:31-34
What stands out to you in this conversation between Jesus and Peter?
Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat. —Luke 22:31
The “you” here is plural in the Greek. So even though Jesus is speaking to Peter, He is talking about Satan’s effort to get into the lives of all the disciples.

Satan has demanded. Many translations translate this as "requested" or "asked". This request or demand by Satan is still subject to God’s authority over Satan. Satan is not free to do whatever He wants. God has placed limits on his actions. We see this in Job where Satan must have permission from God before taking Job through the difficult experiences he faced. First Corinthians 10:13 indicates that God even limits how severely Satan is allowed to tempt us:

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. —1 Corinthians 10:13
Hollywood often portrays Satan as equal or near-equal to God in power. But the Bible clearly refutes that. Satan is more powerful than us but God is infinitely more powerful than Satan.

This is another verse that gives us a glimpse of the spiritual battle that is going on all around us.

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat.  —Luke 22:31
To sift means to separate. Wheat is sifted in order to separate the chaff (husks) from the grains of wheat. The idea here seems to be that Satan will take the disciples through temptations and tests in an effort to separate them from the Lord. Jesus is speaking directly to Peter because He is leading in to the discussion of Peter denying Him three times.
...but I have prayed for you...
What kept Peter from being a victim of Satan's schemes were the prayers of Jesus. Jesus’ prayer kept Peter from being separated from Jesus. Apparently Jesus did not pray to prevent Peter from stumbling, but not to fall. Over and over again, as we've seen, Luke has emphasized the importance prayer had in Jesus' life and ministry. Jesus had prayed again and again for His disciples. This should be a real challenge to us to be praying for others.

Hudson Taylor, a great missionary leader in China, said, “It is possible to move people, through God, by prayer alone.”

After telling Peter that He had prayed for him, Jesus says to Peter:
...and when you have turned again...
Jesus is telling Peter about his denial, but also about his repentance and return to Jesus As you might expect, Peter wants to argue with Jesus.
Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” —Luke 22:33
Peter had complete confidence in himself. He didn’t believe that there was any possibility of his ever denying Jesus. Matthew includes an additional, even stronger statement here by Peter.
Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. —Matthew 26:35
A verse we mentioned before applies here as well:
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. —1 Corinthians 10:12
One of Satan's most effective techniques in preparing us for a particular temptation is to convince us that we are in no danger from that one. It’s very dangerous to think, as Peter did, that there are some temptations "that I am invulnerable to, that this could never happen to me!"

What are some things we can do to guard against succumbing to temptation?

Jesus then replied to Peter’s claim that he would never do that:
Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” —Luke 22:4
Remember the discussion the disciples had earlier about which of them was the greatest? I’m sure that, in his heart, Peter had been thinking that he was the greatest! So it must have been humiliating to hear Jesus says that within 24 hours, he would deny the Lord — not once but three times.

What are some things we can learn/apply from this interchange between Peter and Jesus?

__________

Next week — we will pick up this interplay between Jesus and the disciples at the Last Supper and continue with Luke 22.