Luke 22:14-24 (NIV)
14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.
15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.
16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you.
18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.
22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.”
23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
24 Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.
On verses 14-24: This scene, one of the most famous scenes from Jesus’ life, is the basis for why and how we do communion. The bread we break represents the body Jesus broke for us on the cross. The cup we drink represents the blood Jesus shed for us on the cross.
At first, when I read a passage like this, I’m struck by how petty the disciples are in this scene. Their leader Jesus has just shared his heart about how much he desires to eat this final supper with them before he suffers. The disciples, however, upon hearing that one of them will betray Jesus, turn this last supper with Jesus into a quarrel among themselves about who would be the one to betray Jesus. This would lead to various disciples getting defensive and starting to talk about which of them was the greatest disciple. Yet in quarreling this way, the disciples were missing the point of the last supper. They had turned an occasion that was supposed to be about Jesus into an occasion that was more about themselves.
In fact, though Judas of course would become famous as Jesus’ betrayer, I believe it could be said that all the other disciples at the table that night would, to some level, betray Jesus in some way soon after this scene. For in just a few hours after this supper, Jesus would be arrested, and “all the disciples deserted him and fled” (Matthew 26:56). Had the disciples known this, they probably would not be arguing for their own greatness at the table.
The fact is this: none of the disciples could hold a candle to Jesus’ greatness. The only great one in the room was Jesus Himself. And yet the disciples at the table were consumed with thoughts of their own greatness.
How often am I like that? Instead of focusing on what is on Jesus’ heart, instead of focusing on what delights his heart or what breaks his heart, instead of focusing on Jesus’ greatness or being concerned about what Jesus has to say, I’m totally focused on myself, how I am doing and my perceived greatness.
May this passage encourage us to have a humble attitude toward Jesus today. Recognize that, like the disciples, we get to sit at the same table with Jesus, and that He alone is the great one in our midst. May our own propensity to fall because of pride, self-centeredness or fear cause us to think twice before we start touting our own greatness before others. Since Jesus is in our midst, may our focus be on Him and his greatness, not on ourselves.
Lord Jesus, You are the one true Great One. No one else compares. Please forgive me for times when I make moments which should be about You into moments that are all about me. May my focus be on Your greatness today. May I cherish every moment I get to have with You, and every word I get to hear from You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!