Luke 22:25-27 (NIV)
25 Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors.
26 But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.
27 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.
On verses 25-27: Back in Jesus’ time, the highest profile leaders were very much about titles and throwing their weight around (v25). In contrast, Jesus calls his disciples to a revolutionary kind of leadership, one that is about service. In God’s economy, the greatest and most valuable leaders are those who serve.
Luke 22:28-30 (NIV)
28 You are those who have stood by me in my trials.
29 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me,
30 so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
On verses 28-30: Jesus was fully aware of all the ways the disciples had failed Jesus in the past and all the ways they would fail him soon after this meal was over. Yet Jesus goes out of us his way at his last meal to honour his disciples for their loyalty and commitment, even talking about giving them a kingdom and authority, with thrones to sit on.
What can we learn from this?
1. It’s a reminder that the reason we can be called “a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9), “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17) is not because we earned it. It’s because of Christ’s amazing grace in our lives.
2. Like Jesus, in your darkest times, focus on the good and give thanks for your friends, even if they are far from perfect.
Luke 22:31-34 (NIV)
31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.
32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”
34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”
On verses 31-34: How was Jesus able to love and honour his disciples even though he was fully aware that they would all desert him in his darkest hour? It’s because Jesus saw past the darkness of the current night and envisioned how things would be for the long term.
Take Peter as an example. Jesus knew that Peter was hours away from betraying him three times, and yet Jesus is focused on Peter’s faithfulness for the long term. Jesus looks past the immediate failure and looks at what Peter could and would be many years from that moment. Thus Jesus is able to encourage Peter and pray for Peter.
Likewise, maybe there is someone in your life that you spend a lot of time and resource investing in – a child, someone you’re mentoring – and perhaps they have disappointed you recently. If you’re struggling to love them and encourage them and you don’t want to terminate the relationship, like Jesus, see past their current failure and envision what they could be many years from now. Focus on that future image of them as you pray for them and encourage them.
Luke 22:35-38 (NIV)
35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered.
36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.
37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That is enough,” he replied.
On verses 35-38: Before Jesus had sent the disciples off on short term missions that lasted a few days or weeks. Soon Jesus would be sending his disciples on a long term mission, one that would last them the rest of their lives. Thus the instructions Jesus gives to prepare his disciples for the long term mission are quite different from those he gave for the previous short term missions.
What can we learn from this? When it comes to serving God, preparation is key. You don’t prepare for a short term mission the same way you prepare for a long term mission. How much you prepare for a mission should be commensurate to the length and scope of the mission. Otherwise you might find yourself underprepared or preparing way more than is necessary.
Also, when it comes to serving God in church, generally I find that people tend to not prepare enough as opposed to preparing too much. Their laziness often results in mediocre service. To my mind, I would rather overprepare and have Jesus say, “That is enough” (v38) as opposed to underpreparing and hearing Jesus say, “You wicked and lazy servant” (Matthew 25:26). If you want to serve God with excellence, smart and sufficient preparation is key.
Here’s one final note on verse 37: Here Jesus quotes Isaiah 53:12 when he says, “And he was numbered with the transgressors”. Jesus explains that this verse is about to be fulfilled in him, as he, the sinless Messiah, the perfect Son of God, will identify with and be included among sinners when he is arrested, convicted of crimes he did not commit, and crucified for our sins.
Lord Jesus, thank You for every lesson we can learn from Your Word today. May I be a leader who serves, who focuses on the good I see in others, who has the long-term picture in mind, and who prepares well when I serve You. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!