Who is the Greater? (Luke 22:24-27)
Preached by Pastor Chris Huff on April 1, 2012
We have a tendency to want to be the best. We like to see our name at the top of the leader board. For some, the desire to be the best is so strong that it paralyzes them from doing anything. Throughout the month of March, I competed in a push-up contest. At first I started off strong, and every day I got a little closer to being in first place. But one day about half way through the month, I couldn't force myself to do a push up. After that day, I just kind of gave up. I couldn't be in first, so why even try? Rather than playing for the true purpose (to get a little exercise), I decided it was all or nothing. So the desire to be the best actually kept me from the purpose of the competition.
This desire to be the best often gets in the way of us living. But there's nothing wrong with wanting be good at things, as long as we have a balanced and healthy view of our lives and purpose in life. Our purpose is often the recognition we receive, and we come away disappointed because we can't be the best all the time. But when we accept God's purpose for us, not that we would be exalted to the highest pedestal, but that we humble ourselves to the lowest position, becoming a servant of all, then God exalts us to the place we don't deserve, and we find everlasting joy in Christ.
Read Luke 22:24-27
In v. 27, Jesus asked the question, “Who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves?” Then He answered His question with another question, “Is it not the one who reclines at table?” At this point, we would think, “Of course. The one who is being served is greater because he obviously holds a higher position, so that they other would serve him.” But then Jesus makes a confusing statement: He is the one who serves.
This was all in response to an argument that the disciples seemed to have a lot: who would be the greatest (v. 24). On another occasion, two of the disciples were so consumed with it that they demanded that they get the highest positions in Heaven (Mark 10:37). But here it seems to have been all of the disciples. And Jesus answered the argument differently as well (v. 25-27). Kings practice their authority over their people, and their people were expected to compliment them because of it! This doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Just look at the kings of Israel in the Old Testament! They held the highest position in the nation! Yet most of them what was evil in the eyes of the Lord. Just because a person is in a position of authority, doesn't mean they're living right. Just because a person has recognition for something they've achieved, doesn't mean we should look up to and envy that person.
But it's often the same game that we play. We get jealous of those who have more than us. We get jealous of those in higher positions that us, and we desire those positions and imagine what life would be like in those positions, and when we hear their words, we think it must be true because he seems to have it all together, and he drives a nice car, and he's the President of a large corporation. But Jesus tells us to be the exact opposite. We're not to seek the highest position, but the lowest. In fact, if you already have the highest position, if you are the greatest, or the leader, you are to become the youngest, and the one who serves.
Jesus truly is the one who serves us. Anything that we do to serve Him is only because He first served us. He served us His life. He served us His righteousness. We love because He first loved us.
The Lord's Supper is a beautiful reminder of this (v. 14-20). Jesus served his disciples not only bread and wine, but what those things symbolized. He served us His life. And we remember Jesus serving us His life through the Lord's Supper. The bread symbolizes His body, which was broken for us. The wine symbolized His blood, which was poured out for us, and it covers all our sins.
The Old Testament symbol for Christ's death was the animal sacrifice. Aren't you glad that didn't carry over into the church? We have a beautiful altar here. We put flowers on it, and our offering plates, and the words “In remembrance of me,” it all looks so nice and draws us to worship God. But the altar in the Old Testament was covered in blood from animals that they killed on it.
It's interesting how not only the symbols changed from the Old to New Testament, but what we did with the symbol of the covenant changed when we entered a new covenant with God. In the Old Testament, Moses threw some of the blood on the people (Exodus 24:8). It got on their clothes. It got on their skin. It got in their hair. It got on the outside of them, purifying their outsides, symbolically.
But in the New Covenant, we're to drink the blood. Not weird like vampires, it's just a symbol. But think about what it symbolized. Christ's blood isn't just on our outside. It doesn't just get on our clothes and on our skin. It washes us clean on the inside. We become changed. When we trust in Christ, the blood of Christ washes us clean from the inside out.
Jesus truly is the one who serves us. Though He is greater than all, and deserves our service, He humbled Himself to die on a cross for us. He makes us clean. And in doing so, He modeled for us how we ought to strive to be great. It doesn't come from exerting our authority. It comes by humbling ourselves. And it starts by humbling ourselves before God. We must say to God, “I've sinned. I've broken your commands. I need your forgiveness. I place my faith in Jesus Christ, please forgive me.” And when you do that, you benefit from Christ's death in service to you, so that you might give your life to serve God and others.