Study Notes

Luke 22:21-53

22:21-23 The Betrayer

We looked at Judas in depth a couple of weeks ago, so we're not going to rehash his story again.

22:24 The greatest?

They've just partaken of communion. Did they grasp the reality, the intensity, of it? No, they started a little bickering session about which among them was the greatest.

Before we point any fingers at the disciples, we should really get out a mirror. Because it is painfully obvious to everyone in the world that Jesus' disciples are still arguing today. "Who is the greatest" is what every argument in every church boils down to. The arguments might all sound different on the surface, but under the surface the reasons are all the same: "I am greater than you. My needs are greater than yours. My standards are higher than yours. My way of thinking is far greater and more important than yours. It is more important that I am right than it is for you to receive mercy from me."

There are many masks, but the source is the same and the cause is consistent. Jude said that the ones who cause divisions are the worldly-minded people. And James asked

James 4:1-2 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.

In the church at Philippi, two women who had served in the ministry with Paul were having problems getting along. There was a quarrel, a division, some source of disagreement. And Paul wrote,

Phil. 4:2-3 I urge Euodia (u-O-dia) and I urge Syntyche (SIN-teh-chee) to live in harmony in the Lord. Indeed, true comrade, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel...

They were both saved, but not living in harmony with each other in the Lord. This can be demonstrated very easily with my guitar. These two strings can have harmonics plucked to make them vibrate. Can you hear the dissonance, the strange vibration that makes the whole thing sound bad? But then when we tune them to complimentary pitches, the harmonics vibrate as one. Paul was urging Euodia and Syntyche to adjust their tuning to be in harmony with one another. One had to make herself more sharp, the other had to make herself more flat. That meant that both were expected to change. Maybe only one of them did wrong - but they both had to harmonize. The book of Romans says,

Rom. 12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.

That doesn't say, "Do your best to change someone else." It says "as much as lies within you, do everything YOU can to be at peace with people. Make yourself a living sacrifice, don't stick up for your rights, make yourself less than you deserve." So if Euodia was told that she had sinned against her sister, it was her Christian obligation to repent, even if she didn't feel like she had done anything wrong - Jesus did that for each one of us on the cross - bearing the weight of our guilt, though He had committed no sin. And if Euodia was the one who had been sinned against, then it was her Christian obligation to forgive her sister, and continue to love her and be in harmony in the Lord with her.

At this point in their walks, the disciples didn't understand any of this. "I'm the greatest!" "No, I'M the greatest!" And Jesus always rebukes bickering among His followers.

22:25-30 The Servant

Jesus rebukes them saying, "Look, your whole idea of greatness and authority is wrong. Don't you understand that you're looking at greatness and authority through the world's eyes instead of God's eyes?" You see, greatness in God's kingdom is measured by servanthood. Jesus had already taught them,

Matt. 20:26-28 "...Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

This is what it is to be great in the kingdom of God. Not how much authority you have, but how much of a servant you are. People ooh'ed and aah'ed when John F. Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." But Jesus had given that message 1,900 years earlier in regards to the kingdom of God. Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church. Ask not what your Christian brothers and sisters can do for you, but what you can do for your Christian brothers and sisters.

Jesus told them, "Look at my example. I could have easily had everybody serving me, but instead I served everybody. I have come to you as the one who serves - follow my example."

Unfortunately, many people in the Body of Christ don't have this sacrificial, serving attitude. We are called to serve one another. How can we do that? Imitate Jesus. As it says in Philippians,

Phil. 2:3-7 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself; do not look out for your own personal interests, but for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant...

You've got rights. You've got position. You've got other things to do. So did Jesus. But He gave it all up to come and be a bond-servant.

So hopefully we come to this realization and say, "yes, I know I need to be a servant". But how can I serve my church? How can I serve my brothers and sisters in Christ?" The same two ways that a servant finds out how to serve his master. First, the regular servant does what he is asked by his master. Do the laundry? Sure! Take out the trash? Right away! Paint the house? What color? We always hear of people's needs. Meet those needs.

Second, an even better servant is one who says, "I'm available - how can I serve you?" There are many needs that will go unmet because we don't ask. If we don't say, "My dear brother in Christ, do you need anything? How can I serve you?" Odds are we'll never find out.

I have met people who have this blessed heart of servanthood. They come up to me and say, "How can I serve in the church?" I think that most of them expect me to shove them into the Sunday School or the nursery! But I learned something about servants a long time ago from the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah was the guy that God had overseeing the rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem. The guys in the city were serving, and the thing the Lord showed me was that...

Neh. 3:28 Above the Horse Gate the priests carried out repairs, each in front of his house.

Neh. 7:3 ..."...appoint guards from the inhabitants of Jerusalem, each at his post, and each in front of his own house."

Where were they serving? Where were the priests building, where were the guards watching? Each in front of his own house. Right where they lived - right where their hearts were. When someone comes up to me and says, "How can I serve the church?" I always respond, "Where do you live? Where is your heart to serve? How and where do you want to serve?" I'll never say, "Hey, you, you, and you... the bathrooms are your responsibility. And you two back there... your job is the lawn and the palm trees. Hey you bunch sitting up here... you guys are going to form a choir."

You see, that's the beauty of the local church - it changes shape with each person that comes or goes. If God is giving you a heart and a vision for a way to serve, let's pray about it, then let's go for it. Don't wait for me to suggest having a women's choir, or a Friday night fellowship, or an after school kids' Bible study, or a Saturday church cleaning, or whatever... because it's probably not the part of the wall that I'M working on. But if that's where YOUR house is, if that's where YOU live, then let's pray it through and start building.

Jesus is our example of the world's greatest servant. There is so much to be done, let's all begin to serve the Kingdom of God as we're asked, and as we ask.

22:31-34 The Sifting

Jesus' words would come true that very day - Simon Peter is going to have a major defeat by denying that he even knows Jesus after he is arrested. But notice that Satan had to come to God for permission to sift Simon like wheat. A long time earlier, he had been scoping out a guy named Job. He told the Lord, "I can't touch this guy Job!

Job 1:10 Hast Thou not made a hedge about him and his house and all that he has, on every side?"

The Lord had a hedge of protection around Job that the devil couldn't break through. He needed God's permission and His okay to even touch Job. The same with Simon Peter. And if you know Jesus Christ this morning, the same with you. You see, when you belong to God, the devil can't touch you without God's permission. You are a citizen of heaven, and citizens have rights.

Col. 1:13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son

This is very comforting to me. One of the great thing about knowing the Lord is knowing that everything that happens to me that I think is terrible actually has a purpose and a meaning. I can know that all these awful things that are happening are going to work out together for my good, like Romans 8:28 says.

Rom. 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

And because of that, the devil is never the focal point of my trials - when something comes up that's an obstacle, or something terrible, my first thought isn't "Oh no, I'm being attacked by satan", it's "Okay, what's the Lord doing in my life here?"

You see, the devil himself, who so many are afraid of, actually accomplishes the work of God in my life. He does this by testing me, tempting me, and bringing tribulation to me. The great thing is, that if I respond rightly, I'm drawing nearer to God in prayer, I'm seeking the answers from God, I'm resting in God's strength, so what the devil means for evil, God turns around for good. Colossians says,

Col. 1:16 For by Him all things were created, {both} in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities - all things have been created by Him and for Him.

So Peter was going to be sifted, but Jesus was praying for him, and Peter's actually going to come out the other side of this trial stronger and bolder in his faith because of the attack.

22:35-38 The Sword

Jesus now turns to all the disciples and says, "Guys, remember when I sent you out two by two, and you didn't have need of anything? Remember how well received you were and how everything just fell into place? Things are going to be different now. Last time I told you not to take a bag - now you're going to need one. Last time you didn't need a sword for protection - this time you're going to need one. Your missionary journeys are never going to be a piece of cake like they were before. Because I'm going to be numbered with the transgressors". When you went out last time, I was the most popular public speaker in Israel. Next time you go out preaching My name, My reputation is going to be that of an executed criminal."

Showing their complete ignorance to what he was saying, they said, "Hey look, we've got two swords already!" Jesus ends the conversation saying "That's enough." They'll find out soon enough what He's talking about.

22:39-46 The Prayer

The Mount of Olives was their typical place of prayer when they were in this neck of the woods. He gave them specific prayer instruction: "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." He passionately went to prayer. They promptly went to sleep.

Jesus prays, "Father, if you're willing, let this cup pass from Me; yet not My will, but Thine be done." What cup is He about to drink? The cup of God's wrath to be poured out upon all mankind for their sin. Like Nahum prophesied,

Nahum 1:5-6 Mountains quake because of Him, And the hills dissolve; Indeed the earth is upheaved by His presence, The world and all the inhabitants in it. Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger? His wrath is poured out like fire, And the rocks are broken up by Him.

Jesus, the only man who never deserved it, was going to have to drink this cup of God's wrath so that man would have an escape from it. In the gospel of Matthew, we see that He prayed,

Matt. 26:39 "...Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me..."

"Father, if there's ANY other way that a man can be saved from your wrath poured out upon His sin, let's go that route." But there is no other way. The Bible says,

Acts 4:12 "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."

There is no other way for man to escape the wrath of God poured out on his sin.

22:47-53 The Arrest

Meanwhile, Judas had been getting his guys together for the covert operation. No crowds around this time of night to hinder Jesus' arrest.

When the mob came, Peter lashed out with the sword and cut off the servant of the high priest's ear. In an unbelievable act of compassion, Jesus touched the servant and healed him. Think about it - C'mon Jesus, you don't owe this guy anything. He's here with your death sentence. If anybody deserves to go to hell, it's the guys in this crowd! But the heart of Jesus is of love and compassion and mercy towards sinners. Oh, that we would have such a heart, that we would be people who bless those who curse us and pray for those who persecute us!

And so we finish up this morning at the beginning of the most brutal day in history - the day God was arrested, convicted, tortured, and executed.

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