John T. Willis

Thursday, January 09, 2014

Jesus' Concerns about Participants in the Lord's Supper--Luke 22:21-38

After initiating, explaining, and participating or sharing in the Lord's Supper with his disciples, like Mark, Matthew, and John, Jesus delivers a series of lessons to his table companions. This falls into FOUR parts, and strikes at the center of the significance and practice of the Lord's Supper from God's perspective through Jesus Christ, to which every participant in every generation must pay careful attention. This appears in Luke 22:21-38.

I. Betrayal. Luke 22:21-23.
   a. Some who partake of the Lord's Supper will, in time, betray Jesus for one reason or another. This is a heart problem. All of us are VERY SELF-CENTERED, FULL OF PRIDE, and PERSONAL INTEREST AND CONCERN. A great example of this is Judas Iscariot. Just after sharing in the Lord's Supper the very first time, Jesus said to his own disciples, with whom he had lived and shared and taught for three years: "The one who BETRAYS me is with me, and his hand is on the table." Often people have looked me right in the eye with solemn look, I will meet you for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, knowing all the time that they never intended to do that at all. YOU have undoubtedly experienced this sort of activities. Throughout the centuries, many people have loudly declared that they are DEVOTED to Jesus, but in daily life, they never really intended to do this. 22:21.
   b.  Jesus declared that whatever happens, he is going to [headed for] the crucifixion, BUT "WOE to the one to whom he is betrayed!" All the disciples began to ask one another which one of them it could be who would do such a thing. Judas Iscariot had not yet departed, and he was certainly participation in this discussion, pretending WHO WOULD DO SUCH A THING? knowing all the time that that is precisely what he was planning to do. 22:22-23.

II. Seeking Superiority in a Position. Luke 22:24-30.
     a. Shortly after participating in the first Lord's Supper with Jesus present, a DISPUTE among his disciples about which of them was to be the GREATEST. This sin is just as bad as the sin of Judas Iscariot to betray Jesus. Many religious people want the rest of the church to recognize them as the most important in the church, the most intelligent in the church, the most spiritual in the church, etc., etc. This is a very live ISSUE in all churches even today. 22:24.
     b. When this dispute broke out, Jesus told his disciples: You are like "the kings of the Gentiles who LORD IT OVER THEM," and like "those in authority who are over them called benefactors." Jesus flatly told them NOT to think or act like this. Rather, "the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves." "For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table. But I am among you as one who serves." In The Gospel according to Luke (X-XXIV) in the Anchor Bible 28A, Joseph A. Fitzmyer writes on pages 1412, 1415, 1417, 1418:
     "Those directed to repeat the rite of the Lord's Supper are now exhorted not to lord it over the community, but to serve it. . . . Jesus recalls the mentality of pagan lord; because they are in power, they let their power be felt. . . . He [Jesus] is the master who puts on an apron and serves the faithful servant. . . . Real apostolic leadership must be service to others! . . . In all, the 'greatest' must act like the last one to arrive on the scene, the youngest, the least significant. . . . Jesus' life is interpreted as service, and it is all to be taken as the norm of apostolic ministry. No matter what rank the disciple or apostle may achieve in human eyes and by human estimate, their role as Christians is to serve in a lowly, humble way." All of us have much to learn from this in our hearts and lives. 22:25-27.
      c. Having dealt with the conflict among the disciples that each one wanted Jesus to recognize HIM as the greatest, emphasizing that each one of them must not be LEADERS, but SERVANTS, Jesus now encourages them to know that Jesus knew they had stood by him in his trials. Because of this, Jesus now declares that just as God the Father conferred a kingdom of his Son, Jesus Christ, Jesus confers of his disciples a kingdom that they might eat at Jesus' table in his kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (See further Matthew 19:28; Psalm 122:4-5). Jesus NEVER intended to separate himself from God's chosen people Israel. Just the opposite, His purpose is to bring them back to God the Father in Heaven. 22:28-30.

III. Wavering Trust or Faith. Luke 22:31-34.
       a. Jesus now addressed Peter directly. He told Peter that Satan demanded to sift all his apostles, the well-known process of separating wheat from chaff (see Amos 9:9), but Jesus had PRAYED for Peter that Peter's faith might not fail, and when Peter has repented, strengthen his brothers, the other apostles. Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S. J., The Gospel according to Luke (X-XXIV), Anchor Bible, 28A (1985), page 1424, astutely observes: "Satan's seeking out may be an allusion to his roaming to and fro upon the earth in Job 1:7; 2:2." The NRSV does a fairly good job in communicating this line of thought. One who knows Greek understands that "you" in verse 31 is PLURAL, thus "all the apostles." But then Jesus changes to use the word "you" in the singular referring to Peter [and not the other apostles]. It is very crucial to grasp this difference. The point is: ALL the apostles, including Peter, will falter or waver in their faith or trust in Jesus. But Jesus has already prayed to his heavenly Father that Peter's faith might lead him to repentance, deepen his faith, and then strengthen his spiritual brothers, the apostles. 22:31-32.
       b. Peter immediately reacted saying, "I am ready to go with you [Jesus] to prison and to death." In a safe environment, many Christians will make such a declaration. But when heat is applied, often people back off and deny Jesus. Jesus knew this, and thus said to Peter, "I tell you, Peter, the cock will not crow this day, until you have DENIED three times that you know me." Jesus knows a human's heart. What we say often is not what is in our hearts. What protected Peter was not his own spiritual strength or growth or character, but the protective prayer of Jesus in his behalf. Intercessory prayer is very important and very powerful. We all must pray for one another. 22:33-34.

IV. Appropriate Preparation. Luke 22:35-38.
      a. Finally, Jesus warns his disciples not to be na├»ve, but instead prepare themselves properly for the crises approaching them. First, Jesus reminded them that when they followed his instructions to go out with purse, bags, or sandals, they lacked nothing. And they agreed. 22:35.
      b. Now Jesus gives them new instructions: You must take a purse and a bag and a sword to fulfill the announcement: "And he was counted among the lawless," based on Isaiah 53:12. 22:36-37.
      c. The apostles responded by telling Jesus that they had "two swords." Jesus responded, saying, "It is enough," that is, it is unnecessary to defend me when the authorities attack him, capture him, and crucify him. God the Father will take care of this whole situation. 22:38.

When we partake of the Lord's Supper, God our Father through Jesus Christ is watching and intensely concerned about our hearts. Jesus focuses on the importance of betrayal, seeking superiority over others spiritually or in any other way, wavering or failing faith or trust, and preparation for the future. This is very current for every situation for every person and every assembly of God's people.

Share YOUR concerns and aspirations and shortcomings and experiences and concepts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

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