Sunday, January 20, 2013



Remember earlier in the gospel of Luke after the disciples had been on a field trip where they participated in healings, saw a leper healed, distributed the food the day Jesus fed 5000 and some of them saw Jesus in all of His glory at the transfiguration, and THEN they began to grumble among themselves on who was the greatest? Well, in this passage during Jesus' last week of ministry on earth, they are up to it again.

A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. 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. 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. You are those who have stood by me in my trials.

Now think about this. This time the disciples are in a most grave dinner scene where Jesus has just revealed to them at the Passover meal that one of them is about to betray Him. And in the midst of this tension and seriousness, a conflict breaks out again about who of the disciples is the greatest.

The human disease continues to run rampant today. It's the disease of self-centeredness and selfishness. It's all about positioning and competition around the wrong thing for the wrong reason.
And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Jesus then says that He is giving these disciples the responsibility of living and carrying out the Kingdom lifestyle to the world. You see, the Kingdom lifestyle is inside out and upside down. Instead of finding greatness by pushing and positioning yourself as a leader, try being a servant. Leadership and greatness emerge out of serving others. We call it servant leadership. That's the Kingdom way!

NOTE one more thing here that's most encouraging. Here are these disciples participating in all of these embarrassing conflicts with one another to become greater than the other in the Kingdom, yet it's this very week that Jesus promotes them in an interesting way. In Jesus' prayer to the Father, the real Lord's prayer in John 17, Jesus pronounces these stumble bums as passing the test of faith. He says that they have come to believe, have accepted and have learned to obey the message the Father sent through Jesus. This is what Jesus reported to the Father in this prayer. These who, when they have time on their hands, in the most inopportune time still let their self-centeredness and immaturity show. Do you know what this means? It means that there is a lot of hope for you-and for me. Jesus sees through our weaknesses and idiosyncrasies and sees our potential of being faithful, obedient followers of Him. When I look in the mirror and see myself, I tend to become a little depressed. But when Jesus looks at me, He sees me in the most positive light ever. I think I'll go with His viewpoint. That feels so much better. How about you?



We finally come to the Passover meal Jesus is going to eat with His disciples.
Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover." "Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked. He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' He will show you a large room upstairs, all furnished. Make preparations there."  
They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 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."

NOTE what Jesus says about the Kingdom. Remember, according to Jesus the Kingdom is already present. However, this presence of the Kingdom now is gradually coming upon the earth. Now, Jesus speaks of the Kingdom fulfillment in the future. Clearly, the Kingdom is gradual and later when Jesus returns, the Kingdom will be in its fullest form.
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. But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!" They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.

The Passover dinner that Jesus is eating with His disciples has special significance. Since the miraculous event in Egypt when the death angel "passed over" the Jewish homes that were covered by the blood of a lamb, the Jews faithfully observed this Passover feast.

This is possibly the most prominent of the Jewish feasts that has kept the Jewish people going throughout the centuries. It's a dinner of instruction for the children to be told of the freedom God brought upon the Jewish people and removed them from their oppressive captivity.

This dinner is actually a telling of the story of that freedom with a future look toward ultimate freedom through the Messiah someday. In the 31st chapter of Jeremiah God promised that He would someday make a new covenant with His people with a Law that is written, not on stones, but on their hearts. And God was to do this by providing His special lamb for the world.

The entire dinner speaks of the history of the Jewish people and looks forward to the Messiah's coming, the Holy One. At one point in the dinner the youngest is sent to the door to see if Elijah has come to sit at his place of honor at the table. You see, when Elijah shows, he will be introducing the coming of the Messiah.

The Passover celebration is a picture of the Messiah. Now, Jesus presents Himself as the One they have been celebrating all along through the Passover feast.

What's interesting is that the Christians have taken the Passover celebration and changed its name and purpose. They use terms such as the "last supper" or "communion"-neither designation is Biblical. A better term might be the "covenant" supper or simply call it the Passover. It is filled with great meaning and is indeed a beautiful picture of freedom from all slavery and ultimate freedom through God's Messiah.

Jesus so desired to eat this Passover with His disciples so that He, the Passover Lamb, might make a covenant with them. That covenant was to bind Him to them and they to Him until He was to return. And today, the covenant supper binds us to one another and to Him until He returns. This is why we are told, "As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, we are to do it in remembrance of Him, UNTIL HE RETURNS." This is our covenant. This is our hope.

NOTE one more thing here. This covenant was made with the disciples just before the saddest days of their lives. This is precisely why they needed this special covenant with their Lord. And, you know what, this is why we desperately need to be in covenant with Jesus and with one another today. This covenant is the only protection we have and the only protection you'll ever need as you face the difficult days ahead. I like the way Paul expressed this to the Corinthians: "For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth." I urge you to take the time to celebrate this feast of freedom. It will mark you. God will mark your hearts with His covenant until He returns.



Judas has to be one of the most enigmatic characters you'll ever observe. He chose to be a disciple of Jesus. Jesus chose him to be a follower. He was involved in, at least, two missions of healing and performing miracles. He was on the inside of the inner 12 and had been chosen to be the group's treasurer. Then at the Passover season, when the opportunity presented itself for him to deliver Jesus into the hands of the Jewish leadership, he seized upon the moment with the promise of being handsomely paid for it. Let's look at it:

Now the Festival of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people. Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.

No doubt Judas was following Jesus as were the others with a political motive, but he seems to embrace that image more than the others. He was watching the money bag and he knew all of the inner workings of the group. He probably had many thoughts as to how this movement was going to go and grow. 

However, when he saw that the movement was not gaining the proper endorsements from the Jewish leadership and the tide of opinion of those who could make the decisions for the nation was all going against Jesus, Judas was wide open to a better deal.

It was a little thing at first. But then when we come to the story of John 12 where Mary was "wasting" the expensive perfume on Jesus, that seems to be the straw that changed everything. Think of it this way:

Sow a thought and reap a deed; Sow a deed and reap a character; Sow a character and reap a destiny.

It was a little seed that was sown in Judas, but it grew. Judas became a traitor the same way any of us may become a traitor to Jesus-by compromising secretly in the mind just that one time too many. It's also difficult to know how his background played into this. Judas was the only one of the Twelve who was not from Galilee. He was from the south near Jerusalem.

NOTE that in John 13 Jesus washed the feet of Judas as He did the others. He didn't discriminate against him. In fact, theoretically, Judas might have changed his mind after this dramatic act of love and servitude Jesus displayed.

NOTE a few observations: FIRST-You can take comfort in the fact that when you choose someone to come alongside, you may lose this person as did Jesus.

SECOND-Theoretically, anyone of the disciples might have played the role of Judas. But for the grace of God, right? I am convinced that any one of us is capable of doing almost anything at any time. No one is exempt.

THIRD-There are always two ways to go-your way and Jesus' way. When Judas no longer trusted in Jesus' way, he was vulnerable to whatever opportunity presented itself.

You see, Jesus was on a mission no matter how impractical that mission seemed to be. Jesus' ways are not our ways. And no matter how much evidence seems to stack up against what Jesus says to be and to do, His way is the best. Or, to put it more succinctly, HE IS THE WAY. It's not what you believe or what you think is best; it's all about the person of Jesus, the great I AM.

Judas ended his life in a pile of depression. He made the fatal mistake of trying to make something of his life without Jesus, therefore he lost his way and his self-esteem was obliterated. When he stopped following Jesus, he lost his way and his identity. This reminds me of a most profound saying, "You cannot know who you are, until you know whose you are."