Published March 16, 2006
Luke 22:14-29, 24-27, 31-34
Related Sunday School Lesson, Family Bible Series, April 2
Jesus spends the last week of His life and ministry in Jerusalem. About midweek He instructs Peter and John to prepare for the Passover. While in the context of the larger Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Passover was the annual festival in which the Jews remembered the exodus out of Egypt and God’s deliverance and salvation for them. The meal was a family remembrance in which the head of the family presided.
G. Campbell Morgan once commented on the family nature of the Passover meal, “Here, then, was something strange, something different; a group of men all away from their own homes. They were guests in the home of another man, and that man was not presiding; he had lent him [Jesus] room … He [Jesus] presided, as the father of the household always presided at the paschal feast. Here was a new kinship. Away back in His ministry, He had said one day, Who is My mother, who are My brethren, and My sisters? They that do the will of God. Here they were that little group with Him, the new family.”
And Jesus wanted them to remember. Jesus’ institution of His supper reminded the disciples that meaning and significance go beyond ritual, that greatness is in a servant’s spirit, and that alertness to the attack of our spiritual enemy is a safeguard.
The Supper Is More Than a Ritual (Luke 22:14-20)
After preparations had been made, Jesus reclines customarily as the head of this new family gathered to remember the exodus deliverance. Jesus, speaking prophetically about His death, which was to be the ultimate deliverance for all peoples, tells His disciples that He has desired to eat this Passover before He had to suffer. He declared He would not drink the cup until the kingdom of God had fully come.
A second cup comes after the paschal meal in verse 20. Jesus instituted His remembrance by taking bread, giving thanks, breaking it, and giving it to the disciples. His institution was, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In like manner He took the second cup and declared that it symbolized the new covenant, new family, in His blood.
The disciples were to remember not simply to store information for the sake of ready recall but to have constant awareness stimulated by a repeated event. They were to remember so to respond with appropriate action and behavior. To remember means to think about the event or lesson again and again, as the Apostle Paul said twice in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, “as oft as you do this.”
Greatness Comes Through Serving (Luke 24:24-27)
After instituting His supper of remembrance, the disciples began discussing their respective positioning in God’s kingdom. Verse 24 indicates that among the disciples a “dispute arose” (NIV). The disciples simply engaged in the fruitless game of comparison.
This is after Jesus had instructed them concerning His impending death for their deliverance and salvation. He had reminded them of His body to be given for them. He had declared His blood would be poured out as their new covenant. The disciples forgot momentarily because they quarreled among themselves for prominence.
Jesus then in verses 25-26 contrasts the disciples’ attitudes of greatness with those outside His new family. Jesus stated that kings and authorities “lord” over others to demonstrate greatness. They even call themselves “Benefactors,” a term often used to characterize gods, heroes, and kings.
There is irony in the description because “kings” and “authorities” could be benevolent or even despotic. This irony certainly finds contrast in Jesus’ pronouncement of His ultimate humiliation and death. Jesus responded to the disciples’ argument about which one of them was the greatest by explaining that true greatness is found in servanthood.
In verse 26 Jesus declared, “But you are not to be like that” (NIV). The “you” is emphatic here implying that the Lord’s Supper teaches that greatness comes through serving others and not being served as demonstrated by the example of Jesus. Mark’s Gospel account adds, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 NASB).
Satan Wants You to Fail (Luke 22:31-34)
Then the Lord focused His personal attention upon Simon Peter. Jesus warned him that Satan was trying to destroy him. Simon Peter is representative of the whole band of disciples because the “you” is plural. To counter Satan’s demanded attack, Jesus had prayed for Simon Peter and the other disciples “that your faith may not fail” (verse 31).
Jesus predicted that Simon Peter would fail but uses this trial in his life as an encouragement for other disciples. The KJV uses the word “converted.” Its meaning refers not to Simon Peter’s salvation but rather to his restoration. Peter’s self-confident assertion “I am ready to go with you to prison and to death” (verse 33) was countered by Jesus’ prediction of his denial three times before the day’s end.
The evidence would be the crowing of a rooster. The remembrance of Jesus and His supper was to aid Simon Peter and all disciples that the enemy “the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8 NIV).
We must remember Jesus and His supper lest we forget that meaning and significance in God’s kingdom go beyond mere ritual and form, that kingdom greatness comes through servant leadership and not worldly standards, and our self-confidence is no safeguard against spiritual attack. We remember the Lord’s Supper that points us to His death for our sins and the new life we have in Jesus Christ.
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