As we move into the final few chapters of the book of Luke we find ourselves nearing Jesus’ death. I’ve often imagined how his last meal and conversations went with the disciples and how much confusion and heartbreak there must’ve been as they learned that their beloved teacher was going to be put to death. Today I want to take a look at how this played out a bit as Jesus informs the disciples that he’ll soon be betrayed by one of them.
Luke 22:21-23 “But here at this table, sitting among us as a friend, is the man who will betray me. 22 For it has been determined that the Son of Man must die. But what sorrow awaits the one who betrays him.” 23 The disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing.
Up to this point, the conversation is going exactly like you’d expect. These men have spent three intense years following Jesus, bonding with him and one another, witnessing and performing miraculous things. The news that one of them was going to betray Jesus had to come as an absolute shock. But it’s what happens in the very next verse that really blows my mind. Check this out.
Luke 22:24 Then they began to argue among themselves about who would be the greatest among them.
Let’s pause and remind ourselves of what’s happening here. Jesus, the son of God who you have left everything behind for and given up your life to follow, just told you he’s going to die and will be betrayed by one of you. You start to question one another and try to figure out who the betrayer is, but then the conversation shifts, and you start to argue about which one of you is the greatest? I find it to be a heartbreaking moment in the bible. How could they so easily go from this genuine concern and outrage about Jesus being betrayed to this self-centered, pride driven argument about which one of them was the greatest? Jesus is sitting right there! They’re doing this in front of his face.
As I was thinking about this situation and how the conversation got to that point it really occurred to me just how quickly self can come into a conversation. A dear friend can be telling us about the worst day they’re having and selfish thoughts creep into our mind. Thoughts like, If they lose their job they won’t be able to finish paying back that loan I gave to them. Our default state is a selfish one, and we have to constantly fight to put others ahead of ourselves.
James 3:15-16 For jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and demonic. 16 For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.
You know what word jumps out at me most in there? Earthly. As you draw deeper and deeper into your identity as a citizen of the Kingdom of God and not a citizen of Earth you start to see earthly things for what they are. The last thing I want to be described as is worldly or earthly. And yet you see that’s where the disciples’ conversation went. “I’m not going to betray Jesus, I’ve healed 23 people just this year alone! No one else has healed more than I have, clearly my heart is pure.” And then someone else stands up and points a finger “Oh really? Then why did I see you pass up an opportunity to minister to the poor last week? I’ve never shied away from an opportunity to speak blessings over the poor, I’ve spent more time with the poor than anyone else. If anyone here is above suspicion it’s me!” In an instant, conversations and thoughts can take a turn like this.
Even the redeemed sometimes fall back into the worldly, selfish ways we were raised out of by Jesus. It even happened to the disciples. I think it’s important to really acknowledge here that even the group of men hand selected by Jesus weren’t above the occasional slip back into worldly behavior. If that’s not a warning to you and an inspiration to constantly stay on guard against those old behaviors and attitudes I don’t know what is. We’re called to live beyond that thinking, to be above it, to put others before ourselves. Stay active in your guard against selfish thoughts and thinking. Jesus showed us that a life lived putting others first is a life lived perfectly. That’s the goal, to recreate that as best as we possibly can, and that’s impossible if we spend our time focused on our selfishness and our egos.
I sure do love all of you. I’ve been doing Bible blogs here for a few years now, but this study of Luke has really felt special to me. I hope everyone is having a great day and I’ll see you all again on Thursday!
If you have a prayer request or just need someone to talk to, my email is always available to you at firstname.lastname@example.org.