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Second Midweek of Lent

Luke 22:14–38

James T. Batchelor

Second Midweek of Lent
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church  
Hoopeston, IL

view DOC file

Wed, Feb 17, 2016 

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Based on the Sermon Series:

Places of the Passion: A Sermon series by David R. Schmitt

with contributions by

Timothy A. Appel, Kelly Klages, Mark Knickelbein, and Larry Peters

2016 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO.

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This evening, we gather and listen to Jesus.  He is in the Upper Room with His disciples.  As we listen to this event as recorded by Luke, we discover two different categories of theologian.  In this account, we discover many theologians of glory and one theologian of the cross.

As we learned last week, Jesus gathered His disciples together to celebrate one last Passover.  The disciples have no idea what is about to happen over the next few days.  In a few hours, soldiers will arrest Jesus and take Him to trial a series of trials actually a series of trial that will ultimately condemn Him to torture and crucifixion.  But for now, the disciples have no clue.

Here, in this upper room, the disciples give an excellent example of what it means to be a theologian of glory.  They are in the presence of the one who will offer Himself up for the sins or the world.  They themselves have confessed that they believe this one to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  Jesus Himself has told them about His upcoming sacrifice saying, The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Luke 9:22) Never the less, Luke, ever the faithful historian records a dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. (Luke 22:24)

While Jesus is predicting His death, they are arguing about greatness.  Having spent three years with Jesus, listening to His teachings and seeing Him cast out demons and rule over creation, the disciples major concern is their place in the pecking order of the disciples.  Who is the greatest? they ask.  As Jesus moves toward death, His disciples grasp for life.  As Jesus welcomes dishonor, His disciples fight over honor.  As Jesus speaks about suffering, His disciples argue about glory.  They try to rise above the world and rule.

Now, Luke doesnt give us the specifics of their argument.  We dont know what they said . . . but then again, do we really need the words?  Nothing has changed down through the centuries.  We have our own version of this debate.  We know what it sounds like, dont we?  Arguments over greatness.  Such arguments tend to be all too common, both then and, among us now.

Whether you look at the Church at large or at an individual congregation such as our own, it is not hard to come across division and strife.  Gods people are frequently broken up in arguments about gifts and greatness.  Earlier this evening, we heard about it in the church in Corinth.  Here was a church blessed with a multitude of gifts: faith and healing and miraculous powers that could make you stand up on your feet and sing.

Was there peace in such a place?  No!  Gods people were too busy arguing about all of their gifts trying to see which was the greatest. Gods church was divided.  People fought over Gods blessings.  Some followed Paul, others Apollos, others Peter.  The very pastors that God had given them became tools that Satan used to divide them.  Satan wants to turn us against one another, and he uses Gods gifts to do it.  He tries to turn our gifts into things that cause us to fight.  Our confessions of faith, our offerings to God, our service in the Church, our witness to the world become ways in which we divide ourselves into groups.  Into those who really show their commitment and those whose service is more hidden.  He gives us visions of faith, mixed with glory bold visions larger than life.  Slowly, our gifts separate us as Satan abuses the good things of God in order to divide.

And the tragedy of all this is not the wasted time, not the wasted gifts, not the hurt feelings, and not the words said in anger.  The real tragedy of all of this is that we miss out on the gifts that God Himself want to give to us: His presence in this place as He serves us with His loving service of forgiveness, life, and salvation.  He gives these gifts to bring us unity and peace, but we are so focused on our own status that we dont even notice what God wishes to give.

Jesus is the ultimate theologian of the cross.  There is no doubt whatsoever that He is truly the greatest one, not just in that room, but He is, in fact, greater than all of creation.  Never the less, notice how Jesus reacts to His quarreling disciples.  He said to them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. (Luke 22:2527) Listen to that last statement again.  He said, I am among you as the one who serves.

In spite of their quarreling, Jesus claimed the disciples as His own.  When His disciples argued over greatness, Jesus revealed faith in humble service.  He asked His disciples, Who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? (Luke 22:27) The disciples would have agreed that Jesus was greatest among them, that He was the one who should recline at table, but Jesus called their attention to His action.  He is the one who serves.  Not only has He served them at table, but He will serve them as He suffers betrayal and dies on the cross.  The Creator comes to die for His creatures.  Here, hidden in this service, is the true greatness of God.

Jesus identifies with the least in this world.  He is the Crucified One rejected by the world, by religious leaders, by His disciples, even by His Heavenly Father.  Yet, in that rejection, He fiercely and faithfully holds on to every last sinner, every last fallen child of God.  In His dying, Jesus silenced all arguments by revealing the generous mercy of God.  Through His death, the least are brought into the kingdom of God.  As we struggle for glory and seek to make a name for ourselves, Jesus freely gives us the only name that truly matters.  You are a child of God, forgiven of sin, and hidden in the embrace of God.  God the Father extends His hand over you and gives you His greatest blessing.  He hides you from eternal death by the death of Jesus, His Son.  God now calls you His son, His daughter.

As children of God, we dont know the future.  We dont know the struggles that it might bring.  But Jesus wants you to know the comfort of His service for you for all time.  Although one who reclines at table with Him will betray Him, and another will deny Him Although Satan will divide them, and the world will fight against them although we, too, have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God although all of this is true there is one who comes among us and brings us the true glory of God.  Jesus reveals Gods true glory in suffering service.  He comes to fulfill all that God has planned.  He goes to the cross and offers His life that He might come this evening and offer forgiveness to you.  You are children of God.  In Jesus, God has brought you into a Kingdom that death, the devil, and all of our petty arguments can never destroy.  In His great power, wisdom, mercy, and love, He has taken this place which has too often been a place of strife and made it into a place where He comes to serve us with His everlasting gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation. Amen

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