Summary: So what do we do about division among us? Let’s turn to the scripture to see what Jesus did and said. Jesus now shares with us three principles for achieving Greatness.
A Study of the Book of Luke
Sermon # 61
The Pathway to Greatness
“There was an uninvited guest at the meal, In fact, this guest is never invited (but often present). No one wants him around. Yet, he is so subtle, often no one knows he is present until he had done his damage. He is good at stirring up trouble. He has a knack for starting arguments. Sometimes the arguments lead to fights and the fights to war. Needless to say, when he enters a room, people will get hurt.
Of all places for him to be present, there he was in the upper room with Jesus and the disciples. You would think that he couldn’t even enter the room. But he did and he did what he does best. He took the words of Jesus and used them to get the disciples to begin to focus on themeselves. Who is the uninvited guest who crashed Jesus’s dinner party? Who is this uninvited guest who appeared at the church in Corinth? Who is this uninvited guest who has intruded into the life of countless congregations… The uninvited guest is named Division, a servant of Satan.” [Jeff Armbrester. “The Uninvited Guest” Sermon on Luke 22:14-30.]
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Some time Thursday morning or afternoon Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare for the Passover meal (22:8). Many believe that Jesus did not specify the location of the meal ahead of time so that Judas could not inform the enemies of the Lord where he and the disciples would be. Jesus wanted this last meal to be uninterrupted.
Jesus has just predicted his betrayal and has identified the perpetrator as one of the twelve. In verse twenty-three we read, “Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing. (24) Now there was also a dispute (philoneikia – literally loving strife) among them as to which of them should be considered the greatest.”
Perhaps the argument grew out of their speculations over who would be the one to betray Him or there may have been jealousy over the way they had been seated at the table. They indeed may have argued over which of them was capable of betraying the Lord. Deep down, they knew that each one of them was capable of such a betrayal. But when you are unhappy it doesn’t take much to get an argument started. The argument spread from who was the worst among them to who was the best among them.
Here we are at the scene of Jesus has revealed that he was facing death and even during the emotional Last Supper the disciples argued on who was the greatest. It would seem that the disciples are more interested in their own greatness than they are to identify who the traitor among them is. Instead of assuring the Jesus of their loyalty and their deep concern for the suffering that lay ahead of him, the disciples began to argue. Their argument broke the unity that Jesus spoke of only minutes before when he instituted the Lord’s supper.
The strange thing is that there is more argument and division over inconsequential matters, and more concern about recognition in the church than anywhere else. No congregation is immune. Division over the style of worship, division over the songs that are sung, division over who has the authority, division over what translation of the Bible you read, division over how the money is spent. The truth is that we will argue over almost anything in the church; from the color of the carpet to where to hang the clock. But the biggest and ugliest struggles are still over power and authority.
So what do we do about division among us? Let’s turn to the scripture to see what Jesus did and said. Jesus now shares with us three principles for achieving Greatness.
Achieving True Greatness Must Be Based On Understanding the Real Standard of Greatness.
Note with me two crucial differences in the determining Greatness. First, He says that greatness is Different than How the Unbelieving World behaves. Jesus began by contrasting Christian greatness with the world’s concept of greatness in verses twenty-five, “And He said to them, ’The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’”
Jesus said that in the world greatness is determined by how many people you exercise control over. Those who are leaders like to exercise power over people while at the same time boasting that they are caring for the interest of the ordinary citizen.
Jesus does not argue that some people achieve a higher degree of greatness or recognition that others. Everyone is not equal when it comes to talents and abilities or opportunities. The issue here is not whether some believers are greater than others, but how that believer uses that greatness.