Sermon #158 Luke Sermons
Title: Who is the greatest?
Text: Luke 22:21-30
Subject: Humility – Serving One Another
Date: Sunday Evening — September 25, 2005
Tape # Y-78a
Readings: David Burge and Ron Wood
We often try to make comparisons between material, earthly things and spiritual, heavenly things. But there is one great problem with all such comparisons. ¾ They simply cannot be made! Any rule or principle that is taken from the natural realm and applied to the spiritual realm must be reversed.
1. In the natural realm success is measured by gain. In the spiritual world success is measured by loss (Matt. 16:25).
(Matthew 16:25) “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
2. In the natural world wealth is gained and measured by what a man is able to gain and save. In the spiritual world wealth is gained and measured by what he gives (Pro. 19:17; 11:24; 22:9; Lk. 6:38).
(Proverbs 11:24) “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.”
(Proverbs 19:17) “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”
(Proverbs 22:9) “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.”
(Luke 6:38) “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
3. In natural things a “self-made” man is admired. In spiritual things a self-made man is condemned (Rom. 4:4-5).
(Romans 4:4-5) “Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. (5) But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
4. In natural things ambition and aggressiveness are looked upon as commendable things. In the kingdom of God they are deplorable things. Natural men are admired who strive for advancement and promotion. But the Spirit of God teaches us to strive for abasement and servitude.
This was a hard lesson for the disciples to learn because, like us, they each wanted to be the greatest. In the New Testament it appears that the one thing, which disrupted the fellowship, communion, and harmony of our Lord’s disciples, more than anything else, was personal ambition, the desire for personal exaltation, recognition, and greatness (Matt. 18:1; 20:20-21; Mk. 9:33-35; Lk. 9:46-48).
Even as they sat around the table with the Lord Jesus on the eve of his crucifixion, eating the last supper, while he talked to them about his death, as he gave them the blessed ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, “there was a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest!” What a pitiful picture we have before us ¾ Brethren, sitting together with Christ at the table of communion striving about…
· Which of them would betray the Master (vv. 22-23).
· Which of them would be counted the greatest (v. 24).
Where humility should have abounded, pride and ambition intruded! When love and unity should have prevailed, ambition divided! Our Lord’s words to his disciples were intended by him to cure us of the evil of ambition, of self-seeking, self-serving, self-promoting pride. Let’s read the sad story together and ask God the Holy Spirit to teach us its lessons. The Lord Jesus had just eaten the last passover with his disciples and instituted the blessed ordinance of the Lord’s Supper.
(Luke 22:21-30) “But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table. (22) And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed! (23) And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing. (24) And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. (25) And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. (26) But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. (27) For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. (28) Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. (29) And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; (30) That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Then, the Lord Jesus gave them an example of humility and love that should forever cure his followers of this evil (John 13:12-17).
(John 13:12-17) “So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? (13) Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. (14) If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. (15) For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. (16) Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. (17) If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
The title of my message is Who Is The Greatest?
Proposition: He that is greatest in the kingdom of God is the servant of all.
We all have lofty desires. We talk piously about our desires to be like Christ, to live the Christian life, to honor God in our lives. Is that truly the desire of our hearts? If it is, let us pray that God the Holy Spirit will teach us to serve one another. If the Son of God made himself the least, we must not strive to be the greatest. If our Master became our servant, let us serve one another (Phil. 2:1-7).
(Philippians 2:1-7) “If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, (2) Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. (3) Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. (4) Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (5) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (6) Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: (7) But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:”
“He that Serveth”
I. First, I want us to think about the position our Lord assumed.
He says, “I am among you as he that serveth.” In this world our Lord was not one of the cultured few upon whom others wait. He was not one of the rich, the mighty, or the noble whom others serve. He was the servant of servants (Mk. 10:43-45). When he came down from heaven he took upon himself the form of a servant.
(Mark 10:42-45) “But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. (43) But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: (44) And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. (45) For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
A. In the circle of his disciples Christ was always the one who served.
He healed the sick. He fed the multitudes. Only once did he ask anyone to give him anything; and then it was that he might show his humility. Being a Jew, he condescended to ask a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. Even then, his object was that he might serve her.
Where he was most evidently the Master, among his own disciples, he was most evidently the servant.
· Like a shepherd, he was servant to his sheep.
· Like a nurse, he was servant to the children of God.
· Like a chambermaid, he washed his disciples’ feet.
B. In the celebration of the Lord’s Supper the Lord himself was among his disciples as “he that serveth.”
· He provided the table.
· He desired the fellowship of his brethren at the Passover.
· He broke the bread.
· He offered the prayer.
· He poured the wine.
C. Throughout the whole course of his life on earth, the Lord Jesus took the position of a servant, a slave.
· When he entered into the covenant of grace with the Father as our Surety, the Son of God became a voluntary Servant (Ps. 40:6; Isa. 50:5-7; Ex. 21:6).
(Psalms 40:6) “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.”
(Isaiah 50:5-7) “The Lord GOD hath opened mine ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away back. (6) I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. (7) For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.”
(Exodus 21:6) “Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever.”
· When he came into the world to save us, he announced himself as the Servant of Jehovah (Ps. 40:7; Heb. 10:5-10).
(Psalms 40:7) “Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,”
(Hebrews 10:5-10) “Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: (6) In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. (7) Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God. (8) Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; (9) Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. (10) By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
· The physical body prepared for our Savior and all his earthly surroundings were fitted for service (Phil. 2:7). — “A body hast thou prepared me!”
(Philippians 2:7) “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”
· Throughout his life, our Lord Jesus cared for others (Matt. 20:28).
(Matthew 20:28) “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
· He laid aside his own will and pleasure and came to do the will and pleasure of his Father, serving our interest (John 4:34; 6:38).
(John 4:34) “Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”
(John 6:38) “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”
· He patiently bore all manner of evil from men as one who is servant to another (1 Pet. 2:23).
(1 Peter 2:23) “Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:”
· The Son of God assumed the lowest place among men that he might bring us to the highest place of heavenly glory as the sons of God (Ps. 22:6; Isa. 53:3; 2 Cor. 8:9).
(Psalms 22:6) “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.”
(Isaiah 53:3) “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
(2 Corinthians 8:9) “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
II. What we have seen thus far should fill our hearts with wonder and adoration. What astonishing love! What amazing grace! He who is the Son of God became Servant to those who are his servants! Does that fact not astonish you? — He who is Lord of all became the Servant of all his people (Col. 1:15-19).
(Colossians 1:15-19) “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (16) For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: (17) And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (18) And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. (19) For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.”
· The Creator served the creature!
· The Ruler served his subjects!
· The Firstborn served the adopted children!
· He who is “all fullness” served us, who are all emptiness!
· He who has all preeminence served us, who are less than nothing!
He who is infinitely Superior in wisdom, power, and holiness became servant to the very lowest (Matt. 8:26-27; John 14:9).
(Matthew 8:26-27) “And he saith unto them, Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then he arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm. (27) But the men marvelled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!”
(John 14:9) “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father?”
· He gave sight to blind beggars.
· He defended an adulterous woman.
· He calmed the troubled waters for his unbelieving disciples.
· He ministered to the small child.
· He stretched out his hand to drowning Peter.
· He removed the doubts of doubting Thomas.
· He came to Peter when Peter had forsaken him.
He who is our great Benefactor became Servant to us who are the beneficiaries of his grace (John 15:16).
(John 15:16) “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
Do not imagine that our Lord’s service was limited to those disciples, or even to his time on earth. He performed all his earthly service for us. He serves us now. And he will serve us forever.
· The righteousness he accomplished was for us (Rom. 5:19).
· The death he died, the atonement he made was for us (Gal. 4:4-5).
· His heavenly intercession is for us (Heb. 7:24-25).
· His providential rule is for us (John 17:2).
· The angelic hosts, his holy servants, are sent by him to serve us (Heb. 1:14).
· Throughout the ages of eternity all the glory, joy, and bliss of heaven will be given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. Even then, he will serve us (Lk. 12:37).
(Luke 12:37) “Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.”
· Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory, condescends to serve us who are altogether unworthy of his notice, much less his service.
III. Now, I want us to realize the cause of our Lord’s servitude.
How can this great condescension on the part of Christ be explained? What is the cause of it? What is the reason for it? Why has he done it? Here are three answers:
A. The Lord Jesus Christ is so infinitely great that he loses nothing by serving us (Heb. 1:2-4).
(Hebrews 1:2-4) “Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (3) Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; (4) Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.”
B. The Son of God is so full of love to us that his love for us compels him to serve us (John 15:9; 1 John 3:16; John 13:1).
(John 15:9) “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.”
(1 John 3:16) “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
(John 13:1) “Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.”
C. Our Mediator, the God-man, is so entirely consecrated to the glory of God that he willingly endured even the painful, shameful death of the cross for us, that he might glorify God (Matt. 26:38-39; John 12:28).
(Matthew 26:38-39) “Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. (39) And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.”
(John 12:28) “Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
· Christ is a great Fountain!
· Christ is a great Storehouse!
· Christ is a great Portion!
· Christ is a great Savior!
IV. May God the Holy Spirit graciously teach us to imitate our Savior by serving one another.
Let this be the rule of your life (John 13:5, 13-15).
(John 13:5) “After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.”
(John 13:13-15) “Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. (14) If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. (15) For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”
If you would be great in the kingdom of God, become a servant. Have no greater ambition than this (Eph. 4:32 – 5:1).
(Ephesians 4:32) “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
(Ephesians 5:1) “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;”
· Cheerfully choose to fulfil the most lowly services in the kingdom of God.
Illustrations: Cleaning the Building
· Seek from God the spirit of humility toward your brethren (Eph. 4:1-3; Phil. 2:3; 1 Pet. 5:5).
(Ephesians 4:1-3) “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, (2) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; (3) Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”
(Philippians 2:3) “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
(1 Peter 5:5) “Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.”
· May God teach us to continually lay down our lives for one another (1 John 3:16-17).
(1 John 3:16-17) “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. (17) But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?”
We ought to covet the spirit of the Apostle Paul (2 Cor. 12:15).
(2 Corinthians 12:15) “And I will very gladly spend and be spent for you; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”
Make self-sacrifice the rule by which you live. Make it your business to seek the good of others (Phil. 2:4-5).
(Philippians 2:4-5) “Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. (5) Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
· “Nobody comes to see me.” — Why don’t you go see somebody?
· “Nobody calls me.” — Why don’t you call somebody?
· “Nobody seems to care about me.” — Why don’t you take care of somebody?
· “Nobody remembers me.” — Why don’t you remember somebody?
Do not avenge yourself, bring grief to others, or disrupt the blessed peace of God’s saints; but rather bear the injustices done to you. — Our Master did (1 Pet. 2:19-21).
(1 Peter 2:19-25) “For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. (20) For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. (21) For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: (22) Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: (23) Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: (24) Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. (25) For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.”
Always seek the place in God’s kingdom in which you are likely to receive the least and can give the most. Choose to serve rather than to be served! — Our Lord did.
The place of highest honor in the church of God is the place of greatest service. The towel with which Christ wiped his disciples’ feet is infinitely more attractive than the royal robes of the greatest king on earth.
Illustration: There are just two kinds of people in this world. — Those who use and those who are used. God, make me one who is used.— Those who take and those who give. I want to be a giver. — Those who are served and those who serve. Lord, make me a servant.
“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
Illustration: “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother!”
Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven? Christ, the Servant of all (Matt. 11:11). Let us strive to be like him!
1. How this picture of Christ rebukes our pride!
2. How it ought to arouse our love for him!
3. How it ought to inspire us to serve one another!