Turn to Luke 22:24-27 as we continue looking at the events of the last night before Jesus’ crucifixion. In this passage we find the disciples arguing about who is the greatest, and Jesus rebukes them for it. This is a pretty humiliating story about the disciples, but Luke doesn’t tell it to shame them. He tells it to teach us a lesson. You see, Jesus is getting at one main thing in his rebuke: our attitude, our ambition. He’s exhorting us to a life of other-centered, Gospel-motivated service. As we look at what Jesus says, I want you to see four ways Luke gets this point across: the blindness of the disciples, the blindness of the world, the nature of the kingdom, and the motivation for our service.

 

I. The Blindness of the Disciples  

The first thing I want you to see from this passage is the blindness of the disciples, and you see that clearly in verse 24. It’s amazing that the disciples are having this argument now. They’ve just come from the Passover, where Jesus explained to them again that He was going to be the sacrifice for sins. And John tells us that, before they ate their meal, Jesus washed all the disciples’ feet and told them, John 13:14, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.” So Jesus has just told them that they ought to be servants to one another, and He has told them about His death on their behalf, but they’re arguing about who is the greatest!

 There is such a thing as blindness in the face of great light. The disciples have watched Jesus serve others for three years. They’ve seen Him spend time with people society would not have considered great. And right after Jesus sets the most profound example of a servant’s attitude, the disciples reveal their selfish ambition, their sinful desire that is blinding them to everything Jesus is trying to teach them. And this is an important warning to us. Sometimes we might think that we’re safe from this sort of obvious pride or from some other sin because we’ve been in church for years and heard the Gospel preached and heard the Bible read over and over. But Luke shows us that the greatest of advantages does not make us safe from sin because our sinful desires can blind us and make those advantages useless. So this blindness that we see in the disciples is a call for us to examine ourselves.

 

II. The Blindness of the World  

The second thing is in verse 25, and it shows us the blindness of the world. Jesus tells the disciples, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors.” Jesus is showing the disciples their blindness by comparing it to the blindness of the world. And we see what Jesus is talking about all the time, don’t we? If we look at business, the government, local organizations, or any other human institution we almost always see a yearning for position, regard, and importance. It is as true now as it was when Jesus said it two thousand years ago. The world is blind to the fact that those positions are only temporary and that they really don’t mean much because God is on the throne of heaven. And why are they blind? Because of their selfish ambition, their sinful desire to be above everyone else. That desire crowds out the knowledge of God and prevents them from wanting to look to Him, and so those who have power continue to lord it over those who follow them. This world truly is blind to the things of God.

 

III. The Nature of the Kingdom

 The third thing, which Jesus shows us in verse 26, is about the nature of the kingdom. Look at what He tells the disciples: “But not so with you.” What Jesus has just said about the way the world works is not to be the way the disciples live. And they are not to just be a little different. The kingdom works in just the opposite way from the way of the world. Jesus goes on to say, “Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” We’ve said before that the culture of the First-Century Jews respected age above youth, unlike our children-focused culture today. Those who were older were thought wiser and more important, but Jesus says they ought to be like children, and He tells them they ought to serve. He’s focusing, as we said before, on their attitude and their ambition. He wants them to have a holy yearning and ambition to serve.

 Jesus’ words are as radical today as they were in the First Century. We see all the time today people willing to step on a few toes to make their way to the top. People are always aiming at the next rung on the corporate ladder. Jesus Himself goes on in verse 27 to make the comparison: “For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table?” According to the wisdom of the world, the great ones are the ones being served, and the ones who serve are nothing. But in Jesus’ kingdom, those who want to be great are to be servants of others. They consider others better than themselves. And it’s a hard thing, because it goes against everything in us, and it goes against everything this world stands for and promotes. But it’s the way that true followers of Jesus ought to live.

 

IV. The Motivation for Our Service

 The last thing that Jesus shows us is the motivation of our service. He ends his rebuke in verse 27 by saying, “But I am among you as the one who serves.” What is Jesus saying here? Well, on one level, He’s telling His disciples, “You know that I am the Lord, the greatest in all the universe, but I am serving you. Follow the example I have set.” Those of us who want to follow Jesus ought to live the way that He lived.

 But at a deeper level, Jesus is showing us that our service is the result, not the cause, of our salvation. He has just finished talking about His sacrificial death that will bring about the new covenant, the very purpose of His earthly life. And now He speaks of Himself as the One who serves. Do you see what He’s doing? He’s saying that it is His service that brings about our salvation. That means that our service cannot be the source of our salvation. And of course, it can’t be, because all our service is stained with pride and self-righteousness, and it can never make up for even the smallest sin, which is enough to bring God’s wrath upon us. But Jesus in His unfailing love for His people came to be among us as One who serves so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. And anyone who repents of their sin and puts their faith in Him will receive the new heart with God’s law written on it that He promises to give us in the new covenant. And it is because of that new heart that we are able and willing to go and serve others as Jesus Himself did.