In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Jesus and his disciples were in Jerusalem, along with thousands of others, to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread which was also called the Passover. They were there to remember God’s deliverance from the slavery of their ancestors in Egypt.
Jesus knew that he was there for another deliverance. He had come to Jerusalem to deliver the world from the slavery of sin and death. As he had been telling his disciples, Jesus knew that his “hour” had come; his “hour of suffering and death.”
At the beginning of Luke chapter twenty-two, we are reminded of what Jesus knew. He told his disciples that – “the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to put him to death, for they feared the people.” Luke also tells us that one of the twelve named Judas Iscariot had decided to join in the plot by betraying Jesus into their hands.
Place To Place
In this season of Lent, we are going to follow Jesus as he moved from place to place during the last twenty-four hours before his death. We begin tonight with Jesus and his disciple in the upper room where they gathered to observe the Passover meal.
When we think about Jesus and his disciples in the upper room, we most often think about the new meal that Jesus gave to his disciples and to the church. After they had eaten the Passover Meal, Jesus took bread and wine and gave it to them in a new way. He said to them, “This is my body given for you, this is the cup poured out for you.”
It was only days later that the disciples would connect this meal of bread and wine with the body and blood that would be given and shed on the cross for the forgiveness of their sins. The Passover Meal ended in that room and the Lord’s Supper was given to the disciples of Jesus then and now for the forgiveness of all sin.
As Jesus was giving them this new meal, he was also talking about his soon to happen betrayal and suffering. Luke tells us that they had some concern about who was going to betray Jesus, but their discussion soon turned to a different topic.
Perhaps thinking that one of them would betray Jesus was too disturbing to talk about so their conversation shifted. They entered into “a dispute among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.”
I think this is a picture of all of us, not just during the season of Lent, but in every season. When we are told that we are “sinful and unclean” we don’t like feeling dirty so we change the subject. We would much rather think of ourselves as better than our neighbor or fellow employee.
When we hear the phrase, “we have sinned in thought, word, and deed,” we are quick in our own minds to defend ourselves. Certainly when we gather with family or friends the topic of discussion isn’t how we betray Jesus with our sins.
“That’s not me” we say to ourselves. “I’m a humble person, I’d never be like those disciples who argued about being greatest.” But which of us would argue that we are the chief of sinners, that our sins are worst, or that we have no right to ask for God’s mercy?
How easy it is to boast about our humbleness, to take credit for not boasting about being the greatest. Jesus said to his disciples, “But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as on who serves.”
Jesus is telling his disciples and you and me that we are to serve others. We are put off ideas about being the greatest; the most admired. Especially we are to put off these thoughts in our own minds.
This season of Lent is a time set aside to remind us that we are unable to be the kind of servant that Christ wants us to be. We are unable to put aside our sinful nature that is always looking to make us the greatest in our own eyes.
But before we give up hope, before we say it is impossible we must hear the additional words that Jesus spoke to his disciples in that upper room. Jesus said, “I am among you as the one who serves.”
As Jesus talked about his suffering and death, he was talking about serving. Jesus came to serve all those who cannot on their own love and serve their all those in need. Jesus came to serve you and me by sacrificing his life so that we might be forgiven.
Isaiah told about a servant who would come to bring salvation to the whole world. Isaiah recorded God’s words when he said, “It would be too small a thing to save only the people of Israel, but that his servant would come to save all people.
Jesus came as the only One who could love his heavenly Father in such a way that he would serve all sinners by giving up his life for them. He was the perfect servant both to his heavenly Father and to you.
Your sins of seeking greatness are forgiven. The boasting of your humility is forgiven as well. The falling short of being an obedient servant to the Lord and a willing servant to those in need is covered by the blood of the suffering servant. He suffered and died for you.
Jesus said, “I am the One who serves.” You have been redeemed by this One who serves, but more than that. The One who serves, now lives in you and serves through you. You have been given a new life with the Spirit of Christ living in you.
This is how you will serve those in need. No doubt your sinful nature will fight against the Spirit of Christ, but Christ has already won you for himself. Each failure to serve has been paid for by the suffering and death of Jesus. Each act of love and kindness that comes from your thoughts, words, and deeds comes from the One who lives within you, Christ Jesus your Savior and Lord.
In the name of Jesus, Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria