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15. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
16. For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
18. For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
19. And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.
20. Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
21. 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 enquire 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.
31. And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
32. But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
33. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.
34. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
When we read a passage like this, the fact that Jesus has brought His disciples in a very holy place, so to speak, and He is opening up His very heart to give them understanding of the very passion and suffering that He is about to undertake. The trials and temptations that are about to befall Him and then we see what looks like their almost carnal insensitivity to His suffering and to His preparations for the end of His ministry on earth.
Sometimes we preach and we get a little bit hard, as we no doubt will tonight, because the Scripture is indeed very hard and very strict in its reference to these attitudes that these disciples were manifesting, and the problems that were rising up in their midst. Before we can point our fingers at them in a condemning way, I think that somehow the message boomerangs upon us in our own hearts to test us about our own attitudes toward sacred things. In our attitudes to what Christ is really doing and maybe our indifference to His perfect divine will and perhaps we are indifferent to the grieving heart of God. So this message tonight has not only past tense kind of application as to the disciples themselves who were present with Jesus, but it also has a very present application to us as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here He is in the most sacred Jewish holy time, the Passover. We talked about that last time and the preparations that were made, both from earth and from hell and from heaven itself in preparing for that event. It would also be the last supper and the institution of the Lord’s Supper that the Church would observe on and on even until this very hour of the Church’s history. It would be the last time that Jesus would be able to just sit down and talk with them and teach them with parables. Because from here on it would be facing betrayal, and prayer in the garden, and surrendering to the will of God, and the arrest, and the crucifixion. His face has already been set like a flint to Jerusalem, and now He will have to face the full account of what the suffering of Jesus is all about. We would think that there would be open hearts and tender hearts that would be sharing and feeling some of this weight, but there are problems in this group as they face the Last Supper with the Lord.
He offers them the last cup of the Passover and He then He took bread and He broke it. I don’t know if you’ve had the privilege of actually seeing the unleavened bread that the Jews use even to this day, but it is very significant the way it is prepared and the way it looks. It is to be broken and it has stripes on it. There are all kinds of symbolism associated with it that even the Hebrew people themselves do not even see as it relates to Jesus. He broke the bread and He said ‘I want you to take this and eat this because this is My body which is given for you. This do in remembrance of Me. You keep eating this bread in remembrance of Me, and it will be a remembrance of Me and what I have said and what I have taught and what I have done and especially what I have done in the sufferings of my body and the shedding of blood. Do this as a memorial of My death.’ That’s what the Lord’s Supper really is. In the first place, it is a looking back and it is a memorial of the Lord’s death. It doesn’t stop there. He gives thanks and the Lord’s Supper is a time of thanksgiving and it is a time of thanksgiving and it is a time of Holy Communion with our Lord. It is a time when we presently commune with Him in a way that perhaps we don’t commune with Him at any other time when we take the bread and the wine in remembrance of His broken body and His shed blood.
The Greek term that is translated ‘giving thanks’ is the word ‘eucharistia’ from which we get the word ‘the holy eucharist’ and that’s what a lot of churches refer to the Lord’s Supper as – the Holy Eucharist, because it is a present day time of thanksgiving for all that was accomplished through Christ and His shed blood. That is part of what the Lord’s Supper is. It is a thanksgiving right now in the present and a Holy Communion with our Lord in a very deep and meaningful and spiritual way.
Then He mentions also that He will not drink of this cup any more, the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom. So there is a tremendous future significance to the Lord’s Supper, too. Not only past and present, but future, when we shall come in to the eternal kingdom with Him and that Great Marriage Supper and Messianic banquets galore when we are with our Lord and present with Him and set down at the table of the kingdom and share in the great meals that are to come in His Great Kingdom when He Himself will be at the head of the table to serve us and to bless us with His presence. The feast with Him will be far beyond our comprehension at this point in our own lives.
Here He is setting forth something that has tremendous overtones toward the past. It especially should have significance to them, the disciples. Then it had tremendous weight as far as their present experience with Him in that upper room and it would have tremendous future weight upon their lives and influence upon them as they anticipated what they would share in the future with the Lord.
At such a time, you would think that there would be such a holy presence and holy hush in His presence that there would be absolute surrender and humility to the will of God and subjection to His divine Word and teaching and there would be complete suppression of the wills of individual people. But that is not the case. There are concerns here that we want to talk about.
First of all, is the concern of the prediction of betrayal. Picture yourself sitting at that table. You are leaning partly on it. You have your hand on that table and Jesus says, ‘The hand of the person who is going to betray me is right here on this table.’ Everybody looks and perhaps almost everyone there has his hand on the table. John indicates that they all began to say ‘Is it I?’ Now there has to be something commendable about those disciples at that particular point that they began to question among themselves ‘Well who is it? Who do you suppose it is?’ It seems as if they do not at this moment yet know that it will be Judas Iscariot. I think it is commendable that these disciples could see the possibility that either one of them might fall into the snare of forsaking the Lord and literally betraying Him. At least they are trying to find out.
I’m not sure what it is like in our day to betray the Lord. We look back on that event and we know that Judas for 30 pieces of silver was willing to deliver Jesus into the hands of the worst enemies that Christ ever had. The enemies that would engineer and maneuver such scheming to bring His death and His crucifixion, and Judas is willing to go along with them for the money and deliver Jesus and make it possible. What had to be done, somebody had to do this who knew when Jesus could be away from the crowds and be by Himself. And then, He could be taken because he was afraid of the crowds. Only someone who was very close to Jesus would know about His habits and know about where to find Him. That’s all that Judas had to sell was knowing where and when to point Him out when He could be taken.
Evidently, he planned it well. I guess that’s what betrayal really is; the premeditated planning of turning the Lord over into the hands of enemies. Maybe that’s what betrayal of trust is; the premeditated planning of turning the very lives of people over into the power of Satan. I do know this, Jesus said ‘Woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed.’ Woe to the person who can with premeditation plan a perfect time to approach Jesus when the enemies could capture Him and he would not have to be afraid of a multitude of disciples.
So there is the great problem of betrayal. But there is also the problem of greatness. Around that table that night, we would have thought after they ate the bread and drank the cup and heard what Jesus had to say that they would be heartbroken and ready to fall on their faces and casting aside every selfish carnal ambition that had ever stirred in their own hearts. But not so. There they are with strife among them over which of them should be counted the greatest. I suppose that throughout church history this has been a severe problem that has hindered the ongoing power of the church to a great extent. Strife that has been caused because people wanted to have the preeminence, in other words, wanted to be the church boss. When there are different people who really try to maneuver to get into that position, it creates what is known as strife and contention. That is a very unhealthy destructive disease that comes into a church congregation. It must have been prevalent even in the early church because John writes in one of his letters about a man Diotrophes and said he loves to have the preeminence and compares him with another person who is of great stature, but who is nonetheless a great leader and does it in humility and love to God.
Who will be the greatest? We’re talking about apostles, disciples, sitting with Jesus and He is on His way to Calvary and they are filled with carnal ambitions that cause them right in this solemn and sacred moment to break out in strife and contention and fussing over who would be counted the greatest. Such bragging, such haughtiness, somebody says but look at what I have done for Christ and surely I must be the one that will be on the right hand. A couple of the men even have their mother to get involved. She comes on one occasion and appeals to Jesus “I want You to grant my request. I want You to take my two sons. They are the most worthy, one on the right hand and one on the left.’ And Jesus tells them ‘If you want to see who is on the right hand and on the left, just stay with Me awhile. It will be somebody on a cross.’
That’s not what they mean, and that’s not what they’re thinking of and talking about. They’re not talking about being on the right hand or the left or Jesus in the crucifixion and in the sufferings. No, they are only thinking of the kingdom and the greatness that they can receive because of what they expect as a high position. Jesus has to teach in those closing hours with His disciples, a great example is in John 13 the feet washing situation, where Jesus teaches that greatness is not where one sits – whether it is on the right or the left – but greatness is where one serves and how one serves. You see, that’s the way God keeps the record. Hallelujah!
He is not so much impressed by the position that people may hold, but He is tremendously impressed by how we serve Him and serve one another in love and our attitudes one toward another in love. There are so many admonitions from some of these very apostles who learned their lesson well, in particular Simon Peter. When he talked to the elders that are among them and he said ‘There are certain ways you are to perform your duties and your work, not as a lord over God’s heritage,’ because Jesus said ‘That’s the way the big people of the Gentiles do the people that are under them.’ People who feel like it’s alright to trample on other people while they are trying to climb on up, and the entire program of trying to advance themselves is worth any means they have to use. The end justifies the means to get there and get the position.
But Peter will say ‘Don’t you treat the body of Christ like you are lords over God’s heritage.’ But he said ‘I write to the elders among you,’ and later he says ‘I want you to pastor and shepherd the flocks among you.’ He uses the word ‘among’ twice as the ideal situation. He condemns strongly the idea of being over, as a dictator.
I want to go on record tonight as saying in God’s sight every member of the body of Christ counts equally. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. I think if there is anything in this world that grieves the heart of God it is when some people can be like these disciples and argue over who should be the greatest and ignore other members of the body of Christ as if they really don’t count. Jesus is teaching in this passage that everyone is the same. The next point I want to mention is the promise of the kingdom. He said ‘Now the fact is, you have been with Me all the time during my temptations and sufferings. Whoever really wants to be chief, he should act like a younger person who doesn’t have a lot of established rights. If you really want to be chief, then serve.’ That’s the reason Jesus would say later, and the Scripture would teach in other places, that the first shall be last and the last shall be first. That is what He is talking about.
He said I am going to give you a kingdom. Look at it. I want you to read carefully with me verses 29 and 30 again, because it really puts the foundation under what I am saying here: “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” What He is saying in that passage is that everyone of you will sit at His table and everyone of you will have a throne and you will each share in judging the twelve tribes of Israel. We don’t know what’s going to happen to Judas’ place. That will be vacant. There’s been a lot of ink spilled over what that twelfth apostle really should be. Some folks thought the church got ahead of itself when it elected Matthias because it seemed like they should have waited until the Spirit had been poured out and then perhaps they would have selected somebody else, maybe the apostle Paul. Some have argued they just can’t think that you could possibly look at the names written of the apostles on the foundation stones and the apostle Paul not be there, but then there were a lot of other people who were called apostles by Paul, too. There are twenty-something people, in fact, in the New Testament referred to as apostles. So, I don’t know who that twelfth one is!
But He says you are going to have a throne. And what He is saying is that everybody gets treated alike. Oh hallelujah! I’m about to rejoice here when I think of how God looks upon us and looks upon the church and looks upon members of the body of Christ.
So here’s the promise of a kingdom for each one and they are to sit with Him and eat in His kingdom. Aren’t you glad that the Lord is the judge? Then there was one more problem looming in the very near future. Not only a betrayer who would leave and as we mentioned earlier, Satan entered into his heart. He opened up his heart to Satan – Judas. Not only that, but one of the greatest ones of the group, it appears, is going to fall into temptation of denying that he even knows Jesus Christ.
Jesus said ‘Simon, Simon…’ and there is always significance when Jesus says anything in double terms. In the Greek text He often says ‘Amen. Amen,’ and then goes on. In the King James, it is translated ‘Verily, verily I say unto you…’ Anytime Jesus uses words in the double, it is tremendously significant to get attention and to help us get the reality of what He wants us to understand. He says ‘Simon, Simon, Satan has begged and asked and bargained and wanted to just get control of your life, too, that he may sift you as wheat, that he may put you his grinder and you come out torn to pieces like wheat.’ Now if you want to know what Satan is up to, we need to remind ourselves that that is exactly his attitude and what he wants from each one of us is to get us backed into a corner and grind us up and shatter us to pieces and bring us to the point that we would deny our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is precisely what He has in mind. Don’t ever forget it.
But Jesus said ‘I have prayed for you that your faith fail not.’ I want us to look at the power of prayer. The power of intercession that is done by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Bible teaches us that He ever liveth to make intercession for the saints. His major ministry for us now apparently is interceding at the very throne of His Father in heaven on our behalf. Oh, the power of the prayer of Jesus. He said ‘I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail you, that you would not faint. When you get turned around, when you are converted, when you come to your senses and realize you are going the wrong way, then I want you to take that testimony and that experience and strengthen the brethren. Because there will be other people in your lifetime to whom you will minister, who will have notions of denying Me. There will be other people who will turn aside as if they don’t know Me and they don’t even want to be associated with Me. I want you to be able to strengthen them and be able to tell them the horror and sorrow of denying the Lord Jesus Christ.’ It is amazing what little things can come our way that would cause us to be tempted to deny our Lord, or at least keep it secret that we know them.
Then Peter always seems to have this ability to blurt out and brag and he said ‘Lord, I’m ready to go with you both to prison and death.’ He said that in the gospel of John. He said it in the gospels ‘I’m ready, Lord, anything that you encounter, I’m ready to encounter it with You.’ This man whose nickname was given to Him by Jesus, Cephas and Peter, which means ‘rock’ – ‘little stone’ it’s going to crumble in less than 24 hours like sand.
I learned a great lesson here and that is the absolute folly of being braggadocios, being filled with pride in your own spirituality. Paul would put it like this ‘Let he who think he standeth take heed lest he fall.’ The Word of God teaches that pride goeth before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. Jesus said ‘Before the cock shall crow this day, you will deny me three times. You will deny three times that you even know Me.’ We will see later that horrible denial.
Let me quickly conclude tonight. In the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, here are people who are wrapped up in themselves and their own selfish pursuits, and they are showing their weaknesses and their tendencies toward betrayal and toward denial and toward the arguments and their ambitions to become greatest in the kingdom. I think it says to us that perhaps we need a greater sensitivity to what Christ is saying and what He is doing and what He is thinking, and the very heart of God in these days, so that we will not be insensitive to what He wants done. We will not be insensitive to the grieving, hurting heart of God. But, we will somehow share in that. Because the church world, generally speaking, is so wrapped up in things like we have mentioned tonight, that it is very easy to pass by a very sacred and holy service as the Lord’s Supper and not feel the full impact. It is very easy to sit in a Pentecostal service and have the Holy Spirit to speak words of prophecy, words of knowledge, gift of tongues and interpretation, have that to happen – the Lord to manifest Himself – and it fall upon us as if it was little more than just hearing a brother or a sister speak.
I think the point of this message tonight is oh God, give us a greater sensitivity to Your presence and to Your suffering heart that we can feel, share in the very sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Would you stand please?
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