March 29 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 22)

Submitted by James K. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
Luke 22:7-13
Jesus tells Peter and John to go make preparations for the Passover. Though he tells them to make preparations, “preparations” have already been made, in a sense. Everything was already lined up for them. He directs them to go and they will find certain things already ready for them to take and carry out what he’s asking them to do. And “they left and found things just as Jesus had told them” (v.13).

A disciple is somebody who follows a rabbi, follows their lord and does as he tells them to. For Jesus’ disciples, time and time again they would obey what Jesus directed them to do, and they would experience him and who he is in powerful ways. And time and time again, they would find things the way that Jesus had said it is or would be. And this account here is no exception. To be a disciple of Jesus, a person needs to follow where Jesus leads, follow what Jesus would say. It’s obedience. If a person doesn’t obey his master, then by definition he is not a disciple.

I can imagine the disciples hearing this for the first time, to be a bit skeptical, wondering how trustworthy Jesus’ words are. What he was asking was very specific in terms of what they would find and it would be no coincidence that these things would transpire the way that Jesus detailed. But each step of the way, I imagine the disciples being joyfully amazed to find these things “just as Jesus had told them.” It would’ve taken enough trust for them to go and to obey. But by this time, having already experienced Jesus and his words proving to be true and trustworthy so many times before, they would obey more readily than in the beginning of their followership.

I see this principle at work in my life as God calls me to obey in some capacity. I’m hesitant, but there’s enough trust in God, and commitment to follow Jesus within me, that I’ve committed to discipleship, and so I would obey. But through that obedience God reveals to me himself, his work, his heart for me and his desire for me to grow and I’m not only able to carry out his work, but also I see that he’s already done so much of the work himself and I have the opportunity to participate. I’ve made smaller commitments, smaller acts of obedience whether it be financially after getting my first job out of college, or committing to minister to college students, or taking on a more background role in ministry at our church by focusing on the worship ministry. I look back at those decisions and see how God brought those opportunities to me so that I could grow through them in different ways: my character, my own sense of worth and significance.

And so much of the “bigger” decisions I’ve made were out of the trust in God that I’ve developed through the smaller decisions. Leading the youth department for the short time that my wife and I did was very much an act of obedience, through which God brought my heart to break for people much younger than me, and to be encouraged by many of them who impressed me by taking their faith seriously at such a young age. I also look back at just this past 8 or 9 months or so, since I started leading the new Kairos group. Though it’s been probably the busiest time of my life so far, I see that I took that on because I had “enough trust” developed by previous acts of obedience, and God has opened my heart so much through that, as every person that I minister to owning and occupying a part of my heart.

And of course the obedience that it takes to love people, to do “not-so-comfortable” things because the word of God says to speak the truth in love, to suffer as other people suffer, to guide people through repentance, to guide people to see the truth about themselves. Out of obedience and trust, I’d engaged in those times. But I look at even some of those difficult times, those difficult conversations, and I see that the depth of relationship that I have with those people are the way that it is much due to the kind of relational risks I took.

God calls me to obedience, not so that I can just fall on my face and fail, but he calls me to obey knowing that he is trustworthy. And that is an opportunity for me to experience him and his provision. Those experiences of God’s provision build my trust in him so that I can take greater steps of obedience. That has been my experience of (and my relationship with) God.

Luke 22:14-23
Jesus was eager to eat the Passover with his disciples before he would suffer–his last meal on earth before his arrest, before his “trial”, before his sentencing and execution. This would be his last time to spend with them altogether, as after this Judas would betray Jesus and then soon meet his self-inflicted end. Jesus also knows that every one of them will leave him, will turn away and desert him when he gets arrested. And even the one who continues to follow will follow at a distance only to flat-out deny any association with him at all. He knew that Judas would betray him. And yet, he still eagerly desires to eat the Passover with all of them. He breaks the bread and says, “This is my body, given for you. […] This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” In other words, his love and sacrifice for them was with the full knowledge that they would turn their backs on him. There was no self-preservation or holding back from them relationally whatsoever, even in the midst of this full knowledge. He didn’t throw up his arms in frustration or distanced himself to lessen the pain of the betrayal that he knew he would receive from them–and that is love.

Love doesn’t hold back. Love engages in relationships, draws closer to others, even though that might entail getting hurt more, allowing your heart to break even more if a person turns away for whatever reason. It means being vulnerable to the other, even though that might mean they could misunderstand you or even betray you. That’s love, and that’s ministry.

There have been times when I’ve been misunderstood, betrayed, even. When somebody took my words to them that were spoken with trust and concern, and those words were twisted and rumors were spread about me. And from those experiences, it’s tempting to respond by not allowing myself to be vulnerable to people again, to “not love that much,” to not allow myself to be poured out quite that much. What that leads to is a neat, clean, tidy ministry, where people being “loved” just means being treated with kindness, all the while kept at an arms distance relationally. It’s moderating how close a person can get to me, and moderating how much of my heart gets poured out. The problem is…that’s not love. That’s something else, but whatever that is, it’s not love.

Love is drawing close to the very people who could take that love, turn you around and stab you in the heart. That is the love of Christ, his body broken and his blood poured out for his disciples who would desert him. That is the love of Christ, his body broken and his blood poured out for people who shouted “Hosanna” at the earlier part of the week, only to cry “Crucify!” at the end. That is the love of Christ, his body broken and his blood poured out for me, who betrays him over and over again with my own sins.

To be a disciple of Jesus means to go where he goes and to do as he does. He broke his body and poured out his life so that others might live. He drew near to the very people who betrayed him, myself included. I take the bread and the cup, and I remember what Jesus did for me on the cross. It reminds me what it takes for somebody to have life, and it reminds me what the picture of true love looks like. That’s the love that saved my life. That’s the love the changed my life.

And that is the picture of love that I am called to as well.

Submitted by Joe S. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
Luke 22:7-13
• Peter and John obey Jesus’ unusual instructions and find things “just as Jesus had told them.” What can I learn from this about the relationship between obedience and trust, and the nature of discipleship?

Obedience to God’s commands will sometimes not make sense to us and will require us to trust in God, despite a potential for embarrassment, or disappointment, or failure. Jesus’ instructions to Peter and John must have seemed very strange, indeed. They had no guarantee that they would bump into a man carrying a jar of water as Jesus described. Even if they did see such a man, it would have been an act of faith for them to say the strange words to the man that Jesus instructed. It would be very embarrassing if the man had no idea what they were talking about and a waste of their time and energies in going out to the city. All they had to rely on was their trust in Jesus’ words. Discipleship means trusting and obeying even when things may not make sense, when all the pieces aren’t in place, or when there is a big chance for failure or embarrassment.

A situation where I personally experience this is when I take a step of faith to say hi to someone and strike up a conversation in order to hopefully share the gospel with him later on down the line. It’s often a nerve-wracking situation where you feel awkward about saying hi and chatting. There’s so much potential for embarrassment and awkwardness, to be viewed as a weirdo or some kind of religious fanatic. But I know that so many times when I’ve done this, I’ve experienced that this person was open to talking about issues of religion or God and that God may have just prepared this person for me to talk to in the same way that Jesus had made all the preparations for the last supper.

Luke 22:17-19
• Reflect on the bread and cup, and their meaning, and the words “do this in remembrance of me.” What does this tell me about the centrality of the cross?
In this most intimate moment with Jesus, the last quiet time that He has with His disciples and when He would share His last heartfelt words with them, Jesus gives them the bread and the cup. It shows that our fellowship with God is only made possible through the cross where Jesus’ body was torn and His blood shed for us. It’s the cross that makes possible our fellowship with God and every intimate moment I have with God.

Luke 22:20
• What is the new covenant that Jesus is talking about?
The new covenant that Jesus is talking about is the gospel. The old covenant was the Law that God established, which we could never satisfy with our own efforts and righteousness. Jesus gave us the new covenant of a being received as God’s children, not through our own efforts or righteousness, but through Jesus’. Under this new covenant, we can all come to God, be reconciled to Him and receive eternal life because all the requirements of the Law have been met by Jesus, and He took the punishment for our sins through the cross.

Luke 22:21-22
• What can I learn about Jesus’ heart toward Judas from the fact that he refrained from naming Judas as the betrayer?
Even at this moment, Jesus is shielding Judas and protecting him, giving him an opportunity to repent in the anonymity. This is a very intimate moment with His disciples, the last moment for Jesus to share His heart with His disciples and give His final words to them, and Jesus still allows Judas to be present and take part in it. It’s a special moment reserved only for those closest to them. And even in this moment, Judas pretends to be like the other disciples and pretends to be committed and devoted to Jesus. Judas’ actions are so insulting and offensive. And yet, despite knowing all of this, Jesus is still trying to give Judas one last opportunity to repent and join in the fellowship with Him that the other disciples are having. Jesus’ heart of love and patience, as demonstrated with Judas here, is truly amazing. It’s the same love and patience that He extends to me each day.

• What opportunity was given to Judas during the Last Supper?
Judas was given the opportunity to share in the bread and the cup with Jesus. Even though he had already betrayed Jesus by agreeing to turn Him over, Judas was given the opportunity to have true fellowship with Jesus and be forgiven through the cross like everyone else.

PERSONAL PRAYER
Dear Lord, thank you for your incredible patience and love for me. Though I have betrayed You like Judas so many times, You have always been holding out the offer of intimate fellowship, always giving me the opportunity to turn back to You and repent. Thank You for offering Your body to be torn and blood to spilled so that I could be reconciled back to You.

Submitted by Franklin P. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
Luke records that Jesus eagerly desired to eat this Passover meal with his disciples. At first glance, it strikes me as odd that Jesus would so eagerly desire this. This was no ordinary Passover meal. Jesus, the true Passover lamb was now going to be sacrificed to cover the sins of the world. For Jesus, that meant that this was his last night on the earth and this was his last meal with the disciples. The next day, as he cited, he will have to suffer the worse death imaginable—on that wretched cross; he would be cut off from communion with God. Yet before he had arrived to this fateful city, it says in Luke 9:51 that he resolutely set his face to go to Jerusalem, the city where he would be crucified. And now, he eagerly desired to eat this last supper. Why would Jesus be so eager to eat this Passover meal with his disciples? It was because for all the suffering and pain, for all the anguish and rejection, these were the precious people for whom he would lay down his life. It was for love of these men that he would suffer as he would. And now he did not hold back at all. There is no sense of self-pity in Jesus’ voice. No, there is such a freedom in the way Jesus left this world. He chose to spend his last night with his dear friends. He wanted to show them the full extent of his love by symbolizing what he was about to do for them on the cross. In his last night on this earth, his concern was to establish a new covenant with them. And he eagerly awaited that day when he would share in the final banquet with redeemed sons and daughters of God, there would only be anticipation of more joy.

I look at what Jesus did and I am simply amazed by the character of God. I think about the times that I’ve tried to love someone—and perhaps it involved some suffering—and yet so quick there enters in thoughts of reluctance or self-pity. I easily focus on the pain that is involved and very quickly, I shirk back and don’t want to be entangled. I forget the needs of the very people I am trying to love. But I see that God’s love for me is not like this at all. There isn’t any sense of reluctance or holding back. In the face of suffering, God dives in. I think about how Judas was actually a part of this group of disciples. He own betrayer shared this intimate night together. In addition, every one of these disciples would later desert Jesus in his time of need. None of them would stand up for him when he would later be arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin. It was with such characters that Jesus so eagerly desired to share this final meal with and to whom he desired to display his love. God’s love is the type that loves not just the unlovable, but it suffers to love his enemies.

During the Passover meal, Jesus told the disciples to remember him through the bread and the wine. They represented what would happen on the cross where his body that would be “broken” and his blood shed. What tender words that Jesus expresses to his precious disciples! I am about to die. They are going to crucify me. But remember me. Remember your Lord who lay down his life for you. There are so many things that Jesus could’ve cited to remember him by. His was a resume that John said could not be contained by a world full of books. He raised many from the dead; he healed hundreds; he multiplied food for tens of thousands; he commanded the storms to be still; he spoke with authority and challenged the religious elite; he was praised by and was sought after by the masses. I take any man would be satisfied with a life that accomplished just a fraction of what Jesus did. And yet with such a colorful resume, he chose none of those things to be remembered by. He chose instead that he be remembered for his death on the cross—his darkest moment. No, don’t remember me for the amazing miracles or the powerful healings or the victorious debates. Remember me for how I died for you on the cross. Remember your dear master by how he suffered so that you would be forgiven. Remember how I saw your personal need and how I saved you. Remember that because of my blood, you are fully cleansed to enjoy that eternal banquet with me.

Why would Jesus tell them to remember him in this way? I remember a time soon after I had become a Christian, when I failed to remember Jesus in this way. In fact, it was for a sustained season. I reasoned that I was already saved and therefore I could move past the cross and just focus on following Jesus by following his other commands to do good deeds. In that mindset, I remembered Jesus chiefly as my example to follow rather than my Savior to receive. Very quickly, I turned my Christian life into a whole list of things to do and pretty soon, I got good at it and became proud. Walking with Jesus became a personal endeavor and there was little love motivating my actions. And when things got tough, following Jesus seemed like a chore. Pretty soon, I was wondering why Christian life was so joyless and whether I was doing something wrong as I tried to “obey God” by making more spiritual commitments. Then came that fateful day when I learned from an older brother that daily confession and remembering the cross were things that we can never “graduate” from in Christian life. Soon after, I spent some personal time repenting before God of all my pride and self-reliance and I remembered Jesus death on the cross for me. It was then that I was able to experience that bittersweet joy of knowing that God loved me, and now I could freely serve him out of a sincere gratitude. It was then that following God made sense and I actually wanted to follow Him.

Good Friday is coming up and this is that chance when all Christians get to observe Jesus’ death and resurrection. To be honest, my initial reaction is a subtle reluctance because I know it’s going to break me. I will have face my sins in a deeper way. But through this text, I am reminded of how remembering Jesus on the cross is really God’s provision for me so that I can once again come before my precious Lord and experience His amazing mercy on my life. How can I honor Jesus during this time? I think it would be most appropriate to remember Jesus by taking significant time to reflect on his death and resurrection. As I go through the Passion Reader, a collection of readings about Jesus’s death and resurrection, and go through the Passion Experience, I can honor him by not holding back in bringing my whole self before the truth of the cross. It is going to be painful and he is going to bring to light dark truths that I’m not going to like. But to hold back would mean to rob myself of knowing him in the best way possible. His sacrifice is personally involving and he is eagerly inviting me to come to the table so that I might know my God as the one who did not hold back, but loved me freely, and even recklessly, on that wretched cross.

PERSONAL PRAYER

Heavenly Father, thank you that you are not a God who holds back in displaying your love for me. No, you eagerly desired to reveal your gospel to me so that I might know just how far you would go to save me. As Good Friday approaches, I do not want to hold back, but I want to commit to remembering you by bringing my whole self before your cross. Lord, please grant me a humble and open heart so that I will not avoid, deflect or blame away all the muck that is inside my heart. Help me to come before you as a child so I can receive your provision for me on that cross. Then, I will be able to praise you and serve you out of joy and gladness, and I will experience once again a taste of the banquet that is to come.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Response