March 30 – Devotion Sharing (Luke 22)

Submitted by William S. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Luke 22:24
– What were the disciples preoccupied with? What did this cause them to be clueless to?
The disciples were preoccupied about which among them was considered the greatest. They wanted to know where they all ranked; who was better than whom, who would receive the kind of honor, esteem and glory from others. The text states that such was their preoccupation that an actual dispute broke out among them. The disciples were not merely just discussing these things, casually throwing it out there about which one was considered the greatest. No, an actual dispute broke out. It is clear, therefore, that they were totally preoccupied with this.

The disciples were clueless to how they were acting. Jesus pointed out to them that they were acting in the same pattern as the rest of the world because the kings of the Gentiles lord their power, prestige and influence over others. This was the standard way that the people of the world would relate to one another. But Jesus was trying to show them that this was not the way that they should interact with one another.

In fact, Jesus points out that this preoccupation to status and power was completely contrary to the way that they ought to be. Jesus points to the fact that the greatest among them should be the youngest and the one who rules should also be defined by his service to others. These notions would have been so far from their head and heart. Finally, Jesus pointed out that though this understanding of power and influence was contrary to the world, that this was the very way that He had been treating them. Jesus, their Rabi, their spiritual leader, he had not been lording it over them at all; rather, he was among them as one who served.

– What are the things that preoccupy me? What am I clueless to as a result?
When I think about the things that preoccupy me, I realize that so much of those things have to do with myself. I get preoccupied with myself – my reputation, how others view me, whether I’m getting the kind of respect or admiration that I feel I so rightly deserve. I also get preoccupied with the various responsibilities and tasks that I have. When I think about the things that, on a day to day basis, actually bother me, the things that actually get to me, the common pattern involved is that they ultimately have to do with me.

While there are definitely times when things that happen to other people also bother me, I recognize that the things that typically preoccupy me have a lot more to do with me than on others. The preoccupations of my mind, therefore, are actually not that much different than what preoccupied the minds of the disciples in this narrative.

As a result, I find that I am similarly clueless to the signs that are present all around me. When I get preoccupied with myself, I miss out on opportunities to think about, care for, and be concerned about other people. When I am preoccupied about the things that I need to do, I get into the zone and I start also caring about how others view me. When I get preoccupied in my responsibilities, it matters to me how others see me, judge my work or whether they take or not take notice. The cluelessness kicks in because life then turns into being a lot about me and I don’t see the obvious other things that are important around me.

Luke 22:25-30
-In what ways do I seek power or greatness rather than service?
I find that in my life my desire for power or greatness is very often interspersed and intermixed with my desire to serve. I’ll find myself serving – meeting up with students to share God’s Word with them, to teach, to disciple, to reach out to those who are seeking Christianity. And somehow in the midst of this, I also find that I care about the audience; I care about whether other people know that I’m doing these things. In serving the Lord, there is also that tinged factor of it being about me seeking recognition. Recognition matters because it is a way that I desire power/influence. I don’t think that I would seek greatness in this outright way, but it certainly is intertwined into this.

-Reflect on the words of Jesus—“but I am among you as one who serves”—and the revolutionary meaning of these words regarding power and status. To what extent have I internalized these values in my life?
This understanding of life is something that I need to come back to again and again. I am thankful that there are ample opportunities to have this value be reinforced in my life. Recently, an older brother was sharing with me that the most important way to combat this is to seek the lowest place. He meant that this is something that we need to actively try to fight. As a sinner, and particularly as someone that desires power and influence, one way that I can really fight against this is actively look for ways to serve, out of another person’s notice, out of the limelight, and for the simple reason for the joy of serving. More than just internalizing this value, for me the equally important task is for me to actively seek out ways to serve others.

Luke 22:31-34
-What is surprising about what Jesus tells Peter, in light of the fact that he was predicting how Peter would betray him?
Jesus knows that Peter will betray him. Jesus knows that Peter is, at least at this point in his life, more bark than bite. Peter will claim that he will stand firm, but when push comes to shove, when Peter’s life is on the line, Peter will inevitably flinch – he will deny and betray his Lord.

Jesus knows all of this and thus his statement here is that surprising. He is telling Peter – when you have turned back – this is the task that I’ve given to you. Jesus is already factoring in the fact that Peter will not stay true to his commitment. Peter doesn’t know this. Peter doesn’t believe it even when Jesus tells him – you will betray me. But Jesus is telling Peter – when you have turned back, I’m giving you the task of strengthening your brothers. Jesus is telling the one who will betray him that he is giving him the responsibility of then turning around and encouraging the other brothers who will certainly falter.

Jesus could have looked at Peter and seen him for who he was and who he was going to be – the one who would betray him. But instead, Jesus, looks past that moment, past the failings, and points to the time when he has turned back. There is yet hope for Peter. And this in turn is a great sign to me too.

– What is faith according to v. 32?
According to verse 32, faith is not being perfect, free from mistake, free from failings and sin. Faith, according to this passage, is once that failure happens, to have enough in you to repent, turn back and get going again.

-What was Jesus’ vision for Peter after he turns back?
Jesus saw Peter as someone who would strengthen his brothers. Jesus saw beyond Peter’s betrayal and he saw that Peter would be the one who would be able to encourage his brothers. Jesus must have known how sad his disciples would soon be with his coming death. He must have had the vision to see Peter being able to help his fellow disciples get past that time and thus he could help them.

Luke 22:35-38
“Why did Jesus tell the disciples to buy a sword? As he had often done before, Jesus was speaking figuratively here. He knew persecution was coming and was urging his disciples to be prepared to suffer because of it. Some think Jesus’ words, “That is enough,” (v. 38) were uttered in exasperation. The disciples had understood him literally when he meant to be understood figuratively.”

-What picture of discipleship do these verses paint?
The picture of discipleship that these verses paint is one where the disciples would need to be prepared. Whereas before, when Jesus was around, he instructed his disciples to go out into the world without any items, now the situation would be different. The picture that is being painted is one where hardship would be a key ingredient to the recipe. There would not be an easy road ahead. Instead, there would be difficulties and struggles.

-How prepared and equipped am I for spiritual battle?
There are different ways that I can prepare and equip myself for spiritual battle. The important thing to note is that there cannot be any letting up. Equipping for battle must be a daily mindset. Whether this means being faithful in my times of daily devotions, making the most out of every opportunity I get to hear the Word of God preached or taught, or making sure to engage in confession, and being engaged in repentance and thanksgiving in prayer. There are many things that I need to do to stay alert. The enemy is ever crafty and quite frankly, never lets up. I, in turn, taking my cue from this passage, must be ever vigilant to ensure that I am prepared and equipped for the spiritual battle.

PERSONAL PRAYER
Dear Heavenly Father,
I thank You for the picture that You paint in today’s text. Lord, when I see Peter, I see a picture of myself. So willing to speak of things I know nothing about. You nonetheless saw Peter for who he really was, past the bravado, and You still loved him. You had much greater vision for Peter than Peter had for himself. I can’t help but also see your love for me in the same way. You know who I am–the clamoring and desiring for power, prestige and honor. You see that these things are true about me. And yet You also recognize that I am a sinner and You have much greater vision for me than just who I currently am. I thank You for that. I pray that You would continue to fill me during my times of studying Your Word. Thank You for preparing me for the spiritual battle at hand. I pray all of these things in the name of Christ Jesus, amen.

Submitted by Sieun C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church

Greatness, servant
What is greatness to the disciples? They are disputing about which of them was considered the greatest, and from what Jesus says to them right after, their view of greatness is one who lords over others, who has authority, who is at the table. What is the worldview and value of these disciples? Think about what Jesus had just told them right before this – He observed the first Lord’s Supper with them, telling them that his body would be broken and his blood would be shed for them. But right after, they are disputing amongst themselves who is greater. It’s like they didn’t hear anything Jesus had said to them, let alone understand. Their values and understanding of greatness is all about worldly status, power, prestige authority, comparison and be above each other.

What is greatness according to Jesus? He tells them – you are not to be like any of these things. He tells them to be like Him. I am the one who serves. Don’t have your eyes on power and greatness the way others do in this world. And if you don’t, if you live by what I say is power and greatness, then I’ll confer on you a kingdom that actually lasts, that I’m building, one that is eternal. But in order to have that, in this world, you will need to be like me, need to be a servant to others.

How does this challenge me? What is greatness to me? So much like the disciples, I can hear and see from Jesus what I’m suppose to consider greatness, yet the values and desires of my heart is still so much what this world considers greatness – being better than others, having prestige over others, being waited upon rather than waiting on others. It comes out in the way my ego gets stepped on when I’m not noticed or appreciated, or when something I do for others isn’t reciprocated. I either get pleasure or joy from feeling good about myself in comparison to others, or get ruffled and disillusioned when I fail or seem less than others. But Jesus is very clear about those who will eat and drink at His table in heaven and sit on the thrones that will last. It’s those who don’t live for this kind of recognition and status in this world, but those who will stand by Him during trials, will be there serving, having our bodies broken like His. These are the ones He will recognize and confer to God. So as I react to things, reflect upon my heart’s desires and what gets me up and down, it will all depend on what I’m living for – recognition and rewards the way this world says is great, or what Jesus says is great and lasting.

Faith that does not fail
Right after Jesus prays for Peter knowing he will be tested and will fail. He says, “I’m praying for you that your faith may not fail.” But at the same time, Jesus knows Peter will fail because he says that when you have turned back strengthen others. Something about failing will increase his faith, and if he gets back up, he will have the ability to strengthen others because he experienced power from God in a way those who are successful and “powerful” in this world according to its values won’t. This is Jesus’ vision for how we grow in faith – not that we will never fail and will always stand strong but He knows that there will be trials and tests and that we will fail. But after we do, His prayer for us is that through that there will be an increase and strengthening of faith as we experience God’s all surpassing power and promises being greater than who we are, what our failures may tell us we are.

How can I develop faith that does not fail? It doesn’t come from things going smoothly and well, from experience success after success. Developing faith comes from times of experiencing weakness and failure, from times when I become disillusioned with myself, and at that moment when everything that I hoped for and held onto in myself or in this world fades away and I get back up because of God’s promises, because what God has done and says will be done gives me strength despite what I am feeling and experiencing now. And then I experience what Hebrews 11 describes as faith – being sure of what I hope for based on God’s promises and certain of what I do not yet see.

Sword and purse
Think about the difference between how the disciples saw the sword and purse, and how Jesus saw it. Jesus is probably thinking of the times he sent them out without sword and purse, and how things happened just the way He told them, how they never lacked anything. And as he’s about to leave them and there will be great trials and tests, he wants them to remember and prepare themselves. He’s telling them, what was said about me is about to be fulfilled, there’s going to be some hard times, now go and prepare yourselves. Remember all that I’ve taught you, what you’ve experienced with me, hold onto my promises and teachings. Be ready!

But the disciples don’t get it. They say, “Look there’s two swords here.” But Jesus is so patient with them, He is indeed the one who had faith that did not fail and was hence able to go through what He’s about to go through. Even though they are just not understanding him, in fact this whole conversation they don’t get him, he teaches them, continues to pour into them, knowing and having faith that when the time comes, they will remember, they will get back up, hold on.

Personal Prayer:
Father, as I reflect upon these themes and your teachings, it really strikes me how much it’s easy to miss the mark of what you’re trying to teach and plant in me because of all my wrong and worldly views of greatness and power, of success and failure, of what it means to be strong and have faith. I still value so much being someone who is strong and well put together, leads well and knows what I’m doing, is competent and successful, and it all shows and comes out when things aren’t going well, when I feel like a failure at something or feel misunderstood or not recognized. Yet I thank you for the ways you have been teaching me recently how it is impossible to obey You and love people if I hold onto these worldly values of success, of power, because in the end, I’m not this successful, put together person who knows what I’m doing. I thank you that not just recently with all that’s been going on, but also looking back at my journey with You, it really was those times when I felt lame and weak and like I didn’t have enough strength on my own that You showed me what it meant to have faith in you and garner strength from what You are promising and have done for me. I pray that as I look into the future and see more trials and up and down times ahead, the maturity and growth that needs to happen as I become a mother of two, increase in responsibility as you continue to work and grow our church, the struggles with wanting competence and greatness that comes as I get older. That through times of struggle and weakness I will remember all that you have equipped me with and taught me, and that through these times, I will develop faith that doesn’t fail but can help me stand strong.

Submitted by Wenjie C. from Gracepoint Berkeley Church
REFLECTION QUESTIONS
Luke 22:24
-What were the disciples preoccupied with? What did this cause them to be clueless to?
The disciples were preoccupied with which of them was considered to be greatest. As a result of this preoccupation, it caused them to be clueless of the time and what Jesus was telling them in this very intimate setting of sitting around the table for the last time before he would be crucified. Here Jesus was trying to convey to them what was going to happen, about his upcoming death and how he was going to be betrayed and after the significant breaking of the bread which is his body and the pouring of the wine which signified the new covenant. All this was glossed over because they were quarreling amongst themselves over who would be greater while Jesus was sharing his heart with them.

-What are the things that preoccupy me? What am I clueless to as a result?
For me the things that preoccupy me are often things that are frivolous or not of immediate concern. I think one thing that I often find myself being preoccupied is just logistical things, to dos, things that need to happen, schedule, etc. and in the process I miss out on the people that are right in front of me. I think about sometimes when I plan for something, especially in terms of a large group event, I can get so bogged down by the timeline of things and if things are going according to plans or not and in the process miss out on why the event was put on in the first place. Therefore being clueless to the needs of people that are right in front of me, the concerns and issues that people are going through I can miss all of that completely because I was so concerned about minor details.

Another thing that preoccupies me is my own pride, and that manifests in thinking about how the way I see the world or my perspective is the right one. And sometimes when someone brings about another point of view or angle I have a hard time wrapping my mind around it because I’m so set on my own ideas and thoughts, being stubborn about my ideas. And as a result I remain clueless to what new ideas that could have been added or a new way of seeing something and often times in a much more in depth way. Instead I’m stuck on my own view and I don’t learn as a result and find myself clueless to not only the ideas but also the ways in which this turns others off from approaching me as well.

Luke 22:25-30
-In what ways do I seek power or greatness rather than service?
I think a lot of times I seek power or greatness rather than service is through being in a position of recognition rather than in the trenches doing the dirty, hard work. I think one way this plays out is when there is a task that needs to be done, and instead of getting dirty and moving whatever needs to be moved, being the person that simply directs others. Definitely there are times when this is needed, however, to be in that position of giving orders and directing others feels much better than being the one that is following directions. Another thing that I find myself seeking power or greatness rather than service is in opportunities of being commended rather than simply lying low. One way this plays out is often times when I did serve in some kind of way that was not recognized by others or that no one knew about, just inserting it into conversation subtly so that people can pick up that I did something that should be recognized. I think yet another way that this plays out is in how I find myself be especially careful during works that are to be public consumption, even in that way it is a way of seeking power or greatness or simply recognition from people.

-Reflect on the words of Jesus—“but I am among you as one who serves”—and the revolutionary meaning of these words regarding power and status. To what extent have I internalized these values in my life?
Jesus really turned everything up on its head. He demonstrated through his own life what it means to be in a place of power and status. In his very birth coming through as a baby in a manger, he demonstrated to the world real power and that does not lie in halls of power. And then throughout his life of ministry, going from place to place to heal, teach, and serve others. Allowing other people to have claims upon his life and even to the point of exhaustion he allowed others to have a say in his plans and agenda. This is what Jesus meant when he said I am among you as one who serves, he really did exemplify this in his life and that is the model he has set for his disciples when he says come and follow him. We are to follow him in his service and the humility in which took him to the point of being able to wash his disciples feet.

I think for me this is a slow process of internalizing these values in my life. Being a very proud person that doesn’t want to be a burden for others, in the same way I don’t want people to burden me. That is how I was before I became Christian and that mentality has been stubborn to break. The attitude of I’m okay and you’re okay, let’s leave each other be, is something that I held onto for a very long time and after becoming Christian it’s been a process of breaking through that kind of self reliant attitude and mentality. It’s to allow people into my life, to burden me, to have the capacity to care for others and to think about the needs of others more than even myself. I think as I started ministry these values of service has grown tremendously. Ministry is to serve, and that is something that I have had to learn and relearn again and again because whenever I get to the point where I find myself ministering for any other reason I need to come back to this simple truth, that it’s about serving others, it’s about loving others, just as Jesus has demonstrated for us. Therefore it’s still a long ways to go for me, but every time I return to the point of ministry and what it is I am doing, I find myself growing in this area again to live as one who serves.

Luke 22:31-34
-What is surprising about what Jesus tells Peter, in light of the fact that he was predicting how Peter would betray him?
It is surprising that Jesus tells Peter to not lose faith and when he turns back to go and strengthen his brothers, all this in light of the fact that Jesus predicts that Peter will betray him.

-What is faith according to v. 32?
Faith is not about not failing, but its about turning back/going back to the original truth. And in this case to strengthen his brothers with the truth that he has held onto by faith of who Jesus is.

-What was Jesus’ vision for Peter after he turns back?
Jesus’ vision for Peter after he turns back is to go and strengthen his brothers. It’s a tremendous vision in light of the fact that he will deny Jesus three times. It’s amazing to see how Jesus sees far beyond our failings and calls us to things that in light of what is happening it just doesn’t make sense. For example, in light of the failures, it is to have the image of Peter being the solid rock which he will steady his fellow brothers and to becoming that future pillar of the church that Jesus came to establish. This really shows me just how limited my scope of insight and vision I have. Often times I can get so discouraged by setbacks and failings of myself, but the truth of the matter is that Jesus has given me tremendous calling to be his ambassador and to be a priest so that those in the world may find truth and the good news and turn to him. This is something I need to be able to hold onto regardless of how things may be going because what God has called will be and I need to have faith in this promise.

Luke 22:35-38
-“Why did Jesus tell the disciples to buy a sword? As he had often done before, Jesus was speaking figuratively here. He knew persecution was coming and was urging his disciples to be prepared to suffer because of it. Some think Jesus’ words, “That is enough,” (v. 38) were uttered in exasperation. The disciples had understood him literally when he meant to be understood figuratively.”1

-What picture of discipleship do these verses paint?
The picture of discipleship that these verses paint is that it is about a spiritual battle and to be ready. It means to be spiritually equipped against the lies and temptations of Satan that will be sure to come as well as discouragements and obstacles that will be in our path. Therefore it cannot be a lazy person who simply just lets go and let God. It is someone who takes advantage of what is given him, the purse, the bag, whatever that one can use in this battle and that is why the emphasis on the sword. Ultimately it has to be about the word of God to combat against everything that the world tries to tell us about how life should be lived. To fight them with the sword of truth which is the word of God. This is the picture of discipleship that these verses are depicting for all of us.

-How prepared and equipped am I for spiritual battle?
I think for myself there is still so much I need to do to be prepared and equipped for spiritual battle. The thing that I need to be prepared is the feelings of the heart, my emotions that get tugged by experiences and things that may happen in life. It is not something I can fight with just ideas, but rather it is an attitude of dependence upon God, coming to him in prayer. The biggest delusion for me is to think that I can be equipped or prepared enough on my own for the spiritual battle. I must have a heart of humility that I am not nor can I ever be but rather that I always need to come back to Jesus for strength and renewal for another day and another battle.

PERSONAL PRAYER
God thank you for this time to come before you and recognize the ways in which I am preoccupied and how I continue to seek after greatness and power instead of service. Lord, you have demonstrated through your own life and ultimately through obedience on the cross what it is for one to love and serve others. God, please forgive me for my pride and stubborn ways that cloud my understanding of others you have placed before me. Thank you God for the ministry that you have given me to do and the people you have entrusted to me to care for. Help me, Lord, to allow that to continue to change my heart to be one of the servants instead of succumbing to my own selfish desires for status and power as I try to minister and love others. Lord, I know I will continue to fail and mess things up, but help me like Peter to be able to see that vision that you have for me that is so much more than what I can see. I think about how I am so limited in my scope of what I can understand and from what I see of myself. Help me, God, to live by faith and trust in you and your truth. Help me to cling to that desperately because I know that I cannot do anything else without you. God, I commit to living today and each day just with the proper truth of desperately needing you and holding onto you in all things.

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