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Transforming Grace: Clinging to Christ When Tested (Luke 22:21-38)

Luke 22:21–38 - 21 “But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. 22 “For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” 23 And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing. 24 And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25 And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’ 26 “But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant. 27 “For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. 28 “You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; 29 and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” 34 And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.” 35 And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.” 36 And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. 37 “For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And He was numbered with transgressors’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.” 38 They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.” What does today’s passage say? In today's passage, Jesus predicts Judas will betray him (v. 21) but says that this betrayal is according to God's sovereign plan (v. 22). The disciples argue about which of them is the greatest (v. 24), but Jesus shares that the example of Gentile authority figures lording power over others should not be followed among them. Instead, Jesus came as a servant, not to be served (v. 27). Despite Peter's coming denial, Jesus prays for him (v. 32). Peter adamantly vows he will never deny Jesus even if it means death (v. 33), but Jesus proclaims Peter will deny him three times before morning (v. 34). Jesus draws a contrast between his earlier sending out of the disciples lacking nothing (v. 35) versus now telling them to take provision of money, bags, and swords with them (vv. 35-36), pointing to the opposition they will soon face. The disciples show their 2 swords (v. 38) and Jesus responds "That is enough," knowing that the battles ahead must be fought in spiritual rather than human strength. How can I apply Luke 22:21-38 to my life? When we read of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples right before his death, there are many deep truths we can reflect on. But this passage is about more than just history or theology - it has personal implications for how we should live today. As Jesus interacted with his followers, teaching vital principles while also demonstrating servant leadership through practical acts like foot washing, we see wisdom and truth that can transform how we see the world and relate to God and others. Though the disciples struggled to fully understand what Jesus was saying about his impending suffering, they still had intimate fellowship with him in those final precious hours. From Jesus’ care for Judas even knowing the betrayal was coming to his promises of provision for the missionary journey ahead, we witness striking aspects of Jesus’ patience, humility, grace, and faith. As those who now look back clearly seeing the full purpose his death and resurrection fulfilled, we know even better that his words can be trusted fully. As modern-day followers of Christ, here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

  1. God Can Use Anything for His Purposes but Evil is Still Evil and Will Be Judged as Such (vv. 21-23): Even though Jesus knew Judas would betray him, he still welcomed Judas as one of his closest disciples for years, showing love and patience. However, there ultimately were consequences for Judas' actions. Though God allowed the betrayal as part of his plan, Judas still had to take responsibility. When people hurt us, we can feel anger and pain just as Jesus must have felt. However, we can also have faith that God will somehow work it for good in the end, using even evil events to accomplish his purposes. Romans 8:28 reminds us that God works all things for the good of those who love him. Though the wrongdoer may face judgment like Judas did, our response should be merciful and forgiving, not vengeful. Do not repay evil with evil. Leave room for God's wrath. We should see the bad things that happen as opportunities to grow in Christ-like love, letting go of bitterness and a victim mindset. Our sovereign God can and will bring beauty from ashes if we trust Him (Genesis 50:20, Romans 8:28, 1 Peter 3:9).

Food for thought: When have you seen good come from a bad situation? How could you respond in love to someone who has hurt you?

  1. Greatness in the Kingdom of God Requires Humble Servant Leadership (vv. 24-30): The disciples argued over who was the greatest, but Jesus taught that godly leaders are humble servants. Leadership in God's kingdom looks different than worldly ideas of power and domination over others. Jesus demonstrated this well when he washed his disciples dirty, smelly feet. He modeled care and compassion in small acts of love, not seeking recognition but simply meeting needs. When we serve in quiet ways, putting others first, we reflect Jesus' heart to the world. Our acts of service might seem insignificant to us, but they make a big difference to those we serve and please Christ. As Jesus said, whoever wants to become great must become a servant. Let us follow Jesus' example, not worrying about status or rewards, but finding simple ways we can put others before ourselves. Small acts of care make a big difference (1 Peter 5:5-7, Philippians 2:1-11, Mark 10:43-44).

Food for thought: How can you serve your family, friends, coworkers, or neighbors this week? What holds you back from acts of service or humility at times?

  1. No Matter Who We Think We Are or Who We Pretend to Be, Jesus Knows Us, Loves Us, and Sanctifies Us Even Though We May Fail at Times (vv. 31-34): Jesus knew Peter would deny him but loved him unconditionally anyway. Peter boasted that he would never abandon Jesus, but Jesus in his divine knowledge was aware of the failure to come. There is nothing we can hide from Christ; he knows the number of hairs on our head and the secrets of our hearts, both good and bad. Yet he chooses to love us, forgive us, and transform us by his grace. When we fall short, we need to approach God's throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in our time of need. Though we may stumble, his love gives us courage to get back up again and again to follow him. His sinless strength shores up our weakness so that as we rely on him we are sanctified bit by bit to be more and more like Christ. We all struggle with sin like Peter did, but in Christ we have endless chances to start fresh. Our security comes not from our own ability but from Christ’s commitment to complete his sanctifying work in us (Psalm 139:1-6, Hebrews 4:14-16, Romans 8:31-39).

Food for thought: How have you experienced Christ's grace when you failed? How can His love help you show grace to others?

  1. You Will Never Lack for Anything You Need When You Depend on the Lord for Everything (vv. 35-38): Jesus sent his disciples out with urgent ministry needs but told them not to worry about provision. He assured them that though he sent them out empty-handed, God would provide hospitality through people they encountered. When we depend completely on God, placing our lives fully in his hands, we can trust him to supply all our needs. He cares for us deeply, knowing what we require better than we do ourselves. As we step out to passionately pursue his work in this world, we must set aside earthly worries about material provision. God knows what we need and is always faithful when we seek his kingdom first. We can take bold risks to spread the gospel when we let go of fear and anxiety and cling tightly to Him instead. Our Father loves to bless his children. As we delight ourselves in him, he will give us the desires of our heart (Matthew 6:25-34, Psalm 37:25, Philippians 4:19).

Food for thought: Share about a time when you saw God provide a need in a surprising way. What need are you bringing to God in faith right now? As we walk with Jesus through these last moments before his sacrificial death like a lamb led to slaughter, we see up close who he truly is through his words and actions. The One who washed dirty feet served the betrayer. The One who commanded us to love laid down his rights. The One who provides invited his followers to radical dependence. We worship a Savior who knows no exceptions, loving us each the same whether we will fail or remain faithful through the fires of testing. May we respond to relentless grace with relentless devotion. When we falter and fall, his strength is there to pick us back up with patient mercy rather than shame. May we in turn love others - even enemies - with that same compassion. Jesus perfectly lived out 1 John 4:10: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” As those assured of undeserved redemption, may we follow our Redeemer wholeheartedly no matter the cost, choosing daily to die to selfishness so that we might live for Him. Prayer Dear Heavenly Father, I pray that You would increase my gratitude for who Jesus is and all he willingly endured to save me. Help me grasp the depth of his love shown through serving the very one who would betray him. I confess I am quick to judge others, but you see our flaws and love us relentlessly anyway. I pray for grace to have such patience and humility. Remind me that your strength is enough for all you call me to do and face. In times of fear about provision or the future, increase my trust in your faithful promises. I pray that your unmatched grace would overflow from me to all I interact with, no matter how others treat me. Continue your transformative work in my heart until I live sacrificially like Jesus, shaped fully into his image with you as my sole focus. I offer you my limited life with joy, trusting you to use it according to your perfect design. I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.

Luke 22:27 - “For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves.” With His Blessings, Pastor Corby

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