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75 Luke 22.24-38

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The Twelve Thrones

Luke 22:24-30

READ v. 24


v    Imagine the situation

Ø     Jesus has just told them of the cup that he must drink from

§        That his body will be broken

§        That his blood will be spilt

·        And the disciples begin arguing about who is greatest

¨     If it wasn’t so very disappointing, it would be comical

v    But what sparked this dispute?

Ø     The text does not tell us

§        But there is a pretty good possibility…

·        Tables arranged in open square

·        Host seated in the middle

¨     Seat to the right was most honored

¨     To the left 2nd

¨     2nd on right 3rd

¨     2nd on left 4th

v    So, a dispute over who would sit in the places of honor

Ø     Who would sit on the right and left?

§        I’m sure Peter thought he would occupy the most honored seat

·        After all, He was the one who jumped out of the boat

·        He was the one who first identified Jesus as the Messiah

·        He was the one Jesus was going to build his church on…

¨     Whatever that meant?

§        I’m sure James and John were quick to object

·        After all, they were called the sons of thunder!

¨     They wanted to call down fire on the towns that would not listen to their teaching

§        But what about Andrew?

·        He was the first disciple

·        He was the one who left John the Baptist to follow Jesus

·        He was even the one who went and got Peter in the first place!

·        And on top of that…

¨     He found the bread and fish that Jesus turned into his greatest miracle!

§        But what about Philip?

·        He was called next, wasn’t he?

§        And Nathaniel certainly had tenure over James and John

·        Jesus prophetically saw him under the fig tree before he even met him!

·        Jesus called him “A true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false”

¨     That had to mean something great…

Ø     Right?

§        But Peter and John had a good argument for sitting on Jesus’ right and left…

·        They had prepared this whole meal!

¨     Certainly that deserved 1st and 2nd seating!

Ø     But what probably sparked this whole conversation was when Jesus motioned for Judas to sit to his left…the 2nd highest seat at the Table!!!

§        You can see this in the John 13 interchange

·        Jesus offered Judas bread to Judas sitting right next to him

v    If you can believe it…

Ø     Jesus asked Judas to sit on his left!!

§        The one who they all knew, but never talked about, was taking a little here and there from the community till

·        The one that resented the oil being poured over Jesus’ feet by Mary just a few days earlier

¨     He had talked about it non-stop since then

Ø     “It could have been sold for a years wages!”

§        The one who had been absent from the group many times this week

·        But never told them where he was going

¨     Why would Jesus give Judas such a high honor?

Ø     You can hear the grumbling, can’t you?

§        I should be higher than Judas!

§        I should be higher in the pecking order!

§        I should sit closer to Jesus than this!

§        I deserve to be seated in a more privileged position!

v    So they began the  argument amongst themselves in the upper room

Ø     So Jesus takes this opportunity to teach them once again the difference between greatness in the Kingdom of Man and the Kingdom of God


READ v. 25-29

Greatness in the Kingdom of Man is defined by…

v    Hierarchy

Ø     Look at v. 25

§        Kings, those who exercise power

Ø     Greatness in this world is define by how high up the ladder you climb

§        Whether it be a social ladder or a corporate ladder

·        That is the measure of greatness in this world

Ø     We are almost trained to measure greatness in this fashion

§        Look at the games we play as children

·        Chutes and Ladders

·        King of the Hill

Ø     And people like Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Donald Trump have climbed to the top

§        And they are great in the eyes of the world

·        And we want to follow in their footsteps

¨     So…

Ø     We read their books

Ø     Go to their seminars

Ø     Listen to their speeches

Ø     Follow their counsel

§        Because they have attained greatness in the eyes of the world!

·        They are on top!!

·        They are great!!

v    “But not so with you” says Jesus…


Greatness in the Kingdom of God is defined by…

v    Humility

Ø     Not hierarchy, but humility

Ø     Look at v. 26

§        “The greatest among you should be like the youngest”

·        The young, like the widow and the poor, stood on the lowest rung of the ladder

¨     They had no standing

¨     They had no power

¨     They had no clout

Ø     Theirs was a forced humility

Ø     Jesus is saying here that we are to act like the youngest

§        Act as if you were on the lowest rung

·        Even though you might not actually be on the lowest rung!

·        Even though we might have some standing

¨     Don’t act like it

Ø     Take the unassuming path

§        Be humble

Ø     But humility is a strange thing, isn’t it?

§        Humility is like a rare flower -- put it on display and it instantly wilts and loses its fragrance!

·        As a rule, once you discover you have it…by definition, you lose it!

¨     The Trumps, Buffets and Gates of the world can write books about their position…

Ø     But not so with those who are great in God’s Kingdom

§        There is a humorous account of the fellow who attempted to write about his humility. He had trouble choosing a title for his book. He tried several…

§        "Humility and How I Attained It"

§        "How I Became Humble."

·        He finally decided on "Me and My Humility" -- and included twelve full-page pictures of himself!

Ø     You see…

§        Humility is not something to be announced…

·        It is to be lived

¨     And that is the point that Jesus is making!

Ø     Be content to occupy the lowest rung

Ø     Live a humble life

§        Live like Jesus did

·        You see…

¨     Greatness in the Kingdom of God is not a ladder up, but a staircase down

Ø     And Jesus took that staircase as we see in Phil 2:6-11

§        Jesus’ First step, "Made himself of no reputation."

§        Jesus’ Second step, 'Took the form of a servant."

§        Jesus’ Third step, "Made in the likeness of men."

§        Jesus’ Fourth step, "Found in fashion as a man.

§        Jesus’ Fifth step, "Humbled himself."

§        Jesus’ Sixth step, "Became obedient unto death."

§        Jesus’ Seventh step, "Even the death of the cross."

·        DT 21:23 ~ Cursed is he who hangs on a cross


There is a second difference Jesus points out…

Greatness in the Kingdom of Man is defined by…

v    Titles

Ø     Euergetēs (benefactor)

§        Title of honor given to people in antiquity for doing a great act for the common good

·        It is gaining honor from acts of service

¨     Today we would say “Philanthropist”

Ø     John D. Rockefeller, Henry Ford, William H. Allen

¨     Or perhaps “Humanitarian”

Ø     Ghandi, Albert Schweitzer, Martin Luther King

§        Today we even give out humanitarian awards

·        Carl Perkins humanitarian award

¨     To recognize individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the improvement, promotion, development and progress of education.

·        Jean Hersholt Humanitarian award

¨     Contributions to humanitarian causes

·        Nobel Peace prize

¨     The granddaddy of them all

Ø     Greatest title given for acts of humanitarian service

§        Man cannot help but pat itself on the back at every instance

Ø     You see…

§        In the world’s eyes, even acts of great service should be touted, awarded

·        People should be acknowledged and given a title

v    “But not so with you” says Jesus…

Greatness in the Kingdom of God is defined by…

v    Unrecognized Service

Ø     Look at v. 26

§        Service in the Kingdom of God the way Jesus taught is…

·        Giving in secret

¨     So that the left hand does not knowing what the right is doing

§        Service in the Kingdom of God is…

·        Praying for others in secret

¨     Do not stand on the street corners and pray

Ø     Go into your prayer closet

§        Service in the Kingdom of God is…

·        Helping the beaten Samaritan anonymously

Ø     For the most part…

§        Service in the Kingdom of God is…

·        Unselfish, Undetected, and Unrecognized

¨     And that makes Godly service very difficult for many this side of the glory

v    Ruth Harms Calkin, Christian author, get at the hearty of this in one of her books,

Ø     She writes very honestly…

§        You know Lord how I serve You, with great emotional fervor, in the limelight. You know how eagerly I speak for You, at a women's club. You know how I effervesce when I promote a fellowship group. You know my genuine enthusiasm at a Bible study.

§        But how would I react, I wonder, if You pointed to a basin of water, and asked me to wash the calloused feet of a bent and wrinkled old woman, day after day, month after month, in a room where nobody saw, and nobody knew?


v    You see…

Ø     Greatness in the kingdom is not about getting credit, getting a title, getting recognized this side of the grave

§        But on the other

READ v. 29-30

v    Jesus was basically telling the Apostles that their reward was not going to be on earth…

Ø     But in heaven

v    Not here…

Ø     But the hereafter

v    The question that must be answered by each and every one of us is…

Ø     Where do you want to be great?

§        On Earth or in Heaven?

·        Living this life the way Jesus teaches requires a paradigm shift in our thinking

¨     We have to re-orient ourselves to consider greatness from a Godly perspective

Ø     Not hierarchy, but humility

Ø     Not titles, but anonymity

Ø     It requires us to run a very different race

A world-class woman runner was invited to compete in a road race in Connecticut. On the morning of the race, she drove from New York City, following the directions given her over the telephone. However, she got lost, stopped at a gas station, and asked for help. She knew that the race started in the parking lot of a shopping mall. The station attendant knew of such a race scheduled just up the road and directed her there.

When she arrived she was relieved to see in the parking lot a modest number of runners. Not as many as she had anticipated; an easier race than she had expected.

She hurried to the registration desk, but they had no record of her entry. A little irritated that she had been invited and then forgotten, she registered and put on a number. She hurried to the starting line, ran a great race and easily won…some four minutes ahead of the first male runner!

After the race she was surprised that there was no prize money, no fanfare, no podium.  The race crowd and officials just seemed to dissipate into the town. Only later that day while watching the news in her New York apartment did she learned that she had run in the wrong race.  The race she was invited to was being held several miles farther up the road in another town. She’d gone to the wrong starting line, run the wrong course, and missed her chance to win a valuable prize.

v    Two questions need to be asked

Ø     And only you can answer these for yourself…

§        1) What race are you running in?

·        There are two starting lines, two courses set before you

¨     An earthly and a heavenly

Ø     They are very different races

§        They have different expectations

§        Different goals

§        Different obstacles

§        Different sacrifices

¨     Which race are you running right now?

Ø     The earthly or the heavenly

The second question you must answer is…

§        2) Where’s your pearl?

·        There is a parable told by Jesus about a man who finds a pearl of great value and sells everything to buy it (Matt 13:45-46)


v    What it boils down to in each person’s life is…

Ø     Where is your prize?

Ø     Where is your pearl?

§        Is your pearl of great value in this world or the next?

§        Is the pearl of greatness you pursue an earthly pearl or a heavenly one?

§        Is the pearl that you sell everything for found in this world or the next?

§        Is the pearl that you sell your soul for found here or in the hereafter?

·        Where is your pearl?

v    Notes:


v    They forgot what Jesus taught them

Ø     Luke 14:8, 10

§        When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor…But when you are invited, take the lowest place

Ø     We are not sure of the exact order of things in the upper room

§        But I can envision Jesus concluding this teaching by giving them a real live example of what he just said

·        By wrapping a towel around himself and washing the disciples’ feet

¨     The words still ringing in their ears

Ø     The greatest should be like the youngest

Ø     The greatest should be a servant

Ø     Who is greater, the one at the table or the one who serves

§        Or the one at your feet!

§        In just a few short minutes

·        Jesus gives them the example of both humility and service

¨     By washing their feet

It is said that a certain king was troubled about the carelessness and thoughtlessness of his servants. To seek to arouse them he fell upon the following plan: He took a large stone and placed it in the middle of the road. Then he retired out of sight to watch. Soon a gentleman on his fine horse came along but turned aside with a rather critical feeling, wondering why the king did not have his roads better cared for. Several passed with the same actions and feelings. Finally a poor peasant with a heavy load came along. It was difficult to get his load back on his back when once put off, but he said to himself, "This rock may cause someone to fall and get hurt." So he put his burden aside and rolled the huge stone off the road, feeling happy. But after rolling the stone away he looked where it had been and saw a little package neatly tied up. It was under the stone. He opened it and found it contained many gold coins and a note from the king which read, "The contents of this package is for the one who was sufficiently interested to remove the stone."

Ø     Here Jesus tells them that if you take the lowest position

Ø     If you serve others

§        You will be great

·        That that is the way to lead in the kingdom of God

Ø     Feast ~ Sit at Banquet Table

§        Heaven pictured as a feast

Ø     Foundation ~ Judge (lead) the 12 tribes Israel

§        Eph 2:19-20

·        Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone

§        Rev 21:14

·        The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb

v    Paul in 1 Cor 9:24 likens this life to a race

Ø     And we are to run this race in such a manner as to attain the prize

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