Text: Luke 22:24-30 March 22, 2009
1) Big time ministry: David Roper, one of the writers of OUR DAILY BREAD, said that he heard someone commented about a certain preacher. “This man is destined for a great ministry,” by which he meant that preacher was headed for the big time---a high-profile church with a huge budget and thousands of people on Sunday morning services. That comment made him wonder: Why do people think that success in God’s call is necessarily an upward mobile? Why wouldn’t God send His best workers to labor for a lifetime in some small places? Do people in obscure places need to be taught to know God and be saved?
2) All times ministry: Jesus cared about individuals, small groups as well as masses. He taught Nicodemus and Mary one on one. He taught his disciples in small groups of three or the twelve. Of course, He taught and fed the 5,000 on the hillside. It didn’t bother Him even when His audience grew smaller. “Many had left Him,” John said (6:66), a fickle attrition that would have thrown most of us into high panic. Yet Jesus pressed on with those the Father gave Him whatever the numbers may be.
SUCCESS IN MODERN CULTURE:
1) Success means size: We live in the modern day culture that bigger means better and size is the measure of success. We see this in almost everything from businesses, houses, cars, budgets, income, bank account and countless other things. Big means more and more is what people in this world are seeking. There may be one exception: size and more may not be desirable when it comes to body weight and waistline.
2) Success means position: All through human history, regardless of culture and time, position means success: the higher position you occupy, the more success you must be. This is true every-where from business to politics, from everyday life to family. If you are more successful, you occupy a higher position. We see people love to place titles (position) on their name cards.
3) Success means image: Another symbol of success is image. We see many people try to create and promote self-image so they look successful. They will drive expensive cars, wear expensive name brand clothing, watches and jewelry. They will join elite clubs only successful and wealthy people are members and they will patronize select expensive restaurants. And of course, they make friends with people of success-image.
4) Success means name: Some people try to build their names as symbol of success. They will do things that people will honor or remember them and their names while they are still living and after they are gone. They will donate money to organizations, buildings, schools and churches and others that people will honor them by naming whatever it may be in their honor. Some even use irregular means to buy degree, title, diploma, etc. to promote their names as symbols of success.
SUCCESS IN BIBLICAL CULTURE:
1) It’s faithfulness, not size: “So, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must be proven faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:1-2) In the parable of “The Talents”, Jesus did not place the importance of size of the endowment or the returns, He, instead, emphasized the importance of faithful use of whatever endowment received. God doesn’t give all people same amount of gifts. But He expects all of us to do faithfully on whatever we have received.
2) It’s servant-hood, not position: “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” (John 13:14-15) Washing someone’s feet is the lowest position one can get at Jesus time and he did just that. He wanted us to serve others even on the lowest job. To Him, it is not the position that matters, but the spirit and service of a lowly servant that counts.
3) It’s God’s glory, not our image: “This is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit.” (John 15:8) Bearing much fruit is the same as being very successful. But the result of much fruit is never meant to elevate our image but to glorify God. Whatever God allows us to achieve, whatever result we may bring with hard work or opportunity, we do it to bring glory to God, not to our own honor or image.
4) It’s Jesus’ name, not ours: “Therefore God exalted him (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above all names.” (Philippians 2:9) Many people, ancient and modern, love to build shrines so people may remember their names. But no name receives as much honor or lasts as long as the name of Jesus. “That at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father.” (2:10-11)
LESSONS ON BIG AND SMALL: (Luke 22:24-30)
1) An eternal human defect: “A dispute arose among the disciples as to which of them was considered to be the greatest. (Luke 22:24) Wanting to be the greatest or biggest is not a modern day issue. It has been there through thousand of years in human history. Being the disciples of Jesus, listening to many teachings of Jesus didn’t change that human defect. This nature of self promotion and personal glory has ruined countless churches, destroyed many effective ministries and tarnished many faithful and devoted followers of the Lord.
2) It’s all about authority: “The king of the Gentiles lord over them and those who exercise authority over them call themselves benefactors.” (22:25) Lording over others is a temptation from the very beginning of the world and is wide spread in all levels or human society. In God’s people, we only have one Lord and that is Lord Jesus. We don’t need to have other lords and no one should see himself as lord over others no matter what position he may have in God’s church. We are all God’s people and brother or sisters of His family.
3) Turning big into small: “Instead the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” (22:26)Those who are in high position are to act like those in humble position and those who are in position of ruling need to lower their position and serve others. Biblical principles on high and low, big and small are so different from that of the secular world: the big needs to become small.
4) Jesus, the best example: “For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.” (22:27)The Lord Jesus humbled himself from being Lord of the universe to become a man and to serve people of the world even to die on the cross. Jesus didn’t just teach us good lessons, he acted out the lessons so others may learn from him.
5) We need to stand by Him: “You are those who have stood by me in my trials.” (22:28)To stand by Jesus is to keep close with him. It also means to support him and his position. If we stand by him in time of glory and honor, we also need to stand by him in time of trials, humility and service.
6) Greatness comes from God: “And I confer you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred on me, so you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones.”(22:29-30) True Christians greatness is not on earth but in heaven, the kingdom of God. All positions of honor, big or small, is conferred on us by the Lord for eternity. They are gifts of God, not our own success.
1) Be very careful: Since we still live in this world and are being influenced by the culture of this world, we need to be very careful when we relate to people around us at home, in school, at work or in the church. Fighting for position of honor is not compatible with Christian principles. It can only create conflicts and contention that will hurt or destroy a family, a relationship, a ministry or even a church. Always on the lookout for such a temptation and stop it before it stops you from being a good and faithful servant of the Lord.
2) Be very faithful: It is never how big you may become but how faithful you are in tasks God has assigned you. Be faithful to the position God has assigned to you, the class you teach, the small job you are responsible of and the proper attitude you have about all these. God is not looking for big and famous people. He is looking for the good and the faithful.
3) Be very smart: If you care so much about your worldly success, you should be smarter to care about your success in eternity. Begin to build your eternal assets in heaven while you are still here. Call on Jesus to save you from your sins and give you new life in His Kingdom. Ask him to come into your life and be your Lord and Savior so you can start a new life that is truly great and important.