Luke 22:24

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Luke 22:24 

“And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.” – Luke 22:24

In today’s focus verse, we see there was an argument regarding which of the disciples should be considered greater than the others.  This is not the only time something like this occurred, for we see in Mark a request from James and John, Zebedee’s sons who asked Jesus to make them the top two disciples. “Grant that we may sit in Your glory, one on Your right, and one on Your left.” Mark 10:35. The difference between these two events is that here, they were arguing regarding which of the twelve would be designated the top person where the event in Mark speaks of two brothers requesting the top positions.

Now, I believe Jesus saw where this was going.  “And He said to them, The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ‘Benefactors.’” Luke 22:25. The term ‘benefactor’ frequently was used to describe gods, heroes, and kings who were in fact at times quite despotic, so that there may be some irony in this statement. Then He continues.  “But not so with you but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant.” Luke 22:26.  He was telling them this was not the type of leader they were to become for  His kingdom will be greatly different than those of this world. The rulers here were for the most part despots, requiring their people to do anything and everything.

Now these words of Jesus were directed to the disciples, the future leaders in the church. And they definitely apply today as well. The following words do not deny that there are leaders in the church. What they do is describe how such leaders are to lead. The greatest in the church are not to behave as the greatest in the world.

Next He makes the following statement. “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.” Luke 22:27. He asks the question, who is greater, the one who is served or the one who serves? He then answers with the statement, is it not the master of the feast who is at the table?  But look at my example I show you. “But I am among you as the one who serves.” Although Jesus is clearly greater than the disciples, his behavior during his earthly ministry was one of serving them. John, in his gospel, writes this example. “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come forth from God, and was going back to God, rose from supper, and laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:3-5. The washing of another‘s feet was one of the lowliest deeds that could be done. This lays out clearly that those who would follow Jesus should also be a servant of all.

Jesus closes this with the following, “And you are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Luke 22:28-30. They were granted access to eat at Jesus’ kingdom, as well as a throne for each of them. And we will be blessed as well if we serve God and His people as Jesus served the Father and His people while here on earth.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.

Matthew 18:1

Verse of the Day Devotion Matthew 18:1 

“At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” – Matthew 18:1

The disciples were no doubt concerned about who Jesus considered the greatest of the twelve.  They knew that obviously Jesus was the greatest, both here and in the final kingdom.  But they were essentially asking, who came after Jesus.  It seems that the disciples were often concerned about this.  We see two instances recorded in Luke alone.  “And an argument arose among them as to which of them might be the greatest.” Luke 9:46. And then “And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.” Luke 22:24.  We also know of at least two other instances and who knows if the verses in Mark and Matthew, our focus verse, is the same as those in Luke or are different. 

Matthew’s version does not say they were arguing or discussing amongst each other as in the other instances, but I imagine this occurred more times then recorded here.  So, after they asked Him, He gathered them around Him, along with a child. The fact that the child came when Jesus called says something about Jesus. He was the sort of man that children would trust and willingly come to Him.  And then, what He tells the disciples was no doubt somewhat of a disappointment, for they expected a specific name from Him. 

However, what He said was that humility is what He is looking for.  “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:3.  He starts by telling them that in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, they must become like children.  A child was a person of no importance in Jewish society, subject to the authority of his elders, not taken seriously except as a responsibility, one to be looked after, not one to be looked up to.  Children are not threatening; we aren’t afraid of meeting a five-year-old in a dark alley. Children are not good at deceiving; they are pretty miserable failures at fooling their parents. When we are good at hiding ourselves and deceiving others, we aren’t like Jesus. The child is held up as an ideal, not of innocence, purity, or faith, but of humility and unconcern for social status.  Jesus knew that we must be converted to be like little children. It isn’t in our nature to take the low place and to humble ourselves.

Then He says the following, which I believe was a shock to His disciples.  “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.” Matthew 18:5.  Jesus addressed the issue of greatness. When we most fulfill the humble place a child had in that culture, we are then on our way to greatness in His kingdom.  This is the picture Paul gives of Jesus in his letter to the Philippians. “Have this attitude in yourselves, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8.  This is true humility; the Son of God Himself being humble in order to do the work needed to save mankind from their sins.

And finally, he finishes with two powerful statements. First, “And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me.” Matthew 18:5.  Since the nature of Jesus is like one of these little children, how we treat those who are humble like children shows what we think of the nature of Jesus.  Unfortunately, we see this all too often. The essential fact in the transformation Christ works in us is that He changes the great ones into little children.  And in this world, it is easy to actually despise the humble. They are the losers; the kind who will never make it in our competitive and aggressive and get-ahead world. Yet when we despise humble people, we also despise Jesus. 

And secondly, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy millstone be hung around his neck, and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6.  The idea of ‘to stumble’ is to sin.  So, what He is saying is that anyone who causes one of those who humbles themselves as children to sin, it would be better for them to receive the above severe punishment of being drowned in the sea with a millstone wrapped around his neck. The stone, and anyone attached to it, was sure to sink and never come up again. And this was a big millstone. Theologian D.A. Carson notes, “Most millstones were hand tools for domestic use…here it is the heavy stone pulled around by a donkey.” And the very picture of drowning had its terror for the Jew. Drowning was sometimes a Roman punishment, but never Jewish.  This is probably why Jesus used this form of punishment.

In closing, rather than strive to be the greatest in this world, we should simply trust in Jesus and serve others, thereby serving Him. Positions of power are meant to be positions of service. We are not called to lord over others, we are to use any influence or resources we have to serve others. The greatest in the kingdom are those who have the humility of a child and the meekness of Jesus. “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth,” Matthew 5:5.  What is valued in God’s kingdom is loving the way He loved us—selflessly.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries. 

1 Corinthians 13:13

Verse of the Day Devotion:  1 Corinthians 13:13 

“But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13   

In first Corinthians 12, Paul is writing about spiritual gifts which are given by the Holy Spirit to the Church, distributed to each as He chooses.  Therefore, one Christian may receive one type of gift while another receives a different gift.  However, in chapter 13, he discusses the three gifts that are not only common to all, but those three which will remain forever, for they are eternal gifts.  These being faith, hope and love.  The word translated “abide” in our focus verse is the Greek word menō meaning not just to be here now, but also to remain, stay and not to depart.  This same word is used in the Book of Acts where Paul tells the centurion, “Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, unless these men remain in the ship, you yourselves cannot be saved.” Acts 27:31. The soldiers needed to stay and remain in the boat to save everyone in the ship.  And then in Hebrews we read, “For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and an abiding one.” Hebrews 10:34.  Again, the word translated abiding is the same Greek word menō.  Here the idea is that their property may be seized here, but in the next life in heaven, it will remain eternally.

So, based on the Greek word menō, the three gifts faith, hope and love will remain forever, not like the gifts which are distributed to some. “Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.” 1 Corinthians 13:8.  In this verse, we see a contrast of three gifts which will go away and the three gifts in our focus verse. 

The Corinthian church members were priding themselves on the fact that they could speak in tongues and demonstrate other attention-getting gifts. However, Paul reminds them of the gifts that the Corinthians so desired were but temporary; faith, hope, and love, the foundational gifts, are permanent and therefore more to be desired.  Paul then corrects them by reminding them of that which is better.  “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.” 1 Corinthians 12:31.  

The three gifts, faith, hope, and love are gifts that are present today and will be with us forever.  Faith in the Son of God will not cease in the eternal state; we will not stop trusting Jesus just because our faith has become sight.  “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:6-7. Today, we have faith aside from sight. In eternal life, we will continue to have faith but it will be in conjunction with sight. If anything, our faith will grow for our trust in Him will be greater.  As for hope, Jesus is our Blessed Hope.  “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.” Titus 2:11-14. Our hope will not end simply because Jesus, our blesses hope, has come. For the entire time we are there, our expectations will always be for good because we are eternally with the foundation of our hope.  And finally, love.  We must remember that the basic and essential part of God’s nature is love. “And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.”  1 John 4:16. God is love; therefore, love is eternal, both eternity past and eternity future.

There is a vast difference between the gifts given to selected Christians, i.e.: tongues, prophecy, the gift of knowledge, etc. However, the three mentioned in our focus verse are eternally with us who are Christians and enter our everlasting home with Jesus for He is our blessed hope,  love embodied, and our faith will be secure with Him.  What a beautiful life to look forward to.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.