Encouraging Last Words- Luke 22:21-38

If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, what would be your last words to your family? Jesus had lived with his disciples for 3 years. They had become his family. Jesus knew he was going to be crucified tomorrow and had one last opportunity to speak to his disciples before his death.  Jesus took this opportunity to encourage his disciples with the truth. Let Jesus last words encourage our hearts and help us see what really matters.

Encouraging Last Words: Predetermined Betrayal

            After establishing the Lord’s Supper, Jesus shares with his disciples that he was going to be betrayed by someone present. We already knew from the beginning of the chapter that Judas had already searching for an opportunity to betray Jesus, but this would have been shocking to the disciples there. Luke 22:21-23,

But behold, the hand of him who betrays me is with me on the table. For the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.

How are these last words encouraging? Well, Jesus submitted himself to the Father’s will. The Son of Man goes as it has been determined. He knew He was going to be betrayed and crucified and He accepted his fate. 

            Jesus trusted God’s sovereign plan for him. How instructive is it for us to follow his example? We must trust God even in our trials.  There is a purpose in our trials. Jesus knew that and so should we.  There is also a warning in this passage. We can look at warnings as something that is negative, but we can also hold warnings as encouragements. It is encouraging for someone to warn you about potential dangers. It is encouraging when a friend warns us about potential dangers like a “D” rating from the Health department at your favorite restaurant. Jesus offers a clear warning, “woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” Judas had already consented with the chief priests to betray Jesus, but Jesus is still giving him one last chance to repent. We know that Judas served his purpose in denying and betraying Christ, but the warning was still given to him. Judas showed his true allegiance to self and himself as an imposter among the disciples. 

            The warning of betrayal went out to Judas as it does it us. Are you living secretly against the Lord? Are you within the community of faith, but simply an imposter?  Only you truly know your heart before God, but in his last words, Jesus exhorts his people of the danger of betraying the Son of Man. And truthfully, no one expected Judas. Verse 23 says, “And they began to question one another, which of them it could be who was going to do this.” This verse shows that it was not obvious to the disciples that it was Judas. Sin can bite anyone. We should never be surprised of the magnitude of sin. Judas was trusted with the money bag. He had walked with Jesus for three years. I do not even think Judas expecting it was going to be himself. Sin is deceptive and destructive. Do not underestimate the power of sin.

Encouraging Last Words: Pure Leadership

The disciples were debating which one of them was the worst in who would betray Christ, but also were disputing which one of them was the best. Luke 22:24-27,

A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.
Jesus shifts the value of leadership. The leadership of the kingdom of God is drastically different than the leadership of the world.

            The Gentiles exercise lordship or demonstrated their authority through their display of power. They gave themselves the title benefactor, not because it was earned, but simply based on their position. Worldly leaders took pride in their position. It is natural for people to boast in their position of authority. The prideful exaltation in position is fine for the world, but not so with the kingdom of God. In verse 26 we see a sharp contrast, “But not so with you. Rather.” Jesus is showing a distinct contrast between the world and the kingdom. Jesus says that leadership in the kingdom is one of service.  He says, “Let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.” Jesus is not saying there shouldn’t be leaders, but that there should be certain kind of leader.

            Jesus stretches this example further by placing the world and the kingdom side by side in very clear example.  “For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table?” It is obvious that the one who is at reclining at the table is greater than the one who is serving…in the eyes of the world. The kingdom of God is not of this world. Our King has come to give another kingdom. Jesus says, “But I am among you as the one who serves.”  Jesus demonstrated true humility during this meal mentioned in John 13 when during the supper Jesus rose from his table and laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel and tying to waist and washing the disciples’ feet.  John 13:12-17,

When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, “Do you understand what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

King Jesus modeled for us how we are called to lead. The life of leadership is the life of service.

During my years in ministry, I have found many people who wanted to be served, but very few people who want to serve. By God’s grace I have met many men and women in this congregation who, like the Lord Jesus, wash one another’s feet. They do not crave the limelight, but serve behind the scenes. They give of their time and the money so that others can know Jesus. Sunday School teachers who labor hour after hour over their lessons so that they can instruct the hearts and minds of God’s people. Saints who go out of their way to pick people up for church and to bring people a meal when sick. Pure godly leaders are those who serve. If anyone aspires to leadership in the church, let him become a servant.

Encouraging Last Words: Promised Kingdom

One of my favorite proverbs is Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” It is amazing how friendship is tested under the crucible of suffering. My best friends are those who have walked with me and stood by in the midst of trials. Have you ever walked through the crucible of suffering only to discover who your friends truly are? Think about how people have stood next to you during trials as we hear Jesus words in Luke 22:28-30,

You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Hear that again, “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials.” 

Those are words written by the Savior King, but words written to beloved friends. Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. His family thought he was crazy. He was called Beelzebul. He was left after giving hard words of instruction. The crowd was fickle, but his friends remained steadfast. And think about how important the eleven were in light of the one who would betray him. It is easy to focus on the one, but Jesus turned his eyes to the eleven that stayed beside him. Beloved, you are going to have Judas in your life, but you will also have those who stay with you during trials. I pray your eyes will see the ones that are still there beside you rather than the ones who have left your side.

Jesus looked at the eleven and promised them a prominent place in his kingdom. God the Father gave Jesus a kingdom and now Jesus gives his disciples place in that kingdom. He rewarded them for their faithfulness to Him. God promised to reward his people for their faithfulness. We are going to go through trials, but there will be a sweet reward at the end of our struggles. I love the comparison that Paul makes in Romans 8:18, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” He is not minimizing our struggle, but telling us that the reward at the end of the struggle is worth it. So, Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Remember that you are serving the Lord Christ!!!

God has promised a special place for his disciples. First, Jesus will welcome them to his table in his kingdom. There will be intimate fellowship in the age to come. Second, Jesus will place his disciples on the thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. God’s plan for Israel will finally be complete as he brings all his people, Jew and Gentile, under one head, Christ, on the last day. This great promise was given to the disciples to encourage them as they were going to face the death of Christ and as they were going to face their eventual death. The remaining 11 disciples were all executed because of their faith in Jesus except the Apostle John who was exiled on the island of Patmos.

Encouraging Last Words: Promised Victory

After Jesus gives a word of encouragement to all the disciples, he speaks directly to Simon Peter. Jesus says,

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.

We all are probably very familiar with Peter denying Christ, but we may not be as familiar with the spiritual backdrop of his denial. Let me make two observations. First, we have an adversary that is actively pursuing our destruction. Satan demanded to have Peter. Satan hates Jesus and hates his disciples. Peter experienced this first hand. The worst moments in a believer’s life are when they fall to temptation. Peter would deny his friend and master. And when he did, Peter wept bitterly (Luke 22:62). Peter knows the pain of failure so we should listen to him when he writes, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) Peter wants us to learn from his mistakes. When he was warned of Satan, he trusted in his pride believing that he was above temptation, saying “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”

Friend, do not underestimate the Adversary. We see him take Judas out. And we see him want to take Peter out, but the Lord Jesus would not let his faith fail. Second observation, Jesus is praying for you. Our trust is ultimately not in our ability to resist temptation, but in our Savior who resisted temptation. We all have failed against temptation. We have sinned against God and deserve death and hell because of our sin. None of us has resisted temptation to the point of death, but when Jesus was tempted, he resisted the Adversary. He was tempted in every way and without sin. Jesus Christ has become our high priest, holy, innocent, unstained separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens (Heb. 7:26). He gave his perfect life as a ransom for sinners. And after he was dead and buried, God raised from the dead accepting his sacrificial death on behalf of sinners. Hebrews 7:25, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

When we draw near to God in repentance and faith, God saves us. He prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail as He forever lives to pray for his people so that he will not lose one of his sheep. Peter did fail Jesus, but his failure was only temporary. There are some of you here who have recently or are currently failing Jesus Christ by falling to temptation.  Be encouraged that Jesus knows your failure and He is praying for you. And he says to his children, “your faith will not fail.” He said to Peter, “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” Friend, Jesus invites you to turn again to Him. Do not continue in your sin, but return to your Shepherd and the Overseer of your soul. Christian, know that when you sin, you have an advocate before the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2:1). As you should not underestimate the Adversary, do not underestimate the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. His grace restored Peter in his failure as His grace will restore you in your failure.  Turn again from your sin and draw near to God who saves to the uttermost since he lives to make intercession for his people.

Encouraging Last Words: Promised Rejection

The reason our salvation is possible is because our Savior was rejected. It is only by his wounds we are healed. It was time for his disciples to get ready for life without their master. The world had made its decision about Jesus and now it was time for his disciples to prepare for the same fate.[1] Luke 22:35-38,

And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

Jesus had tried to prepare his disciples for his death. It was difficult for them to understand why Jesus had to die. Their expectations of the Messiah were different. Jesus wanted them to see how his death had been planned since the beginning. He had to be numbered with the transgressors. He had to be treated as a sinner so that sinners could be saved. Jesus is reminding his disciples in his last words that, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.” (Luke 9:23-24)

            Jesus invites his disciples to follow him, but remember he only asks us to go where he has already been. Let our hearts take courage as we read where our Lord went to bring us salvation. Isaiah 53,

He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and   as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:3-12)

Beloved, Jesus Christ was numbered with the transgressors to make intercession for the transgressors. Be encouraged, Jesus is praying for you. Your faith will not fail. Your sins are paid for you. Your redemption is near. Turn to Him again in faith as we wait for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us. Be encouraged for our Savior saves to the uttermost all who draw near to Him.

[1] Bock, D. L. (1996). Luke: 9:51–24:53 (Vol. 2). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. Luke 22:36