2015-10-11 When Pride Raises Its Ugly Head

LUKE 22:21-38                                                                                OCTOBER 11, 2015


A lawyer and a farmer were having a conversation. The lawyer asked the farmer, “Why don’t you hold your head up high like I do? No one pushes me around. I bow before neither God nor man!” The farmer replied, “See that field of grain yonder? Only the empty heads stand up. Those that are well filled always bow low.” One wise man said, “Pride is the only disease known to man that makes everyone sick except the person who has it.” (Buddy Robinson)

Scripture is clear about the danger of pride. Proverbs 11:2 (NIV) 2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Proverbs 16:18 (NIV) 18 Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 13:10 (NIV) 10 Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” It is clear that Jesus knew these scriptures as he warned the disciples, and especially Peter. As we look at this passage may we be aware that pride crouches at our doors, always seeking to sneak its way into our lives. Jesus warned the disciples of their attitude and how they should act. May we have ears to hear!

In the midst of explaining the terms of the new covenant Jesus delivered a startling message of imminent betrayal by one of the twelve. Luke 22:21-23 (NIV) 21 But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. 22 The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” 23 They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.”

Jesus had repeatedly warned them that the Son of Man was going to suffer and die on the cross. Now he warns them, that one of them was going to betray him. It is always a shock when a Christian we think we know turns from the faith and rejects God completely. They all wanted to know immediately who it was. We should not be surprised that people may attend church for years and yet not truly believe. Judas traveled with Jesus for three years, but he never gave his heart to Jesus.

What is surprising is that the next thing mentioned is that the twelve were having a discussion about who will lead them next. Luke 22:24 (NIV) 24 Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest.” Whoever is chosen to lead after Jesus would be considered to be the greatest.

Jesus did not get upset but used the occasion to teach a lesson.  Jesus gave an example of how the leaders of the world act. Listen to the words of Jesus from the Living Bible.  Luke 22:24-27, “And they began to argue among themselves as to who would have the highest rank in the coming Kingdom. Jesus told them, In this world the kings and great men order their slaves around, and the slaves have no choice but to like it! But among you, the one who serves you best will be your leader. Out in the world the master sits at the table and is served by his servants. But not here! For I am your servant.” Jesus was a servant leader.

John recorded in his gospel that Jesus clothed himself as a servant and washed their feet, just as a servant would do. John 13:12-15 (NIV) 12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.” Every Christian is called to serve, and especially our leaders.

During the depression a wealthy businessman visited a college and wanted to meet the president. He was considering giving a huge donation. He went into the administration building and found a man cleaning the restrooms. The man told the businessman to come back at noon and the president would be in his office. When the businessman arrived at the allotted time he realized that the man who had been cleaning the rest rooms was the same man, except now he had on better clothes. He knew right then that he was going to give a donation. That college president was a servant leader. He was not too proud to do what needed to be done, even cleaning toilets.

Jesus was aware of the eleven disciples who were faithful to him. Jesus told them that their faithfulness would be rewarded. Living Bible Luke 22:28-30, “Nevertheless, because you have stood true to me in these terrible days, and because my Father has granted me a Kingdom, I, here and now, grant you the right to eat and drink at my table in that Kingdom; and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” I am sure that the disciples were encouraged knowing that they would be rewarded for their faithful service. We all will rejoice on that day when we enter the heavenly kingdom.

Jesus now turns to warning the disciples and Peter. Luke 22:31-32 (NIV) 31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”  In verse 31, the word “you” in the Greek is plural. Jesus is saying that Satan asked to test all of the disciples, and especially Peter. In verse 32 the word “you” is singular and refers only to Peter. It is helpful to know that Jesus stands by our side when we are tempted and especially when we fail the test. Jesus knew that Peter would get back up and be faithful to him.

Pride raised its ugly head when the disciples earlier discussed who would be the greatest. Now, pride again gripped Peter, and he boasted about himself. In the other gospels he even states that all may fall away, but he never will. Luke 22:33-34 (NIV) 33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.” We are weak without Jesus. After Peter returned to Jesus, he was indeed put into jail several times for the faith and was later executed by the Romans.

Jesus then gave final instructions about how to be ready to face the future without him. Luke 22:35-37 (NIV) 35 Then Jesus asked them, “When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?” “Nothing,” they answered. 36 He said to them, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. 37 It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.” Jesus gave them different instructions when he was present, but now that he is leaving Jesus told them to be prepared for their journeys in his behalf.

The journeys we take in behalf of Jesus, witnessing to others, will at times be dangerous and we must be prepared for that possibility. There is debate on exactly what this means in all circumstances. I believe it is permissible to defend ourselves. Yet, we are called to love and turn the cheek whenever we can. I trust the Spirit to give us guidance and his wisdom as we need it.

Luke 22:38 38 The disciples said, “See, Lord, here are two swords.” “That is enough,” he replied.” The disciples asked if they needed swords right then. You can tell that Jesus was not about to wage an earthly battle as two swords would not be enough if Jesus was going to a fight. Our biggest and most fearsome opponents will not be humans, but Satan. Ephesians 6:12-13 (NIV) 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

In this passage we can identify that often our greatest adversary is ourselves. How many of you remember the cartoon strip “Pogo”? Pogo once said, “I have met the enemy and it is me!” Satan often uses pride as a means to damage our witness.  We must cling to Jesus and remember that he has called us to be his servants, serving him in love and with humility.

May we pray.