Luke 22:14-23 If we will fight for God, God will fight for us
Luke 22:14-23 If we will fight for God, God will fight for us
When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing.
Jesus’s battle with the devil and the apostate church would soon culminate on the cross of Calvary. Jesus gathered His disciples for His last Passover meal before He suffered. He framed the Passover covenant with His imminent departure and His eventual return. Every time the disciples eat the Passover meal, they were reminded of the raging battles and Jesus’s empowering presence with them. The broken bread signifies the believer’s commitment to fight even unto death. The cup signifies Jesus’s covenant to protect believers in their own battles and challenges. Today’s devotion teaches: If we will fight for God, God will fight for us.
And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer…”
Jesus, knowing His arrest and suffering were imminent made a Passover covenant with His disciples. The Passover covenant bound the disciples to a continual fight for God’s kingdom causes until it is fulfilled. Up to this point, Jesus did not play along with the religious traditions of the Jews, but was actively fighting against their falsehood and hypocrisy. The Jews had intended to stop Jesus from exposing their skeletons in public. Thus, they were actively seeking Jesus to kill Him. “I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” anticipates Jesus’s departure and His eventual reunion with His disciples. Thus, the immediate circumstances surrounding Jesus’s Passover meal is an epic battle between good and evil. The Passover covenant obligates the disciples to continue fighting for the salvation of humanity until He returns.
He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
The bread that was broken carried a new meaning. It symbolises Jesus’s body broken in the course of the fight. Thus, every time the disciples break bread, it invariably brings to mind Jesus’s suffering and His commitment to do whatever it takes to win the war against evil. This powerful imagery of the broken bread strengthens the partaker to continue the fight and never give up.
He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.”
Drinking the cup of the Passover meal symbolises the making of the new covenant by Jesus’s blood. He who drinks at the Passover meal binds himself to Christ and to His mission. The blood covenant is the most binding of all covenants. Once committed, the only way out is by the death of one or both of the covenant partners. Another significance pertains to the grace inherent in Christ’s blood. He who partakes it will have full and continual access to the virtues and authority that Christ possesses.
If we will fight for God, God will fight for us
The Passover meal reminds believers of the ongoing battle between light and darkness for the souls of man. And the battle is fought between the disciples of Jesus and the agents of darkness. The broken bread symbolises Christ’s willingness to suffer while fighting for God’s kingdom’s causes. And the cup symbolises Christ’s empowering presence in the life of believers. Those who fight for the cause of the kingdom will find God fighting for them in the challenges of life.
How do we fight for God?
Jesus fought the battle on two fronts. He fought against hunger, poverty, sickness, injustice and bondage of sin. He fought the Pharisees and the Jewish leaders who misrepresented the truth to the world. Likewise, the true disciples of Christ fight the battle on two fronts: hunger, poverty and sickness among the impoverished and the falsehood and hypocrisy of the modern church.
On the first front, Jesus fights poverty, sickness and sin among the impoverished.
Jesus commands the church to fight to eradicate sickness, poverty and save souls from falling into hell. Jesus made known His mission in His first sermon,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed,
To proclaim the favourable year of the Lord.” – Luke 4:18-19
The devil seeks to oppress humanity through injustice, poverty, sickness and to imprison them in the bondage of sin. The believer’s fight is against the onslaught of evil, to lift up as many as we can through the Holy Spirit who empowers us. Conversion is not the mission of the church. But rather to eradicate lawlessness, poverty, sickness and to establish righteousness and mercy in the world. The church must fulfil the mission by preaching and by living out the gospel: to teach the truth, to heal the sick, to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to visit the abandoned, and to defend the fatherless.
On the second front, Jesus exposed the hypocrisy of the church when He openly rebuked the Jews:
The Pharisees focused on conversion towards salvation, not regeneration towards Christ-likeness. Because of their error, they and their followers cannot enter God’s kingdom. In fact, many of their converts have become worse than their teachers. Jesus said to them,
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in… you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” – Matthew 23:13,15
The church today suffers a similar disease with many claiming to be Christians but are in fact morally more depraved than non-believers. Because of the false teachings propagated by their teachers, many are in the church for the sake of blessing and salvation. They have no desire to grow in Christ-likeness. Thus, believers must never see salvation as the goal, but rather a by-product or result of Christ-likeness. The vision of a believer is to become like Christ in living out His virtues and authority.
The Pharisees put on an appearance of holiness, but they love money and power and were under bondage themselves. The Jewish leaders followed temple rituals and laws as a veneer of holiness. But they were inwardly full of hypocrisy and lawlessness and were serpents and brood of vipers (see Matthew 23:28,33). Jesus said to them,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation. … Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.” – Matthew 23:14,23
The majority of the churches today take on the spirit of the Pharisees. They suppose by their attendance in church services, by their offerings and their feel good sermons they are on the right track. Many, including the ministers themselves do not read the bible conscientiously and are secretly in love with the world.
The Pharisees reject and persecute the prophets and ministers who speak the truth. They profess to honour the men of faith that came before them but were shedding the blood of the prophets. They studied the scriptures and acquire knowledge but would not live them out. Jesus said to them,
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’” – Matthew 23:29-30
The church today honours great men and women of faith, but will not listen to their teachings. If Jesus and the prophets were to preach in the churches today, will He be persecuted?
How does God fight for us?
If we fight for the cause of God’s kingdom, God will fight to grant us all things needed for abundant living. He grants us faithful alliances, health, wisdom, divine strength and virtues. Jesus said to His disciples,
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.” – Matthew 6:33-34
He fights for His disciples in securing for them a place of authority and prominence in God’s kingdom. He said to Peter who left everything to fight for Him,
And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” – Matthew 19:28
Not only that, God protects us by granting us authority over the angels. The psalmist says,
“The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them.” – Psalm 34:7
During Jesus’s time on earth, He helped those who fought with Him. He raised Lazarus from the dead (see John 11:38-44) and facilitated a big catch of fish for His disciples (John 21:6).
How can we fight poverty? By investing your personal time and financial resources towards the organisations that serve the impoverished. We must on a daily basis be on a look out for those who need help. The souls of the needy are priceless treasures redeemed by Jesus’s own life. Jesus continued,
“Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves money belts which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Luke 12:33-34
There are families that are dysfunctional with frequent fights and quarrels. And their children live in constant fear of violence and break ups. Not forgetting those in the work place who are not able to speak up or stand up for themselves. It is hence our duty to enter into their space to restore peace and stability by the power of Jesus.
How can we fight the decay of our churches? By speaking the truth with the pure intention to save them from apostasy. If their understanding is incorrect, gently counsel them by pointing to Jesus’s teachings and by way of our exemplary lifestyle. Observe how Jesus used the scriptures to correct the church of His time. Be humble and open to people’s opinions and rebuttals.
Dear Lord, I recognise that where I am today is the result of the battles that were fought on my behalf. I will likewise do my part to fight and to rescue those who are sick, poor and oppressed by sin. As I fight for the cause of the kingdom, God will surely fight for me and deliver me from my troubles. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.