The Apostles’ Food Fight
About the Guest
When things get tough do you blame or do you boast? According to Dr. Dan Allender, you probably do both. And if you do, you're in good company, because so did Jesus' disciples. Dan Allender explores what he calls "the Apostle's food fight" from Luke 11.
When things get tough do you blame or do you boast? According to Dr. Dan Allender, you probably do both. And so did Jesus’ disciples. Dan Allender explores what he calls “the Apostle’s food fight” from Luke 11.
The Apostles’ Food Fight
Bob: If you had theopportunity to walk side by side with Jesus every day for three years, you’d think it would have a pretty powerful impact on your life; right? Dan Allender says think about the disciples.
Dan: These men have been with Jesus for a long graduate education. What is the byproduct of the presence of the greatest teacher ever on the face of the earth? And the answer is: “Chaos / a food fight.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, November 27th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Even when our lives are still messy, there is a sanctifying influence that Jesus has on us. We’ll hear about that today. Stay tuned.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. You know, I’ve been a Christian—trying to do the math here—almost 40 years. You’ve been a Christian longer than that.
Dennis: Yes, 60.
Bob: I sometimes get a little discouraged at the fact that I’ve been walking with Jesus for a long time and—
Dennis: Still don’t get it?
Bob: —I’m no farther along than I am!
Dennis: I identify with the disciples and some of their unbelief—in fact, a lot of their unbelief. I mean, it’s just interesting how you can be that close to Jesus and not get it. I mean, I read the other day—He fed the 5,000 and He said: “Didn’t you guys just see what happened? Didn’t you see what faith in the right object produces?” The answer, of course, was, “No.”
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: It’s interesting, Bob because there’s grief in that—that they missed it—but there’s also great comfort because we don’t always get it either. We are about to be reminded of that by Dr. Dan Allender, who is a good friend of yours and mine. Dan is from Seattle. He and his wife Becky served on the Weekend To Remember® marriage getaway speaker team for a number of years. He’s just a really good friend.
Here’s the thing—if you’ve not read Dr. Allender or if you’ve never heard him speak, I want to urge you to just move a little closer to your radio or your computer.
Bob: You’re going to have to pay attention; aren’t you?
Dennis: You’re going to have to pay attention because he’s a thought-provoking speaker. He uses words to get your attention / to cause you to think. It reminds me of a quote by my mentor and friend, Dr. Howard Hendricks—he says, “He dusts your mind with itching powder.”
I think, as a result of what you’re about to hear from Dr. Dan Allender, you likely are going to be scratching more than your head. You’re going to be scratching your heart because he’s going to prompt you to not boast or not blame.
Bob: Yes. Dan was in Little Rock so that we could talk with him about a book that he’s written, along with his friend Tremper Longman, a book called God Loves Sex.
Dennis: No; that was not why he was here. He came to Little Rock to go fishing with me.
Bob: [Laughter] He did come in early; didn’t he?
Dennis: I took him fishing—it’s not like he doesn’t have any fishing in the Northwest. [Laughter]
Bob: While he was here, he also spoke to our staff. We thought our listeners ought to get the benefit of what our staff benefited from—and that is having a chance to hear from Dr. Dan Allender—and to hear him reflect on the relationship between Jesus and the disciples and the last supper. Here is Dan Allender.
Dan: I want to take you to a passage that I sup in at the end of the year. Passage I’m about to read to you—I want you to ask yourself the question—if you had had the privilege to be with Jesus for three to three-and-a-half years, pretty much every single day—maybe a few nights He was not with you / perhaps there were a number of interactions that took him from you for a certain portion of the day—but for the most part, what you can say is—for three-and-a-half years, you are with Jesus—watching, learning, talking, questioning, having the opportunity to allow the very presence and life of Jesus to infiltrate every cell of your being. Then the question is:” If you had that kind of time and privilege, who would you be?”
If we’re looking at learning objectives—I know it’s such a empty way of putting it with regard to thinking what it would be like to be with Jesus—but if there were learning objectives like: “This is who I would become if I were to have that level of care, presence, engagement, truth, wisdom living in my body, day in/day out, for over a thousand days, who would I become if I had that access?”
If you have a Scripture with you, look at Luke, Chapter 22. I’m starting with verse 14:
When the hour came, Jesus and his disciples reclined at the table. And He said, “I have eagerly desired to eat the Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
And after taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you; for I tell you I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
And the same way after the supper, He took the cup, “This cup is the new covenant of my blood which is poured out for you. But the hand of him who is going to betray Me is with Mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed; but woe to that man who betrays him!’”
These are the two verses that I want you to most concentrate on:
They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this. Also a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered to be the greatest.
And Jesus said, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; that those who exercise authority over them call themselves ‘Benefactors.’ But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.
“For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not I who have been at this table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by Me in My trials; and I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on Me, so that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom and sit on the thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Well if it can be put as simply and clearly as this—I hope you have not read this passage so often that you have become errant to really what the Scriptures are saying.
These men have been with Jesus for a long graduate education. What is the byproduct of the presence of the greatest teacher ever on the face of the earth? And the answer is: “Chaos / a food fight.”
If you were told by Jesus: “One of you at this table will betray Me before the day is over,”—even though it’s a difficult saying / even though it requires a great deal of courage—because often, in the midst of difficult sentences, one of the hardest things in the world to do is to ask a simple question—like: “Huh? What?! You said that one of us would betray you?
“Jesus, what are you saying?” Or even more pointedly, “Jesus if there’s one at this table, I pray to God that it is not me; but will You tell us who it is at this table is going to betray You?”
They don’t even ask—instead, notice what happens. The structure of uncertainty—and let me just put it in a larger category—the structure of uncertainty in an organization prompts, not curiosity and openness, but the stance of blaming: “Well, if you hadn’t done that, we might not be in the position.” “If those decisions had not been made, we might now be able to do this more effectively.” So I can’t put it more simply—
—our stance in the midst of confusion or hard sayings is—we blame.
But what’s even more disturbing is—it shifts. The way the Greek is positioned, it says, “immediately.” Immediately they also had a dispute; and the dispute was this: “Who among us is the most beloved?” “Who has worked here the hardest?” “Who has sacrificed on behalf of us the longest?” “Who has taken the least amount, and yet, done the very most?”—in other words, from blaming to boasting.
You must trust this is true for every family. This is true for every organization. This is true for all friendships. When things get difficult, the natural part of the human heart moves between these two realms—blaming/boasting.
Two of the things I most want you to hear from this is this: “Don't be surprised when there is sin amongst you,” because to the degree you are surprised or naive—or to the degree that: “How can you happen in our organization?”/“How can that happen in my family?”—you have forgotten that Jesus—the best teacher / the one who embodied, incarnately, the very being of God—seems to have failed to have brought his own disciples to the level of the kind of maturity that we would expect that they would have as a result of their so-called education. I think, in some ways, we’re both naive and arrogant in presuming maturity happens—when, indeed, it does happen—but through what we encounter.
The second thing that I’m hoping that you’ll have words for is this: “Failure is necessary for us to see what is true.” And in one sense, this is such a humble text because Jesus is telling us the truth about His disciples / He’s telling the truth about us. Yet, the generosity of what we find in Jesus’ response—oh, I don’t know a better phrase than this—Romans 2, verse 4, “It is the kindness of God that leads to repentance.” Then Paul adds this most trenchant phrase—I believe he’s speaking almost in tears as he says this: “Why? Why do you treat the kindness of God with contempt?”
What you find in this passage I believe is one of those windows into the character at the heart of Jesus.
He has just been in a food fight. He has just seen His disciples disintegrate in front of Him.
I will claim, as I’ve been in academia for almost 40 years of my life, every year, we graduate people whom I am so happy that they represent so much of what I and others at our school have taught. And then, no doubt, there’s a whole host of people who graduate—and they’re good folks/really good folks—and they’re not going to do, at least initially from my perception, they are not going to do phenomenal things; but they’re also not going to do great harm. They’re just in that—[Laughter]—I’m sorry to use a phrase like this—but they are in the great mark of reality—the bell-shaped curve.
They’re not at the second / they’re not at the first standard deviation. They are just solid lovely people—sort of in the middle, and salt-of-the-earth good people, not that brilliant / not that gifted, not that strong, not that wise—but they are good people, and they are going to do good things.
Here’s my point—for all of us, wherever we are in that bell-shaped curve—you might think you are a solid middle, you might think you’re a pretty significant screw up, you might actually think you are a stunning picture of all the glory of God deposited into one human being—[Laughter]—but wherever you stand, all we know is this—the very best of the best were in a food fight. The very best of the best were boasting, and blaming, and creating chaos at the very last supper.
How does Jesus engage the hearts of all of us on that? Well, first and foremost, tenderly inviting and saying: “This is not what I’ve called you to be. I have called you to be, not like one of those leaders—who calls themselves a ‘Benefactor’—but in fact, rules by shame, and fear, and by power.”
Whenever you know people ruling by shame, and fear, and power, the very essence of their work has to be called into question because, even if they are doing good things and saying right things, they have denied something of the very essence of how Jesus is with us—that tender invitation, always with the availability to come back and receive what He has offered.
In this case, what is He offering? What He’s offering is His kingdom. What he’s offering you is the privilege of serving in your kingdom for His kingdom’s sake. For us to be able to hear His humility offers us a way back—but His privilege always returns to you the promise that you get to live out the kingdom of God—no matter who you are, no matter where you are, or what you’re doing.
In that, what He’s inviting you to again, as this is communion—is to receive His broken body / to receive the covering of His blood—and to know that communion, as a remembrance, is as much, at least in this passage, an anticipation.
That is—as we hold communion / literally, when we take communion or when we now anticipate communion—because we’re always in one situation or the other—we’re either literally taking the Lord’s table, or we’re waiting for the moment to do so again. As we are in that position, what we are privileged to be able to hold is this—is not just a remembrance of his death and resurrection—it’s also an anticipation of the coming day in which we will sit with Him, at His right / at His left, and that we would dine with Him as He says, “I have eagerly”—and what a great gift to begin every day—“I’ve eagerly desired this day for you to join Me,”—in eternity, feasting at the feast of the Bridegroom.
So all of our labor—even in the midst of our own brokenness and chaos—holds this inner play of: death, remembrance, life, resurrection, and anticipation.
Though I didn’t go on to read this portion of the passage, you can only slip a few verses down where you see it all lived out with Peter, who has denied Christ three times, and where Jesus says to him, “Simon, Simon, the evil one has asked to sift you all like wheat. And Simon I have prayed for you.” I’m not making this theological statement / I’m simply making a narrative statement. What do we do with the fact that Jesus prayed for Simon to not fall?
And yet, in the next literal phrase, "And when you return, feed your brothers." Jesus prays that there will not be failure of denial on Peter’s part. But Jesus already knows that Peter will betray him three times. And then he says, “When you return, feed your brothers.”
There is something, not only tender / there is something, not only compassionate, but there is something that is so freeing to know we are people in a food fight. We are in struggles of boasting and blaming. And yet, He tenderly invites and gives us the privilege of His kingdom and then says, “You don’t just live out the remembrance of the kingdom of God, and the death and resurrection, and the broken body and the covering of the blood, by remembrance, or even anticipation, you do so today by feeding one another.”
From my vantage, I know no community that is more open to name that you’re a community of food fighters, you’re a community of boasters, you’re a community of blamers—but you know tenderness, and you know privilege, and you remember, and you anticipate—in your own brokenness because of the courage of your leaders, and the courage of all of you in this room, and those who are not. This is an organization I’ve experienced, in and out, over decades, to be one in which there is great joy in feeding one another. That’s the privilege I have to be with you. Thank you. [Applause]
Dennis: You know, Bob when he was wrapping up there, I was kind of on the edge of my seat, wondering, “What’s he going to say about our organization?” [Laughter]
Bob: That was our friend, Dr. Dan Allender, who was sharing with our staff recently. He has a unique way of complimenting.
Dennis: He does. He does. I thought, “I’ve been called a lot of things but never a ‘food fighter.’” But he’s right—I am guilty of blaming and boasting. I think the question is: “Are we indeed feeding one another?”
And a family unit—a husband and a wife leading the way—need to be in the process of bringing one another life—of speaking words that cause growth, encouragement, long suffering, words of forgiveness. We need to be life-givers—that is who followers of Christ ought to be because that’s what He did—He brought life to us / He redeemed us.
Bob: I mentioned that Dan’s most recent book is called God Loves Sex. We had a conversation with him about it while he was here. If our listeners are interested in hearing our three-day interview with Dan Allender on that subject, the links are available at FamilyLifeToday.com. If you’re interested in a copy of Dan’s book, God Loves Sex, co-authored with Tremper Longman, III, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. You can order a copy of the book from us. Or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Again, the website: FamilyLifeToday.com. Our toll-free number is 1-800-358-6329. That’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
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And with that, we’ve got to wrap up for this week. Thanks for being with us. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in church this weekend. I hope you can join us back on Monday. We’re going to start a week-long look at what God is doing all around the world. We’re going to talk to folks in Asia, in Russia, in the Middle East, Latin America. We’re going to get a first-hand glimpse at some of what God is up to as He’s working all around the globe. So I hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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