Luke 22:1–46. Passover Begins. Three Scenes.
Key Notes: Judas goes for the money. Jesus transforms Passover. He wins over temptation.
Jesus has reached the climax of His life. We will try to understand the intensity of these events.
22:1–6 The first scene was in the offices of the chief priests. It was time to kill Jesus. Unknown to them, they were preparing the Passover Lamb for sacrifice. Satan had his part: Judas was now satanically possessed. As Jesus would later observe, "This is your hour and the power of darkness." (Lk.22:53). The priests were wary, however, because of the Passover crowds, but were providentially assisted by Judas. He offered to betray Jesus in a quiet place and he was given money in exchange.
22:7–13 The second scene is the upper room. Peter and John were sent into the city to find a man with a water-jar. Since women usually carried water jars, while men normally carried water-bags or wine-skins, they would have no trouble recognizing the person. He would go into a house where the Passover meal was to be celebrated. Peter and John presumably spent the afternoon in that house cooking and preparing food (lamb, wine, bitter herbs with salt, unleavened bread) and arranging the upper room. This was a secret meeting. It was Jesus' intent that they should not be disturbed until His work with the disciples was completed.
22:14–23. When the Passover supper was begun, Jesus changed its significance before their eyes from the remembrance of Israel's deliverance from Egypt 1400 years before, to a remembrance of His death. (There are many parallels between the Passover and the Passion of Christ. See notes on I Corinthians 10.) He told them that He was not going to eat another meal until the Kingdom was completed. He declared the unleavened bread a symbol of His crucified body. He declared the wine a symbol of His shed blood. At the end, He told them that a traitor was in their midst.
Jesus’ introductory word at the table is extraordinary. He said “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. He said “epithymia epithymesa”, doubling a word usually translated “desire”. It might be closer to the Greek to say “With consuming passion I have been passionate about eating this supper with you before I suffer.” On one another occasion, Jesus expressed his overwhelming desire to get on with the Passion.
“I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how I am constrained until it is accomplished!“ (Lk.12:50)
The disciples understood little.
When Jesus said "This is my body", what did He mean? At that moment His body was intact and He was holding the bread. What did He mean on other occasions when He said "I am the Door", "I am the bread of Life", "Destroy this Temple"? What did Paul mean by "they drank from that Rock that followed them"? These are all symbolic expressions.
The Communion Supper is not a sacrifice (transubstantion), and it is not sacramental (consubstantiation)--it does not give grace in itself. It is a memorial to Christ's death for our sins. Let us rejoice in His sacrifice for us.
No sooner had the rumble subsided over who the betrayer was, when they tackled the more important question of who was the best of the disciples. Jesus patiently repeated what He had said before (Lk.9:48) when they were aware that His life was threatened. They were not to think of themselves as the kings of the Gentiles think of themselves--lords and benefactors. The greatest should become as the youngest, the master must be the servant as He had been servant to them. But then He reminded them that they had been assigned a Kingdom. They would all be great, eating and drinking at the King's table in the Kingdom and sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
But in the immediate future, they were all vulnerable.
21:31–34 Jesus uses the plural "You" when speaking to Peter, so that they would all know their weakness. Peter was singled out: Satan had demanded Peter, challenging God that Peter could not withstand temptation. Peter was all bluff—chaff--and Satan would blow him away. The situation is reminiscent of Satan’s attack on Job. Only by Jesus' prayer would Peter survive; he would recover and be the stronger for it. Peter, for his part, was courageous and self-confident. Jesus warned him that he would deny Him repeatedly before morning.
22:35–39 The next section is puzzling. Jesus told the disciples that while on mission, they were sent out without extra provisions (Lk.9:1–6), but now they should be prepared with wallet, bag and sword.
•Did He mean that they should literally have swords? He rebuked the disciples when they offered two swords, and later rebuked Peter when he used a sword to defend Him. Lk.22:49–51
•Two swords would hardly be enough to defend the whole group.
•Did he mean that they should be armed with the Word of God? But what then of the bag and wallet?
•Were the revised instructions intended only the emergency, or was there now a new way of thinking about their missions?
One guess is that they were no longer going to be able to minister in their own neighborhoods of Galilee. They would be going into all the world; they would be in danger, and make long journeys into foreign countries. Their provisions had to be appropriate for the new conditions.
Should missionaries carry guns? To kill wild animals? What about cobras and alligators? Cobras certainly.
Finally, Jesus said that He would be numbered with transgressors, as prophesied in Isa.53:12. He died between two thieves.
22:39–53. In the third and final scene, Jesus moved back onto the Mount of Olives, where Judas knew He would go. Jesus now underwent His most severe temptation. He begged the disciples to pray against their own temptation. His temptation was so severe that He was in an agony of sweat. An angel ministered to Him.
We can imagine Satan on one side saying "Quit while You still can. I can get You out of this if you follow me. I will make them think You died. You can escape to Egypt." On the other side, we imagine the angel saying "You must go on. You must not fail. You are the only One who can save the world. You are One with these humans. It is Your life or theirs---and there are millions of them. The pain will be intense. The sin-burden will be hideous. But without You there is no remission for them. The Father waits. The Spirit will bring you back. The glory is forever. Go on."
His body shrinks from the torture, tearing the flesh, nerve-wracking pain, choking, itching and thirst.
The mind recoils from slapping, reviling, cursing, mockery and spitting.
The soul revolts from the guilt-deluge of the world's murders, slander, greed, idolatries, rapes, hatred, and malice cast upon it.
The spirit shuns the horror of separation from the Father.
Then He stood up, resolved. He woke the disciples and begged them to pray against their own temptation. The third phase of Passover was complete.
And our redemption was secure.