In The Shadow of the Cross
In Luke 22:1 the scene shifts from Jesus’ teaching in the Temple to the events just prior to the trials and crucifixion of Jesus. With the exception of verses 1-6, the passage describes what happened on the day and night before His crucifixion. His Last Supper with the disciples, His prayer about the cup, and the arrest.
The Plot against Jesus 1-6
From the cleansing of the Temple the enemies of Jesus had sought a way to destroy Jesus, but they had been afraid because of His popularity with the people. Luke 22:2 says that even as they were plotting to kill Jesus, still they were in fear of what the people might do.
The other Synoptic Gospels reveal to us that there plot against Jesus was to be carried out after the Passover Feast. (Mark 14:2; Matthew 26:5) The Passover Feast was the most important festival of the Jewish year. The feast began on the day of Passover on Nisan the 14th and included the seven-day feast of the Unleavened Bread, which began on the 15th. The city of Jerusalem was crowded throughout Passover with pilgrims from all over.
Then the unexpected happened that changed the plans of the conspirators to wait. Acting on his own Judas came to them and offered to betray Jesus. This solved their dilemma because Judas, as an insider, could lead them to Jesus at a time when there were no crowds.
Why Judas would do this is a mystery. Luke tells us that Judas opened his life to Satan, but this does not explain what Satan used to draw Judas into this terrible act. Some believe that Judas was trying to force Jesus’ hand into declaring Himself and use His powers to set up His Kingdom. They use the evidence of Judas’ remorse for his actions. (Matthew 27:3-10) Most Biblical evidence implies that Judas was a selfish man who was frustrated because following Jesus had not brought to Judas all that he wanted. Judas then decided to gain something out of the time he had spent with Jesus.
Sin is always an irrational decision. Even when we know the reasons it still does not make any sense. This was true in the Garden of Eden, it was true for Judas, and it is true today.
Preparation for the Passover Meal 7-13
The lambs for the Passover were slain in the afternoon of the 14th and the meal was eaten on that evening. This would have been the 15th as the day ended at sundown for the Jews. Jesus had sent Peter and John out to prepare the Passover meal.
The place for the Passover Supper was not known to the disciples and Peter and John did not know until they had arrived at the place Jesus had sent them.
The Last Supper and the Lord’s Supper 14-20
The Passover was observed because of the deliverance of the Israelite people from the hand of the Egyptians. Passover was also observed in expectation of God’s coming Kingdom. This was the last meal that Jesus would have with His disciples and therefore He instituted the Lord’s Supper. The Lord’s Supper, like the Passover, celebrates a deliverance. The Lord’s Supper also looks forward to the consummation of God’s Kingdom.
Jesus knew that this would be the last meal with His disciples before His suffering and His death. But the words that Jesus spoke look forward to the future Kingdom.
Two cups are mentioned in Luke’s account of the Lord’s Supper. The other accounts in the gospels only mention one. The cup mentioned in verse 20 was taken after the supper. This may have been done to set apart the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Luke along with other New Testament references to the Lord’s Supper (Mark 14:12-26; Matthew 26:17-30; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34) show why Christians observe the Lord’s Supper rather than Passover. The divine deliverance of Israel from the Egyptians foreshadow the deliverance from sin and death are made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus. The bread represents the body of Christ which was given to us. The Cup signifies the blood of Jesus that was shed for us. This sacrifice sealed the New Covenant of God with His people.
The Betrayer’s Hand 21:23
This account from Luke shows two important points about the death of Jesus. The death of Jesus was God’s plan for man’s redemption. Those who were responsible for His death are held responsible for what they did. The Idea that Judas was a helpless pawn in a divine drama is not true. If the was the case, then Jesus would not have pronounced judgment on him for his betrayal.
A New Definition for Success 24-30
The disciples involved themselves in two discussions. Starting with who among them was the betrayer and ending with who was the greatest in the Kingdom. Having these discussions show how far out of touch they were with what Jesus was about to go through. The teachings of Jesus had magnified the way of self-giving love for God and others. In just a few hours Jesus would die because of His great love for man, yet they were arguing about who was the greatest.
We must marvel at the patience of Jesus. Jesus tried to explain again what He had often tried to teach them before. The great people of this world are those with the greatest power and honor. In that day the youngest of the family had the most menial work, but Jesus was telling His disciple to choose for themselves such service. By the standard of the world the person being served is the greater of the ones serving them. But God’s standard is the reverse.
Jesus spoke words of encouragement to His disciples because they had been with Him through many trials, He assured them they would share in the joys of the coming Kingdom. But Jesus did not place any of them in positions above the others. In the new Israel the twelve will occupy places comparable to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Satan’s Sifting 31-34
Earlier Satan had entered into Judas and now we learn that Satan had asked to sift Peter like wheat. This reminds us of the time Satan wanted to test Job. The purpose of Satan was to strike at Jesus through Peter. Satan wanted to show that he was like useless chaff. God allowed this to show that the sifting might show that in the sifting the wheat would survive.
Jesus gave Peter words of encouragement that he would remember and from that he would take heart. Peter did seem to fail the test but Jesus had prayed for him that his faith would not fail. Therefore, Jesus was confident to say to Peter to strengthen his brothers after he was restored from his own failure. Unfortunately Peter was filled with too much self-confidence to heed the words of Jesus’ warning.
Two Swords 35-38
Again the disciples failed to grasp what Jesus was trying to prepare them for. Jesus was trying to prepare them for the greatest crisis that they had ever faced during their three year ministry with Jesus. He was using symbolic language to help them to draw upon all available resources. Jesus was telling them to gird themselves for the spiritual battle that lay just ahead against the evil forces of Satan. The disciples took Him literally as He said to sell their mantles and buy swords. But their thoughts were upon armed conflict, as they thought the time was now to establish His Kingdom. They had two swords and Jesus said “it is enough.” It is speculation as to what Jesus meant. Certainly if Jesus was to establish His Kingdom two swords would have been plenty, as what are they to the power of God? But this was not what was to happen on this morning. Another thought is that Jesus meant that is enough talk of weapons, as this was not the purpose of the day.
If Jesus was speaking literally and actually meant for them to arm themselves this would have caused real problems. Armed conflict would have be contrary to all that Jesus had been teaching. And armed conflict would not have advanced the purposes of God.
Not My Will, But Thine 39-46
The literal language of the Lord now changed in the Garden of Gethsemane to plain speaking. This is the weapon against all evil forces, prayer. Jesus earlier had told Peter that He would pray that his faith would be strengthened, now He was telling them to pray for themselves. Then Jesus went off by Himself to pray as he now faced His own crisis. In spite of all that Jesus had said to His disciples they still did not grasp the immediate crisis ahead of them. When Jesus returned from His prayers He found His disciples sleeping. Jesus woke them and again told them to pray.
The Prayer of Jesus reveals several things about His coming death. It was the will of God, the cross was not forced upon Him, and the cross involved sever suffering and all of His inclinations was to avoid it.
Satan is not mentioned but he must have been tempting Jesus to avoid the cross. Since Cain killed Able Satan has been trying to thwart this very sacrifice to free men from the bondage of sin. Satan knew that if Jesus went to the cross it would be his defeat. Jesus had told His disciples to pray that they would not enter into temptation. This was certainly on His mind, as He knew what He was about to suffer and to be tempted to avoid it would have been the easiest way out.
Many a brave man has faced death willingly. Why would Jesus have shrunk from it? It is not that crucifixion was the most horrible way to die in that time. The Romans had perfected crucifixion to be the most agonizing and painful way to die. Many martyrs have faced slow agonizing deaths without a word. But the death of Jesus was so much more than a martyr’s death. Jesus not only had to face physical death but also spiritual death, as this is the wage of sin. The cup represented the deep darkness that Jesus would descend into as He died for the sins of the world. That is a death that none of can ever know and comprehend, as we pray to never experience it. All the Synoptic Gospels record the prayer of Jesus at the Garden of Gethsemane. (Mark 14:32-42; Matthew 26:36-46)
The Darkest Hour 47-53
No man tracked Jesus down and took Him against His will. He knew of Judas and the plot to betray Him. Yet Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, as was His custom, knowing that Judas would lead His enemies there. Jesus chose to drink that cup and turned Himself over to the power of darkness. The enemies of Jesus had for some time planned to seize Him but were afraid of the people. Now hiding in the darkness of night they came to take Jesus. In doing this, in the darkness of night, they showed their moral and spiritual darkness in the course of their action.
Mockery of Justice
Luke’s account of the trials of Jesus is longer of the account of the crucifixion itself. The trials shed meaning on Jesus’ death. Luke tells He was denied by Peter. How the Sanhedrin had condemned Him. The sentence of crucifixion by Pontus Pilate. The Gospels reveal to us the sinful self-interest of many people was involved. One of Jesus’ own followers had betrayed Him and another had denied Him. Representatives of the best religious system and of the best judicial system sent the innocent Son of God to His death. This shows the universal cost of sin in the world.
A Tragedy of Denial 54-62
As they took Jesus to the house of the High Priest Peter followed behind at a distance. All of the other disciples with the exception of one had fled. (Mark 14:50; Matthew 26:56; John 18:15) When revolutionary leaders were taken the authorities would also capture and execute their followers. Peter in his loyalty followed Jesus right into the court yard of the High Priest.
Why then did Peter deny his Lord? Earlier that night Peter told Jesus, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!” Peter meant what he had said. At the time Peter thought Jesus was going to set up His Kingdom. Peter was ready to fight and even die for Jesus and the Kingdom. When the armed guards came to arrest Jesus it was Peter who drew the sword and cut of the ear of the servant. (John 18:10-11) Peter did this knowing that their two swords were not enough to disarm the foes.
Peter was confused by Jesus not resisting His arrest. Instead Jesus meekly surrendered and placed Himself in the hands of His enemies. Peter followed Jesus but he was confused and disillusioned. Peter found himself morally and spiritually unprepared for the three accusations in the courtyard. Peter was a brave man when he had a sword in his hands but was unwilling to risk death for what seemed to be a lost cause.
Only in the Gospel of Luke do we see that Jesus turned and looked at Peter when the roster crowed. Peter was close enough to see the look in Jesus’ eyes.
The Mocking 63-65
First Jesus was interrogated by Annas, who was the father-in-law of the High Priest. (John 18:12-24) After that Caiphas the High Priest and the Sanhedrin conducted an informal hearing. (Mark 14:53-65; Matthew 26:57-66) Jesus was kept under guard as they waited for the morning. It was then the ‘Sanhedrin was to conduct a formal hearing. While the time was passing the guards filled their time by mocking Jesus.
Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin, a council of 71 of the religious leads for the Jews. They had authority over the Jewish people in religious matters. They were under the supervision of the Roman authority but the Sanhedrin was able to influence the Romans from time to time. Roman procurators like Pontus Pilate were reluctant to resist a determined action by the Sanhedrin.
This official meeting of the Sanhedrin was to justify what they had already decided to do with Jesus. They tried to get Jesus to admit that He was the Messiah. This would give them the bases for accusing Him before Pilate. Jesus answered letting them know that He knew they had already made up their minds. This was not a trial that evidence would be presented. The verdict was already predetermined. Therefore, Jesus refused to answer their questions on their terms. This is why He used the title “the Son of man.” By His answer Jesus was telling that no matter what they did He would live in glory and someday would be their judge. This answer and His admission to being the Son of God was enough for them to find Him guilty of blasphemy.