A. The Last Supper.
1. (1-6) Judas seeks to betray Jesus.
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.
a. Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover: The time is significant, because at Passover Jerusalem was also crowded with Messiah-expecting multitudes.
i. Because it was a major feast, many of the people who had heard and seen Jesus in the region of Galilee were in Jerusalem. They generally had respect and great expectation for Jesus and His ministry.
b. For they feared the people: The chief priests and the scribes did not fear God, but they did fear the people. They were not afraid to kill the Son of God; they just had to find a politically smart way to do it.
c. Satan entered Judas: Satan prompted and perhaps even guided Judas in his crime. This does not diminish Judas’ personal responsibility because none of this was done against the will of Judas, but with it. This shows that the real enemy of Jesus was Satan, even more than Judas was an enemy.
i. Many have wondered about the motives of Judas; some have even said that he might have had a noble motive, such as wanting to put Jesus in circumstances where He had to show Himself as Messiah. The Bible indicates no such praiseworthy intention.
ii. Judas, surnamed Iscariot: The name Iscariot may mean that he was from Kerioth, a city in southern Judea. This would make Judas the only Judean among the other disciples, who were all Galileans. Some wonder if Judas resented the leadership of the Galilean fishermen among the disciples, and finally had enough of it. Others think the name Iscariot is linked to the word sicarius, meaning “assassin” – a connection to the Jewish zealots who carried out underground warfare against the Roman occupiers.
iii. It may well be that Judas followed Jesus from selfish motives, expecting to receive a position of great status and prestige when Jesus came triumphantly to Jerusalem as Messiah. When Jesus came and it was evident that He was not going to be the kind of Messiah Judas had hoped for, he may have lashed out against Jesus and opened this door to Satan out of spite. Jesus didn’t give Judas what his selfish heart wanted, so Judas felt his ties to Jesus were broken. In essence, Judas may have said, “You betrayed me by not being the kind of Messiah I wanted. So I will betray You.”
d. They were glad, and agreed to give him money: Matthew 26:14-16 says that Judas asked them, What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you? This shows that Judas approached them and asked for a price. This points to the motivation of simple greed.
i. One may also think about Satan’s motive. The death of Jesus on the cross was the great defeat of Satan; why did the devil steer things towards that course? Yet, Satan is not all-knowing; perhaps he did not know how these events would turn against him. Nevertheless, Satan knows the Bible, so he should have known.
ii. A better explanation is the fact that Satan is not all-wise; even if he did know that the death of Jesus would crush his head (Genesis 3:15), his hatred got the best of him. Since Satan is the great deceiver, he has no doubt deceived himself – and may actually believe that he could or can win over Jesus.
e. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him: God would use the wicked works of Judas to further His eternal plan. This was the appointed time for Jesus to go to the cross, but before Judas’ treachery the religious leaders did not intend to do it at the time out of a fear of the people.
2. (7-13) Preparations for the Passover.
Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.” So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?” And He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.” So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.
a. Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread: This must have been a very moving commemoration for Jesus. Passover remembers the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, which was the central act of redemption in the Old Testament. Jesus now provided a new center of redemption to be remembered by a new ceremonial meal.
i. “The phrase ‘the day of unleavened bread’ is a generic description of the week-long feast… It originally celebrated the beginning of harvest, but later was combined with Passover.” (Pate)
b. A man… carrying a pitcher: This was an unusual sight, because carrying a pitcher was typically a woman’s work, and generally men carried liquids in animal’s skin containers. This would be a distinctive sign to the disciples.
c. The Teacher says to you: The scene here implies secrecy, and Jesus had good reason to quietly make arrangements for Passover. He didn’t want Judas to betray Him before He could give a final talk to the disciples.
d. Eat the Passover with My disciples: The mention of Passover brings up complicated issues of the precise calendar chronology of these events. The main complicating issue is that Matthew, Mark, and Luke present this meal Jesus will have with His disciples as the Passover meal – normally eaten with lamb which was sacrificed on the day of Passover with a great ceremony at the temple. Yet John seems to indicate that the meal took place before the Passover (John 13:1), and that Jesus was actually crucified on the Passover (John 18:28).
i. “Possibly the best explanation is that there were different calendars in use. Jesus died as the Passover victims were being slain according to the official calendar; but he had held the Passover with his followers the previous evening, according to an unofficial calendar.” (Morris)
ii. A similar solution is suggested by Adam Clarke: “It is a common opinion that our Lord ate the Passover some hours before the Jews ate it; for the Jews, according to custom, ate theirs at the end of the fourteenth day, but Christ ate his the preceding even, which was the beginning of the same sixth day, or Friday; the Jews begin their day at sunsetting, we at midnight. Thus Christ ate the Passover on the same day with the Jews, but not on the same hour.”
iii. None of the synoptic gospels mention a lamb at the Passover meal. This may be because they could not obtain one before the official day of Passover. In addition, Jesus may have wanted it this way, to emphasize the idea that He was the Passover sacrifice.
3. (14-18) Jesus eats the Passover with His disciples.
When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, “With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”
a. With fervent desire I have desired: This was a passionate moment for Jesus. It wasn’t so much that He was saying goodbye to His disciples, as much as now He arrived at the central reason why He came to man: to institute a new covenant with men, based on His own sacrifice. This was not the beginning of the end; it was the beginning of the beginning.
b. He took the cup: In the following verses Luke tells us Jesus also took the cup after supper (Luke 22:20). It seems that Jesus took the cup both before and after the bread. According to the customs of a Passover dinner, this was nothing unusual – there were normally four different cups of wine ceremonially sipped during the meal.
c. I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes: Jesus has not yet celebrated a Passover in heaven. He is waiting for all His people to be gathered to Him, then there will be a great supper, known as the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). This is the fulfillment in the kingdom of God Jesus longs for.
4. (19-20) Jesus reinterprets Passover, instituting the New Covenant.
And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.”
a. He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them: When the bread was lifted up at Passover, the head of the meal said: “This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Let everyone who hungers come and eat; let everyone who is needy come and eat the Passover meal.” Everything eaten at the Passover meal had symbolic meaning. The bitter herbs recalled the bitterness of slavery; the salt water remembered the tears shed under Egypt’s oppression. The main course of the meal – a lamb freshly sacrificed for that particular household – did not symbolize anything connected to the agonies of Egypt. It was the sin-bearing sacrifice that allowed the judgment of God to pass over the household that believed.
i. The Passover created a nation; a slave mob was freed from Egypt and became a nation. This new Passover also creates a people; those united in Jesus Christ, remembering and trusting His sacrifice.
b. This is My body which is given for you… This cup is the new covenant in My blood: Jesus didn’t give the normal explanation of the meaning of each of the foods. He reinterpreted them in Himself, and the focus was no longer on the suffering of Israel in Egypt, but on the sin-bearing suffering of Jesus on their behalf.
i. “The words ‘this is my body’ had no place in the Passover ritual; and as an innovation, they must have had a stunning effect, an effect that would grow with the increased understanding gained after Easter.” (Carson)
ii. This is how we remember what Jesus did for us. As we eat the bread, we should remember how Jesus was broken, pierced, and beaten with stripes for our redemption. As we drink the cup, we should remember that His blood, His life was poured out on Calvary for us.
iii. This is how we fellowship with Jesus. Because His redemption has reconciled us to God, we can now sit down to a meal with Jesus, and enjoy each other’s company.
c. This is My body which is given for you… This cup is the new covenant in My blood: The precise understanding of these words from Jesus have been the source of great theological controversy among Christians.
i. The Roman Catholic Church holds the idea of transubstantiation, which teaches that the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.
ii. Martin Luther held the idea of consubstantiation, which teaches the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine, but by faith they are the same as Jesus’ actual body. Luther did not believe in the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, but he did not go far from it.
iii. John Calvin taught that Jesus’ presence in the bread and wine is real, but only spiritual, not physical. Zwingli taught that the bread and wine are significant symbols that represent the body and blood of Jesus. When the Swiss Reformers debated the issue with Martin Luther at Marburg, there was a huge contention. Luther insisted on some kind of physical presence because Jesus said, “this is My body.” He insisted over and over again, writing it on the velvet of the table, Hoc est corpus meum – “this is My body” in Latin. Zwingli replied, “Jesus also said I am the vine,” and “I am the door,” but we understand what He was saying. Luther replied, “I don’t know, but if Christ told me to eat dung I would do it knowing that it was good for me.” Luther was so strong on this because he saw it as an issue of believing Christ’s words; and because he thought Zwingli was compromising, he said he was of another spirit (andere geist).
iv. Scripturally, we can understand that the bread and the cup are not mere symbols, but they are powerful pictures to partake of, to enter into, as we see the Lord’s Table as the new Passover.
v. “Let the papists and Lutherans say what they can, here must be two figures acknowledged in these words. The cup here is put for the wine in the cup; and the meaning of these words, this is my blood of the new testament, must be, this wine is the sign of the new covenant. Why they should not as readily acknowledge a figure in these words, This is my body, I cannot understand.” (Poole)
vi. “What is certain is that Jesus bids us commemorate, not his birth, nor his life, nor his miracles, but his death.” (Carson)
d. This cup is the new covenant in my blood: Remarkably, Jesus announced the institution of a new covenant. No mere man could ever institute a new covenant between God and man, but Jesus is the God-man. He has the authority to establish a new covenant, sealed with blood, even as the old covenant was sealed with blood (Exodus 24:8).
i. The new covenant concerns an inner transformation that cleanses us from all sin: For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jeremiah 31:34). This transformation puts God’s Word and will in us: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). This covenant is all about a new, close relationship with God: I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jeremiah 31:33).
ii. We can say that the blood of Jesus made the new covenant possible, and it also made it sure and reliable. It is confirmed with the life of God Himself.
5. (21-23) Woe to the betrayer.
“But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.
a. Behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table: This would seem to indicate that Judas was present when Jesus passed the bread and the cup to His disciples. This is a matter of debate among students of the Bible.
b. The Son of Man goes as it has been determined: It was determined by prophecy that the Messiah should be betrayed (Psalm 41:9). Nevertheless, woe to that man who actually betrayed the Messiah. Judas could never claim that he helped Jesus by fulfilling prophecy. He was and is fully accountable for his sin before God.
i. “The fact that God overrules the evil that bad people do as he brings his purposes to pass does not make them any the less evil.” (Morris)
c. They began to question among themselves, which of them it was: Judas kept his secret well, because none of the other disciples seemed to suspect him.
B. Final teachings to the disciples.
The fullness of this marvelous discourse must be gathered from all four gospels – especially from John chapters 13-16.
1. (24-27) Jesus teaches about true greatness.
Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”
a. A dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest: It’s almost frightening to think that after Jesus poured three years of His life into these men; after they saw the character of Jesus on display in almost every conceivable circumstance; that now, at the final hours before His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion, they argued about which of them was the greatest.
i. This seems to have been a common topic of conversation among the disciples (Matthew 18:1, Matthew 20:20-26, Mark 9:33-34, Luke 9:46).
b. Which of them should be considered the greatest: We might think that Jesus should have settled the issue by pointing out that He was the greatest. Instead, Jesus answered their question by what He did. John 13:3-5 tells us that Jesus washed their feet after supper, and He may have spoken these words about true greatness as He washed their feet, or after He was finished.
i. In fact, the supreme patience of Jesus was displayed in His gentle correction of His squabbling disciples. He obviously had great things weighing down His mind, yet He gently taught and corrected them.
c. The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them: The world exercises authority and power with a certain style, all of it ultimately self-exalting. Jesus wasn’t like that, and neither should His followers be. In fact, the greatest should be like the younger (the one who was not favored by society, the outcast), and the one who governs should be like one who serves.
i. The idea of being called benefactors is really the idea of getting credit. Many people only will serve if they can be assured of getting proper credit.
ii. “In the ancient world it was accepted that age gave privileges; the youngest was, by definition, the lowliest.” (Morris)
d. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? The world regards the one who is served as greater, but Jesus showed us that true greatness is in serving, more than in being served.
i. Cultures have always envied the person whom others serve. In ancient China, rich people sometimes grew long, long fingernails, so long they could do nothing for themselves – and this was seen as a sign of status.
ii. But the people who are really great in our lives are the servants. If the President took a month off, no one would really miss it; but if all the trash collectors in the country took the month off, we would notice. Jesus is trying to re-arrange our thinking, our priorities.
e. Yet I am among you as the One who serves: Living as a servant really is the best way to live. We are no longer concerned for our own honor and credit; we don’t walk around with hurt feelings and disappointed expectations, because all we want to do is to serve. We can always do what we want to do, because we can always serve somehow.
i. Jesus did not mean that if you serve in a lowly place, you will be always be given a great place. He meant that in God’s eyes, the lowly place is the great place. “Service given, not gained, is the true greatness, for it is the sign of real fellowship with the Lord Himself.” (Morgan)
ii. “The very greatness of God is finally demonstrated, not in the height and the glory of His eternal throne, but in the depth and grace of His amazing stoop to our humanity and to the death of the Cross.” (Morgan)
iii. “’King of kings’ is a title full of majesty, but ‘servant of servants’ is the name which our Lord preferred when he was here below.” (Spurgeon)
2. (28-30) The reward for the disciples.
“But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
a. I bestow upon you a kingdom: The disciples would receive a unique reward, because they are the ones who have continued with Jesus in His trials. Jesus appreciated and valued the support He received from His disciples.
b. I bestow upon you a kingdom: The apostles will have special status in the Kingdom of God. They will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, and their names will be on the twelve foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14).
i. Being a servant does not mean that we are unrewarded. Quite the opposite; God’s greatest servants receive the greatest rewards. But a great servant does not serve for the sake of reward, but for the sake of God’s glory.
3. (31-34) Jesus warns Peter of his coming fall.
And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.”
a. Indeed, Satan has asked for you: Jesus was aware of a spiritual battle behind the scenes. Peter was no doubt ignorant of the fact that Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat – Satan wanted to completely crush and defeat Peter.
i. Apparently, Satan wanted to do much more against Peter than the Lord would allow. Satan could not do whatever he wanted against Peter, but he had to ask God for permission.
ii. “Satan desires that in the sifting process ‘no wheat shall remain’, but that all (like Judas) will be blown away like chaff.” (Geldenhuys)
b. But I have prayed for you: Satan did not completely crush Peter, but that had nothing to do with Peter himself. It was because Jesus prayed for Peter.
i. It is both wonderful and moving to remember that Jesus prays for His people, protecting us from Satan (Hebrews 7:25, Revelation 12:10). Surely there are many times that we would have perished, but Jesus prayed for us and protected us.
c. That your faith should not fail: Peter’s faith would falter but not fail. Jesus did not see the temporary lapse that was to come as a failure of faith, because He knew that Peter would return to Him.
i. In the Christian life, we may falter, but we must never fail. If we have denied Jesus in some way, then we must return to Him immediately.
ii. And, having returned, we must turn our focus towards helping others – when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren. The one who returns after faltering isn’t necessarily to be excluded or encouraged to become self-focused – but they should reach out and strengthen the brethren.
d. Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death: Peter did not consciously lie here; rather he was unaware of both the spiritual reality and the spiritual battle that Jesus could see. Peter merely looked to how he felt at the moment, and at the moment he felt pretty brave.
i. Relying on how you feel at the moment is not a stable foundation. Peter felt brave at the moment, but would soon be intimidated before a humble servant girl, and deny to her that he even knew Jesus.
ii. “It is sometimes easier to bear a great load for Christ than a small one. Some of us could be martyrs at the stake more easily that confessors among sneering neighbors.” (Maclaren)
e. I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me: Jesus told Peter the truth about himself and the situation not to discourage him, but to let him know there is a spiritual reality and a spiritual battle that he is unaware of, but that Jesus knew well.
i. “Was it not well that Peter should know how weak he was; that he might become truly penitent and converted?” (Meyer)
ii. “Fitzmyer catches the sense of the prophecy – Peter’s ‘triple denial will come so quickly that a cock will not even be able to crow twice.'” (Pate)
4. (35-38) Jesus calls the disciples to readiness.
And He said to them, “When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?” So they said, “Nothing.” Then He said to them, “But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For the things concerning Me have an end.” So they said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”
a. But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack: The intent of Jesus seems to be, “I am on the point of leaving you, and when I am gone, you must use common sense means for provision and protection.” Such practical considerations were not needed before, but were needed now.
i. The disciples had been sent out to do ministry without Jesus before (Luke 10:1-17), but then they were received with goodwill and hospitality. Now they faced a hostile world without Jesus and must be prepared.
b. This which is written must still be accomplished in Me: “And He was numbered with the transgressors”: Jesus had previously told His disciples that He would be rejected and crucified (Luke 17:25, 18:31-33). Here Jesus told them that this would happen soon.
c. For the things concerning Me have an end: This seems to have the sense of, “This will all be accomplished soon.”
d. It is enough: When offered the swords Jesus said this, meaning “Enough of this kind of talk” and was a firm way of ending the conversation. Jesus did not mean, two swords will be enough to battle the crowd that comes to arrest Me.
i. “Jesus’ answer, ‘Enough of this’, is to be preferred to that of, ‘it is enough.’ The latter might imply that Jesus affirmed the disciples’ suggestion, acknowledging that two swords would be sufficient for the conflict. But the context clearly rules out that rendering.” (Pate)
ii. It seems that the disciples didn’t understand what would happen in the next several hours. Later Christians also did not understand what Jesus meant here. “In his notorious papal bull Unam Sanctum, Boniface VIII (A.D. 1302) built on this text his doctrine that the Pope has the right to exercise secular as well as spiritual autocratic rule over mankind – the two swords, he said, are the spiritual sword and the secular sword.” (Geldenhuys)
C. Jesus’ agonized prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
1. (39-42) Jesus’ agony in the garden.
Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation.” And He was withdrawn from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”
a. He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed. Jesus had spent His nights there during that week (Luke 21:37), and He refused to change this routine, even though He knew it meant that Judas could easily find Him.
b. Pray that you may not enter into temptation: As Jesus began to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32 name it so) He began by warning the disciples of their need to pray. Jesus Himself needed to pray for strength to pass the difficult ordeal to come. The disciples had their own ordeal to face, and needed all the more to pray that you may not enter into temptation – that is, to give into temptation.
i. “The words ‘enter into temptation’ (perasmon) mean to succumb to its evil power (cf. Luke 22:46; 11:4).” (Pate)
c. He knelt down and prayed: Here is the passionate account of an eyewitness (one of the disciples), who reported this to Luke. Only an eyewitness would remember a detail such as Jesus praying about a stone’s throw away from the disciples.
i. “The usual manner of prayer at that time was to pray in a standing position. That Jesus knelt down proves the violence of His struggle in Gethsemane.” (Geldenhuys)
d. Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me: Jesus knew what the Father’s will was, yet was in great agony of soul. The agony did not come from any lack of desire to do the will of God, but because Jesus would go to the cross as a sacrifice for sins. He was no victim of circumstances beyond His control, and unlike any animal sacrifice, He went with full knowledge. He willingly resolved to lay down His life.
i. This helps us understand why Jesus used the figure of a cup. Repeatedly in the Old Testament, a cup is a powerful picture of the wrath and judgment of God.
· For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down. (Psalm 75:8)
· Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the LORD The cup of His fury; you have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and drained it out. (Isaiah 51:17)
· For thus says the LORD God of Israel to me: “Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.” (Jeremiah 25:15)
ii. The cup didn’t represent death, but judgment. Jesus was unafraid of death, and when He had finished His work on the cross – the work of receiving and bearing and satisfying the righteous judgment of God the Father upon our sin – when He finished that work, He simply yielded Himself to death as His choice.
iii. Jesus became, as it were, an enemy of God, who was judged and forced to drink the cup of the Father’s fury, so we would not have to drink from that cup. Taking this figurative cup was the source of Jesus’ greatest agony on the cross.
iv. “I am never afraid of exaggeration, when I speak of what my Lord endured. All hell was distilled into that cup, of which our God and Savior Jesus Christ was made to drink.” (Spurgeon)
e. Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done: Jesus came to a point of decision in Gethsemane. It wasn’t that He had not decided nor consented before, but now He had come upon a unique point of decision. He drank the cup at Calvary, but the decision once for all to drink that cup came at Gethsemane.
i. A sinless man battled Satan, sin, self, and temptation in a garden and lost – saying, “My will not Yours, be done” and the loss impacted all mankind. The second Sinless Man battled Satan, sin, self, and temptation in another garden and won – saying, “Not My will, but Yours, be done” – and its impact touches people from every tribe and tongue.
2. (43-44) In His agony, Jesus is strengthened by angels.
Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
a. Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him: In response to Jesus’ prayers, the Father did not take the cup from Jesus; but He strengthened Jesus by angelic messengers to be able to take – and drink – the cup.
i. These two verses – Luke 22:43-44 – are the subject of some debate regarding the manuscript evidence for their inclusion. Some modern translations exclude them as not belonging to the original. Yet, “The text critical difficulty of vv. 43-44 does not admit to a conclusive answer. The oldest manuscript evidence is divided.” (Pate)
ii. Perhaps these angels – sadly – did the work that the sleeping disciples did not do. John Trapp said that Jesus received this, “To show that he had been made himself lower than the angels, Hebrews 2:7, he received comfort from an angel that was his servant.”
b. Being in agony, He prayed more earnestly: In His agony, Jesus prayed more earnestly, to the point where His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. Luke did not say that Jesus’ sweat was blood, but that it was like blood; either in the way that it poured off His brow, or because it was tinged with blood from the burst capillaries and dilated pores on His brow.
i. “His perspiration was so profuse that it was like blood spilling on the ground.” (Pate)
ii. However, “There have been cases in which persons in a debilitated state of body, or through horror of soul, have had their sweat tinged with blood… Cases sometimes happen in which, through mental pressure, the pores may be so dilated that the blood may issue from them; so that there may be a bloody sweat.” (Clarke)
iii. “The old physician Galen gives an instance in which, through extremity of horror, an individual poured forth a discoloured sweat, so nearly crimson as at any rate to appear to have been blood. Other cases are given by medical authorities.” (Spurgeon)
iv. He prayed more earnestly: “He bent, as it were, all his nerves, he intended the utmost activity of his spirit and of his speech; to make atonement for our dull and drowsy devotions.” (Trapp)
3. (45-46) Jesus warns His disciples.
When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”
a. He found them sleeping from sorrow: The disciples were also filled with sorrow; but instead of praying they slept. Jesus woke them and encouraged them to pray.
b. Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation: They were followers of Jesus, and following Him would now bring a testing and a trial they could not have imagined. Jesus encouraged them to do this for their sake, thinking of them and their good instead of how they failed to support Him.
D. Jesus’ arrest and arraignment.
1. (47-53) Jesus is betrayed and arrested.
And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”
a. Behold, a multitude: The number of those sent to arrest Jesus shows that the religious leaders clearly regarded this as a dangerous operation, to be done without risk of riot or failure.
i. “According to John 18:3, 12, Roman soldiers also formed part of the crowd.” (Pate)
ii. The multitude also included the captains of the temple (Luke 22:52). “The captain of the Temple, or the Sagan, as he was called, was the official who was responsible for the good order of the Temple; the captains of the Temple here referred to were his lieutenants who were responsible for carrying out the actual arrest of Jesus.” (Barclay)
b. Drew near to Jesus to kiss Him: Judas warmly greeted Jesus, even giving Him the customary kiss. But the kiss only precisely identified Jesus to the authorities who came to arrest Jesus. Apparently, Jesus was normal enough in appearance so that it was necessary that Judas specifically identify Him for the sake of those arresting Jesus, and he chose to identify Him by greeting Jesus with a kiss.
i. “When a disciple met a beloved Rabbi, he laid his right hand on the Rabbi’s left shoulder and his left hand on the right shoulder and kissed him. It was the kiss of a disciple to a beloved master that Judas used as a sign of betrayal.” (Barclay)
c. Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? Of course, Jesus knew the irony of being betrayed with a warm greeting; so He essentially asked Judas “are you so dead to all feeling that you can kiss and betray?” Judas is a good example of a seared conscience.
i. The betrayal of Jesus was terrible sin, and Judas bears full responsibility for it. Yet God, in His providence, used it as the best way to deliver Jesus into the hands of His adversaries.
· If they captured Jesus in a fight or if Jesus ran and hid until they found and caught Him, it would show that He was an unwilling victim.
· If Jesus surrendered Himself it might excuse His murderers or be seen as suicide.
· If it happened accidentally it would lessen the full effect of the bitter cup Jesus was about to drink.
· “No; he must be betrayed by his friend, that he may bear the utmost depths of suffering, and that in every separate circumstance there may be a well of grief.” (Spurgeon)
d. And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear: John 18:10 identified this unnamed swordsman as Peter. When Peter used sword-power he could only cut off ears; but using the power of the Word of God, could pierce hearts for God’s glory (Acts 2:37).
i. “When the Church takes sword in hand, it usually shows that it does not know how to wield it, and as often as not has struck the wrong man.” (Maclaren)
ii. Luke, with his medical precision, identified the ear as the right ear. Assuming Peter was right handed, the only way to cut off someone’s right ear in this manner is if you attack from behind. It’s likely – though not certain – that Peter attacked from behind.
iii. Jesus stopped this foolish and ineffective bloodshed by saying, “Permit even this.” “He told His disciples who had resorted to violence, ‘Let it be as far as this.’ Colloquially we might render these words, ‘Stop it! No more of this!'” (Pate)
e. And He touched his ear and healed him: Even here, Jesus was present to clean up the mess His disciples left behind. He healed the damage done by Peter.
f. Your hour, and the power of darkness: Jesus explained why He went with the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders and the many soldiers that came to arrest Him. He did not put up a fight because now was the time for Judas to do to Him what they wanted to do all along – to arrest and kill Him. By all outward appearance it would seem to be their hour, not Jesus’.
2. (54-60) Peter denies that he knows or is associated with Jesus.
Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.” But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.” And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!” Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.” But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.
a. They led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house: Luke did not record the details of this appearance before Caiaphas, the high priest and a hastily gathered greeting of the Sanhedrin council (Matthew 26:57-68). Luke will begin his focus at the official, daylight meeting of the council (Luke 22:66).
i. Before Jesus came to the home of Caiaphas (the official high priest), He was led to the home of Annas, who was the ex-high priest and the “power behind the throne” of the high priest (according to John 18:12-14 and John 18:19-23).
b. But Peter followed at a distance: Peter was concerned for Jesus and wanted to know what would become of Him. Yet he did not have the courage for a clear association with Jesus, and therefore he followed at a distance. This distance would make it much more difficult for Peter to admit his association with Jesus when he was questioned.
i. The rest of the disciples fled. Peter followed at a distance, hoping to prove wrong Jesus’ prediction that He would deny and forsake Him at His death.
c. Peter sat among them: Finding warmth around their fire and hoping to blend in, Peter put himself among the servants of those who arrested and persecuted Jesus. Having forsaken the fellowship of the fleeing disciples, Peter did not – at this time – want to be identified as a follower of Jesus.
d. But he denied him: Peter denied Jesus in at least three specific ways. First, Peter denied even knowing Jesus (Woman, I do not know Him), then he denied being a follower of Jesus (Man, I am not), finally he denied that he was even from Galilee (Man, I do not know what you are saying!).
i. Matthew 26:74 says that at the last denial Peter even began to curse and swear – hoping that it would help distance himself from association with Jesus.
3. (61-62) Jesus looks at Peter, and Peter remembered the word of Jesus.
And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So Peter went out and wept bitterly.
a. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter: At the crowing of the rooster, Jesus looked through the crowd around Him, and made eye contact with Peter. Peter was immediately convicted of his sin; not only of his denial of Jesus, but also of the pride that led him to think he could never deny Him.
i. The ancient Greek word for looked “usually signifies a look of interest, love, or concern.” (Liefeld)
b. Peter remembered the word of the Lord: Sadly, he remembered it too late – after he had sinned. At the moment, Peter’s only reaction was that he wept bitterly – yet he would be restored.
i. It was appropriate for him to weep bitterly at that moment, but Peter was not without hope. As much as Jesus’ promise that Peter would deny Him was true, so was the promise that your faith should not fail (Luke 22:32). Peter fell, but had not fallen away.
4. (63-65) Jesus is beaten and mocked.
Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?” And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.
a. Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him: Luke did not record the proceedings of this first, nighttime trial of Jesus before the high priest and the hastily gathered council (Matthew 26:57-68). He did record what happened immediately after that trial – that Jesus was mocked and beaten by the religious authorities.
b. Having blindfolded Him, they struck Him of the face: Blinded, Jesus endured these slaps and punches in pain and perhaps with a concussion. Matthew 26:67 and Mark 14:65 add that they also spat in His face.
i. It is easy to think that they did this because they didn’t know who He was. That is true in one sense, because they would not admit to themselves that He was indeed the Messiah and the Son of God. Yet in another sense it is not true at all, because by nature man is an enemy of God (Romans 5:10, Colossians 1:21). For a long time man waited to literally hit, slap, and spit in God’s face.
· Omnipotence must be held captive and its glory mocked.
· Goodness must be smitten, stricken, bruised, assaulted.
· Omniscience must seem to be blinded.
· The face of God’s perfect love must be struck and punched.
· Divine justice must be defied.
ii. Therefore God had His glorious work to do; yet all the while the sinfulness of man was on full display.
· They found sin to be a game.
· They found the cruelty of sin to be delicious.
· They found sin to be multiplied.
c. Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You? If Jesus were to draw on His rightful resources of divine power and authority, He could say exactly who struck Him. Jesus could also say everything there was to know about that man. Yet in all this, Jesus refused to draw on the resources of His divine power and authority, and instead faced this as a Spirit-strengthened man.
i. “However, the very thing they mocked, Jesus’ prophetic ability, had just been ironically vindicated in the previous scene: Peter denied his Lord three times, just as Jesus predicted.” (Pate)
ii. It was important for Jesus to face this abuse, though it was painful for Jesus to endure and painful for His followers to consider.
· It was important to demonstrate that the proper reply to hate is not more hate, but love.
· It was important to demonstrate His trust in God the Father, that God would vindicate Him and He did not need to defend Himself.
· It was important so that those who are abused and humiliated can find refuge in a God who knows what they experience.
iii. “I must also call him victorious. His persecutors could not make him give way to anger. They could not destroy his mercy; they could not slay his love; they could not cause him to think of himself; they could not make him declare that he would go no further with his work of saving sinners now that men began to scoff at him, and smite him, and despitefully use him.” (Spurgeon)
5. (66) Jesus’ second trial before the Sanhedrin.
As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying,
a. As soon as it was day: On the night of His betrayal and the day of His crucifixion, Jesus actually stood in trial several times, before different judges. The order of events can be summarized.
i. Jesus was first brought to the home of Annas, the ex-high priest and the “power behind the throne” of the high priest (John 18:12-14, John 19:23).
ii. Then Jesus was brought to the home of Caiaphas, the sitting high priest. There He was placed on trial before an ad-hoc gathering of the Sanhedrin still during the night (Matthew 26:57-68), when false witness were brought before the council and the high priest demanded to know of Jesus if He was the Son of God. To this question, Jesus replied: “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! “What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” (Matthew 26:64-66)
iii. After that, the beating described in Luke 22:63-65 began.
iv. Then as soon as it was day the Sanhedrin gathered again, this time in official session, and they conducted the trial described in Luke 22:66-71 (and mentioned in Matthew 27:1-2).
b. The elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council: This daytime meeting of the Sanhedrin council was necessary because by the Sanhedrin’s own laws and regulations the night trial described in Matthew 26:57-68 was illegal.
i. According to Jewish law, all criminal trials must begin and end in the daylight. This second trial was necessary because they knew the first one – the real trial – had no legal standing.
ii. According to Jewish law, only decisions made in the official meeting place were valid. The first trial was held at the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, so they called together this trial, held at their council.
iii. According to Jewish law, criminal cases could not be tried during the Passover season.
iv. According to Jewish law, only an acquittal could be issued on the day of the trial; guilty verdicts had to wait one night to allow for feelings of mercy to rise.
v. According to Jewish law, all evidence had to be guaranteed by two witnesses, who were separately examined and could not have contact with each other.
vi. According to Jewish law, false witness was punishable by death; nothing is done to the many false witnesses in Jesus’ trial.
vii. According to Jewish law, a trial always began by bringing forth evidence for the innocence of the accused before the evidence of guilt was offered; this was not the practice here.
viii. “The whole procedure was designed for mercy; and even from Luke’s summary account, it is clear that the Sanhedrin, when it tried Jesus, was far from keeping its own rules and regulations.” (Barclay)
6. (67-71) The interrogation of Jesus at His second trial before the council.
“If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.” Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.” And they said, “What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”
a. If You are the Christ, tell us: They wanted to hear from Jesus Himself if He claimed to be the Messiah. Again, this was all a formality because they had already passed judgment on Jesus with the illegal trial held the night before (Matthew 26:57-68), where essentially the same question was asked (Matthew 26:63).
b. If I tell you, you will by no means believe: Given the circumstances – that Jesus had already been found guilty and that the present trial was only a show – this was the perfect response. They pretended to have an open mind and ask sincere questions, but it wasn’t true – only pretense.
c. Here after the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God: This was essentially the same reply Jesus gave to the high priest at the earlier trial (Matthew 26:64). Jesus warned them that though they sat in judgment of Him now, He would one day sit in judgment of them – and with a far more binding judgment.
i. Hereafter: “‘Hereafter!’ ‘Hereafter!’ Oh, when that hereafter comes, how overwhelming it will be to Jesus’ foes! Now where is Caiaphas? Will he now adjure the Lord to speak? Now, ye priests, lift up your haughty heads! Utter a sentence against him now! There sits, your victim upon the clouds of heaven. Say now that he blasphemes, and hold up your rent rags, and condemn him again. But where is Caiaphas? He hides his guilty head he is utterly confounded, and begs the mountains to fall upon him.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Of the Power: “Power is a typically Jewish reverential expression to avoid pronouncing the sacred name of God (which might have laid Jesus open to the charge of blasphemy, though ironically it was precisely that charge on which he was condemned, Matthew 26:65!).” (France)
d. What further testimony do we need? At this daytime trial, they made no effort to find testimony against Jesus, because the witnesses at the nighttime trial had hopelessly contradicted themselves (Matthew 26:59-60). Therefore they avoided witnesses at this daytime trial.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission