Today we read of Judas betraying Jesus. We also observe the following: the Last Supper and the basis of observing Communion along with a vital teaching on the importance of serving others. We see Jesus praying while the disciples are sleeping. Jesus being arrested and Peter denying him. The temple guards mocking and beating Jesus and the religious leaders condemning him in their so called trial. It’s a long but very moving chapter.
Religious Leaders Plan to Kill Jesus / 22:1-2
Luke began the final section of his Gospel (22:1–24:53) with a short statement of the evil intentions of the chief priests and the teachers of religious law. They were diligently looking for an opportunity to have Jesus arrested and executed.
22:1 All Jewish males over the age of twelve were required to go to Jerusalem for Passover. This would be followed by a seven-day festival called the Festival of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:15-20). For these festivals, Jews from all over the Roman Empire would converge on Jerusalem to celebrate one of the most important events in their history. Passover took place on one night and at one meal, but the Festival of Unleavened Bread would continue for a week. The Passover celebration commemorated the night the Israelites were freed from Egypt (Exodus 12).
22:2 The religious leaders’ opposition to Jesus had grown to such a point that they were actively plotting Jesus’ murder. There is a certain irony in seeing these leaders celebrating the Exodus while plotting to kill one of their own at the same time. But they had a problem: they greatly feared the people. Jesus was a popular teacher, and there were many Galileans in the city who would have rioted if Jesus had been taken captive. The religious leaders felt that they had to kill him because of his growing popularity (20:19; 22:6).
Judas Plans to Betray Jesus / 22:3-6
The Jewish religious leaders had opposed Jesus from the beginning (6:7; 7:29-30; 11:53; 19:47), and their opposition had grown more fierce in the last couple of days (see 20:1-8, 20-26, 27-40). But here the plot thickened. Judas struck a deal with the Jewish council to betray Jesus for money.
22:3-4 The leaders’ opportunity to get to Jesus came in a manner they least expected. One of Jesus’ twelve disciples came to them willing to act as betrayer and accuser. Luke explained that Satan entered into Judas Iscariot (see also John 12:6; 13:2, 27). Satan assumed that Jesus’ death would end Jesus’ mission and thwart God’s plan. Like Judas, Satan did not know that Jesus’ death and resurrection were the most important parts of God’s plan all along.
- LIFE APPLICATION – BETRAYAL
- Judas decided to betray Jesus, and thereby Judas became one of the worst villains in history. His name has become synonymous with treachery, betrayal, and untrustworthiness. Yet, every believer has to face the ugly reality that there is a potential Judas in each person. Put in the right (or wrong) circumstance, facing the right amount of pressure, everyone is capable of betrayal, even betraying the Messiah. Ask God for the grace to never betray Jesus. Your task is to remain faithful to Jesus and not be Satan’s pawn.
22:5-6 Naturally these leaders were delighted at this unexpected defection from Jesus’ ranks. Matthew alone recorded the exact reward—thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32; Matthew 26:15). The religious leaders had planned to wait until after the Passover to take Jesus, but with Judas’s unexpected offer, they accelerated their plans. Judas, in turn, began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus when there would be no Passover crowds to prevent Jesus’ capture and no possibility of a riot.
Disciples Prepare for the Passover / 22:7-13
Jesus and the disciples were one group out of thousands needing a place to celebrate the Passover meal in Jerusalem. Jesus’ instructions to Peter and John reveal God’s complete control over all the events surrounding Jesus’ final days on earth. The room where the disciples would celebrate the Last Supper had been prepared (22:12), and Jesus knew every detail, even how Peter and John would find the room (22:10).
22:7-8 Jesus and his disciples had been together long enough to celebrate Passover several times. Disciples often ate this celebratory meal with their teacher, so it was not unusual for Jesus to send Peter and John to prepare the Passover meal for him and his disciples.
- LIFE APPLICATION- SACRIFICE
- The first Passover took place in Egypt, as the people of Israel prepared to receive God’s protection from the slaying of the firstborn son and God’s deliverance from bondage. The first Lord’s Supper, the new covenant counterpart to Passover, took place in an upper room in Jerusalem, as the disciples prepared to witness the death of God’s “firstborn” and the deliverance he purchased from the bondage of sin. In reading the Old Testament, it is disturbing how often the people of Israel forgot all that God did for them in the Exodus and in bringing them to the Promised Land. Do believers today do a better job of remembering and showing their gratitude as God’s new covenant people? Take some time today to thank God for the incomparable gift of your redemption and salvation.
22:9-11 Peter and John needed to know where they should go to prepare the Passover meal. They would need a location big enough for Jesus and the twelve disciples. Jesus’ answer indicates that he had, in advance, made many of these preparations. Jesus knew that he needed safety and security in order to avoid being taken prematurely. The time in the upper room was a precious time for Jesus and his disciples, as the record of the conversation and teaching shows (recorded in John 13–17).
As the two disciples entered Jerusalem, they would see a man carrying a pitcher of water. Ordinarily, women, not men, went to the well and brought home the water. So this man would have stood out in the crowd. They should follow this man to his house, and the owner of that house would show them to the room where they would eat together. This private location kept the plans secret—even Judas would not know their destination until they arrived.
Tradition says that this may have been Mark’s home (the writer of the Gospel). If this speculation is true, the owner of the house would have been Mark’s father and one of Jesus’ followers. He knew exactly who the Teacher was and probably knew the disciples by sight. The disciples did as Jesus directed and made preparations for the others.
22:12-13 The owner of the house would take Peter and John upstairs to a large room already set up. Many homes had large upstairs rooms, sometimes with stairways both inside and outside the house. This room was large enough to accommodate Jesus and his twelve disciples for a banquet at a large table with reclining couches. It seems that Jesus had prearranged this because he already knew what the room looked like—it was large, furnished, and ready.
As before, when two disciples went to get the donkey for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem (19:29-32), they found everything just as Jesus had said. The preparations for the Passover would have included setting the table, buying and roasting the Passover lamb, and making the unleavened bread, sauces, and other ceremonial food and drink that were a traditional part of every Passover meal.
Jesus and the Disciples Have the Last Supper / 22:14-30
Although the Gospel of John goes into great detail recounting what Jesus said and did during his last Passover meal (see John 13:1–17:26), Luke’s Gospel merely highlights Jesus’ institution of the Lord’s Supper (22:17-20), his prediction of his betrayal (22:21-23), his teaching on service (22:24-27), and his prediction of Peter’s denial (22:31-34).
22:14 Peter and John had been sent ahead to prepare the meal, then at the appointed time to eat, Jesus and the twelve apostles arrived and assumed their seats at the table. The Passover meal was supposed to be eaten in Jerusalem after sunset and finished before midnight. The disciples and Jesus took their places on the reclining couches around the table. During such an important meal as the Passover, everyone would recline at the table, symbolizing the freedom the people had gained after the very first Passover and their subsequent release from slavery in Egypt.
- LIFE APPLICATION-THE ALREADY AND THE NOT YET
- Jesus’ last supper with his disciples is a poignant picture of something all Christians experience: the fulfillment of their present relationship with him and the longing for their future completion in him. Jesus “eagerly desired” to share the Passover meal with his closest friends, the disciples; at the same time Jesus looked forward to its ultimate fulfillment at his return. Believers today live an in-between life as followers of Christ. They already experience the peace, forgiveness, and satisfaction, that come from knowing Jesus. Yet they also long for the consummation of their faith, that day when believers will be perfected and completed in his presence. Do you sometimes feel that tension? If so, don’t worry. It is the normal experience of God’s people awaiting the return of Christ.
22:15-16 Jesus had looked forward to this quiet time with his disciples. We know from John’s Gospel that a great deal was said during the Passover meal. These would be Jesus’ “last words”—thus words of vital importance to these to whom he was entrusting the carrying on of his work. Jesus knew that his time of suffering would soon come, and that he would not celebrate this event again until it comes to fulfillment in the Kingdom of God. The mention of “fulfillment” reveals the complete and ultimate significance of the entire Passover celebration. While Passover commemorated a past event, it also foreshadowed Jesus’ work on the cross. As the spotless Lamb of God, his blood would be spilled in order to save his people from the penalty of death brought by sin. At that time, those who belong to Christ will sit down at a glorious banquet (see 13:29; 14:15-24; Isaiah 25:6-8; Revelation 19:7-9). Jesus will not celebrate Passover until God’s plan is complete.
22:17-18 This Gospel mentions two cups of wine. In the traditional Passover meal, the wine is served four times. A fourth cup of wine would conclude the meal. Jesus made the vow to abstain from wine before the fourth cup. Jesus reserved the drinking of this cup for the future restoration. Because Jesus would be raised, so his followers will be raised. One day all believers will be together again in God’s new Kingdom (see 11:2) The Kingdom of God refers to the time of the complete fulfillment of the rule of God. When Jesus celebrates with his people, all God’s promises, power, and authority will be fully realized.
22:19 Jesus took the loaf of unleavened bread, thanked God, and broke it. Because bread was considered a gift from God, it was irreverent to cut bread with a knife, so bread would be torn (or broken) with the hands. Jesus gave the bread to the disciples to eat with the sauce. As he did so, he gave this Passover practice an entirely new meaning. Just as the Passover celebrated deliverance from slavery in Egypt, so the Lord’s Supper celebrates deliverance from sin by Christ’s death. Jesus told the disciples: “This is my body, given for you.” Jesus used literal terms to describe a figurative truth. Just as he had so many times said, “I am” the door, the bread, the light, the vine, so the bread symbolized Jesus’ work of salvation on behalf of humanity. That his body would “be given” pictures the cross on which Jesus gave his body in death, allowing it to be broken so that believers could receive life.
Jesus told the disciples to eat the broken bread in remembrance of me. He wanted them to remember his sacrifice, the basis for forgiveness of sins, and also his friendship that they could continue to enjoy through the work of the Holy Spirit.
- LIFE APPLICATION – IN REMEMBRANCE
- In a memorial service, words are spoken or actions taken to pay tribute to the deceased. People may say, “I’m doing this because I know that’s the way ___ would have wanted it.” Think how inappropriate it would be for someone to clearly go against the deceased’s wishes or principles. When believers celebrate Communion, they do more than hold a memorial service. The Savior who died is alive and well, and he is present and involved in Communion. How much more, then, should believers want to conduct themselves—actions, attitudes, thoughts, and words—in a manner consistent with the love and compassion of Jesus. The next time you participate in the Lord’s Supper, give serious consideration to how you will live “in remembrance of him.”
22:20 As noted above, in a traditional Passover meal, wine is served four times. Most likely, the cup mentioned in this verse was the third cup; the words of 22:17-18 were spoken about the fourth and final cup that Jesus did not drink, vowing first to complete his mission before drinking again of wine. Jesus took this cup and explained, “This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you.”
In Old Testament times, God agreed to forgive people’s sins if they brought animals for the priests to sacrifice. When this sacrificial system was inaugurated, the agreement between God and sinful humanity was sealed with the blood of animals (Exodus 24:8). But animal blood did not in itself remove sin (only God can forgive sin), and animal sacrifices had to be repeated day by day and year after year. Jesus instituted a “new covenant” or agreement between humans and God. Under this new covenant, Jesus would die in the place of sinners. Unlike the blood of animals, his blood would seal the agreement between God and people to remove the sins of all who put their faith in him.
- LIFE APPLICATION – PAYMENT
- Imagine that you are in an upscale jewelry store when a child walks in and intentionally destroys a very valuable item. The store owner, understandably outraged, demands that the child come up with a way to pay for what he has done. The child, holding out his empty pockets, says he doesn’t have the money to pay for it, and that his allowance is only a dollar a week. He’ll never be able to pay off his debt. Into this impasse a man steps forward and says, “I have the money, and I’ll pay the boy’s debt. Is that acceptable?” That is, in effect, what Christ did when he enacted the new covenant. Under the old covenant with its system of sacrifices, sins were “atoned for” by animal sacrifice. But it was never enough, and it wasn’t permanent. The new covenant, however, has been ushered in by the blood of Christ—the ultimate, completely sufficient, and final payment for sin. How do you respond to God’s gracious offer—with grateful acceptance, or callous indifference?
22:21 Verses 3-6 revealed that the man who will betray Jesus is Judas Iscariot. Although the other disciples were confused by Jesus’ words, Judas knew what he meant. The betrayer was there among them, joining them in the meal, one of Jesus’ chosen twelve disciples. Jesus’ words allude to Psalm 41:9.
22:22 Jesus’ death was part of the divine purpose; Jesus recognized that. But this does not remove responsibility from the betrayer. Judas allowed his desires to place him in a position where Satan could manipulate him (22:3). In betraying Jesus, Judas made the greatest mistake in history. But the fact that Jesus knew Judas would betray him does not mean that Judas was a puppet of God’s will. Judas made the choice. God knew what that choice would be and confirmed it. Judas didn’t lose his relationship with Jesus; rather, he had never found Jesus in the first place. Judas, by his own choice, betrayed God’s Son into the hands of soldiers, but Judas’s betrayal was part of God’s sovereign plan (Psalm 41:9; Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 20:18; 26:20-25; Acts 1:16, 20).
- LIFE APPLICATION- RESPONSIBILITY
- People have argued for centuries about whether or not Judas was to blame for what he did, or whether he merely played the part God had written out for him. While there can be no doubt that what Judas did was part of God’s sovereign plan of redemption, Luke 22:22 also makes it clear that Judas was responsible. How easy it is for people to blame their sins on others—even God! They use his sovereignty and his omnipotence as an excuse for their own moral and spiritual failures. Is there a sin or lack of obedience in some area in your life that you need to face and for which you need to take responsibility? Stop making excuses. Confess, repent, and let God forgive you and restore your relationship with him.
It must be remembered that while Judas betrayed him, all the disciples fled, and Peter even denied ever knowing Jesus. But all those disciples came to Jesus for forgiveness; Judas never took that opportunity. Instead, he killed himself (Matthew 27:3-5).
22:23 Apparently, Judas was not obvious as the betrayer. After all, he was the one the disciples were trusting to keep the money (John 12:4-6). So the disciples began to ask each other which of them would ever do such a thing. Only Judas knew that Jesus had identified him as the betrayer. Judas had been able to keep his treachery a secret from everyone, except the one he would betray.
22:24 The most important event in human history was about to take place, and the disciples were still arguing about their prestige in the Kingdom! The disciples, wrapped up in their own concerns, did not perceive what Jesus had been trying to tell them about his approaching death and resurrection. The disciples had already had this discussion (9:46) and Jesus had told them that they should be like children—the least among them would be the greatest (9:48). As before, they were either ignoring his words about his death, or they were wondering who would take over when Jesus died.
- LIFE APPLICATION – TRUE GREATNESS
- Most people occasionally dream of being great in the eyes of the world. In those dreams, they imagine themselves as famous, wealthy, powerful, sought-after. Perhaps they see themselves having meetings with presidents and prime ministers, shielding their eyes from the glare of the television cameras, capturing the attention of the world through their accomplishments and reputation. Jesus’ definition of greatness has very little to do with any of that. Jesus said greatness is defined in terms of servanthood and humility—quite a contrast from the world’s idea. If by God’s grace you attain any greatness in the eyes of the world, thank him for it. But never forget that those who are great in God’s eyes are those who forget about themselves and give themselves away to others in Jesus’ name.
22:25-26 The world’s system of leadership varies greatly from leadership in God’s Kingdom. But among Christians, the master is to be like a servant. There are different styles of leadership—some lead through public speaking, some through administering, some through relationships. Whatever the style, every Christian leader needs a servant’s heart. Jesus immediately corrected his disciples’ attitudes, for they would be unable to accomplish their mission if they did not love and serve one another.
- LIFE APPLICATION – LEADERSHIP
- Who do you think of as being a great leader? A political figure, perhaps, or a military general or head coach of a sports team? No doubt there are many in those fields who command people’s respect and attention. But Jesus said that leadership is not primarily a matter of getting people to jump when ordered. Instead, he said a leader is to be a servant. It’s true that not everyone will respect or even understand servant leadership, but Jesus never promised that faithfulness to God would be popular—only rewarded. What is your leadership style? Do you expect those under your authority to serve you, or do you serve them? Jesus’ model is clear: true leadership is servant leadership.
22:27 Jesus did not come to sit at the table and be served; he came as a servant. Greatness is determined by servanthood. The truly great leader places his or her needs last, as Jesus exemplified. Because Jesus served, his disciples must also seek to serve, not seeking to occupy better positions. Being a “servant” did not mean occupying a servile position; rather, it meant having an attitude of life that freely attended to others’ needs without expecting or demanding anything in return. An attitude of service brings true greatness in God’s Kingdom.
22:28-30 The disciples had remained true to Jesus throughout the three years of ministry and the hardships it often entailed (9:58). They had been willing to be servants, sharing the gospel message and healing people through Jesus’ power (9:1-6). The words, “I now grant you the right to eat and drink at my table in that Kingdom,” refer to Jesus’ promise that because of their faith in him, they would enjoy the promised messianic banquet with him. This would happen, not immediately, but in due time. They would receive all that he had promised. In addition, they would also sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. The “thrones” and “tribes” can be understood in different ways. (1) If taken literally, the twelve apostles will rule the tribes of Israel at Christ’s return (although this leaves open the question of Judas’s betrayal, the addition of Matthias as a disciple to replace Judas, and the role of Paul’s apostleship). (2) If not taken literally, then the disciples will oversee the church, which will have a prominent place in God’s plan. (3) This may be a promise to Jesus’ closest disciples (probably Paul would be included), who will have a special place of authority in God’s Kingdom. But the entire church, meaning all believers, is included.
The second understanding (the disciples will oversee the church) seems likely. Jesus Christ gave the Kingdom to the new Israel, his church—all faithful believers. His coming ushered in the Kingdom of God with all believers as its citizens. God may allow persecution to continue for a while, but the destiny of his followers is to possess the Kingdom and live with him forever. The apostles, and all believers, can trust that Jesus will surely accomplish all that he promised.
Jesus Predicts Peter’s Denial / 22:31-38
After describing the disciples’ glorious roles in the Kingdom of God (22:29-30), Jesus turned to the immediate trials they would face. First, Jesus warned Peter of his future denial. Second, Jesus warned them all to prepare themselves for the coming troubles.
22:31-32 Luke alone recorded these solemn words to Simon (Peter) and described Satan’s role in the upcoming difficulties all the disciples, but especially Peter, were soon to face. Satan asked to sift them like wheat, meaning a severe trial. These words recall when Satan asked God for permission to test Job (Job 1:7; 2:2). Satan wanted to crush Simon Peter and the other disciples like grains of wheat. He hoped to find only chaff and blow it away. But Jesus assured Peter that although his faith would falter, it would not be destroyed, “But I have pleaded in prayer for you, Simon, that your faith should not fail. So when you have repented and turned to me again, strengthen and build up your brothers.” Jesus prayed for faith, not the removal of the test. Apparently, he knew that Peter would fail; otherwise, there would be no need for Peter to repent. Yet Jesus was confident of this turning back, and also understood that, having faced this trial, Peter would be able to strengthen fellow believers. Indeed, the book of 1 Peter deals entirely with encouragement for believers who are undergoing trials and difficulties. Peter became a source of strength to many who needed it.
- LIFE APPLICATION – RESTORED
- Peter was certainly no stranger to failure. But Jesus made sure that Peter didn’t wallow in it. He prayed for Peter and encouraged him to “bounce back” and be a source of strength to the other disciples. The Bible and church history reveal that Peter did indeed come back from his failure to lead the early church. Satan attempts to destroy believers by accusing them of disloyalty and lack of integrity. Whatever your failure(s), learn a lesson from Peter. Remember that Jesus intercedes for you. Focus on your love for Jesus and your desire to do his will. Keep in the forefront of your mind that people need your example and leadership.
22:33-34 Peter seemed to ignore Jesus’ words regarding intercession on his behalf and simply answered with bravado. Peter considered his loyalty to exceed anyone’s, for he declared that suffering and death could not dissuade him. Peter surely wanted to believe that his loyalty to Jesus would be strong, but Jesus already knew that Peter would initially fail the test. Instead of being the only loyal disciple, Peter would, in fact, prove to be more disloyal than the other ten. Not only would he desert Jesus, but he would also deny three times that he even knew Jesus. And this would happen before the night was over.
- LIFE APPLICATION – A PRACTICAL FAITH
- Trust God and keep your powder dry. That dusty piece of wisdom, dating from the Revolutionary War era, says that believers should do whatever they reasonably can to fend for themselves, and then place their faith in God. Jesus gave similar advice to the disciples (22:35-36). Once before he had sent them out to preach, telling them not to worry about pedestrian things like a change of clothes or money with which to buy food. And that trip had worked out just fine, as the disciples well remembered. But now—with his death looming just over the horizon—now it was time to think of more pragmatic concerns. Are you facing a significant decision or even a crisis? Do whatever you can legally, morally, and ethically to prepare yourself, and then trust God’s gracious provision for you.
22:35-36 Here Jesus would reverse his earlier advice regarding how to travel (9:3). Before, Jesus had sent the disciples out without extra resources, wanting them to depend on God and on other believers to meet their basic needs. The disciples remembered that they did not lack anything during that preaching tour. But now, Jesus explained, the situation was different. His followers needed to be prepared.
22:37-38 Jesus quoted from Isaiah 53:12 and said that those very words were about to be fulfilled. Jesus would take the place of transgressors, taking their punishment for them. Because of all that was about to happen to Jesus, the disciples would be in danger too. The disciples did not understand. The “fulfillment” of which Jesus spoke referred to his death, but the disciples were busy checking for arms with which to defend themselves. They came up with two swords, hardly enough to defend them all. But Jesus said, “That’s enough,” meaning either that this was not the time to think of using swords or that he’d had enough of their discussion. In either case, mention of a sword vividly communicated the trials they soon would face.
- LIFE APPLICATION – PRAY FOR STRENGTH
- Is there someone in your life who has demonstrated his or her love for you over and over again, to the point where you know beyond doubt that this person is for you and has your best interests at heart? If so, be very thankful, and ask yourself: would you intentionally do something to hurt that person, cause him or her grief, or bring shame or disgrace on him or her? You would never want to treat such a person that way. That’s why Jesus told the disciples that the way to overcome temptation was through prayer. Communing with God is the most powerful motivation believers have to keep his will and honor his name. Are you experiencing intense temptation, perhaps sexually, financially, legally, or ethically? When that temptation shows its seductive face, look past it and into the eyes of the one who loves you enough to die for you—and do what honors him the most.
Jesus Agonizes in the Garden / 22:39-46
Throughout his Gospel, Luke highlighted Jesus’ consistent prayer life. This section provides an intimate look at Jesus’ dependence on prayer, right before his greatest hour of need. For Jesus, prayer was not an escape, but a respite; not a way to avoid difficulty, but a way to strengthen himself to endure it.
22:39 The disciples and Jesus finished the Passover meal and the lengthy teaching recorded in John (John 13:31–17:26); then they left the upstairs room and went as usual to the Mount of Olives. Apparently, this was a favorite place for Jesus and the disciples. Up to this point, Jesus and the disciples had been returning each night to Bethany; but this time, Jesus only went as far as the Mount of Olives, located just to the east of Jerusalem. Jesus went up the southwestern slope to an olive grove called Gethsemane.
22:40 Jesus asked the disciples to pray that they would not be overcome by temptation because he knew that he would soon be leaving them. Jesus also knew that they would need extra strength to face the temptations ahead—temptations to run away or to deny their relationship with him. They were about to see Jesus arrested and then crucified. The disciples’ strongest temptation would undoubtedly be to think that they had been deceived.
22:41-42 Jesus walked away, knelt down, and prayed. Jesus exposed his dread of the coming trials, but he also reaffirmed his commitment to do what God wanted. In deep anguish, he asked the Father to let the mission be accomplished some other way not requiring the agony of crucifixion, when he would become sin and be separated from the Father. The cup of suffering meant the terrible agony he knew he would endure—not only the horror of the crucifixion but, even worse, the total separation from God that he would have to experience in order to die for the world’s sins. The “cup” in the Old Testament could be a symbol of blessing (Psalms 16:5; 23:5) or of cursing (Psalms 11:6; 75:8). A whole nation could “drink a cup” of either blessings or curses (Isaiah 51:22; Jeremiah 25:15; 49:12; Ezekiel 23:31-33).
Jesus was not trying to get out of his mission, however. He reaffirmed his desire to do what God wanted by saying, “Yet I want your will, not mine.” Jesus’ human will was distinct from God’s will, but it did not oppose God’s will. His prayer reveals his terrible suffering, but he willingly placed himself in his Father’s hands.
- LIFE APPLICATION- “I DON’T WANT TO, LORD”
- Following Jesus may put believers in situations where they confront tough choices, where doing right will cost them physically, emotionally, or financially. At a time like that, you may tell God, “I don’t want to do what you want me to do here. I do not want to pay the price.” Jesus had a horrible choice in front of him: go to the cross and redeem fallen mankind, or avoid the suffering and death and let mankind be lost. He knew what was right, and he didn’t want to go through with it. But he obeyed his Father. Are you in a crisis of obedience right now? It’s all right to tell God you don’t want to obey. He understands. Just be sure you do what he tells you in spite of your reluctance.
22:43-44 This portion is often bracketed and/or noted in most modern English versions because it does not appear in many of the earliest manuscripts. Here an angel from heaven appeared and strengthened Jesus. Angels are God’s emissaries, sent to do his bidding, ministering to people on earth. God sent an angel to be with Jesus in this horrible time of fear, and perhaps even temptation far worse than what Satan tried. In his humanity, Jesus suffered terribly during this night, battling what he knew had to happen. Jesus was in extreme agony; his prayer reveals his terrible suffering. Luke was speaking metaphorically. Jesus did not sweat blood, but rather the emotional agony he felt caused the perspiration to fall like clotted blood. The focus of this prayer was probably not so much on the painful death but on the agony of being separated from God. God did not take away the “cup,” for the cup was his will. Yet he did take away Jesus’ extreme fear and agitation. Jesus moved serenely through the next several hours, at peace with God, knowing that he was doing his Father’s will.
22:45 Jesus got up at last from praying—how long he struggled in prayer is not revealed, but the hour was late. Matthew wrote that Jesus went back and forth three times between praying and checking on the disciples, each time finding them asleep (Matthew 26:40-45). Jesus needed his friends to support him with their prayers, but they were asleep, exhausted from grief. It had been a long day and the reality of Jesus’ impending death left them emotionally exhausted.
22:46 Jesus told the disciples that this was the time to get up and pray, for very soon they would face the temptation to run away or to deny their relationship with him. They would need extra strength so that these temptations would not overpower them. The word “temptation” can mean testing or trial. Jesus wanted his disciples to pray for strength to go through the coming ordeal.
Jesus Is Betrayed and Arrested / 22:47-53
Despite all of Jesus’ warnings about the coming trouble, the disciples were unprepared for it when the moment arrived. Judas, formerly one of them, appeared and betrayed Jesus with a kiss. The disciples attempted to defend Jesus, and then fled, as Jesus gave himself over to an illegal arrest.
22:47 Even as Jesus spoke the words about not being overcome by temptation (22:46), a mob approached. The leader was Judas, who had gone to the Jewish religious leaders in order to betray Jesus (22:3-4). He was at the Last Supper with Jesus and the other disciples (Matthew 26:25) and then had abruptly left, apparently to let the leaders know where to find Jesus (John 13:27). Judas came up to Jesus and greeted him with a kiss. Judas had told the crowd to arrest the man whom he would kiss (Matthew 26:48).
- LIFE APPLICATION- EMPTY GESTURE
- A kiss is the traditional greeting among men in certain parts of the world. In this case, it was also the agreed-upon signal to point out Jesus. It is ironic that a gesture of greeting would be the means of betrayal. It was a hollow gesture because of Judas’s treachery. In a sense, people can still betray Christ when their acts of service or giving are insincere or carried out merely for show.
22:48 With this kiss of greeting, Judas showed himself to be the ultimate traitor. He had eaten with Jesus only hours before, and here he used a sign of friendship and affection in his betrayal. Apparently Jesus understood that this greeting had been designated as a signal. Jesus asked, “Judas, how can you betray me, the Son of Man, with a kiss?” This was the height of disloyalty and hypocrisy.
22:49-51 Apparently the arrival of the mob had awakened the sleeping disciples, and they came fully awake and ready to fight. One of them slashed at the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. The Gospel of John reveals that the man who cut off the servant’s ear was Peter and that the servant’s name was Malchus (John 18:10). Peter may have thought that this was the time to fight, the time to defend themselves, but Jesus told Peter, “Don’t resist anymore.” Peter should put away his sword and allow God’s plan to unfold. Jesus’ time of prayer had made him serene in God’s will. He would comply with God’s plan. So he healed the man’s ear. Even as Jesus was being led away to face what would be the most difficult of trials, he first stopped to care for this member of the mob, restoring his ear.
- LIFE APPLICATION – PEOPLE OF THE NIGHT
- There’s a reason that most crimes and other illicit activities take place in the darkness: Those who engage in them don’t want anyone else to see. They don’t want to get caught, and they wish to hide under the cover of darkness. Jesus told his accusers that they were people of the night in 22:52-53: “This is your hour—when darkness reigns” (niv). What a shameful allegation and equally undeniable. Is there anything in your life that cannot stand the light of day or the light of truth right now? Confess it and expose it to the light of God’s grace, and let him remove its shadow from you.
22:52-53 Apparently many of the religious leaders had come together to take part in this arrest. Jesus pointed out the ridiculous picture of all these men coming after him with swords and clubs. Jesus also pointed out the basic cowardice in their actions. He had been among them every day in the Temple, but they had not laid a hand on him. We know from 20:19 and 22:2 that they had not arrested Jesus in the Temple for fear of a riot. Instead, they came secretly at night, under the influence of the prince of darkness, Satan himself. Although it looked as if Satan was getting the upper hand and that darkness was in control, everything was proceeding according to God’s plan. It was time for Jesus to die.
Peter Denies Knowing Jesus / 22:54-65
Peter’s confidence and courage had wilted under pressure. Only several hours before, he had courageously asserted that he would follow Jesus to prison—or even to death. At this point, however, he was repeatedly denying any association with Jesus. Each denial distanced Peter further from him. The best part of this sad story is that it did not end here.
22:54 Jesus did not resist arrest, his disciples had turned and run (Mark 14:50), so Jesus was led away to the high priest’s residence, even though it was not yet daylight. The Jewish leaders were in a hurry because they wanted to complete the execution before the Sabbath and get on with the Passover celebration. The high priest’s residence was a palace with outer walls enclosing a courtyard. That this trial should occur here was unprecedented. Normally the council would meet in a large hall in the Temple area. They could have met there because during the Passover, the Temple opened at midnight rather than at dawn. This meeting at Caiaphas’s home may have been to aid in a hasty assembly; however, they still could just as easily have met in a normal location. Most likely, it was their desire to avoid a riot that led them to this more private setting. Peter followed the mob from far behind, along with John (John 18:15).
22:55 As mentioned above, this courtyard was probably in a central area of the buildings that made up the high priest’s residence. In the courtyard, the guards lit a fire, around which the servants and soldiers were warming themselves against the early morning chill. Peter joined the others around the fire.
22:56-57 John wrote that this servant girl was acting as a guard at the gate to the inner courtyard (John 18:16). She apparently noticed Peter in the firelight, staring at him. Then the girl realized where she had seen Peter before—he was one of Jesus’ followers. This put Peter in a difficult position. Standing among the soldiers and servants right there in enemy territory, Peter did not necessarily want to be identified with the man held in an upstairs room, on trial for his life. So Peter made a natural and impulsive response—he lied. “Woman . . . I don’t even know the man!” Temptation came when Peter least expected it. This serves as a warning to all believers to be prepared. Peter had been ready to fight with a sword, but not to face the accusations of a servant girl.
- LIFE APPLICATION – STAYING CLOSE
- How could Peter deny Jesus before a servant girl and two other bystanders? After all, this was the same man who only hours earlier had showed considerable courage by drawing a sword and trying to defend Jesus in front of armed soldiers. Perhaps the lesson is that temptation and compromise are most powerful when they do not come in obvious ways. But an even better lesson is this: as long as Peter was with Jesus, he was bold and aggressive. Left on his own, he wasn’t. Stay close to Jesus in your devotions, Bible study, and worship. Anyone is capable of denying the Lord and selling him out when he or she stands alone.
22:58 Peter could run, but he couldn’t hide. He got away from the questioning servant girl only to run into someone else who also recognized him as one of them (one of Jesus’ followers). But Peter again denied it.
22:59-60 This time, another bystander heard Peter’s Galilean accent which was closer to Syrian speech than to that of the Judean servants in the Jerusalem courtyard. Thus the group concluded that Peter must have been with the Galilean on trial inside the palace. Peter again replied in the negative, claiming to not even know what they were talking about. These three denials did not occur quickly, one immediately after another. Time elapsed in between, yet Peter could not control himself. As he spoke these words of his third denial, the rooster crowed, signaling the early morning hour.
22:61-62 Peter’s denials fulfilled Jesus’ words to him (22:34). When Peter heard the rooster crowing and then saw Jesus turn and look at him (either from the upper story where the trial was being held or as he passed through the courtyard between visits with Annas and Caiaphas), Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him earlier (12:9). Peter had indeed denied Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.
Peter left the courtyard, crying bitterly. His tears were not only because he realized that he had denied his Lord, the Messiah, but also because he had turned away from a very dear friend, a person who had loved and taught him for three years. Peter had said that he would go to prison or even death for Jesus (Mark 14:29-31; Luke 22:33-34). Fortunately, the story does not end there. Peter’s tears were of true sorrow and repentance. Later, Peter would reaffirm his love for Jesus, and Jesus would forgive him (see Mark 16:7; John 21:15-19).
22:63-65 After the preliminary meeting in Caiaphas’s house, the men adjourned to await daybreak and the arrival of the entire council for the more formal meeting in the Temple. Matters had really already been decided during the night, but the full trial would be held early in the morning to satisfy a law that allowed trials only during the daytime. This would be a formality to carry out the sentence that already had been decided.
Apparently Jesus was left in the care of guards who proceeded to mock and beat him. Evidently, the charge of Jesus being a prophet had come up, so the guards took advantage of their prisoner by playing on this claim. They blindfolded him, hit him, and asked that he say who had hit him. In addition, they threw all sorts of terrible insults at him. Matthew and Mark wrote that these guards were only following the example of the religious leaders themselves who had already beaten and insulted Jesus (Matthew 26:67-68; Mark 14:65). None of this surprised Jesus (see 18:32).
The Assembly Religious Leaders Condemns Jesus / 22:66-71
Luke’s presentation of Jesus’ trial before the council is much shorter than Matthew or Mark’s (see Matthew 26:57-68; Mark 14:53-65). In retelling the story of the trial, Luke’s clear purpose was to get at the heart of the matter: Who is Jesus?
22:66 As stated above, the leaders assembled during the day in order for the trial to be legal. So they met immediately at daybreak, keeping such trivialities of the law while holding a trial that was completely illegal.
22:67-69 They already knew what they planned to do with Jesus, so this meeting was merely a formality. They asked him to tell them if he was the Messiah. For Jesus to answer in the affirmative would incriminate himself. To answer in the negative would have been to lie. Jesus knew this was their plan, for he said, “If I tell you, you won’t believe me.” The council had already proven that they had no intention of believing Jesus to be their Messiah. Jesus also knew that if he questioned them, they would not answer (as already seen in 20:1-8). Jesus was in a no-win situation, but he told them the truth, “The time is soon coming when I, the Son of Man, will be sitting at God’s right hand in the place of power.” To say this was to say that yes, he was the Messiah and to boldly claim his own exaltation to the place of highest honor in heaven.
- LIFE APPLICATION – SELF-INCRIMINATION
- What a scene—the trial of the Son of God! Not surprisingly, Jesus’ accusers found it difficult to make their case against him. After all, he was sinless; what charge could they possibly make stick? In what must have been their last desperate attempt to pin something on him, they asked him to incriminate himself: “If you are the Christ, tell us.” They were asking for a confession—and they got it, although not quite the way they expected. Jesus willingly incriminated himself, when the Council couldn’t do it on their own. What amazing love and submission! His willingness to go to the cross knew no bounds. He gave his all for us. What are we willing to give for him?
22:70-71 The religious leaders understood exactly what Jesus was saying. He was indeed claiming to be the Son of God—but they needed him to be a bit more clear. So they asked again. Jesus agreed, saying, “You are right in saying that I am.” Jesus identified himself with God by using a familiar title for God found in the Old Testament: “I am” (Exodus 3:14). The council recognized Jesus’ claim and realized that they needed no other witnesses. He had accused himself. Their accusation against him was blasphemy—claiming equality with God (Matthew 26:65; Mark 14:64). For any other human this claim would have been blasphemy, but in this case it was true. Blasphemy was punishable by death (Leviticus 24:16). The council could condemn Jesus to death, but they could not carry out the death penalty under Roman law. The Romans would have to condemn him. So Jesus was led to trial before the local Roman leader—Pontius Pilate.
- LIFE APPLICATION – THE AMAZING CLAIM
- Many non-believers object, “But Jesus never claimed to be the Son of God. That’s just something his followers made up later on.” Next time you hear that, point your nonbelieving friend to Luke 22:70. Jesus clearly claimed divinity for himself; that’s the real reason the Council voted to put him to death. It certainly wasn’t for teaching rebellion or for healing people. Jesus drew the wrath of the religious leaders because he claimed to be the Son of God. He still draws strong reactions over that claim. How do you respond to his claim to be deity? That is still the question every person must answer for himself.
Sources: Life Application Bible Commentary, Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary
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