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Bible: What Does Luke 22 Teach Us About "The Last Supper," The Betrayal of Jesus, and His Trial Before Caiaphas?
Judas and Jesus
Setting the Stage
As Passover approaches, the Jewish leadership gathers to consider how to rid themselves of (read: murder) Jesus in such a way that it does not turn the people against them (vv. 1-2).
At this ripe time, Satan convinces the heart of Judas Iscariot, the traitor, to visit the Jews secretly and promise to deliver the Lord over to them when the “multitude” is not present.
This plan makes the leaders ecstatic and agreeable to part with a little silver to see the deed done (vv. 3-6).
[This meeting, of course, is the first recorded encounter between Judas and the Jews; Satan controls the betrayer’s heart a second time—an event that leads to Judas’s actually handing Jesus over to His enemies (see John 13:27).]
The Upper Room
The Apostles John and Peter
Preparing for the Lord's Last Supper
Luke’s account of the coming of “the Day of Unleavened Bread” differs in several respects from Matthew’s as follows:
First, it omits a detail that Matthew, a gospel written to Jews, includes: this particular day is the first day of the feast.
According to Exodus 12:15, God commanded Israel to eat unleavened bread seven days.
On the first day, the people were to remove leaven from their homes.
Second, Luke adds a detail that its companion omits: God commanded the slaughter of the Passover lamb on this day (v. 7).
[The Jews slaughtered a young lamb on Thursday night and another young Lamb on Friday afternoon.]
Third, Luke’s Jesus specifically sends Peter and John to prepare the ceremonial meal before being asked where He wanted to eat it; Matthew records that the disciples asked the Lord first, but omits pointing out that Christ handpicked Peter and John for the task (v. 8; cf. Mt. 26:17, 19).
Fourth, Luke’s Jesus provides an identifying feature of the man at whose house they would eat—a fact that Matthew omits.
The man would be performing a job traditionally relegated to women: carrying a pitcher of water (v. 10).
Fifth, Luke records that Jesus specifically speaks about a guest room He had apparently prearranged to use on Passover Eve (vv. 11-12; cf. Mk. 14:14-15); Matthew has the Lord announce to the man that “His time is at hand,” and that they will eat at his house with no mention of any prearrangement (cf. Mt. 26:18).
Sixth, Luke expresses amazement that the man had such a room, as if Jesus had not known about it before (v. 13); Matthew merely states that the disciples went there and prepared the meal (26:19).
As always, the individual author, under the Spirit’s inspiration, is free to include or exclude details from his account.
The Bread and the Wine
Does the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Christ?
Judas Leaves the Upper Room
The Last Supper
The evening comes and all thirteen recline for the meal (v. 14).
Only Luke records Jesus’ opening remarks regarding His fervent desire to commemorate Passover with them—the Lord’s last celebration of it before the consummation in glory (“fulfilled in the kingdom of God”) [vv. 15-16].
[The fulfillment of the Passover is, of course, His own suffering and death as the Paschal Lamb—the final Sacrifice.]
After He passes the cup of wine, Jesus reiterates that He will not participate in the celebration again until the millennium (“the kingdom of God comes”) [v. 18].
Now the Lord ratifies His own ceremony of remembrance, a ceremony involving the apostles’ partaking of bread and wine.
Clearly, the bread and wine represent, but do not supernaturally become, the body and blood of Christ; the notion of substitution (“given for you,” “shed for you”) also appears prominently (vv. 19b, 20b).
Jesus calls the “cup” “the new covenant in My blood” (v. 20a), bringing to mind the prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31-33.
[See Matthew for further discussion.]
Only now does Luke introduce the issue of the Lord’s immediate betrayal; the language—“the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table”—indicates that Judas had not yet left the company (v. 21).
[Does that not mean, then, that Judas participated in the Lord’s Supper?]
The other Synoptics report that Jesus broached the topic while they were eating the Passover (Matt. 26:21ff; Mark 14:18-21).
It appears that only after Judas leaves on his “mission” does Christ institute the Supper (see Mt. 26:25; cf. John 13:26-30).
The apostles’ questioning among themselves about who would betray Jesus (v. 23) occurs before Judas leaves.
[How can these passages be reconciled?]
In addition to trying to resolve the “traitor” issue, Jesus’ men raise a stink over which one of them “should be considered the greatest” (v. 24).
[It is perplexing that only Luke should include this discussion at this time; the other Synoptics do not record this particular “upper room” dispute, but they do contain a similar one occurring nearly a week earlier.
Apparently, the closer the time approached for Jesus to set up His kingdom in Jerusalem (or so the apostles thought), the more this issue surfaced.
The Lord simply had to deal with it again.]
To set them straight on this matter, Christ contrasts power (lordship, authority) in the Gentile world with greatness in His kingdom.
Whereas Gentile leaders rule over slaves (v. 25), the “greatest” in Jesus’ eyes is the one who serves (v. 26).
[Is He arguing here for servant-leadership? In other words, can the greatest in the kingdom only be a person in a leadership role who exemplifies a servant’s heart?
Did He not just portray this type of servanthood in the foot-washing episode? (See John 13:12-17).]
He identifies Himself “as the One who serves” (v. 27).
Now regarding His kingdom, Christ, the Heir, announces that “those who have continued with Me in My trials” will all hold prominent positions of honor in it when it comes (vv. 28-29).
[He honors the apostles’ faithfulness with appropriate rewards.
Note that the verb “bestow” is present tense; however, it may have a future aspect to it.]
Instead of trials—pressures from the religious authorities and Satan himself—Jesus will experience joyous fellowship at “His table” and glorious honor as the Judge.
He grants the apostles the privilege of celebrating with Him in His kingdom and participating in kingdom responsibilities (v. 30).
Satan, The Accuser
Isaiah 53 Transgressors
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Jesus Prays for Peter
The other Synoptics indicate that Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s denial of Him takes place on the Mount of Olives (Mt. 26:30; Mk. 14:26).
Therefore, Christ and the eleven leave the upper room after they finish the Lord’s Supper.
[Luke 22:39, however, indicates that they first discuss the Christian view of greatness.
In addition, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial and then gives directions to the apostles regarding supplies before leaving for the Mount.]
Immediately after the Lord announces the apostles’ rewards for service, a bitter and jealous Satan goes on the offensive, attacking Peter’s pride (v. 31).
[The devil’s desire to “sift you as wheat” indicates that he understood that Peter had much “chaff” in his character.
Satan knew from Scripture that the sheep would scatter from the Shepherd out of fear (cf. Zech. 13:7); he was going to do his best to make that separation permanent.]
Exercising His intercessory ministry, Jesus prays for His choice as leader of the apostolic band, promising him enabling grace not only to repent after his denials but also to encourage the others afterwards to persevere in the faith (v. 32).
When Peter hears the Lord link his name with failure, he quickly vows his continued steadfastness even unto death (v. 33).
Christ gently lets Simon in on the “dirty, little secret” that somehow had eluded the apostle’s self-knowledge: that he is cowardly and weak in his sinful flesh (v. 34).
[The other Synoptics report Peter as uttering similar sentiments; the apostle’s single response in Luke may be his first out of three.]
As a prelude to His betrayal and arrest, Jesus further prepares His apostles for their dangerous future by telling them to begin taking certain items with them—items they did not need on an earlier mission trip: a money bag, a knapsack, and a sword (vv. 35-36; cf. Matt. 10: 9-10).
Because of their association with Jesus, other Jews will not show hospitality to them in the near future; furthermore, the apostles will have occasion to defend themselves against enemies.
The Jews will count them “transgressors,” thus fulfilling the Scripture that predicted the Messiah would associate Himself with such (v. 37; cf. Is. 53:12).
The apostles find two swords, perhaps thinking in their self-delusion that Jesus would take care of the rest, i.e., destroy the Romans and set up His kingdom (v. 38).
Prayer in the Garden
The Passion in the Garden
Having left the upper room, Jesus and the eleven travel across the Brook Kidron (see John 18:1) to the Mount of Olives where the Garden of Gethsemane is located (v. 39).
There Christ separates Himself from them a short distance in order to pray, and tells them to do likewise (vv. 40-41).
[Matthew 26:37 indicates that Jesus took the inner circle—Peter, James, John—with Him; they sat a shorter distance from Him than did the other eight.]
So distressed is Jesus as He prays that He asks the Father to prevent His partaking of the “cup,” i.e., the punishment of the cross.
Yet He does not stop there, but proceeds to qualify that request with a proviso—that His petition would coincide with the Father’s will, not His own (v. 42).
[Verses 43-44, according to NU, are not in the original text.
Nevertheless, for Jesus to sweat so profusely at such an excruciatingly painful moment does not exemplify a unique human experience.
Still, the text records that His sweat fell as if it consisted of blood droplets; it does not say that actual blood dripped from His pores.]
After this great ordeal had passed, the Lord returns to His apostles, whom He finds “sleeping from sorrow,” and mildly rebukes them (vv. 45-46).
[If the temptation that Jesus did not want His men to fall into is something other than falling asleep, what is it?]
[The other Synoptics record that Jesus repeated His prayer three times; Luke mentions only one of those incidents.]
Betrayed with a Kiss
Betrayal and Bravado
At that moment, Judas arrives with a “multitude” and draws near to greet Jesus with a friendship kiss (v. 47).
[The text does not immediately identify the constituents of this rabble; however, from the other Synoptics (and later on in this context), we learn that it consists of the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders.]
Christ, of course, does not reciprocate, knowing that Judas’s kiss is not one of friendship, but one of betrayal; His searching question probes deeply into the traitor’s motivation (v. 48).
While ten of Jesus’ men seek His direction as to whether or not they should proceed with the next logical move—that is, strike with the sword (v. 49)—Peter decides for himself and lops off Malchus’ right ear (vv. 49-50; cf. John 18:10).
[Did they find or buy more swords before they left the upper room?
Jesus said that two swords were enough.
It seems as though the Lord told them to bring swords along only that Scripture would find fulfillment; He never intended them to use the weapons.]
Christ quickly resolves the conflict by first commanding His men to allow His arrest and then by healing the servant’s ear (v. 51).
Turning toward His primary adversaries—the Jewish leadership—Jesus questions their methods, means, and timing of arresting Him.
In the middle of the night in an obscure garden, they bring with them a multitude of soldiers, armed to the teeth, as if Jesus and His disciples were dangerous anarchists (v. 52).
[Did the Jews really believe that they could have defeated the Lord, even with an army, if He had decided to set up His kingdom at that time?]
He even hints at their cowardice in not trying to seize Him during the day while He preached in the temple, because they feared the other multitude who gladly received His word (v. 53a).
Christ’s concluding statement discloses His acceptance of God’s will; He willingly submitted to the clutches of the “power of darkness” (v. 53b).
[The other Synoptics also report that Jesus was arrested so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled (Mt. 26:56a; Mk. 14:49), and that the disciples might flee from the multitude (Mt. 25:56b; Mk. 14:50—details that Luke omits.]
Peter's Denial of Jesus
Jesus’ arrest led to a late night visit to Caiaphas’ residence; Luke does not include that other Jewish leaders also attended the meeting (v. 54a; cf. Mt. 26:57; Mk. 14:53).
At this time, Luke focuses on the episode delineating Peter’s three denials (vv. 54b-62).
[The other Synoptics insert the event of the first kangaroo court (see Mt. 26:59-68; Mk. 14:55-65) before returning to recount Peter’s plight.]
The details of the three denials—the identity of those who confronted Peter, their words, Peter’s words, and the time element—mesh well among the three gospels; the only real divergence occurs when Mark reports that two roosters crow during this period (14:68, 72).
Again, one evangelist may include additional words in his account that another one omits, but that difference amounts to authorial style and choice, not to a discrepancy.
Compare the accounts below:
Compare/Contrast the Synoptic Gospel Accounts
A servant girl—This man was also with Him.
A servant girl—You also were with Jesus of Nazareth.
A servant girl—You also were with Jesus of Galilee.
Peter—Woman, I do not know Him.
Peter—I neither know nor understand what you are saying.
Peter—I do not know what you are saying.
Another—You also are of them.
The same servant girl—This is one of them.
Another girl—This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.
Peter—Man, I am not.
Peter denied it again (no actual words recorded).
Peter—I do not know the Man!
An hour later, another—Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.
A little later, those who stood by—Surely you are one of them: for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it.
A little later, those who stood by—Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.
Peter—Man, I do not know what you are saying!
Peter—I do not know this Man of whom you speak!
Peter—I do not know the Man!
Jesus Before the Jewish Leaders
The First Trial
Now Luke returns to Jesus’ ordeal, but records that the Jews beat Him before bringing Him before the leadership (vv. 63-65).
Some of the same treatment seems to have taken place after His testimony later that morning (see Mt. 26:67-68; Mk. 14:65).
[Apparently, Christ spent some time in prison before the chief priests and scribes led Him into their council and officially interrogated Him (cf. Is. 53:8]
Luke does not include the Jews’ gathering of second-hand testimony to buttress their case; instead, he focuses on the crux of the trial—learning first-hand who Jesus thinks He is; hence, the leadership’s question (v. 67a).
The Lord’s response—unique to Luke—fingers them as rabid ideologues: people who refuse to yield to the truth (even if Truth incarnate should stand before them), and who decline to give forthright answers to His ultimate questions (even if He should ask for their views) [vv. 67-68].
Luke does not insert afterwards, as do the other writers, the high priest’s demand that Jesus tell him under oath if He is “the Christ, the Son of God/Blessed,” (cf. Mt. 26:63; Mk. 14:61).
Instead, he joins to the preceding discussion the Lord’s assertion that God will honor Him, the Son of Man, as King in the future (v. 69; cf. Dan. 7:13-14; Heb. 1:3; 8:1).
Clearly, however, Jesus is now responding to the high priest’s charge.
Having heard Him mention “the right hand of the power of God,” the rest of the leadership now chimes together, seeking further clarification (v. 70a).
When Jesus fully and unequivocally asserts His deity, the Pharisees conclude that this self-incrimination (in their mind) closes the case (v. 71).
© 2013 glynch1