In Chapter 22, we come to what the church calls Maundy Thursday or “Commandment” Thursday, the day before the crucifixion.
It is coming up on the time for the Passover when Luke tells us that the religious leaders of Israel were looking for a way to get rid of Jesus. It was at this time that “Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot.” (v 3, NASB) Judas went to the Chief Priest and discussed how he could betray Jesus. This made them very excited, so they gave Judas money to find a way. Judas then set out to find an opportunity to do it when no one was around.
This stands as our introduction to the chapter. We have heard several times throughout the book how the leaders were out to get rid of Jesus. Here we see that their plan is set into action, as Judas has given them their opportunity. Now while it is not clear what day this takes place, it does seem clear that it was at some point between Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and the events that follow.
Luke next tells us that on the day of unleavened bread, Jesus sent Peter and John to prepare things for them to celebrate the Passover meal. He gives them details on how to find the place and how to go about procuring it.
That evening when it was time for the meal, they reclined around the table. As they did, Jesus said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” (Vv 15 – 16) Passover was the holiest time in the Jewish year. And Jesus, who lived by and kept the whole law, knew it would be his last opportunity to share it with his friends.
Jesus took the bread and broke it into pieces explaining that the broken bread represented the way his body would be broken. After the meal, he also takes the cup of wine and tells his disciples that it represents the new covenant that was found in this blood. The blood that would be shed for him.
Before finishing the meal, however, Jesus tips his hand that he knows what is to come. He says, “the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.” (v 21) Jesus acknowledges that he will go along with the plan but speaks a warning to the person who would betray him. This created some turmoil among the disciples as they did what anyone of us would do, they tried to figure out who would betray him.
This then led to a second dispute among the disciple or who was the greatest among them. Jesus explains to them that they are not to seek after power and glory. These are the types of things that leaders in the world are concerned with. Rather Jesus tells them, “who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves?” (v 27) Beyond this, Jesus then tells them, “[he is] among as one who serves.” (v 27) What is more, Jesus points out that they have stood by him and will receive their reward, “eat[ing] and drink[ing] at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (v 30)
Jesus then turns to Peter personally, telling him that he will be tested and, in the end, will deny knowing Jesus three times. Turning back to the disciples as a whole, he tells them that he is sending them out again, but this time they need to take provisions with them. It is interesting that among the provisions he tells them to take along this time is a sword. In fact, he tells them, “if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” (v 36) People like to portray Jesus as the ultimate pacifist, peaceful, and meek in all of his interactions. Of course, the encounter with those he drove out of the temple shows that this is not always the case. I think that rather, what is being portrayed is the realization the world Jesus is sending them into is dangerous. He is making it clear that there will be times that they will need to defend themselves. He is certainly not telling them to go out looking for a fight but is telling them to be ready to defend themselves when the need arises.
After the meal, they went out to the Mt. of Olives, as Luke had previously established to be their normal practice. After telling them to “pray that [they would] not fall into temptation.” (v 40) Jesus moved a little further away from them, knelt down, and prayed. He prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (v 42) We forget that Jesus, while fully God, was fully human and, as such, did not want to go through with it if there was any way out. And who could blame him? None of us would choose to do so either. But Jesus showed strength beyond us by submitting to the Father’s will.
Luke tells us that an angel then appeared who strengthened him. I think this is a clear parallel to the end of the 40 days in the wilderness. Jesus had been tempted then, and in the end, angels came and ministered to him. Here too, Jesus is facing a great temptation, one to walk away from his mission, and an angel comes to strengthen him. If there is any question in our mind to what level Jesus is struggling with this, Luke tells him that “his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (v 44)
After he finished praying, Jesus returned to find the disciples sleeping. He wakes them and again entreats them to “pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (v 46)
While they were still speaking, Judas arrived at their location with a crowd. He approached Jesus and gave him a kiss, indicating to the authorities who they were to arrest. Jesus, knowing what was happening, looked at Judas and said, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (v 48) A short altercation occurs as the ear of the High Priest servant is cut off. Jesus stops it and heals his ear. He then questions why they come as a crowd at night to this place away from the city to arrest him. He reminds them what Luke has gone out of his way to drive home over and over, that he has not been hiding. He had been in the temple teaching every day and yet they did nothing.
As they take Jesus away, Peter follows at a distance. Peter finds himself with a small group of people outside the high priest house, where they have taken Jesus. This is where it happens. Peter is confronted three times as being a follower of Jesus to which Jesus adamantly denies knowing him. It is then that Peter remembers the words of Jesus, “and he went outside and wept bitterly.” (v 62)
Meanwhile, Jesus is mocked by the guards who are holding him. Finally, at daybreak, Jesus is questioned by the religious leaders, including the Chief Priest. They ask him if he is the Messiah. Jesus first responds by saying, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer. But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” (Vv 67 – 69)
To this, “they all asked, ‘Are you then the Son of God?’ He replied, ‘You say that I am.'” (v 70). This was enough for them. In their minds, he had committed blasphemy. And so, “they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.” (v 71)
My takeaways from this passage are, 1) Jesus’ body is broken for us, and in his blood, he establishes a new covenant. 2) The one who is the greatest is the one who serves others. 3) The world is a dangerous place for the followers of Christ, and we are to be ready for the times when we will need to defend ourselves. 4) If Jesus wanted to find a way other than the Father’s plan, we should not be surprised when we want to. 5) God can give us the strength to see us through times of doubt and fear. And 6) even the most committed of followers can succumb to fear.