THE GOSPEL OF LUKE

THE PASSION NARRATIVE
Luke 19:11-24:53

The Lord's Supper
Luke 22:1-38

. INTRODUCTION

The Gospels have appropriately been called "Passion Narratives with extended introductions." Whereas at first glance that does not seem all that apparent, when you look at this more closely you will seen that the Gospel writers spend an inordinate amount of time on the last week of Jesusí life as compared to the other 33 years. For example, if Luke had spent as much time on the 33 years of Jesusí life as He does on the last three days of Jesus' life, his Gospel would contain over 20,000 chapters. The reason the Gospel writers spend so much time on the last week of Jesusí ministry is the importance of that final week, especially of the last 3 days which encompassed the crucifixion and resurrection. Whereas every event which precedes this week is important, each event takes on even greater significance in light of this last week. Everything in Jesusí life and ministry up to this point is leading up to this final week.

Another difference exists between the way the Gospel writers record the last week of Jesus' life and the way they record the remainder of Jesus' life. The gospel writers don't necessarily tell the events in Jesus' life in chronological order. Luke seems to group together stories which have common themes to them, as do Matthew and Mark. Yet when we come to the last 3 days of Jesus' life, all four Gospels hold to the same chronological order. Why? Because one event necessarily leads to the next. You cannot place Jesus' trial in front of Pilate before His trial in front of the Jewish religious leaders. This simply would not make sense.

Although the Gospel writers will all hold to the same chronological sequence in the last 3 days of Jesus' life, they don't necessarily all record all the events in the last 3 days. Each will contribute heavily to our understanding of those last three days, Luke notwithstanding.


THE PREPARATION FOR THE PASSOVER (22:1-13)

Luke informs us that the time for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, that is, the Feast of Passover, was near. Originally, these were considered 2 separate feasts. The Feast of Passover commemorated the day when the Israelites smeared the blood of a lamb on their doorposts so that the angel of death would pass over them while they were living in Egypt. The Feast of Unleavened Bread commemorated the time when the Israelites left Egypt. Moses told them to be ready to leave at a moment's notice. As a result, they did not have time to let their bread rise; they were to bake it without any leaven so that it would take less time to bake it.

Two groups attending the Passover are hostile towards Jesus. First, the Jewish religious leaders are hostile because He poses a threat to their wealth, power, and status. They would love to kill Jesus; however, there is a large contingency of the pilgrims from Galilee attending the feast who will riot if anything bad happens to Jesus. They decide to wait until the feast is over before they do anything (Matt. 26:5).

The second unit hostile to Jesus is Judas Iscariot. Judas Iscariot has had his fill of Jesus. Judas most likely more than any of the disciples realized where they were headed. All the other disciples had dreams of glory. The disciples believed that Jesus would ascend to Jerusalem, destroy the Romans, and establish His kingdom with them right at His side. Judas knew better though. The anointing of Jesus' feet by Mary confirmed it for him. All Judas' hopes and dreams have been smashed to pieces; he is going to get out of Jesus all he can--30 pieces of silver. (Notice that true to Luke's Gospel, money destroyed Judas.)

Judas approaches the Jewish religious leaders. He informs them that he is going to be able to deliver him to them in such a manner that none of the crowds would know about it until it was too late. Being able to deliver Jesus without any threat of a riot was the essence of Judas' betrayal.

When the Thursday of Passover arrives, Jesus sends Peter and John into the city to make arrangements for the Passover meal. He does not tell them where the meal is to be eaten. Rather, He tells Peter and John that when they enter the city, they will see a man carrying a jug of water. They are to follow him because his house is to be the site of their meal together. (Why would the man carrying a jug of water be a sign or even stand out for the 2 disciples? Because women and not men would carry jugs of water; it was not a man's job. This man carrying water would stick out like a sore thumb.)

What is going on here? Jesus knows what Judas is up to. Jesus does not want to have the Passover meal prevented or even interrupted; therefore, Jesus gives Peter and John "directions" to the place in such a manner that Judas will not know where they are going to eat the meal. Something important is about to happen at the meal, and Jesus does not want it short-circuited.


THE PASSOVER (22:14-38)

Observing the Passover (22:14-23)

As the evening of the Passover approaches, Jesus and His disciples according to Jewish law enter the city of Jerusalem to eat the meal. (Not only did you have to eat the meal in the city, you had to spend the entire night in the city if you were going to observe Passover strictly.) Jesus and His disciples enter the upper room which has been prepared for the Passover and then partake of the Passover meal.

At some point during the meal Jesus informs the disciples that He has greatly desired to partake of the Passover meal with them. He then informs them that they will not share again in such a meal until the kingdom of God has come, that is, until it has been consummated with His second coming. The Jews believed that whenever the Messiah would establish the new age, that the new age would be so full of joy, that the only way to describe the new age would be to compare it to a huge banquet or feast. That great day of feasting and banqueting will come; as we eat the Lord's Supper, we are to look forward to a great meal we shall share with Jesus upon His return.

There is a lot of speculation about which of the 4 cups of wine used during the Passover meal did Jesus actually single out for the institution of the Lord's Supper. Luke is writing for a Gentile audience who apparently would not have cared; therefore, Luke does not specify which one. Jesus though does take a cup of wine, thanks God for the wine, and exhorts the disciples to drink it. Next Jesus takes the unleavened bread used during the Passover meal, thanks God for it, breaks it, and distributes it among the disciples, saying: "This is My body which is given for you." Again He takes the cup and informs them that the wine represents the blood of the new covenant.

Why does Jesus take the Passover Meal and re-work it so that it now becomes the Lord's Supper? To show that He has fulfilled the Passover. Just like the early Israelites under Moses took the shed blood of the lamb and spread it over their doorposts so that they would escape death, so now God's people cover themselves with the blood of Christ so that they too will escape eternal death and enjoy eternal life instead. The Passover and exodus under Moses actually pointed forward to a greater Passover and exodus under Jesus. The unleavened bread used in the Lord's Supper informs us that just as the Israelites were not to use leaven so that they could be ready to share in God's deliverance under Moses, so we too are to put away any and everything which prevents us from partaking in God's greater deliverance under Jesus, especially the leaven of sin.

By calling the cup "the new covenant in My blood," Jesus is supplying us with another meaning of the Passover. 1400 years earlier God had established a covenant with Moses, a type of last will and testament. In that covenant the people of Israel became the people of God. They were going to enjoy the benefits of being His chosen people. The covenant dictated that as God's chosen people, the Jews were to keep the Law and the perform the numerous sacrifices outlined by Moses. As good as that covenant was, it never made people perfect (Heb. 10:1). That covenant was to be temporary until the greater covenant was established, the one Jesus instituted. In order to make the last will and testament valid, a death was necessary. In Moses' case it was the death of calves and bulls; in Jesus' case it was the death of God Himself on the cross. Those deaths triggered the 2 covenants (last wills).

This new covenant is so superior to the covenant instituted through Moses. Whereas we become God's people like the Jews did, we now actually become God's sons and daughters because the Spirit of His Son has come to dwell in us permanently. Whereas the first covenant tried to deal with sin, the second covenant through Jesus gives us partial freedom from sin now and permanent freedom from sin once Christ returns. Finally, whereas the Jews inherited the land of Israel, we are going to inherit everything Jesus has inherited (Rom. 8:17). In fact as Jesus will show, we will actually reign with Him. As good as that first covenant was, it pales in comparison to this second covenant.

Why observe the Lord's Supper on a continual basis? Jesus wants us to remember that the cross is the defining event for Christianity. Whatever else Christianity is about, it is about the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

At some point during the supper Jesus informs the disciples that one of them is going to betray Him. Jesus tells the disciples that it was inevitable that He was going to be killed. When unredeemed man comes into contact with God, he kills God. The Jew was not the only one that killed Jesus. On the cross above Jesus' head was a placard listing Jesus' crime: "We reject Him as King of the Jews." This was written in Latin, Hebrew, and Greek, with Latin being the language of government, Hebrew being the language of religion, and Greek the language of the common man. All segments in society rose up against Jesus when He came--government, religion, and common man. Even though Jesus' death was inevitable, Judas nevertheless was still responsible for his role in Jesus' death. Judas allowed Satan to use him (22:3), and Satan did not reject Judas.


Implications of the Lord's Supper (22:24-38)

Called to Service (22:24-30)

At this point during the supper the disciples began to argue among themselves which one was going to be greater in the kingdom Jesus was just about to establish. (They are not arguing about who would be greatest, that is, some would be great, others greater, and one greatest; rather they were thinking that one of them would be above the rest, while the rest would all be equally below that one person.) They have totally misunderstood what Jesus has just said during the Last Supper. Jesus is about to die, and they are acting like petulant four-year olds, saying, "I'm going to be greater," "No, I'm going to be greater," etc. How Jesus' heart must have been grieved. It is probably at this point that Jesus humbles Himself by washing the disciples' feet (John 13:1-20).

Jesus explains to them the meaning of about what is about to happen to Him on the cross. As the king in God's kingdom He is not going to be like the rulers of the Gentiles who love to lord themselves over others. The Gentile rulers loved to call themselves "Benefactors," that is, their attitude was that they were doing their subjects a favor by lording over them. (This was a favorite title used among the Greek kings over Egypt. One these so-called "Benefactors" was so evil that the people changed a few words in his name so that he was now called "Evil-factor.") These Gentile rulers loved to recline at tables and have people wait on them.

Jesus said this was not to be the case in His kingdom. In His kingdom it was not the one who was served who was greater; it was the one who served. Why? Because He the greatest in God's kingdom was the greatest servant of all. The cross tomorrow was going to be the greatest proof that Jesus came to serve His people, even to the point of dying for them. If He the King served, who are we not to serve?

Every now and then I hear from people that I should not do such activities, such as, cooking, serving in line, etc. Hopefully they mean that I have other activities which I alone can do which I need to give more attention to. Hopefully they are not meaning that such activities are beneath me as the Minister of Education at First Baptist, Corsicana. If they are meaning the second meaning, then they are probably feeling that cooking, waiting tables, etc., are beneath their dignity. Since it was not beneath the dignity of Jesus, then it is not beneath ours too.

Notice that serving others means even serving people it might gall me to serve. The last person John wanted to serve was Peter; Peter, Judas; Judas, James, etc. Yet these are the very persons Jesus is encouraging them to serve. In the same way we are not to get all excited about serving the president or leader of some major institution or governmental body. We are to serve the people we come into contact on a daily basis.

Jesus informs the disciples though that they have proved to be servants. They have proved faithful to Him during all the trials that they have experienced. As a result, they are going to reign with Him (a promise that Jesus extends to all believers who serve Him--Rev. 3:21). Great glory and honor await the followers of Jesus. That glory and honor though come from a life of humble service, not service used to promote myself in the eyes of others, but genuine humble service for the welfare of the ones I am serving.


Trials for the Disciples (22:31-38)

The coming of the cross means that the situation has changed for the disciples. Up until this point in time the Jewish religious leaders and Satan have focused on Jesus. Now they are going to turn their attention to the disciples themselves. Destroying Jesus alone was not enough for the demonic world. Jesus' movement also had to be stamped out. Stamping out Jesus' movement meant either the physical or spiritual destruction of the disciples. If Satan did not kill Peter, at least Satan could destroy Peter spiritually to such an extent that he would never be able to promote Jesus again. (Why destroy Peter? He was the leader of the apostles. Destroy the leader, and you destroy the movement.)

Jesus informs Peter that Satan has asked God for permission to sift Peter. This request has the idea of wheat being thrown up into the air, so that the wind would separate the chaff from the wheat. Satan wishes to toss Peter up in the air and hopefully find out that Peter is mere chaff, blown away by the winds of tribulation.

Jesus though informs Peter that He has already prayed for him. In other words, Peter in the long run is going to be OK. Although Peter will fail Jesus miserably this very night, Peter will be restored. Moreover, after Peter has been restored, he must then see to it that his fellow disciples are restored. (Although Peter's reputation suffers terribly because of the events of that night, the truth is that ALL the disciples with the exception of John desert Jesus.) Peter cannot believe that he would ever be disloyal to Jesus. Peter claims that he would be loyal to Jesus even if it meant imprisonment or even death. Jesus though informs Peter that before the cock crows, Peter would deny Jesus 3 times.

Jesus then turns to the entire apostolic band and informs them that because of His upcoming crucifixion the situation has changed for all of them. The focus has been on Him; now it will be on them. Whereas in the past they could count on the hospitality of the Jews, that day was over. In the past they did not need money when they preached from town to town; the inhabitants would provide for their very needs. Now the hour of darkness was upon them. Satan and his forces have been set loose. It would be so dangerous for the disciples that they might as well carry swords.

The disciples misunderstand to some degree what Jesus is saying. He is not telling them to carry swords; rather He is telling them that the situation has radically changed. The only times the disciples don't take Jesus literally is whenever He is speaking about His death on the cross. Other than that, they take Him literally. So they pick up 2 swords and ask Jesus if 2 will be enough. Probably out of a sense of "Whatever!", Jesus replies, "It is enough."