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The Plan to Kill the Lord Jesus
It has now become Thursday of the last week of the Lord’s life on earth before His death. The events of the previous chapter took place on Tuesday. Of Wednesday we hear nothing. Thursday is the eve of the Passover that will take place the next day, Friday. According to the Jewish calendar, Friday starts on Thursday evening at six o’clock.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread is here identified with the Passover, although it follows the Passover. The Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasts seven days, is a picture of the whole life of the believer. Leaven is a picture of sin, which may no longer have a place in the life of the believer. It may be rightly called a ‘feast’ to be allowed to live like this.
The foundation is the Passover, the sacrifice on the basis of which the people were delivered from Egypt. However, the Passover was not only a testimony to the deliverance from Egypt, but also an example of the great sacrifice that was yet to come. It points ahead to it. This sacrifice will soon be made in the Person of the Lamb of God, for the Passover “was approaching”.
During the Passover there may not be any leaven in the houses (Exodus 12:8; Exodus 12:15). The Passover is celebrated on the fourteenth day of the month of Nisan (Leviticus 23:5). The Feast of Unleavened Breads begins a day later. Because leaven is already not allowed to be present during the Passover, the two feasts are very much interwoven by the Jews.
While the people are preparing for the feast, the religious leaders are making plans to kill Christ. Here we see how the wickedness of man and the counsel of God coincide. God uses man’s wickedness to fulfill His plans without taking anything away from man’s responsibility. Satan sees his chance and takes possession of Judas, of whom it is mentioned that he is also called “Iscariot”. This is to avoid confusion with the other Judas.
The most tragic mention is that he “belonged to the number of the twelve”. He accompanied the Lord Jesus for three years and now makes himself available as an instrument of satan to commit the greatest crime ever. The contrast is incomprehensible. Judas is the proof that a man can stand in the closest relationship to Christ and yet reveal himself as His adversary because he has no new life.
He goes away to present himself to the leaders and to discuss with them how he might betray Him to them. Judas, who has seen so many acts of the Lord’s grace, has himself remained cold for it. Deliberately he wants to hand over the greatest Benefit ever given to people into the hands of murderers to earn some money.
When he comes to the leaders and offers himself, they are filled with devilish joy. They all agree that they like to use the services of Judas and they want to pay him for that. Here, two parties find each other, each acting out of their own interest. Judas knows their murderousness and they know his greed. The Christ of God is the stakes. He brings out the worst in every person who does not surrender to Him in His light.
Judas agrees with the amount they offer him. With the money in his pocket (Matthew 26:15) he begins a search for an opportunity to hand over the Lord to them. This must be done without stirring up a storm, because care must be taken to ensure that there is no popular uprising. After all, the people are still very much on this Benefactor’s side.
Preparations to Eat the Passover
Then the day of the Unleavened Bread begins, when the Passover had to be sacrificed. Time goes on and the events that have been anticipated and foretold in previous centuries are about to be fulfilled. The shadow images fade away and that to which they refer, comes into the light.
That the Gospel according to Luke is the introduction to Paul’s letters finds here a new proof. Paul connects the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover spiritually. He speaks of “Christ our Passover” and of “celebrate the feast … with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7-Ruth :). Further on in the first letter to the Corinthians he speaks about the Lord’s Supper as represented here by Luke (Luke 22:19-Proverbs :; 1 Corinthians 11:23-Ezekiel :).
If we understand the Passover, we will also understand the Lord’s Supper. The Passover is about the judgment of the firstborn, the pride and strength of Egypt, but also the pride and strength of the Israelites. The firstborns could only be spared if they were hiding behind the blood of the lamb. But that is not the only thing. Saving, not dying, is only negative. The sequel to Exodus 12 shows that God saves to take for Himself. The firstborns must be sanctified for Him. That is positive. The Passover is a feast of sanctification, a feast of dedication. The church is the “church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). We are all of and for Him. That is why the Passover is followed by the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
The Lord Jesus is not handed over to Judas or the religious leaders or the Roman government at the time they decided. He determines the time, the way, the place for the Passover and thus the time of His handed over into the hands of men. While He knows perfectly well the evil plans that His enemies make together with the traitor, He acts in perfect dependence on His Father. His Father’s plan states that He will eat the Passover together with His disciples. So that has to happen.
To prepare the Passover, the Lord sends two of His disciples, named by name, Peter and John, to prepare it for them. It is striking that only they write about the Lamb in their writings (1 Peter 1:19; John 1:29; John 1:36; Revelation 5:6). Peter and John ask where He wants them to prepare it. This is also the important question for every believer today when it comes to where he will celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord does not give an address, but does give directions. He wants them to look out for a man they will meet and who carries a pitcher of water. There are not many men with pitchers of water walking around. Water carriers are mostly women. So it will be a remarkable appearance. They must follow him and enter the house he enters.
For us, this is an important indication when it is about the question where believers will celebrate the Lord’s Supper. Discovering the place where the Lord wants to come together with His own is accompanied by spiritual exercises. This was also the case when God spoke to the Israelites about the place He had chosen for His Name to dwell there (Deuteronomy 12:5; cf. Song of Solomon 1:7-Ruth :; John 1:38-Matthew :).
The man with the pitcher of water on his head represents someone who in his life – of which the pitcher is a picture – applies the Word of God – of which the water is a picture – in its cleansing power (cf. Ephesians 5:26) and does the same with regard to the place where the Lord is. The Lord uses believers who are faithful to His Word to tell other believers who also want to listen to Him and be with Him about that place of coming together.
The man brings the water to the house. With that water, the Lord may have washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-Proverbs :). We must be aware that we have to submit to the cleansing power of the Word when we come together to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. The place where Christ gathers His own is a clean place.
When they entered, they had to ask the lord of the house on His behalf, the Master, for the guest room to eat the Passover. The word ‘guest room’ is the same word as in Luke 2 where it is translated as ‘inn’ (Luke 2:7). It only occurs once more in the New Testament, in Mark 14, where the Lord speaks of “My guest room” (Mark 14:14).
In the first guest room there was no place for the Lord (Luke 2:7). This is as it were the inn of the world where there is only room for people of the world, for people ‘from below’. The Lord also does not seek a dwelling place in the world. Opposite this inn He has His own ‘guest room’ where He is the Host and invites His own to be a guest with Him. There is room there for all true disciples, however weak and often unspiritual they may be.
The Lord foretells His disciples that the Lord of the house will be of direct service to them. He worked in the heart of that lord the willingness to do so, as He did in the heart of the owners of the colt He needed (Luke 19:31-Habakkuk :). He will show them a “large, furnished upper room“.
The accommodation where Christ invites His own is an “upper room”, an exalted room, a room above the level of the world, a room that is connected to heaven and not to the earth. There is a heavenly atmosphere. It is also a “large” room, there is room for many. And it is a “furnished” room, a place prepared by Him, no one needs to do anything about it as if something was missing.
Peter and John are on their way and it all goes as the Lord has told them. In accordance with His command, they prepare the Passover at the designated place. They didn’t look forward to a place along the way that seemed suitable to them, but they simply followed His command.
The Celebration of the Passover
The Lord reclined at the predetermined time. The apostles may recline with Him. He takes the initiative. He knows that everything now goes to the fulfillment of what is written about Him. In the law everything points to Him. He is the true Lamb. The prophets also pointed to Him as the suffering Servant of the LORD.
In His infinite and therefore incomprehensible and at the same time overwhelming love for us, He is addressing Himself at this moment to His apostles with an expression of His heart from which His deep desire for fellowship with them speaks. He expresses His earnest desires to eat with them “this Passover”.
It will be the last Passover, for during this Passover He shall be delivered, and He will suffer and die. During this Passover, the Passover will be fulfilled in His Person. That stands before Him. Before He will endure the suffering, He would like to share with His apostles something about the true meaning of the Passover for Him and for them. It is not about fulfilling a ritual, but about fulfilling God’s counsel with a view to the kingdom in the hearts of His own.
The Lord informs His apostles that He no longer attaches any significance to the Passover as a meal of remembrance. The celebration and remembrance of the liberation from Egypt on the basis of the lamb has lost its meaning through His rejection. If He will establish the kingdom of God, He will be the glorious center of that established kingdom. He will establish it after He has freed His people from their enemies by judging them, as He did in Egypt. In the kingdom of peace which will follow then, His people will honor Him with their sacrifices, and He will have fellowship with them therein, of which eating is the symbol. Now suffering awaits Him.
In another sense, the Passover is fulfilled in the kingdom of God as it now exists in the hearts of those who believe in Him (Romans 14:17). Through His surrender to the cross He can eat with us, which means to have fellowship with us (cf. Revelation 3:20).
The cup is also part of the Passover. He also gives it to them to share among themselves. The cup speaks of joy. It presents that joy to them. They may rejoice about the liberation once from Egypt. We may rejoice about the liberation from bondage from sin.
He Himself will no longer have any part in it on earth. Only when the kingdom of God is established He will rejoice with them about the foundation of that kingdom that He has yet to lay.
In another sense, the kingdom of God has already come, namely there where Christ is recognized in faith. All those born of God have entered into the kingdom of God (John 3:5) and with them the Lord rejoices about the consequences of His work. Every time we come together, we may experience it. Then we may express the joy in our hearts and share this joy with Him.
Institution of the Lord’s Supper
Then the Lord takes bread to give it a new meaning, namely that of His body. Before He gives it to His disciples, He thanks God for it. He thanks God for the surrender of His own body, which will soon be hung on the cross. He knows the true meaning of the bread. Yet He thanks God for it. It is a proof of His unconditional surrender to the will of God.
Then He breaks the bread and gives it as broken to His apostles. With this he institutes a new meal of remembrance. It is no longer the Passover as a reminder of the liberation from Egypt, but the Supper as the lasting testimony of His love. The Lord points out that this bread represents His body that is “given” for them.
The Lord’s Supper is presented by Luke in connection with everything that has been given to us, as members of the church, on the basis of the work of the Lord Jesus. We can think about that when we meet on the first day of the week to celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This is not about the “many”, as in the Gospel according to Matthew, but about “you”, who are the disciples as the ones who will form the church. It is about seeing what God has given us in this Man, for it is His body. It is not only a given body, but a body surrendered to death.
The Lord says to His disciples to think of Him when they celebrate the Supper. Doing it in “remembrance” of Him is not found in the Gospel according to Matthew and the Gospel according to Mark, but only here and in 1 Corinthians 11 (1 Corinthians 11:24-Lamentations :). We think of Him as the dead Christ, while we know Him as the living Christ.
He gives us as members of the church many reasons to think of Him. We may think of Him as the eternal Son Who wanted to become Man for us and we may think about His perfect life and His complete surrender at the cross. We can also see Him in heaven, crowned with glory and honor (Hebrews 2:9) and we may look forward to His coming. These are all reasons to admire and worship Him.
The cup also receives a new meaning. The Lord Jesus connects to the cup “the new covenant” based on His blood. With this He indicates that the old covenant has fallen short. The old covenant did not deliver the promised blessings because the people did not meet the conditions attached to it.
The new covenant does not depend on the faithfulness of man, but on the faithfulness of God and Christ. Christ takes upon Himself all the obligations of the new covenant. He has filled them all and He has shed the blood for it. The blood is “My blood”. It is poured out for His own, so that they are free from the punishment that the old covenant brought with it, to enjoy the blessings that the new covenant brings with it.
What Judas Will Do
Then the Lord speaks of the traitor. He does not belong to the new covenant. It griefs His heart that the traitor is so close to Him, that his hand is with Him on the table, but that there is no real connection between the traitor and Him.
The fact that Luke mentions this after the Passover does not mean that Judas participated in the Supper. The description in the Gospel according to John clearly shows that Judas left the upper room after he had accepted the morsel of the Passover from the hand of the Lord (John 13:30). Luke changes the order – as he often does – to describe the behavior of the different disciples after the institution of the Supper.
He starts with Judas. The Lord speaks of what this disciple will do, but without saying who it is. We see what His announcement does to the other disciples. He also shows that immediately after that serious announcement they start a dispute about who is the greatest (Luke 22:24).
He is aware that He as the Son of Man has to undergo everything that has been determined. At the same time He feels the pain that one of His disciples will play a horrible role in this. He can only speak the “woe” about that person. So close and yet so far away. The Lord speaks here of the counsel of God on the one hand, and of the responsibility of man on the other (cf. Acts 2:23).
The words about His surrender cause upheaval among the disciples. They wonder among themselves – not who it could be, but – “which one of them” it could be. They understand that there is a traitor among them, but they have no idea who that might be. This means that Judas never gave any reason to think that he could come to that terrible act. He has always behaved neatly and carried out all the assignments well. He was not under any suspicion. But what is hidden from the disciples’ eyes is completely visible to the Lord.
Who Is the Greatest
What the Lord has said about His surrender has a moment of attention. For a moment they are touched and talk about which of them was going to do this thing. But soon the conversation takes a turn and a dispute arises about what they consider to be a more important point that has yet to be settled. They have talked about it before (Luke 9:46). They did not manage to solve it and the item is still high on their agenda.
It indicates how obstinate the evil of self-levelling is. It has to be decided which of them could be the greatest. Still their thoughts circles around the kingdom to be founded. To their expectation this will be soon. They are sure that it is close by now. Only then the question of what position they will occupy in the kingdom becomes more urgent.
The Lord puts an end to their dispute by pointing to the kings of the Gentiles who rule over others. They often do this by distributing presents to keep people friendly. The people therefore call them ‘Benefactors’, and in this way, too, the kings and rulers keep their grip on the people. He says: ‘That’s how you are trying to rule over each other.” But that is not how it should be among believers. It should be the other way around. The greatest is only really great when he takes the place of the youngest.
It is the place that a Joseph and a David had among their brothers. That didn't give them an advantage, but contempt, to be of no importance. But where did they end? Both on the throne. This will also be the case for them if they take the place of the youngest, that is to say the place of a pupil, of someone who listens to another and receives education. And if they want to be a leader – literally ‘one who leads’ – let them serve. Serving is making oneself available to others, so that the other may benefit from it through their service.
The question of who is greater, the one who reclines or who serves, is not difficult to answer when it comes to assess relationships among the people of the world. Of course he who reclines is greater. He can let himself be served. He who serves only has to do as he is instructed. Among subjects of God’s kingdom it is the other way around.
The Lord Jesus is and sets the great example in this. He has voluntarily taken the place of serving. He is in their midst as the Servant and His disciples are those who recline. This picture of reclining and serving guests at a table typifies the Lord’s service. It shows that He cares for and nourishes others.
In everything He has ever asked of His disciples, He Himself has always been the perfect example. He not only says how to do it, He shows how to do it and not as a one-off example, but in His whole life. What He says that He is.
After the gentle exhortation to serve and not to want to be the greatest, the Lord has an enormous encouragement for His disputing disciples. This can only be said by someone who is truly the youngest. Such a person considers the other person high. We can only really serve if we hold our fellow believers in high esteem. The Lord gives an impressive testimony of those who have shown and will show so much weakness and failure. He tells them that they have always stood by Him in His trials. If we really know how the disciples are and how we as disciples are, such a statement can only be incomparable love.
He passes over the fact that they soon will all leave Him and that one of them will deny Him. He has called them into His service and He has helped them in their service and He has kept them all the time. And yet He explains the fact that they have always stood by Him in His trials as their perseverance!
He also has a huge reward for them. He has for them a kingdom, which means a task to rule and an area to rule over, just as His Father has given that to Him. Here the Lord Jesus places His disciples at the same level for the Father as He has. The pleasure that the Father has in giving them the kingdom (Luke 12:32) is the pleasure of the Son. The Father and the Son agree in this and the disciples are the object of it. The first, however, is not the reign, but the fellowship with Christ, which is expressed in the eating and drinking at His table.
What a great privilege that He calls us to do that. He has fulfilled the whole work, He deserves everything and in His great grace He lets us share in it, because we were allowed to believe in Him. How great He is!
From the fellowship with Him, His disciples may sit on thrones to judge the twelve tribes of Israel. The table is the symbol of personal family intimacy; the throne is the symbol of the public display of majesty.
There is a throne for everyone who has not sought a throne for himself here on earth, but has followed the Lord in His rejection. The disciples are given a task of reigning over Israel. Judging does not mean executing the verdict, because that has already happened when the time of reign for the disciples comes. The time of reign is preceded by the judgments we find in the book of Revelation. Judging here means governing with insight for the better, as a blessing.
Denial of Peter Foretold
It is not yet time to rule. The Lord Jesus has yet to be crucified and the disciples awaits a ministry. To be suitable for this they need to get to know their own heart. This is especially true for Peter, who occupies the most important place among the disciples. The Lord therefore addresses Himself especially to him, without forgetting the other disciples.
Satan points his arrows at all disciples. He gladly wants to sift them all like wheat. Sifting is the action of the farmer to separate the chaff from the grain after a harvest on the threshing floor. He is interested in the wheat because it provides food. The chaff is blown away, collected and burned. In the process of sifting in the life of the believer, the Lord is concerned that everything that is not food disappears from the life of the believer. Satan wants to destroy as many wheat as possible and let the chaff exist.
The Lord knows that His beloved disciple Peter is a special target of satan’s attacks. He addresses him with his old name Simon. He does this twice, to remind Peter emphatically who he is by nature. He does this as a warning not to let his old nature work, because satan responds to that.
He also says that he prayed especially for Peter. He knows His weak disciple, how he is more exposed than the others to the danger of a false trust in the flesh, in his own strength. This is also evident directly from his reaction to the Lord’s words. Because he is the object of grace on the Lord’s side, his fall will become the means for his strength. When he has learned the weakness of his flesh and the perfection of grace, he will be able to strengthen his brothers.
That the Lord’s prayer was heard for him is evident from his repentance and restoration. That he subsequently fulfilled the Lord’s commission is evident from his service in the book of Acts and especially from his two letters we have in the Bible. From what happened to Peter, we learn that we need to know our own heart in order to be able to do serve others.
Peter immediately defends himself when the Lord tells him of his weakness. No, then the Lord does not know him. He is willing to go along with his Lord to the extreme. It is a sincere manifestation of his ardent love for Christ, but without self-knowledge and in reality pride, for the Lord has pointed out to him his weakness. Then the Lord Jesus tells Peter that he will deny Him three times, soon and quickly after each other. It will happen before the crowing of the rooster, before the dawn of the morning, that is, in the night.
A New Situation – a Different Policy
The Lord’s care has always gone out to His disciples. He cares for a disciple who He knows will deny Him. He cared for them all when He sent them out. When He sent them out, He did so with the instruction to provide nothing and to go in confidence upon Him (Luke 9:3; Luke 10:4). Now He asks them if they have suffered any lack in recent times. Without hesitation, it sounds wholeheartedly that they have lacked “nothing”.
The Lord then announces a change in that policy. He will no longer be with them. This requires a different attitude from His disciples. Now they have to take the money belt, if they have one, to be able to take care for themselves. They do not have to rely on the support of others or that others will take care of them.
His rejection will make the coldness of the climate in which they live increasingly noticeable. When they travel, they have to take that into account. Then let them take enough supplies with them. They will also need a sword to defend themselves. That will be even more important than a coat against the nightly cold.
Essentially, however, it is not about literal provisions, but about spiritual provisions. This is evident from the Lord’s reaction to the offering of two swords (Luke 22:38). It is about providing spiritual food and arming themselves for the spiritual battle. The coat speaks of the protection by the Lord when He was with them, what will no longer be in that way, when He is no longer with them.
This does not mean that He will no longer take care of them or protect them, but the situation will be completely different. We too must take into account that there may be changes in our circumstances. Do we obey the Lord’s warnings and provide ourselves with what is spiritually necessary? The Lord imposes that responsibility on us. All these precautions are the result of His rejection.
He will be numbered with transgressors. This means that this perfectly obedient and dependent Man will be considered as someone who does not accept authority. The religious leaders in Israel will sue Him as a rebel and blasphemer and condemn Him. Thus will be fulfilled what is written (Isaiah 53:12).
What will happen to Him has consequences for His disciples. They belong to Him and will share in His destiny. The disciples take the Lord’s words literally and offer Him two swords. They show by this that they have not understood the spirit of the Lord’s words. If He had meant it literally, what would two swords mean? As weapons to defend themselves they would have been totally inadequate.
The Lord let it be and in His wisdom and love gives no further explanation. With the words “it is enough” He leaves the matter for what it is and doesn’t go into it any further.
The Lord leaves the guest room where He and His disciples celebrated the Passover and instituted the Supper. He also taught them there about their feelings towards each other and the change of their position in the world. As usual, He proceeds for the Mount of Olives. He doesn’t let the threatening arrest and all that will follow, stop him from going to that place. He does not go there because of the special situation that presents itself, but because He has always been used to doing so. It is not enough for us to pray only when there is a great need, but we must always pray. It is His custom to go to that place of prayer.
The disciples also go with Him. They do not stay behind in the guest room, but go outside too and follow Him to the Mount of Olives. He wants to teach them to pray. He also tells them to pray, otherwise they will not be able to stand when the temptation comes.
We can only be saved by watching and praying. Through prayer we come into the presence of God and only there do we get an eye for the evil that would otherwise lure us into the trap. When we are in God’s presence, we will experience the grace to remain standing, for we are not in ourselves able to withstand satan. We need the strength and grace of the Lord. Without the power of His strength we only dishonor our Master. When we rely on Him, the weakest believer is more than victor. Only in that way the devil can be resisted and he will flee from us.
Luke does not speak of the three disciples who the Lord takes further into the garden. What He has said is an important word for all disciples. He does not ask to pray with Him either, but as the perfect Man He is their example. He tells them to prays. Then He withdraws from them about a stone’s throw, as far as human strength reaches, not further. It emphasizes His truly being Man. There He kneels down and prays. He speaks to His Father about what awaits Him. How He will endure the coming events determines the whole history of the world and all God’s plans. He is perfectly aware of this.
Of the three evangelists who describe the Lord’s struggle of prayer in Gethsemane, Luke gives the shortest description. While the Lord Jesus prays, the cup of suffering is presented to Him. He knows that it is the cup full of God’s wrath over sin. He knows that this cup means that He will be made sin. His holy soul can only think of this in horror and therefore He expresses the wish that this cup will be removed from Him. At the same time, His complete surrender to the Father’s will appears when He says that not His will, but that of the Father may be done. He is willing to drink that cup.
The burden presented to him demands so much of his physical powers that an angel comes from heaven to strengthen him. This does not mean to encourage Him, but to support Him physically. Never will an angel understand what it has been like for the Lord Jesus to spiritually enter into the suffering that is before Him here. Christ receives this support because He is the dependent Man on earth. We can also count on this support when we are in a tough struggle.
The struggle of His soul is getting heavier and heavier, and so He prays all the more fervently. That is the only way for us to stand in the greatest temptations and, finally, to overcome them. How fierce the struggle is, is shown by the fact that His sweat appears on His face as large drops of blood falling down on the ground.
It has been said that here in Gethsemane satan returns after he had departed from Him for a time after his earlier defeat in the wilderness (Luke 4:13). Satan would then return here to present to the Lord the cup of suffering, so that He might, if possible, be turned away from the path of obedience. If he could not bring the Lord Jesus away from the way of obedience by presenting him with all that was attractive, he would now try to bring the Lord away from his way of obedience by presenting to him the horrors of suffering.
The presentation of the suffering by satan could of course be no more and no different than the suffering that will be inflicted on him by people who are in the power of darkness. It is clear that satan does not present the cup of suffering to the Lord. How could satan suggest to him anything of the suffering that God will inflict on him when he will be made sin? That is, of course, impossible. It is precisely that suffering of which the Lord feels the full weight, and of which He asks with horror not to have to drink that cup.
Suppose that the Lord here would be afraid of the suffering that will be inflicted upon Him by men led by satan. If the prospect of that suffering gave Him sweat drops as blood, He would be less than the many martyrs who have died singing for His Name. That is impossible.
No, what causes His agony, is the full knowledge that He will be made sin, by which God will reveal Himself to Him as an Avenger. He Who has always been the Companion of God will meet God as an Adversary (Zechariah 13:7). He Who has always walked in fellowship with God will be forsaken by His God. That is what he opposes and that is why he seeks His God in prayer to go through everything in His spirit in fellowship with Him, so that when that time comes, he can accept everything out of His hand.
After the Lord has prayed, He rises from His knees and comes to His disciples whom He finds sleeping. Luke aptly mentions that they have fallen asleep from sorrow. Their sorrow is more the result of a certain feeling than a direct sympathy with the Lord. They love Him and are aware of the seriousness of what is about to happen, without being able to say what exactly is going to happen.
The Lord’s question “why are you sleeping?”, should awaken them, not only physically, but especially spiritually. He says they have to get up and pray. This means that they must be in a prayer position in view of the events to come, otherwise they will be tempted to abandon Him or defend Him in a wrong way. They have not taken to heart His words which He has spoken to them with such care. It must be a warning example to us.
The Lord Is Captured
As the Lord prepares His disciples for what is to come, a crowd arrives. Someone is preceding the crowd to show the way. It is Judas. He is separate from the crowd. His crime is also much greater than that of the crowd. It is emphasized that he is “one of the twelve”. That’s what makes the whole betrayal so terrible. He knows where the Lord can be captured because he is familiar with His habits. For all He is present here as usual (Luke 22:39).
Judas approaches the Lord Jesus to kiss Him. His hypocrisy and betrayal reach their climax here. His horrible kiss of betrayal is proverbial for falsity hidden in an expression of love. It has touched the Lord deeply that Judas betrays Him, the Son of Man, with a kiss. He could have prevented it, but allows it. The Son of Man undergoes every conceivable humiliation. The first humiliation was to be kissed by one of His twelve disciples, a kiss intended to put Him in the hands of His enemies. This expression of love is abhorrently abused to identify Him, Who is love, as a criminal.
The Lord is surrounded by His disciples. In their love for Him they want to defend Him. They ask Him whether they will strike it with the sword. They misunderstood His words about this. He did not gather them around Him to defend Him, but that they can learn from Him. Even before He has answered, one of them is so impulsive to strike with the sword. The only result is that he cuts off the right ear of the slave of the high priest. The doctor Luke has an eye for which ear it is.
One application is that in our zeal to defend the Word of God, we should not cut off ears. In a spiritual sense, it means that we should not make people reluctant to listen to God’s Word by applying the Word to them in a harsh way.
While everything around Him is in confusion and excitement, the Lord radiates rest. The fellowship with His Father in the garden of Gethsemane was followed by rest in His appearance to His environment full of enmity. In grace, He undoes the damage caused by Peter in his recklessness. He restores the slave’s ear and makes it healthy. A healing process is not necessary. The violence had to be left to the crowd with swords and clubs. Christ continues to show mercy, even if He is surrounded by a crowd that’s trying to kill Him.
After His blessing to one of His enemies, He addresses the leaders of the crowd who have come to Him. They did not come with a need for a sick, but He has given healing. Nor have they come to hear Him, but He has a word for them. They have to listen to it first. He wants to show them their folly and injustice. Perhaps there is also someone in the crowd who is addressed in his conscience. Why did they go out as if He were a robber? Is He such a danger to society? No, He is not, but He is a danger to their position and in that sense He is a robber for them. They feel He is robbing them of their position among the people. Therefore He must be eliminated.
The Lord makes it clear that not they, but He governs the events. They didn’t lay a hand on Him before, while He was with them daily in the temple. That was not because they didn’t want it, but because they couldn’t do it. That they can now stretch out their hands to Him is because they have the power of God to do so. It is now their hour. They may do what they want because God’s time has come for the fulfillment of His plans. At the same time it is clear that they are completely in the power of darkness. How else could they come to capture Him as a robber, He, Who did only good to them?
The Denial by Peter
Then they arrest the Lord and lead Him out of the garden. Their goal is the house of the high priest. There lives the man who must maintain the connection between God and His people. This man is the great instrument of satan to radically establish separation between God and His people.
Peter follows at a distance the crowd with his Lord in their midst. He makes use of the darkness to follow unobtrusively. He loves the Lord and so He follows. He is afraid of the people and therefore he follows at a distance. If we shudder for people, it is because we have not been with God.
The enemies of the Lord who captured Him have delivered their Arrestee, but they must remain available. It has become cold. That is why they kindle a fire. The cold outside also indicates the temperature of their cold hearts. Peter takes his place in their midst and makes himself one with the mockers (Psalms 1:1). After following the Lord at a distance, a participation in warming himself to the fire of the Lord’s enemies can’t fail. Whoever distances himself from the Lord automatically moves in the direction of the world. Peter is not an enemy of the Lord, but at this moment he is an enemy of His cross (Philippians 3:18).
The fire not only gives warmth, but also light. It is not a sharp light and Peter thinks he is relatively safe. Then he is recognized by a servant-girl who looks intently at him. She discovers in him someone who was also “with Him” and says that out loud to the others. Peter is shocked by the discovery. A servant-girl frightens the apostle. Instead of confessing the Lord, he reacts to the woman with outright denial to know the Lord. Later in his letter he will write about always being ready to give an account (1 Peter 3:15). He does so after he has learned the humbling lesson he is learning here.
Peter is not ready for this giving an account because he did not pray in view of the temptation in which he finds himself now. This first wrong step leads to following steps that are worse and lead further away from God. Shortly after that another person sees him and makes a remark, this time to Peter personally, that he is one “of them too”. The woman said that he was with the Lord, this one says that he belongs to the disciples of the Lord. After his denial belonging to the Lord, he now firmly denies to belong to the disciples of the Lord.
After denying the Lord the second time, an hour passes. For an hour, Peter had already been among the Lord’s enemies, with a denial twice. His conscience cannot be quiet. Yet he remains where he is, and he warms himself with the Lord’s enemies to the fire they have made.
Then comes the third confrontation. He is recognized again. This time he betrays his origins through his dialect. Peter will not only have warmed up, but also talked along. He can only have participated in their vain conversations. He is unable to testify of his Lord, by his false position and his double denial. On this third discovery, Peter once again denies that he knows the Lord Jesus. This time he pretends not to understand the other. He says as much as: ‘What are you actually talking about? You tell me something I’ve never heard of.’
After this far-reaching denial, even while he is still speaking, the rooster crows, as the Lord has said. Just as He directs people’s hearts to give Him what He needs, so He directs the animal He needs. At this unusual time he lets the rooster crow to remind His failing disciple of His word.
A crowing rooster is the symbol of awakening. The Lord makes the rooster crow to awaken Peter’s conscience. But there is not only an awakened conscience. There is also the Lord. Without Him, an awakened conscience ends in despair and suicide, as with Judas. To true disciples He shows His face. He never fails. Just as He did not previously fail in His faithfulness to warn, so He does not hide His face from Peter after he has denied Him.
Amid all the mockery and abuse, He turns around and looks at Peter. Suffering does not occupy him so much that he forgets Peter. When He looks at Peter, Peter remembers the word the Lord said about his denial. The memory of this leads Peter to repentance. He goes out and weeps bitterly. The tears are tears of true repentance about who he himself is and what he has come to. Also now God still leads people to repentance and conversion through His Word. God’s Word is a mirror that shows man who he is in his sinfulness.
Mocked and Beaten
While the Lord has brought Peter to conversion and Peter weeps bitter tears of repentance outside the circle of mockery, He is mocked and beaten by those who are holding Him in custody. Evil man’s hands attack Him Who is the eternal and holy God. Their tongues spit words that cover Him with ridicule.
Luke does not recount the interrogation by Caiaphas. He describes the mockery and mistreatment after it. They are having fun with Him. They want to see what is true of His prophetic gifts. They cover the face of Him Who came to give sight to the blind to mock Him. They beat him and challenge him to say who hit Him.
The Lord endures all this mockery and mistreatment without saying a word. He is like a sheep that is dumb to his shearers (Isaiah 53:7). Luke further summarizes everything under “many other things against Him, blaspheming” they say to Him. It has all touched the Lord deeply. His creatures, whom He has showered with goodness, stand up against Him, their Creator, and humiliate Him to the depths of His soul. It is only the beginning of mockery and abuse.
Before the Council
After the servants have spent the night with Him, the leaders of the people come together and bring Him before their Council. The Council asks Him whether He is the Christ. He answers that question. It is a question about His Person. But He answers in a way that He holds them responsible for their actions and appeals to their conscience. He says they will not believe it if He says He is. It makes no sense to answer their question in the affirmative.
Even a possible question to them as to whether they believe this is of no use, according to the Lord. He knows that they will not answer Him, as has been shown on a previous occasion (Luke 20:7). It is also certain that they will not let Him go, in any case.
Then the Lord continues with a statement about the place He will take as the Son of Man at the right hand of the power of God. This goes beyond the fact that He is the Christ, the Messiah for His people. If they have rejected Him as the Messiah, He will take the place of glory as the Son of Man, but through death.
They draw the right conclusion from His words, which is confirmed by the Lord. They conclude their hearing by stating that they no longer need any further testimony. The confession of the truth which they have heard from His mouth is for them the ground of His condemnation.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Luke 22". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany