Click here to join the effort!
Luke 22:1 Feast of unleavened bread.—Which lasted for a week. Called the Passover.—An explanation for Gentile readers. Strictly speaking, it was the 15th Nisan, and not the whole week, that was the Passover, “the great day of the feast.”
Luke 22:2. Chief priests, etc.—The Pharisees now drop out of the foreground. Those now most active against Christ were the Sadducean party. Sought.—This corresponds to the calling of the council and the deliberation spoken of in John 11:47. For they feared.—Before this clause such words as “but not on the feast day” are to be understood.
Luke 22:3. Then entered Satan.—I.e., put it into the heart of Judas to betray Christ. The phrase is used in John 13:27, with greater emphasis than here, to describe the final abandonment of Judas to his wicked purpose.
Luke 22:4. Captains.—I.e., of the Temple (see Luke 22:52). These were commanders of the body of Levites who kept guard in the Temple. They were, strictly speaking, civil and not military officers. One of them had the special title “captain of the Temple” (cf. Acts 5:26; Acts 4:1). Betray Him.—Rather “deliver Him” (R.V.).
Luke 22:5. Covenanted.—I.e., agreed to pay. The actual payment was evidently made at a later meeting, when the definite plan of betrayal was fixed upon. Money.—St. Luke does not state the amount, perhaps because the thirty pieces of silver foretold in prophecy would not have significance for a Gentile reader.
Luke 22:6. In the absence of the multitude.—Or perhaps “without tumult” (R.V. margin).
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 22:1-6
The Unholy Covenant.—So great was the enmity of the chief priests and scribes against Jesus that they had definitely resolved to put Him to death. The only question was how they could best accomplish their design (Luke 22:2). The feast of the Passover was at hand, when the city would be crowded by pilgrims from all parts of the land, and from foreign countries; and the Jewish authorities were afraid that a serious riot might be caused if they took any open and precipitate step in carrying out their project. The inhabitants of Jerusalem were largely under their influence; but Christ still enjoyed a considerable measure of popularity among His Galilæan countrymen, many of whom would be present in the Holy City on the occasion of the feast. Their present intention evidently was to take no action during the feast, but to wait until the bands of pilgrims had returned to their homes. The unexpected offer, on the part of Judas, to deliver Him into their hands, however, determined them to act at once and to arrest Jesus before the feast. The sight of the chief priests and scribes entering into an unholy compact with the traitor apostle for the destruction of our blessed Lord suggests some solemn lessons.
I. It brings to light the fact that there is no alternative between obedience to Christ and enmity against Him.—It is impossible to ignore Him. The chief priests felt that power was slipping away from them, and that the movement with which Jesus was associated was out of their control. They must either yield to Him or take instant action against Him. In like manner Judas, who had cast off his allegiance as a disciple, went straightway to the enemies of his Lord and planned with them how he might betray Him unto them. This fact that there is no alternative between being a disciple and an enemy was clearly stated by Christ Himself in the word “He that is not with Me is against Me.” And what was the case when the Saviour was upon earth, still holds good: all who are brought into connection with Christ are forced, by an inexorable law, to take up either the one attitude towards Him or the other. He claims our worship as God incarnate, and He lays down rules of conduct for the guidance of all men, and if we refuse to accept His claims, or to obey His precepts, we instantly become hostile to Him.
II. It also shows that it is out of our power to fix the limit to which we will go, when once we have entered on a sinful course.—Both the chief priests and scribes and the disloyal disciple were led, by their alienation from Christ, to the perpetration of the most shameful deeds: actions from which they would once have recoiled with horror now seem necessary, and do not shock them. They are deliberately planning the murder of an innocent person under the guise of zeal for religion. All checks of conscience are powerless to control them. The priests forget their sacred office, the claims of justice, and the covenant between God and Israel of which the feast now at hand was so solemn a memorial, and think of nothing but the gratification of their personal hatred of Jesus. Judas forgets all his Master’s love and compassion, His wonderful deeds and teaching, His holy and innocent life; he forgets all that was due from him as a disciple, a friend, and an apostle, to that Master with whom He had lived so long in intimate communion, and in whose character and conduct even the closest scrutiny could discover no flaw or stain. Without a shudder he sees the unhallowed joy upon the faces of the enemies of Christ as he discloses to them the hatred against Him that fills His breast also, and he arranges with them the price at which his treachery is to be rewarded. Probably neither of the parties would have believed it possible for them to descend to such a depth of infamy, when first they began to be conscious of alienation from Jesus. A sinful course is a course downhill; it may be in our choice to enter upon it or not, but when we have wilfully entered upon it, it is not in our power to check ourselves and to fix the point at which we shall stop.
III. The historian lays stress upon the special guilt of apostasy from Christ.—While both chief priests and scribes were guilty of grave sin in planning the death of Jesus, the traitor apostle was guilty of a worse offence than theirs. They had never been Christ’s disciples; their enmity had been open and intense from a very early period in His career. The peculiar infamy of Judas is indicated by St. Luke in the reminder (Luke 22:3) that Judas had been of the number of the twelve, and in the statement that Satan entered into Him, as an explanation of his shameful conduct. He does not speak of Satan as entering into the chief priests and scribes. Some palliation of the guilt of the latter might be found in their ignorance of the Saviour, and in the false conceptions they had formed of Him. The knowledge Judas had of Christ only intensified the heinousness of his sin in betraying Him. A very solemn lesson is here contained for all who are professed disciples of Christ. Our responsibilities are increased by our relations with Him. The sin of those who wilfully depart from Him is necessarily greater than that of those who never acknowledged Him as their Lord and Master.
IV. The history before us is an illustration of there being an over-ruling Providence.—God makes even the wrath of men to serve Him. The priests had decided to take no present action, but to wait till the feast was past. But it was part of the Divine purpose that the death of Christ should occur at the time of the feast—that then He, who is our Passover, should be sacrificed. And hence the very treachery of Judas was made to serve a higher end. Without any violation of human free-will the purposes of God were carried into effect, and those who were simply bent upon gratifying their own selfish and evil feelings were unconsciously made to assist in accomplishing a plan predetermined by God. God’s power cannot be resisted; if we are not fellow-workers with Him consciously and deliberately, He will yet be glorified by controlling and directing all our actions in accordance with His own will.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 22:1-6
Luke 22:1. “Feast of unleavened bread.”—The rulers of the people were unwilling to put Christ to death at this season, as they dreaded an uproar being caused among the people. Yet in the providence of God their counsels were overruled. Had Christ been put to death at any other time, there would not have been that coincidence between the offering of the typical lamb, sacrificed year after year for nearly fifteen centuries, and the sacrifice of the true Passover, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
Luke 22:2. “Sought how they might kill Him.”—On more than one occasion before they had endeavoured to take Him, but He had escaped from them, for He would not then be taken (John 10:39). But at the very time when they were unwilling to take Him, He willed to be taken: so, against their will, they fulfilled the types and prophecies in killing Him who is the true Paschal Lamb.
Luke 22:3. “Then entered Satan.”—At first Satan came to make the heart of Judas his own; now he enters, because it is his own.—Hall.
Luke 22:4. “Went his way.”—Unconscious of being under the control of the evil passion by which He had given Satan access to his heart.
Luke 22:5. “Were glad.”—The thing wished for, but scarcely expected, being now within reach.
Luke 22:6. “Sought opportunity.”—Doubtless he was baffled at first by the entire and unexpected seclusion which Jesus observed on the Wednesday and Thursday of that week.—Farrar.
Luke 22:7. The day of unleavened bread.—Strictly speaking, the first day of unleavened bread was the 15th Nisan (i.e., beginning from the evening of the 14th), when the paschal lamb was killed. But the day here spoken of was evidently the 14th, as the Passover was not yet slain. On this day it was usual, though not necessary, to abstain from leaven; and by including it the feast was sometimes reckoned as lasting eight days (Josephus, Ant., II. Luk. 15:1). If, then, we take the 14th day at its legal beginning (i.e., after sunset on the 13th), it is possible that our Lord and His apostles celebrated the Passover a day before the usual time. This would harmonise the narrative of the synoptical Gospels with that of St. John. The former speak most definitely of the Passover being celebrated by our Lord, and the latter as definitely of the Passover as still to be observed by the Jews. The whole question is an extremely difficult and perplexing one, but probably the above is the simplest solution of it. The passover.—I.e., the paschal lamb. Killed.—Rather, “sacrificed” (R.V.).
Luke 22:8. Peter and John.—“It was a solemn message, and for it were chosen the two chief apostles” (Alford).
Luke 22:10. A man.—The secrecy with which the place of celebration was pointed out was probably occasioned by a desire to prevent Judas being acquainted beforehand with it. It would seem that Christ Himself had, without His disciples’ knowledge, made arrangements, perhaps with one friendly to Him, for celebrating the feast in his house. Bearing a pitcher.—Probably the significance of this sign is to be explained by the fact that it was the custom for the head of a family to draw a pitcher of pure water for kneading the unleavened bread. It was a formal piece of ritual
Luke 22:11. Goodman.—I.e., as in Luke 12:39, the paterfamilias. Guest-chamber.—The same word which is translated “inn” (Luke 2:7).
Luke 22:14. The hour.—I.e., appointed for the paschal supper. Sat down.—I.e., reclined the custom of standing at the paschal feast having been long given up by the Jews. Twelve apostles.—Omit “twelve”; omitted in R.V. Probably the word is taken from Matthew 26:20; Mark 14:17.
Luke 22:15. With desire, etc.—A Hebraism for “I have earnestly desired.”
Luke 22:16. I will not any more, etc.—“He should hold no more social converse with them on earth up to the period when the work of redemption by His blood (that sacrifice of which the Passover was the type) should be accomplished, and the kingdom of God established” (Bloomfield).
Luke 22:17. And He took.—Rather “and He received a cup” (R.V.)—i.e., the first cup of the Passover-meal, of which Christ evidently drank. Gave thanks.—As was usual before partaking of this cup. The formula of thanksgiving was, “Blessed be Thou, O Lord our God, who hast created the fruit of the vine.” To this Christ evidently alludes in Luke 22:18.
Luke 22:19. Which is given for you.—This clause is not found in the parallel passages in St. Matthew and St. Mark. In some MSS. the phrase that corresponds to it in 1 Corinthians 11:24 is “which is broken for you.” In the R.V. this last is relegated to the margin, and the text is, “which is for you”—which seems a mutilated sentence. New Testament.—R.V. “new covenant.” The word means both a will and an agreement. In the new relation between God and man there is both an absolute element (will), and a conditional (covenant).
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 22:7-20
The Lord’s Supper.
I. The preparation.—Peculiar to this Gospel are the names of the disciples sent to make ready the Passover and the representation of the command as preceding the disciples’ question, “Where?” The selection of Peter and John indicates the confidential nature of the task, which comes out still more plainly in the singular directions given to them. How is the designation of the place which Christ gives to be understood? Was it supernatural knowledge, or was it the result of previous arrangement with the “goodman of the house”? Most probably the latter, for he was in so far a disciple that he recognised Jesus as the Master, and was glad to have Him in his house, and the chamber on the roof was ready “furnished” when they came. Why this mystery about the place? Because Judas was listening, too, for the answer to “Where?” thinking that it would give him the “opportunity” which he sought “to betray Him in the absence of the multitude.” Jesus takes precautions to delay the cross. He takes none to escape it, but rather sets Himself in these last days to bring it near. The variety in His action means no change in His mind, but both modes are equally the result of His self-forgetting love to us all.
II. The revelation of Christ’s heart (Luke 22:14-18).—He discloses His earnest desire for that last hour of calm before He went out to face the storm, and His vision of the future feast in the perfect kingdom. That desire touchingly shows His brotherhood in all our shrinking from parting with dear ones, and in our treasuring of the last, sweet, sad moments of being together. But the desire was not for Himself only. He wished to partake of that Passover, and then to transform it for ever, and to leave the new rite to His servants. We shall best conceive the course of events if we suppose that the earlier stages of the paschal ceremonial were duly attended to, and that the Lord’s Supper was instituted in connection with its later parts. There is no need to discuss the exact stage at which our Lord spoke and acted as recorded in Luke 22:15-17. It is sufficient to note that in them He gives what He does not taste, and that, in giving, His thoughts travel beyond all the sorrow and death to reunion and perfected festal joys. The prophetic aspect of the Lord’s Supper should never be left out of view. It is at once a feast of memory and of hope, and is also a symbol for the present, since it represents the conditions of spiritual life as being participation in the body and blood of Christ.
III. The actual institution of the Lord’s Supper (Luke 22:19-20).—Note its connection with the rite which it transforms. The Passover was the memorial of deliverance, the very centre of Jewish ritual. It was a family feast, and our Lord took the place of the head of the household. But this memorial of deliverance He transfigures—He calls upon Jew and Gentile to forget the venerable meaning of the rite, and remember rather His work for all men. He must have been clothed with Divine authority to abrogate a Divinely enjoined ceremony. The separation of the symbols of the body and blood plainly indicates that it is the death of Jesus, and that a violent one, which is being commemorated. Both parts of the symbol teach that all our hopes are rooted in the death of Jesus, and that the only true life of our spirits comes from participation in His death, and thereby in His life. Jesus declares, by this rite, that through His death a new “covenant” comes into force as between God and man, in which all the anticipations of prophets are more than realised, and sins are remembered no more, and the knowledge of God becomes the blessing of all, and a close relationship of mutual possession is established between God and us, and His laws are written on loving hearts and softened wills. St. Luke alone preserves for us the command to “do this,” which at once establishes the rite as meant to be perpetual, and defines the new nature of it. It is a memorial: “in order to My remembrance.” Jesus knew that we should be in constant danger of forgetting Him, and therefore, in this one case, He enlists sense on the side of faith, and trusts to these homely memorials the recalling to our treacherous memories of His dying love. He wished to live in our hearts, and that for the satisfaction of His own love and for the deepening of ours. The Lord’s Supper is a standing evidence of Christ’s own estimate of where the centre of His work lies. We are to remember His death. Surely no view of the significance and purpose of the cross but that which sees in it a propitiation for the world’s sins accounts for this rite. A Christianity which strikes the atoning death of Jesus out of its theology is sorely embarrassed to find a worthy meaning for His dying command, “This do in remembrance of Me.”—Maclaren.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 22:7-20
Luke 22:7-38. Outline of The Narrative.—
1. Preparations for the Last Supper (Luke 22:7-13).
2. The Last Supper itself (Luke 22:14-23).
3. The conversation following it (Luke 22:24-38).
Luke 22:7. “When the Passover must be killed.”—The example of Christ in observing the outward ordinances of the Jewish religion should suggest to us the duty of a like scrupulousness in keeping those of our religion.
Luke 22:8. “Sent Peter and John.”—This errand was
(1) an exercise in faith and obedience; and
(2) the result of it was calculated to encourage them to believe in His hidden greatness, in spite of His humiliation.
Luke 22:9-10.—The mystery with which Christ surrounded His procedure on this occasion:
1. By concealing the information of the place from Judas, it was a measure of precaution for Himself.
2. It impressed upon the minds of His disciples the fact of His absolute foreknowledge of all events.
Luke 22:10-12.—A Sign Given to The Disciples:
1. To impress them with the dignity and solemnity of this Passover celebration.
2. To convince them of His own Divine foreknowledge and almighty power—in predicting what was to happen and in making provision for celebrating the feast.
Luke 22:10. The Man Bearing a Pitcher.
I. The Passover was observed in the midst of ordinary life and its familiar surroundings.—This was a specially solemn and significant occasion. And yet, peculiarly holy and full of world-wide, time-long meaning as it was, it took place among the common details of family life. It was not held in a court of the Temple, but in the upper room of an unknown citizen. It was not ushered in by pomp and ceremony and portent, but by a humble servant carrying a pitcher of water for household purposes. Our Passover—the Lord’s Supper—ought not to be dissociated from our ordinary life, and made an unearthly, unnatural experience. Too much superstitious feeling still clings to the ordinance. Many are afraid to partake of it. They practically disobey Christ’s loving command.
II. The Lord’s Supper is, after all, but a household service, a family meal, linked most closely with all the familiar things of our common life.—Bread and wine are common things. The Communion Service is a part of the common worship of the sanctuary. Only here the symbols appeal to the eye, and to the touch and taste. The Communion Table is only the upper chamber of the familiar Church. This is no high mystic service, no exclusive channel of grace. There is no sacramentarianism about it.
III. Let the significant lesson of the man carrying the pitcher of water, pointing the way to the upper room, teach us that so every circumstance of our ordinary life, however homely, should have reference to and prepare for the Holy Supper as often as we are called upon to observe it.—We should so live that no special preparation need be made for our sitting down at the Lord’s Table—that wherever we are, and however engaged, we may always be in a suitable frame of mind to enjoy the Holy Communion. Let our whole life, religious and secular, be of one piece, and so our daily carrying of the pitcher of water for household purposes, the daily business of our life, will lead to and prepare for the perpetual communion feast of heaven.—Macmillan.
Luke 22:11. “The goodman of the house.”—As there was among His friends a secret enemy, so was there among His enemies a secret friend.—Braune.
Luke 22:12. “Upper room.”—The usual place of resort for large gatherings in a Jewish house; probably the very room which also witnessed the appearance of the risen Christ to the twelve, and the descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost.—Farrar.
The Best to be Offered to Christ.—The man who is to lend the room knows Jesus, and is, in some measure, a disciple. He had, apparently, already been told by some one that such a room would be required. But the “upper room” was not the “guest chamber” which the Master asked for. It was a quieter place, not on the ground floor, but upstairs. Christ asked merely for the lower room, the common guest-chamber, but was supplied with a better reserved for special purposes and occasions. When Christ makes any demand on us, let as give Him even more and better than He asks for.
I. It was an upper room.—A private room above the hall or guest-chamber. The “best” room in the house. He could have privacy there with His disciples. He wants it all, and all for Himself. Do we offer to Christ the best we have?
II. It was a furnished room.—It was supplied with couches and table, with cups and vessels. Are our hearts furnished and ready with what Christ loves—prayers, hymns, thanksgivings, holy thoughts, good deeds, kind words? There He can rest and abide.
III. It was a large room.—Of ample accommodation. A party of thirteen needed more room than a tiny chamber. Are we niggardly to Christ? Do we put Him in the smallest room? Have we place in our hearts for His disciples? He will come to bless. Give Him room to work.—Plummer.
Luke 22:13. “Found as He had said.”—The directions had been given with great circumstantiality—the entrance of the city, a man, meeting them, carrying a pitcher of water, entering a house. Had any one of these particulars been found wanting, the prophecy would have proved untrue, and the disciples would have failed in their errand.
Luke 22:14 to Luke 23:1. The words of Jesus introductory to the Supper (Luke 22:14-18).
2. The Supper itself, with the institution of the new rite (Luke 22:19-20).
3. The announcement of the treachery of one of the disciples.
Luke 22:14. “The twelve apostles with Him.”—The presence of Judas at this Last Supper in distinctly asserted here, as well as in Luke 22:21. The fact that Christ, who was acquainted with his secret villainy, did not exclude him is very significant. It implies that a man who makes profession of religion, and in whose outward life there is nothing scandalous, cannot reasonably be denied the external privileges of religion. The endeavour to secure, by rigid scrutiny and long probation, that none but the regenerate are in the visible Church finds little to countenance it in the New Testament. It is calculated to discourage the timid and self-distrustful, and as a matter of fact it does not keep out hypocrites.
The First Word at The Supper.—
I. An utterance of human tenderness.—A consecration of all that is purest and loftiest in the brotherhood of men. Christ craves to eat with His brother men. He anticipates the responsive love of those whom He has called to Himself—“With you.” This is beautifully, unselfishly human. The heart of God is human, and longs to find itself welcomed, understood, and responded to.
II. An utterance full of the purpose and travail of the Redeemer.—There is an element in the longing of Christ above and beyond the feeling of the Israelite towards the national festival. It is the last Passover of the true Israel of God. The time of the Re-formation has arrived. The kingdom is coming. The complete ingathering of the redeemed is in view. And, till then, he takes farewell of all earthly rite and ordinance.—Lang.
Luke 22:15-16. “With desire,” etc.
I. For the sake of His disciples to whom, on this occasion of farewell, He was to reveal the intensity of His affection for them.
II. For His own sake, because immediately after this Passover He was to enter into His glory.
Luke 22:15. “I have desired.”—Very vehement desire is on no other occasion attributed to our Lord, either by Himself or by others. So great was this occasion, when, before He left His disciples, He had to give to them the new covenant of His Body and Blood.
“Before I suffer.”—This is the only instance in the Gospels in which the word “suffer” is used in its absolute sense, as in the creed—“He suffered under Pontius Pilate.”
Reasons why Christ Desired so Earnestly to Eat this Last Passover.
I. The Passover had now reached its end, and found its full meaning.
II. He desired it for the support of His own soul in the approaching struggle.—“Before I suffer.”
III. Because His friends needed special support. “To eat this Passover with you.”
IV. Because this Passover looked forward to all the future of His Church and people.—Ker.
Luke 22:16. “Until it be fulfilled.”—Jesus has in view a new banquet, which will be held after the consummation of all things. The Holy Supper is the bond of union between the Jewish Passover, which is now nearing its end, and the heavenly banquet yet to come, just as the salvation of the gospel, of which the Supper is the monument, forms the transition between the external deliverance of Israel and the salvation, at once spiritual and external, of the glorified Church.—Godet.
Luke 22:17-20. The Lord’s Supper is a Monument Sacred to the Memory of Jesus Christ.—
1. It refers to the death of Jesus.
2. Its significance does not depend upon the tragic circumstances of that death, or to its glorious character as an act of martyrdom.
3. Jesus represents His death as a sin-offering; His blood is shed for the remission of sins.
4. The sacrament of the Supper represents Christ, not merely as a Lamb, to be slain for a sin-offering, but as a Paschal Lamb, to be eaten for spiritual nourishment.—Bruce.
The Last Supper.—The Supper brings before us—
I. A Saviour.—Every part of it fixes our gaze, not on it, but on Him.
II. A human Saviour.—He sits, eats, drinks, speaks, has a body and blood, dies.
III. A suffering Saviour.—The bread is broken through and through. The wine is poured out. These acts symbolise and emphasise His sufferings. His death is the central fact.
IV. A willing Saviour.—He gave thanks, though He knew of all that was in “the cup”—Gethsemane, Calvary, and the grave. With more than willingness—with positive joy—He gave Himself for our salvation.
V. A sin-bearing Saviour.—This is Christ’s explanation of His own death. Let us be content with it. He came to “give His life a ransom for many.”—Wells.
Luke 22:17. “He took the cup.”—I.e., the Paschal cup, of which Christ now partook for the last time: in Luke 22:20 it is the eucharistic cup of which He did not partake.
Luke 22:18. “I will not drink.”—As Luke 22:16 means, “This is My last Passover,” so this means, “This is My last meal”—My last day. To the reference here to a future banquet, in which Christ Himself will participate, corresponds the saying of St. Paul, “until He come” (1 Corinthians 11:26).
Luke 22:19-20. The Lord’s Supper is
(1) a memorial of Christ;
(2) a standing evidence of the truth of Christianity;
(3) an act by which we profess our faith in His atoning sacrifice;
(4) an act of communion with God, and with our fellow-believers; and
(5) one which is intended to lead us to anticipate our Lord’s second coming.
Divine Object-Lessons.—“This bread.’ “This cup.”
I. “This bread.”—God does not separate sign and thing signified. Nor should we.
1. Take.—Christ is to be taken as we take the bread. He comes to us from without. He is offered to us.
2. Eat.—The bread is ready for eating. It is not grain, but food. Eating is a perfect illustration of appropriation, assimilation, incorporation. Eaten bread makes brain, heart, hand. Christ should thus create and nourish convictions, affections, activities.
3. Divide it.—Pass it round. It is a family meal. A reminder of brotherly love. It is free to all. There is enough for all.
II. “This cup.”—
1. It is filled. You are not offered an empty cup. He gave Himself to fill this cup with His life-blood for you.
2. It is offered to you. Not a far-off, vague uncertainty, like the Holy Grail. It is brought near, it touches your hand, your lip. Not to take it were an outrage.
3. It is to be partaken of. Untouched, it mocks your thirst as the cup of Tantalus did. It cheers you only when you taste its contents.
4. It is passed on. It is a social, not a solitary cup. The Divine order is from Christ through His disciples. A symbol of fraternity. Let all taste of it.—Wells.
Luke 22:19. “Gave thanks.”—
1. For the higher food symbolised by it.
2. As ordaining it to be a means of spiritual nourishment.
Old and New.—
I. An old feast.—The Passover feast.
II. A new feast.—Christ the Passover Lamb.
III. The new command.—Do this.—W. Taylor.
“In remembrance of Me.”—The word used is more emphatic than remembrance (which may be involuntary); it is a deliberate, inward act of the will, showing itself by external signs.
Luke 22:20. “This cup.”—The fact that Jesus took in His hands a portion of bread and a cup of wine forbids that literal identification of the bread and wine with His body and blood upon which both Roman Catholic and Lutherian divines have insisted. The distinction between the two was evident at the time. If such literal identification were intended, the words of institution would virtually mean, “This, in time to come, will be My body, My blood.” Is it possible that such an idea entered into the minds of those who were present at that Supper?
“New Testament.”—A new covenant between God and man, based upon the sacrifice of Christ.
I. The free gift of salvation on the part of God.
II. The acceptance of it, by faith, on the part of man.—This is symbolised by the cup which Jesus hands to His disciples, and which they may freely take and raise to their lips.
Luke 22:21. Him that betrayeth.—If the order of events be here given, it is clear that Judas partook of the last supper.
Luke 22:22. Determined.—Fixed by the counsel of God (cf. Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27-28; Revelation 13:8).
Luke 22:24. A strife among them.—Perhaps this is related out of its order, and is to be understood as having occurred at the beginning of the supper, when Christ practically rebuked it by washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:4 ff.), to which action He here alludes in Luke 22:27.
Luke 22:25. Gentiles.—A hint that the spirit animating the disciples was heathenish in its character. Benefactors.—A title taken by some kings—e.g., Ptolemy Euergetes (the word here used).
Luke 22:26. Greatest.—R.V. “the greater.”
Luke 22:28. Have continued.—Words specially appropriate to the present time, when the end of the time of trial was at hand. Temptations.—Or “trials” (cf. James 1:2-3).
Luke 22:30. Sit on thrones.—Perhaps the word “twelve” used in Matthew 19:28 is here purposely omitted.
Luke 22:31. Simon, Simon!—The repetition of the name gave combined solemnity and tenderness to the appeal. Desired.—R.V. “asked to have you,” or (margin) “obtained you by asking.” “Not content with Judas” (Bengel). Have you.—Plural—i.e., the apostles.
Luke 22:32. I.—Emphatic. Fail.—Implies total extinction. Strengthen.—The use of this word and the cognate substantive thrice by Peter in his two epistles (1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 1:12; 2 Peter 3:17), and in the first passage in a connection with the mention of Satan’s temptations, is remarkable.
Luke 22:33. I am ready.—Rather, “Lord, with thee I am ready,” etc. (R.V.). The “with thee” is emphatic.
Luke 22:34. Peter.—“The only occasion on which Jesus is recorded to have used to him the name He gave him. It is used to remind him of his strength as well as his weakness” (Farrar). Shall not crow.—St. Mark alone says “twice.”
Luke 22:35. When I sent you, etc.—The kindness and hospitality with which they were met on the former occasion are contrasted with the enmity to which they will now be exposed—against which they will need to guard.
Luke 22:36. A sword.—For self-defence. The strong figure makes the warning all the more memorable.
Luke 22:37. For the things, etc.—I.e., either the prophecies, one of which is quoted, are to be accomplished, or the things which befall me are approaching their termination. Probably the former is to be preferred.
Luke 22:38. It is enough.—Not “they are sufficient,” but “that will do.” It seems to be an ironical reply, indicating that in taking His words literally they had misunderstood Him, and simply dismissing the matter.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 22:21-38
Words of Warning and Counsel.—In the words which Christ spoke after the institution of the Supper, and before He went forth to meet suffering and death, we have another proof of His unselfish and disinterested spirit. His thoughts are not absorbed in His own concerns, but He has leisure to think of His disciples—to utter words of warning and reproof, and to give them counsels for the time when they will be deprived of His presence and be brought face to face with new conditions of life, for which their previous experience would not have prepared them.
I. He reveals the fact that one of the twelve is to betray Him (Luke 22:21-23).—Both sorrow and indignation appear in the exclamation, “But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth Me is with Me on the table.” As He sees the cup pass from hand to hand, His attention fastens upon Judas, and He cannot refrain from disclosing the fact that one of those who are now His guests will deliver Him into the hand of His enemies. For long He had kept silence concerning the true character of Judas: why does He now break that silence? Surely it was in mercy to the traitor, who might, even at the eleventh hour, have repented of his sin and found forgiveness. Death would still have come to Christ, but his guilt would have been averted. For Christ makes it quite clear that the traitor’s power over Him is but slight. He does not lament that He is doomed to death, for He knows that a Divine decree has prescribed death for Him. But He shudders at the fate of the man who deliberately and wilfully betrays Him. So skilfully had Judas disguised his real feelings towards Christ, that he averts from himself the suspicions of his fellow-apostles. Yet, after all, there was nothing very wonderful in his escaping observation, for those of innocent mind are much more inclined to suspect themselves of faults and shortcomings than to discern them in others.
II. He allays the strife for supremacy that had again risen among them (Luke 22:24-30).—The question as to who should be the greatest among them had more than once, before this, raised disputes and contests among the apostles. But it surprises us to read that on this solemn occasion it should again have been raised. Perhaps the origin of the present dispute was in rival claims being put forward to occupy the place of honour by the side of Jesus at the supper-table. Yet, though the disciples were so far out of sympathy with their Lord as to indulge in selfish strife for precedence or for supremacy at this moment, when the thought of His coming sufferings and death was pressing upon His mind, we discern no trace of anger or of disappointment in His words. He is neither irritated nor discouraged by the fact that, in spite of His example and teaching, His disciples still manifest a spirit of carnal ambition, for He knows that the leaven which is to change their characters has been deposited in their hearts, and He is fully convinced that in due time the transformation which He has sought to effect will be wrought.
1. He contrasts the ideal of greatness which prevails in ordinary human society with that in the new society of which He is the founder: there strength or ability gives precedence, here he is greatest who is most eager to be of service to his fellows. And He brings forward His own example as an illustration of the spirit that should prevail among them: He had abdicated the honour He might have insisted upon and had been among them as one that served.
2. He promises due satisfaction of the aspirations after glory and honour which it is lawful for even the humblest believer to cherish (Romans 2:7), though the way to have them realised is not by seeking lordship over others. He acknowledges the fidelity of the apostles to Himself in the time of His humiliation, and He assures them that they shall be associated with Him in His exaltation. As they are His guests at this paschal supper, so shall they sit down with Him at the heavenly banquet; as they have recognised Him as their King, and sought to extend His kingdom, so shall they be partakers of His royal authority.
III. The warning against self-confidence (Luke 22:31-34).—Christ discloses the fact that a serious trial is at hand for all the apostles—that he who was chiefest among them in faith and devotion would be exposed to greatest danger; but He also promises help in the time of need, and anticipates a victorious issue from the trial.
1. The imminent danger. The enemy of God and man was to assail the apostles and to attempt to overthrow their faith. His desire to have them, that he might sift them as wheat, was to be gratified; and, as in the case of Job, he was to be allowed to try every device for shaking their loyalty to their Master. He would choose an opportune time for his attempt, when they were separated from their Master, and left dependent upon their own strength and resources. Yet his power was but limited; it was by God’s permission that he was allowed to sift them; and though he might desire that the wheat might be found to be but chaff, he could do no more than shake the sieve.
2. The intervention of the Intercessor. Christ presents Himself as more than a match for the enemy. He has already foreseen the danger, and has already provided against it (“I have prayed”). One apostle is, though he is unconscious of it, in more danger of utter overthrow than any of his fellows; and for him the prayer of intercession has been offered with special fervency. The prayer is not that he may escape the trial, nor even that he may escape from it unscathed, but that his faith may not fail—that, however low he may fall, he may still not be utterly cast down.
3. A happy issue from the trial. Christ anticipates a change being wrought in the character of the apostle that would make him helpful to others in time to come. By his fall and restoration his rashness and self-confidence would be purged away, and the experience through which he had passed would make him sympathetic towards the weak, and able to understand the trials and difficulties that beset them. Those who have themselves fallen and been truly penitent are more likely to be helpful to their brethren than others, whose experience has been more happy and uneventful. The reply of Peter shows how unconscious he was of the danger in which he stood.
IV. A new order of things at hand, requiring special foresight and courage (Luke 22:35-38).—After preparing the disciples for the special trial which is to befall them in the course of a few hours, He forewarns them that in the days and years to come they will be confronted with a very different condition of matters from that which had been familiar to them in the time of His earthly ministry. They had enjoyed a measure of comfort in consequence of the popularity which He had won in many sections of Jewish society. But now the final conflict between Him and the authorities of the Jewish people would entail upon them also a measure of hardship and persecution.
1. He recalls the past. When He had sent them on their mission through the land, they had found friends everywhere; though they had gone out without money or provisions, they had suffered no lack of anything they needed.
2. He foretells the future. He is to suffer, and they are, to some extent, to suffer with Him. Instead of trusting to the generosity of others they will need to make provision for themselves; instead of friends they will find enemies, against whom they will need to use all legitimate means of self-defence. He would no longer be with them to protect them, and therefore they would need to use every precaution for guarding themselves from harm. The disciples, for the moment, took the precept literally, and pointed out that they were prepared; for they had two swords in their possession. The Lord does not correct the error, except by implication; two swords are enough for protecting the twelve, since literal swords are not to be used—since their most efficient weapon would be an all-suffering patience like His.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 22:21-38
Luke 22:21-23. Treachery Unveiled. Note—
I. That the traitor was an apostle.
II. That he would be successful in accomplishing his evil work.
III. That he would bring down upon himself a terrible doom.
Luke 22:21. “But, behold.”—Though I am about to shed My blood for you, and for all men.
“The hand.”—The hand which had received the bread and the cup—the hand which had pledged a covenant with the enemies of Christ.
Luke 22:22. “As it hath been determined.”—Cf. Psalms 41:9.
Luke 22:23. “Began to enquire.”—In their guilelessness they were
(1) distrustful of themselves, and
(2) unsuspicious of others.
Luke 22:23-24. “Which should do this thing!… which should be accounted the greatest.”—In the one question their humility, in the other their pride, are manifested. A strange contrast!
Luke 22:24-25. True Greatness.
I. What did the apostles, at this time in their lives, mean by “the greatest”?—The most influential, the most capable, the most considered. To some men greatness consists in physical prowess; to others, the possession of wealth; to others, the power of intelligence. In our times, we often mean by greatness a combination of all these forms of power—force, wealth, intelligence.
II. Our Lord’s ideal of greatness.—Very unlike that of the natural man. An entire contrast. Is it an unpractical ideal? No. For
(1) man’s true greatness must be the greatness of his true self;
(2) must be in harmony with the true law of his being.
3. Love is the gift, the expenditure of self—“God is love.” And He permits man to share in the most glorious of the Divine attributes, and his sharo in this attribute is the measure of his greatness. The apostles became really great men after Pentecost, simply because they followed their Master. Note, in conclusion
(1) the importance of a true ideal in life.
(2) The true ideal of life—service—is within the reach of all of us. We can all of us be really great if we will. The possibilities of service are manifold and inexhaustible. They lie around us on every side; they grow under our feet; they outnumber our capacities for meeting them. To be like our Lord, we must unlearn the world’s current ideas of greatness.—Liddon.
Luke 22:24. “Also a strife among them.”—One apostle was a traitor; the others though faithful, manifest a spirit of selfish rivalry which could not fail to grieve their Master.
“Should be accounted the greatest.”—Christ is neither irritated nor discouraged by the unseemly contest; He gently bears with the weakness of the disciples, and He lays down the principle which should animate them, in the full consciousness that, in due time, it would influence and govern their conduct.
Luke 22:25-30. To Strive for Pre-eminence was Unbecoming.
I. Because it manifested a spirit like that of the heathen (Luke 22:25-26).
II. Because it was inconsistent with the example of Christ Himself (Luke 22:27).
III. Because a high and princely recompense was reserved for all who had been faithful to Him.—A kingdom, a throne, and a place at His table, for each (28–30).
Luke 22:25. “Benefactors.”—Our Lord draws a marked contrast between princes who had assumed the title because of their beneficent rule, and Himself, who deserved it, not for exercising authority over His followers, but for “serving” them.
I. The worldly ideal of greatness.
II. The Divine ideal which Christ introduced and exemplified.
Luke 22:26. “As he doth that serve.”—Let all the strife of men be—who shall do best; who shall be least.—Whichcote.
Humility and Greatness.—
1. Humility a way to greatness.
2. Doing good the object to be kept in view, rather than being great.
Luke 22:27. “I am among you,” etc.—
1. A summary of His earthly life of humiliation.
2. A fit introduction to His passion.
3. The watchword, even now, of His heavenly life.
Luke 22:28-29. “Continued with Me:” Fidelity and Its Reward.
I. Christ’s grateful acknowledgment of the fidelity of His disciples.—They had done nobly. Their behaviour had been heroic. Persistence in spiritual life, throughout a curriculum of trial, is not easy.
II. Christ’s promise of a great reward.—Noble shall be your reward—such is the import of the pathetic utterance. I shall do this in turn to you who have persisted in fidelity to Me. Are not the apostles the true rulers of the world to-day?—Bruce.
Luke 22:28. “My temptations.”—
1. The privations of His lot.
2. The absence from His life of the elements of worldly greatness.
3. The calumnies and plots of His enemies.
4. His rejection by so large a section of the people, and by their rulers.
I. The loneliness of Christ’s life.
II. The temptations that had beset Him.
III. His gratitude for the fidelity of the apostles.
Christ’s Temptations.—We must not forget that the Saviour described the space between the wilderness temptation and the temptation at the end as “My temptations.” Not “My sorrows,” “My difficulties,” “My pains,” but “My temptations.” His virtue was not cloistered and untried. It was subjected to the hottest fires.
I. He was tempted all His life by bodily pain and privation.
II. He was constantly tempted to use His supernatural power.
III. He resisted the temptation to adopt a false Messiahship, accordant with the worldly spirit of Judaism, in favour of an inward kingdom to be developed by the power of the Divine Spirit. He would not please His disciples by taking a temporal kingship. How significant, then, it is, that when He describes His life it should come before His memory as “My temptations”!—Nicoll.
Luke 22:29-30. “I appoint unto you a kingdom.”—The words virtually signify: “I will give you a royal dignity, which will be associated with that which I myself have received, so that you, who are now My guests at this Paschal supper, will also sit down with Me at the heavenly banquet, and will, in My name, judge the tribes of Israel.”—Godet.
Luke 22:29. “I appoint.”—Lit. “I bequeath”; a word appropriate for one so near death.
Luke 22:30. “That ye may eat,” etc.—It is their association with Christ that is the source of the honour and power which the apostles enjoy.
I. As they are faithful to Christ in His temptations, and now sit beside Him at the last Passover, He promises them a place at the heavenly feast.
II. As they share in His humiliation, they are assured of participation in His exaltation—they occupy the highest places of honour and authority, even now, in His Church.
Luke 22:31-32. The Sifting of Peter.
I. Such a character obviously needed sifting.—He was full of self-confidence. Self-confidence is the enemy of true faith. The process is severe, is fiery; but if Peter is to be cured of his tendencies, he must suffer. However hard the trial, let us pray for sifting, if only we can thereby learn Peter’s lesson—if only we can be saved from the failure and regret which follow confidence in self.
II. But his fall is only half his story.—The restoration is the completion of the sifting process. Christ’s look was the turning point in Peter’s life. No words were needed to break his heart.
III. Christ’s further dealing completed his restoration.—Three open and shameful denials were followed by three searching questions, reminders of his threefold fall. But he bears the trying ordeal patiently. No more boastfulness. The old self-confidence is gone for ever. At last he is fit to lead, to counsel others. He has become “Rock.”
IV. Two lessons.—
1. Look how the Divine order runs through his life, and makes its unity impressive.
2. Peter did not lose strength when he surrendered self-confidence. He became stronger than ever, but not in himself. His confidence is now in his Master.—Eyton.
The Prayer and the Counter-Prayer.—The setting and framework give significance and solemnity to the words.
I. A revelation of danger.—The Old-Testament imagery of the scene in heaven, in the first chapter of Job, gives the key to the expression of the text. Satan has again petitioned for the apostles—to explore and search. Christ has his fan, Satan has his sieve. Body, mind, soul—each has its own danger and temptation. But there is a dignity, an elevation, and a trembling anxiety in the battle and in the victory.
II. The special personal assurance.—The transition is from the many to the one, from the company to the individual. Was it only for Peter that the prayer was offered? Then it was the one prayed for who fell—who, when trial came, thrice denied his Lord. But from the fall arose the conqueror. Christ’s prayer was answered.
III. The responsibility and privilege of the restored.—There are many conversions in one life, there is need of many turnings. Whenever we forget God we need to be turned. And the privilege, as it is the responsibility of the converted, is to strengthen others. Peter did so. By his ministry, by his epistles, by his life and example. This is the work to which all converted men are summoned. Pray to be made acceptable to and potent for good over other lives.—Vaughan.
A Dangerous Crisis.—
1. Jesus regards the crisis as a sifting time for the disciples.
2. As, though perilous, one which shall not prove deadly to their faith.
3. As one which shall not only end happily, but result in spiritual benefit to themselves, and qualify them for being helpful to others.—Bruce.
I. The warning to Peter of coming danger.
II. The encouragement given him.
III. The charge laid upon him.
Unconsciousness of Danger.—
1. Satan eager to destroy Peter.
2. Christ eager to deliver Peter.
3. Peter unconscious of the danger in which he stood.
Luke 22:31. “Desired.”—He cannot act except with God’s permission. Cf. Job 1:12; Job 2:6.
“That he may sift you.”—“Whose fan is in his hand,” but with the purpose of gathering the chaff for himself. Judas had been separated from the apostolic band: Peter now stood in danger.
“Sift.”—The word has not been preserved to us elsewhere, but the signification is not doubtful. The tertium comparationis is the testing agitation: as the wheat is shaken in the sieve, that the chaff may thereby separate itself from the wheat and fall out, so will Satan also disquiet and terrify you through persecutions, dangers, tribulations, in order to bring your faithfulness towards Me to apostasy.—Meyer.
Luke 22:32. “But I have prayed.”—
1. The power of the Intercessor greater than that of the enemy.
2. It is through this power alone that the faith, even of an apostle, is sustained.
“Strengthen thy brethren.”—Those who have themselves been tempted, and who have learned their own weakness, should be all the more helpful to their weaker brethren; they should be all the more compassionate in feeling, and charitable in the judgments they form, and hopeful in temperament.
I. Peter’s ignorance of himself.
II. Christ’s knowledge of him.
Willingness and Weakness.
I. His sincere desire to share his Master’s sufferings.
II. The weakness that would betray him into denying his Master.
Luke 22:33. “Ready to go with Thee.”—The words indicate
(1) a measure of self-confidence, as though there were little ground for the warning just given; yet also
(2) a conviction that the Lord was the source of his strength. The phrase, “with Thee,” is specially emphatic. When the trial came, Peter was following “afar off.”
Luke 22:34-38. The Conversation after Supper.
I. Relative to the dispute for superiority (Luke 22:24-30).
II. To the denial of Peter (Luke 22:31-34).
III. To the hour of danger now at hand (Luke 22:35-38).
Luke 22:34. “Peter.”—This is the only place in the Gospels where Christ is said to have addressed the apostle by his name, Peter. “Doubtless there is a reference to his good confession (Matthew 16:18). Thou, when uttering the revelation from My Father, and confessing Me to be the Christ, the Son of the Living God, wast a true Petros, or stone, built on Me, the living Rock; but now thou wilt deny Me thrice, because thou speakest thine own words and reliest on thine own strength, instead of on Me” (Wordsworth).
“The cock shall not crow,” etc.—The fact that Peter would succumb before the approaching trial might have been guessed by a shrewd observer of character. Christ, however, shows Divine foreknowledge in predicting the particulars of his fall: the time when (cock-crowing), the threefold assertion, and the form, in which the denial would be made.
Luke 22:35-36. The Past and The Future.
I. The ample provision which had been made for them whilst they had been in His service.
II. The troubles they would now have to face. Then they had been, in a measure, independent of earthly resources; now they would need to make use of them. Then their safety had been assured; now their enemies would be more embittered, and self-defence be necessary.
Principles, not Rules.—The Lord Jesus Christ came, not to give men exact and binding rules of conduct, but large general principles, capable of the most flexible and various application. Rules of conduct are to be found among His sayings, indeed, as, e.g., when He bade His disciples, if smitten on the one cheek, turn the other also; or when He bade them, if any man took their coat, to let him also rob them of their cloak; or when He bade them give to every one that asked an alms of them, or go out on a journey unprovided with any change of clothing and with an empty purse. But these rules were not meant for a literal, and still less for a universal, obedience, since our Lord Himself did not in all cases obey them, nor His apostles; nay, more, these rules were thrown into a paradoxical form, in order that we might see that they were not mere rules, and be compelled to search for the principles which underlie them. The rules He gave were passing illustrations of great principles of justice, compassion, trust in God, and brotherly kindness. Observe what our Lord is here doing. He is repealing a rule which He Himself had given to His disciples only a few months ago, although, as they confess, that rule had worked very well. He is replacing it by a new rule, a rule the very opposite of that which He had previously given them; a rule which no sane and reflective man can possibly suppose He intended them to obey as a rule, since it is alien to the very spirit, to the whole drift, of His teaching. Here, then, we have a clear proof that the rules given by Christ were not intended to become ordinances of perpetual observance; that He did not mean men to render them a literal, and still less a perpetual and universal, obedience; that we must interpret them, as all other of His utterances, by aid of our own common-sense and spiritual insight; that what we are to obey in Him is the sacred and eternal principles which they illustrate. Formerly the twelve were to go forth penniless, unprovided with aught but a staff, and to bear with meekness whatever wrongs or insults the world might inflict on them. Now they are to put money in their purse, to pack their scrip with provisions and conveniences, to exchange their staff for a sword—not to submit to, but to defy and conquer, the hostility of the world. It is impossible to render literal obedience to both these rules, and we have no evidence that the twelve ever attempted to obey the latter rule literally. Only a few hours after these words were spoken, St. Peter struck Malchus with his sword, and only received a rebuke from Christ for his pains. The fact is, that when Christ threw His teaching into the form of rules He did not intend us to take them as rules, but as picturesque and paradoxical illustrations of principles. Here is the proof. Christ Himself repeals a rule which He Himself had given, and replaces it with a rule the very opposite of that which He had given—nay, replaces it with a rule which never was, and never will be, literally obeyed; and thus He drives us to look for the principles which underlie His word. He teaches us that as there are times when we are to win upon the world by unselfishness and an unresisting, uncomplaining submission to wrong—in short, by not resisting evil—so also there are times in which we are to resist, to strive against it manfully, to arm and nerve ourselves for the defence and furtherance of the faith. If, at times, we are to be meek for the truth, at other times we are to be valiant for the truth. Rules breed customs, and customs breed corruption. Whereas, if we have principles instead of rules, we are obliged to use our commonsense in applying and in varying our application of them; we are compelled to observe and reflect, to let our thoughts play freely round them, to learn and grow wiser by experience. And all these—observation, reflection, the use of good sense and experience—are educational influences of the highest value. It is by these we live, and keep our principles alive, and help to give life to the world around us.—Cox.
Luke 22:35-38. Sword and Garment.
I. In the letter these counsels seem to point to a policy the opposite of non-resistance.—Jesus seems to say that the great business and duty of the hour for all who are on His side is to furnish themselves with swords. So urgent is the need that he who wants a weapon must sell his garment to buy one.
II. But the very emphasis with which He speaks shows that His words are not to be taken in the literal, prosaic sense.—It is very easy to see what He means. His object is, by graphic language, to convey to His disciples an idea of the gravity of the situation. “Now,” He would say, “now is the day, yea, the hour, of battle. If My kingdom be one of this world, now is the time for fighting, not for dreaming. Now matters have come to extremities, and ye have need of all your resources. Equip yourselves with shoes, and purse, and knapsack, and, above all, with swords and war-like courage.” The disciples did not understand His meaning. They put a stupid, prosaic interpretation on Christ’s parable. “It is enough,’ said Jesus, with a melancholy smile. “Two swords.” What were two swords for twelve men and against a hundred weapons? Enough only for one who does not mean to fight at all. They were not called on to fight literally, against flesh and blood, but in the bloodless spiritual conflict.—Bruce.
Luke 22:35. “And He said unto them.”—Not without reason have I spoken of what is so momentous (Luke 22:31-34); for now, when I am no longer with you, your situation will be quite otherwise than before. There now comes for you a time of care for yourselves and of conflict.—Meyer.
Luke 22:36. “But now.”—Once the least care was superfluous; now the most anxious care was not too much.
“A sword.”—I.e., they would now be reduced to such a condition, in which the men of this world would resort to such means of defence.
Parable of the Sword and the Garment.—No saying like this is to be found in any of the other gospels. It is a parable. Let us enforce it.
I. It is uttered with solemn emphasis.
II. It teaches that there is a conflict in the Christian life.—A sword is needed. Better lack a garment than lack a sword. But it is a battle in, and not of, this world that Christ speaks of.
III. Marvel not at the vehemence of the words.—There are two reasons for it.
1. They contradict flesh and blood. It is painful to be always armed. It makes life a perpetual effort. Nature would let us be indolent and self-sparing.
2. In this conflict deception and self-deception are ever busily working, and he who might gird himself for more difficulty is in danger of relaxing effort under illusion. It is Satan’s master-art to persuade us that there is no battle—that all are agreed. But no! one must fight either against the world or for it. He cannot be neutral. So delay not the purchase of the sword. Sell your very garment now, and buy it. The garment of pride, of slothfulness, of carelessness, of worldliness, of besetting sin—sell it, discard it, fling it away, and buy of Christ the sword of grace and faith, of love, and the Spirit, which whosoever hath must be more than conqueror. Thus, in this world, in all courage and in all strength, you shall be Christ’s soldiers.—Vaughan.
Luke 22:37. “Reckoned among the transgressors.”—The connection is this: “Your situation among men will be one of neglect, and even of danger; for I Myself am about to be reckoned among transgressors.”
Luke 22:38. “Here are two swords.”—Note
(1) the slavish, literal interpretation which the disciples gave to the words of Christ—how different from that spiritual enlightenment which they manifested after the day of Pentecost! and
(2) the patience and gentleness of our Lord in dealing with them.
“It is enough.”—Perhaps the words are slightly ironical. “Two swords are enough for all the fighting that you will be called upon to engage in.”
The Conversation Broken off.—If it were possible for us to imagine our Lord for a moment in the Paschal night with a melancholy smile on His heavenly countenance, it would be at the affair of the two swords. Two swords over against the whole might of the world, of hell, and of death, which were to engage in the assault upon Him! He accounts it impossible to make the whole preposterousness of this thought as visible to them as it is to Himself, and therefore breaks off the conversation on the subject, in the tone of one who is conscious that others would not understand Him, and who therefore holds all further speech impossible.—Van Oosterzee.
Luke 22:39. As He was wont.—This accounts for Judas being able to lead those who apprehended Jesus to the place where He was to be found.
Luke 22:40. At the place.—A garden or farm called Gethsemane (i.e., “the oil-press”), perhaps belonging to a friend or disciple. He said to them.—He left eight of the apostles, and took Peter, James, and John further into the recesses of the garden, and to them gave this exhortation.
Luke 22:41. Withdrawn.—R.V. “parted from them”; lit. “torn away” (cf. Acts 21:1). The word implies reluctance to leave; but no great stress need be laid on it, as the special meaning may have been dropped in colloquial use.
Luke 22:42. Father, etc.—The sentence should be translated, “Father, if Thou be willing to remove this cup from Me [well]; nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.” The word translated “remove” is in the infinitive, and not in the imperative.
Luke 22:43. There appeared an angel, etc.—This and the following verse are omitted in some very ancient MSS., perhaps from the mistaken idea that they derogate from the Saviour’s majesty. It is possible, however, that they did not appear in the first edition of the Gospel, but were added later. There is strong evidence in their favour from patristic writers: Justin Martyr, Irenæus, and Hippolytus refer to them. The appearance of the angel was evidently after the first prayer Christ offered in the garden—that quoted here. St. Luke summarises the other two prayers in the phrase (Luke 22:44), “He prayed more earnestly.” Strengthening Him.—The word implies imparting physical strength. We are not to think of spiritual strength or consolation being given.
Luke 22:44. Great drops of blood.—The words might be understood either of copious streams of sweat pouring like blood from a wound or of sweat actually tinged with blood. It is, however, probable that the latter is meant. If the former had been meant, it is difficult to see why the words “of blood” should have been used. Cases are on record of such. “bloody sweat” occurring in certain morbid states of body, or under the pressure of intense emotion.
Luke 22:45. Sleeping for sorrow.—As is well known, extreme grief has a stupifying effect, and often induces heavy, though unrefreshing, sleep.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 22:39-46
The Strife and the Victory.—At first sight there is something very surprising in this scene in the garden of Gethsemane. Without anything to prepare us for its occurrence it suddenly breaks in upon the gospel narrative, like a storm coming one knows not whence. After the peaceful celebration of the Passover, after the institution of the Supper in which His sacrificial death is so plainly indicated, after the long conversations which, for pathos and depth of significance, have no parallel in history, and after the quiet walk through the sleeping city, there comes in an instant this profound outburst of anguish. Certainly Jesus knew beforehand, and for a long time past, that His work of salvation would be concluded by His death. When He entered Jerusalem He knew that He would not depart alive from the city that slew the prophets. He clearly saw events hurrying on to this close, and knew that but a brief interval divided the fleeting popularity that attended His triumphal entry into the city from His condemnation and death. Yet it was only in the course of this evening that He knew that the hour—His hour—was at hand. He had seen Judas leave the room, and had perceived that this night was to be His last. Then once more the enemy whom He had defeated in the wilderness made a final assault upon Him, and the last temptation possible beset Christ in the garden of Gethsemane: it arose from the fear of death.
I. First of all there were the dreadful circumstances of the form of death He was to meet.—Doubtless this constituted part, though perhaps but a subordinate part, of the temptation now presented to Him. Must He not have shuddered as He thought of the sufferings involved in a death by crucifixion. He was clothed with our flesh and was as sensitive as we are to bodily pain. The first of His temptations in the wilderness had been to put an end to the bodily pains excited by hunger by acting independently of the Divine will, and we can easily believe that the tempter now again appealed to the natural instinct of self-preservation by suggesting that He should not submit to the tortures of crucifixion.
II. Then, too, there was the moral infamy connected with His execution as a malefactor.—He knew that crucifixion would expose Him to the abhorrence of the whole Jewish people, for it was written in their law, “Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” It was a lingering form of death, which subjected those who underwent it sometimes to days of helpless misery, and left them at the mercy of all who chose to mock and insult them. It was a death which would proclaim Him as a false pretender to the rank and dignity of the Messiah, and brand Him as a malefactor. What wonder if the thought of dying such a death filled Him with agony!
III. Death itself, apart from the pains and ignominy of crucifixion, was full of horror for Him.—He was partaker of our nature, and for every man death, though inevitable, has something terrible in it, which can never fail to strike dread into the spirit. It was a man of God who gave to it the name of “the king of terrors.” There is in all of us a natural instinct which recoils from it, and Christ, who was in all points like us, doubtless partook of this. But if there is in our case an instinct which leads us to recoil from death, there is, doubtless, another which accepts it as natural and sees in it a punishment for sin. We feel that we have not, or have no longer, an inalienable right to life. But He who suffered agony in Gethsemane had that right, and it is a feeling of this which rises up in revolt in Him at the very moment when He sees death to be imminent. Death is the wages of sin, and sin never had any hold upon Him. Now all at once He realises that He must pass through that dark portal through which all sinners are doomed to pass. He who was without sin must accept the wages of sin. Yet, did Jesus Christ hesitate as to accomplishing His work? In this hour of anguish, does He consider whether He will carry it through to the end or give it up? No, not for a moment. He is determined to accomplish His work, but the question rises in His mind, Are death, and the death of the cross, the necessary means for that end? His work He does not even name. That which He asks His Father to spare Him, if possible, is the act which appears to Him as the consummation of His work—the “cup,” which represents His death. It was necessary, not only that Jesus should die, but that He die of His own free-will—that He should wish to die. And when once His will had been brought into conformity with the will of His Father His agony was past. He has won the victory by complete renunciation of Himself. The sacrifice He offers is accepted, though not yet consummated, and in Gethsemane the fundamental act of our salvation is accomplished. There are in the history of the plan of God two gardens—the garden of Eden and the garden of Gethsemane. The one is exactly the counterpart of the other. In the one the first son of God asserted himself against his Father, and sought, by disobedience, to add some Divine element to his humanity. The consequence was that he died and entailed death upon the whole of his race. In the other the second Son of God subjected His own will to that of His Father, and, in perfect obedience, offered Himself unto God. The consequence, in His case also, was that He died; but, since He gave up His life freely, He took it again, and became the Author of life to all His brethren, who, for His sake, receive the pardon of their sins. (See Berguer’s Sermons: “Gethsémané”).
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 22:39-46
Luke 22:39-46. Gethsemane.—One of the most prominent and mysterious passages in our Lord’s life.
I. Suffering of peculiar intensity.
II. A conflict between inclination and duty.
III. Explainable only on the ground that He died to bear the great burden of sin.
IV. Duty overmasters inclination.—He offers Himself willingly for the cross and the grave.—Nicoll.
Luke 22:39. “As He was wont.”—Retirement for
(1) converse with God, and
(2) with our own hearts, is salutary for us, especially after celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The fact that Christ Himself found solace and strength in this way is highly significant.
The Calmness of Jesus.
I. Note the spirit in which the great agony was approached.—How we go into a trial is often of as much importance as how we behave ourselves in it. In entrance into trial, in continuance in it, in egress from it, Jesus was perfect. What He had dreaded all His life long was just at hand. The cross, in clear-cut sharpness, was just in view. But He went in calmness to the accustomed place, and for the accustomed purpose.
II. There is but little of this calmness manifested in even the great saints of God.—Abraham, Job, Moses, Elijah, all were greatly troubled in trying crises of their lives. Not so Jesus. See His calmness in the midst of provoking and angry men; before Pilate, how unlike the excitement that goes on in the world!
III. How suggestive is the phrase as to the habits of Christ’s life!—His great trial was to find Him in the midst of prayer. His enemies knew where to look for Him. Judas knew His place and occupation. And as with His habits of devotion, so with His thoughtfulness and generosity, tenderness and pity. Is He not still the same? He is unchanged. The habits of His earthly life have left their impress on Him for ever.—Power.
Luke 22:40-46. Lessons from Gethsemane.
I. About Christ.—
1. His true humanity.
2. His wonderful love.
3. His touching forbearance with His disciples.
II. About sin.—
1. Its exceeding sinfulness.
2. Its terrible power.
3. Its awful curse.
III. About temptation.—
1. To expect it.
2. How to conquer it by watchfulness and prayer.—W. Taylor.
Luke 22:40. “Enter not into temptation.”—
1. They were to be exposed to trial.
2. There was danger of the circumstances in which they were to be placed serving as a temptation to forsake Him or to deny their faith in Him.
3. The great means for their preservation was prayer.
Luke 22:41-44. The Prayers in the Garden.—What is the subject of Christ’s repeated prayer? He does not seek deliverance from the cross. It was from a thing worse than death to the holy soul of the God-Man. It was from the hour of conscious sin-bearing and sin-becoming; from this awful horror He shrank back.
I. The angel strengthening was the first answer to His prayer.
II. The redoubled fervour of the prayer was the second answer—There was a growth of submissiveness between the two prayers. The first prayer was submissive, asking the boon; the second accepts the refusal, asking only that the Divine will be done.—Vaughan.
Luke 22:41-42. The Great Example of Prayer.—
1. The soul separated from all others and in communion with God.
2. Reverence of manner and attitude before God.
3. The expression of sincere desire.
4. Resignation to the will of God, whether He grant or deny the request.
Luke 22:41. “Was withdrawn.”—The word, the reluctance, as it were, with which one tears himself away from friends. Of course, we are not to understand the word as if our Lord, almost against His will, separated Himself from the circle of His disciples, but simply thus, that He, following the constraint of His agitation of soul, with visible intensity of feeling and rapid steps, sought the still solitude.—Van Oosterzee.
Luke 22:42. The Cup of Suffering.
I. Christ’s sufferings were not purely, nor even principally, physical.
II. Nor could His sufferings have risen merely through His foreknowledge of death.
III. Nor were His sufferings endured as an equivalent for a certain amount of sin.
IV. His sufferings arose from His profound sympathy with humanity, and intense perception of man’s sin.—Hull.
I. The response which may be given to the unthwarted love of God by the heart that is perfect towards Him is heralded by this word.—Here, really for Himself, and ideally for all those who partake in Him through faith, Christ determinedly set His will in harmony with God’s. He made the supreme sacrifice of self which God accepted as the sufficient sacrifice for us all. His will, as man, was that the cup should pass; God’s will was that He should drink it.
II. This word, again, represented a defiance of circumstances, an appeal from the compulsion and the pressure of the world and the flesh to the right of self-determination.—The weakness of His human flesh, the shrinking from the hatred and cruelty of man, the fear lest, as His life, so His death might be a failure,—all these made up the strong stream of temptation against which Christ set the whole force of His being, when He cried, “Nevertheless.” It was not merely surrender. It was victory.—Nicoll.
Luke 22:43-44. Three Signs of the Deep Agony of Christ.
I. A weakness, calling for immediate and heavenly succour.
II. More earnest prayer.
III. Sweat, “as it were great drops of blood.”
Luke 22:43. “There appeared an angel.”—In the temptation in the wilderness the angels ministered to Christ after the conflict. Here He is sustained by heavenly aid during the conflict—thus showing us how much more trying was the second experience.
“Strengthening Him.”—God may help us either
(1) by removing the cause of sorrow, or
(2) by imparting to us fresh strength.
Luke 22:44. “Being in an agony.”—His delicately sensitive humanity shrinks from death; His holy humanity from the night of darkness; His loving humanity from the hatred that is now about to reach its most fearful culmination. Nay, if His humanity was of a finite nature, He might, standing over against the burden of the sin of millions, conceive, as we believe, even the possibility of sinking under His fearful burden. Sin and death show themselves now to His eye in an entirely different light than before His incarnation, when death stood already, it is true, before Him, without, however, having dared to essay any direct assault upon Himself.—Van Oosterzee.
I. A mysterious agony.—
1. His dread of coming into contact with the world’s evil.
2. His task of learning obedience by the things that He suffered.
II. A mighty prayer in the agony.
III. The gracious answer.—Davies.
Terror of Death.—We men, conceived and born in sin, have an impure, hard flesh, that is not quick to feel. The fresher, the sounder the man, the more he feels what is contrary to him. Because Christ’s body was pure and without sin, and our body is impure, therefore we scarcely feel the terrors of death in two degrees where Christ felt them in ten, since He is to be the greatest martyr and to feel the utmost terror of death.—Luther.
Luke 22:45. “Sleeping for sorrow.”—
1. The weakness of the disciples—failing to watch with their Master.
2. The kindly construction put upon it.
Luke 22:46. “Lest ye enter into temptation.”—The temptation was now past for Jesus; by watching and prayer He had overcome it. The disciples, by neglecting His warning, were unprepared for the trial to which they were to be exposed.
Luke 22:47. A multitude.—“Composed of Levitical guards under their generals, a Roman tribune with some soldiers, part of a cohort from the Fort of Antonia, and some priests and elders” (Farrar). To kiss Him.—The preconcerted sign.
Luke 22:48. Betrayest thou? etc.—In the order in the original the basest circumstance of the deed of treachery is made prominent—“Judas, with a kiss betrayest thou?” etc.
Luke 22:50. One of them.—St. John tells that it was Peter, and that the servant’s name was Malchus. Perhaps the synoptists omit the former name, from prudential motives. Suffer ye thus far.—If we are to understand these words as addressed to the disciples, they mean, “Let them do what they please; resist them not,” and are equivalent to the longer speech reported in Matthew 26:52-54. If, however, they are addressed to the captors, they might be interpreted to mean, “Allow Me thus much liberty”—i.e., to set Him free for a moment to heal the wounded man. The former is perhaps to be preferred, as the words can be understood as virtually equivalent to the remonstrance addressed to the disciples in the parallel account in St. Matthew, and as the next words of Jesus are spoken to the captors.
Luke 22:52. A thief.—Rather, “a robber” (R.V.).
Luke 22:53. This is your hour, etc.—I.e., “This is the time when power is given you against Me by the determinate counsel of God (Acts 4:28), and in which the Power, or Prince, of darkness, is permitted to exercise his rancour against Me” (Bloomfield). Perhaps there is also an allusion to the darkness of the night, as harmonising with deeds of treachery and violence.
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 22:47-53
The Arrest.—The agony (lit. “struggle”) in the garden of Gethsemane was now past, and Christ had won the victory, so that now He was fortified against the new form of temptation to which He was subjected. For still the “power of darkness” (Luke 22:53), was arrayed against Him, and the tempter, who had sought in vain to overthrow His self-possession by suggestions of coming evil, now resorts to force and arms. The quiet of the garden and of the midnight hour is broken in upon by the arrival of a multitude of enemies, led by one into whom Satan had entered. All through the scene that followed the Divine majesty and calmness of the Saviour are very conspicuous. Neither the baseness of the act of betrayal, nor the rash conduct of one of His would-be defenders, nor the malignant rage of His enemies, provokes Him to a hasty word. He expostulates in turn with the traitor, with the disciple who drew his sword, and with His captors.
I. An appeal to conscience.—If anything might have aroused the fiercest and most righteous indignation, it was surely the conduct of Judas. He knew the place where Christ was to be found, and the reason why He was accustomed to resort thither. Yet He did not hesitate to violate the sanctity of the place of prayer used by his Master, so bent was he upon carrying out his evil purpose. He goes before the armed band as their leader, and as if to make sure that Christ should not escape, even if he had to capture Him with his own hands. And then, too, as the crowning act of baseness, he had arranged to point out the Saviour to His captors by drawing near to Him and kissing Him. Surely we have sin here in its last and most hateful form: when the evil purpose is disguised by hypocritical pretence, and the sinner is so hardened as not even to recognise his own baseness. There is a certain severity, mingled with tenderness, in the expostulation addressed by Jesus to the traitor. His calling him by his name might have reminded him of friendly, confidential intercourse in former days. “Is it by this mark of affection, the kiss of discipleship and friendship, that the signal is to be given to the enemy? Dost thou kiss and betray?” In words calculated to sting and arouse the sleeping conscience, Jesus reveals to the fallen apostle the blackness of his guilt. He calls the evil by its name and reveals it in all its hideousness. And had not the heart of Judas been hardened, the remonstrance of Jesus might not have been in vain. Had he, even at his last moment, repented and asked forgiveness, we cannot doubt but that it would have been freely extended to him. The pleading of Christ with the sinner falls in vain on the heart that is wedded to its sin.
II. A call to patience.—Before Jesus had had time to reply to the question of the apostles, “Lord, shall we smite with the sword?” one of them, Peter, acted on his own impulse and struck wildly at one of the crowd. Perhaps Malchus, the servant of the high priest, who received the blow, was more prominent than his fellows in laying hands upon Jesus; yet was he less guilty than others—less guilty, for example, than the high priest, from whom probably he caught by contagion the spirit of rancorous hatred against the Saviour. The high priest veiled his hatred under courteous phrases and legal forms: the uncultured, rude servant manifested his hatred in a rough, brutal way. Yet was the master more guilty than the servant. Peter’s action was hasty and ill-advised. It is not for the Church to wield the sword of justice; she is apt to strike the wrong person. His action, too, not only endangered his own safety, but was calculated to compromise his Master’s cause. For it was necessary for Jesus, in order to clear Himself from the accusations brought against Him by the Jews, to be able to say, “My kingdom is not of this world; if My kingdom were of this world, then would My servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews” (John 18:36). And so Christ restrained the apostle from striking another blow, and healed the wound he had inflicted. His words prescribed patience instead of resistance. “Suffer ye thus far”—“allow these men to go as far as this, to bind Me and take Me away.” How marvellous the patience shown by Him, whose next action proved His possession of superhuman power! What a rebuke does not His submission to violence and wrong administer to us, who are so eager to resent every petty affront! He returns good for evil, and blesses His enemies. He heals the man who was binding His hands, and who not only asked for no benefit, but was even devoid of faith in Him who conferred it.
III. A rebuke of cowardice.—Christ turns from those who were merely acting under orders, and addresses the members of the Sanhedrim, who had not thought it beneath their dignity to be present at the arrest of their victim, and rebukes their cowardice. Surely all this parade of soldiers and officers for the capture of one man, who offered no resistance, was unnecessary! He was no desperate malefactor, but one who had often taught the people the way of righteousness, in the courts of the Temple. Had He been an evil-doer they might have arrested Him openly, in the daylight. And even now it was not the force they brought against Him that compelled His surrender. It was “their hour”—the hour appointed by God for their triumph and for His submission; a greater than an earthly power aided them, but it was “the power of darkness.” And so, even at the time when Christ yielded to His foes, He declared plainly that He was the light, that resistance to Him was of the essence of sin, and anticipated the triumph of the light over darkness. This hour would pass, and the Sun of Righteousness, which was now suffering eclipse, would shine forth in His strength.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 22:47-53
Luke 22:47-53. The Arrest of Jesus.
I. The traitor’s kiss (Luke 22:47-48).
II. The attempt, on the part of the disciples, to defend Him (Luke 22:49-51).
III. The protest of Christ against the treachery and cowardice of His enemies (Luke 22:52-53).
Luke 22:47. “Went before them.”—A twofold act of treachery Judas was guilty of.
1. He led the band to the place where they might find Jesus.
2. He pointed Him out, so as to secure His apprehension.
Luke 22:48. “Judas, betrayest thou?”—Every word in the sentence indicates the depth of guilt belonging to this evil deed.
I. Its treachery.—“Judas, betrayest thou?”
II. Its malice.—“Betrayest.”
III. Its ingratitude.—“The Son of man.”
IV. Its hypocrisy.—“With a kiss.”
“Betrayest thou?”—Jesus spoke appealingly to Judas, but only cast a look upon Peter. The words were lost upon Judas: the look brought Peter to repentance.
Luke 22:48; Luke 22:61. Two Rebukes.—These rebukes were given by our Lord to two disciples. Both quiet, but potent.
I. To the arch-hypocrite.—A few mild words.
II. To the denying disciple.—A look.
III. Their results.—Each rebuke was followed by repentance. But what a difference! Heaven in the one; hell in the other. The one tearful; the other tearless. The one leading to contrition and restoration; the other to remorse, anguish, suicide.—Campbell.
Luke 22:49. “Shall we smite?”—The enigmatical warning of Luke 22:36 was evidently in the minds of the disciples. They were not sure whether or not He intended them to use the swords they carried.
Luke 22:50. “Smote a servant.”—By this action Peter
(1) endangered his own safety, and
(2) compromised the cause of his Master, both by manifesting a spirit antagonistic to His and by giving occasion for the charge of resisting the officers of justice being made against Him.
Luke 22:51. “Healed him.”—A mark
(1) of Christ’s power,
(2) of His mercy, even towards an enemy.
I. How readily the Saviour repaired the damage caused by the mistaken zeal of His servants!
II. How Christ blesses His enemies, even while manifesting intensest opposition!
III. Christ teaches us that in doing good the need is the claim.—Hastings.
Luke 22:52-53. The Weapons and Stratagems used against Christ Unnecessary.—
1. His whole previous conduct might have made it clear to them that He would offer no resistance.
2. He had oftentimes been within their grasp, but they had not had courage to seize Him.
Luke 22:52. “Chief priests.”—In spite of their dignity, they were drawn, by motives of curiosity and malice, to witness His arrest. The phrase “which were come to Him” seems to imply that they had just arrived, possibly to receive Him into their custody the moment He was apprehended.
Luke 22:53. “Your hour.”—
1. A time appointed by God.
2. A time strictly limited, and short.
“This is your hour.”—Our Lord here distinguishes between the power exercised over Him by men, and that by the Evil One; but so as to make the “power” which rules over them to be that of darkness, while His own assertion of this shows that all was by the determinate counsel and fore-know ledge of God.—Alford.
Luke 22:54. Then took they Him.—R.V., “And they seized Him.” The high priest’s house.—I.e., the house of Caiaphas. St. John alone mentions a preliminary and perhaps informal examination in the house of Annas.
Luke 22:55. Kindled a fire.—“The spring nights at Jerusalem, which is 2610 feet above the level of the sea, are often cold” (Farrar). Hall.—Rather, “court” (R.V.). Sat down among them.—More literally, “sat in the midst of them” (R.V.).
Luke 22:56. Sat by the fire.—Rather, “sat in the light [of the fire]” (R.V.).
Luke 22:58. Another.—The gender of the original word is masculine. St. Matthew and St. Mark speak of this second accuser being a woman, or the same woman as first charged him with being a disciple of Jesus. The discrepancy, if any, is scarcely worth noticing. Man.—A term of expostulation in the original, to which our version here exactly corresponds—“man” being similarly used in English.
Luke 22:59. A Galilæan.—Recognised as such by his dialect.
Luke 22:61. The Lord turned.—This was not during the trial, for Peter was then in the outside court, but as Jesus crossed the court on His way from the house of Caiaphas. St. Luke gives no account of the trial before Caiaphas.
Luke 22:65. Blasphemously.—Rather, “reviling Him” (R.V.). The word “blasphemy” has changed its meaning; it formerly denoted “reviling” or “scurrility.”
Luke 22:66. As soon as it was day.—The court of the Sanhedrim could only be held in the daytime; consequently all that was done in the presence of Caiaphas, when Christ was first tried, had to be repeated at the formal meeting. This accounts for the questions and replies recorded by St. Matthew and St. Mark, as spoken in the house of Caiaphas, being here set down as taking place in court. The elders of the people.—Properly, “the presbytery of the people,” the body of elders—i.e., the Sanhedrim (cf. Acts 22:5). The place of meeting is uncertain.
Luke 22:67. Art thou the Christ?—Out of a claim to be the Messiah they wished to construct a charge of treason; as the Roman authorities, who alone had power of life and death, would not attach importance to a charge of “blasphemy.”
Luke 22:68. If I also ask you.—“If I put questions to educe from your own mouths proofs of My innocence or of the validity of My claim to be Christ, ye will not answer Me or release Me.” The words virtually mean, “The trial is an unfair one, as I am not allowed to argue My case.” Nevertheless, Christ judges that the time has come for an open statement of His claims (Luke 22:69-70).
Luke 22:69. Hereafter, etc.—Rather, “but from henceforth shall the Son of Man be seated at the right hand,” etc. The cross, now so near at hand, will be the first step to the throne of glory.
Luke 22:70. Ye say that I am.—Or, “Ye say it, because I am” (R.V. margin). This is a Hebrew phrase, equivalent to, “Your words are true.”
MAIN HOMILETICS OF THE PARAGRAPH.—Luke 22:54-71
Denial, Mockery, and Condemnation of the Lord.—In this section we have a further account of our Lord’s sufferings, and a revelation of man’s sin. A trusted friend proves faithless, the underlings of the rulers brutally ridicule His prophetic claims, and their masters vote Him a blasphemer for asserting His divinity and Messiahship.
I. The failure of loyalty and love in Peter’s denials.—The morning was cold and Peter, exhausted, sleepy, sad, and shivering, was glad to creep near the fire in the court-yard. Its light betrayed him to a woman’s sharp eye, and her gossiping tongue could not help blurting out her discovery. Curiosity, not malice, moved her, and there is no reason to suppose that any harm would have come to Peter if he had said, as he should have done, “Yes, I am His disciple.” The day for persecuting the servants was not yet come, but for the present it was Jesus only who was aimed at. No doubt cowardice had a share in the denials, but there was more than that in them. Peter was worn out with fatigue, excitement, and sorrow. He was always easily moved by surroundings, so now he could not resist the current of opinion, and dreaded being unlike even the menials among whom he sat. He was ashamed of his Master, and hid his colours, not so much for fear of bodily harm as of ridicule. May he not, too, have begun to doubt whether, after all, Jesus was what he had thought Him? Christ prayed that Peter’s faith should not fail, or be totally eclipsed, and that may indicate that the assault was made on his faith, and that it wavered, though it recovered steadfastness. The sight of Jesus bound, unresisting, and evidently at the mercy of the rulers, might well make a firmer faith stagger. We have not to steel ourselves to bear bodily harm if we confess Christ, but many of us have to run counter to a strong current flowing round us, and to be alone in the midst of unsympathising companions, ready to laugh and gibe; and some of us are tempted to waver in our convictions of Christ’s divinity, because He still seems to stand at the bar of the wise men and leaders of opinion, and to be treated by them as a pretender. It is a wretched thing to be persecuted out of one’s Christianity by fire and sword, but it is worse to be laughed out of it, or lose it because we breathe an atmosphere of unbelief. Peter slipped away to the gateway, and there, apparently, was again attacked, first by the portress and then by others, which occasioned the second denial, while the third took place in the same spot about an hour afterwards. One sin makes many. The devil’s hounds hunt in packs. Consistency requires the denier to stick to his lie. If Peter had been less confident he would have been more safe. What business had he thrusting himself into the palace? Over-reliance on self leads us to put ourselves in the way of temptations it were wise to avoid. In the very flood-tide of Peter’s oaths the cock-crow is heard, and the half-finished denial sticks in his throat at the sound. At the same moment he sees Jesus led past him, and that look, so full of love, reproof, and pardon, brought him back to loyalty, and saved him from despair. The assurance of Christ’s knowledge of our sins against Him melts the heart when the assurance of His forgiveness and tender love comes with it. Then tears, which are wholly humble, but not wholly grief, flow. They do not wash away the sin, but they come from the assurance that Christ’s love, like a flood, has swept it away. They save from remorse, which has no healing in it.
II. The rude taunts of the servants.—The mockery here comes from Jews, and is directed against Christ’s prophetic character, while the later jeers of the Roman soldiers made a jest of His kingship. Rude natures have to take rude ways of expression, and the vulgar mockery meant precisely the same as more polite and covert scorn means from more polished people—namely, rooted disbelief in Him. These mockers were contented to take their opinions on trust from priests and rabbis. How often, since then, have Christ’s servants been objects of popular odium at the suggestion of the same classes, and how often have the ignorant people been misled, by their trust in their teachers, to hate and persecute their true Master! Jesus is silent under all the mockery, but then, as now, He knows who strikes Him. He will speak one day, and His speech will be detection and condemnation. Then He was silent, as patiently enduring shame and spitting for our sakes. Now He is silent, as long-suffering and wooing us to repentance; but He keeps count and record of men’s revilings, and the day comes when He whose eyes are as a flame of fire will say to every foe, “I know thy works.”
III. The formal rejection and condemnation by the council.—The ruler’s question was put simply in order to obtain material for the condemnation already resolved on. Our Lord’s answer falls into two parts, in the first of which He declines to recognise the bona fides of His judges, and the competency of the tribunal, and in the second goes beyond their question, and claims participation in Divine glory and power. Jesus will not unfold His claims to those who only seek to hear them in order to reject, not to examine, them. Silence is His answer to ingrained prejudice masquerading as honest inquiry. Jesus will gladly speak with any who will be frank with Him, and let Him search their hearts; but He will not unfold His mission to such as will refuse to answer His questions. But, while He thus declines to submit Himself to that tribunal, He will not leave them without once more asserting an even higher dignity than that of Messiah. As a prisoner at their bar, He has nothing to say to them, but as their King and future Judge he has something. It was fitting that the representatives of Israel, however prejudiced, should hear at that supreme moment the full assertion of full deity. It was fitting that Israel should condemn itself, by treating that claim as blasphemy. It was fitting that Jesus should bring about His death by His twofold claim—that made to the Sanhedrim, of being the Son of God, and that before Pilate, of being the King of the Jews. The whole scene teaches us the voluntary character of Christ’s death. It carries our thoughts forward to the time when the criminal of that morning shall be the Judge, and the judges and we shall stand at His bar. If His claim to be Divine was true, do we worship Him? If false, what was He? It mirrors the principles on which He deals with men universally; He meets hypocritical pretences of seeking the truth about Him with silence, but He is ever ready to open His heart to the honest and docile spirits who are ready to accept His words, and glad to open their inmost secrets to Him.—Maclaren.
SUGGESTIVE COMMENTS ON Luke 22:54-71
Luke 22:54-71. The Religious Process: Christ before the Sanhedrim.
I. The denial of Peter (Luke 22:54-62).
II. The ill-treatment of Jesus by the Jews (Luke 22:63-65).
III. The sentence of condemnation pronounced by the high priest (Luke 22:66-71).
Luke 22:54-60. Peter’s Fall.
I. He follows afar off.—He will not altogether forsake Christ, and yet seeks to avoid danger by not keeping too near to Him.
II. He takes his place among the enemies of Christ, without avowing his discipleship.
III. His presence of mind fails him when danger arises.
IV. He persists in denying his Master, though time for recollection was given him, between each accusation of being one of His disciples.
Causes of Peter’s Fall.
III. Fear of man.
IV. False shame.
V. Evil company.
Luke 22:54. “Brought Him into the high priest’s house.”—The high priest unconsciously receives the sacrificial Victim who is to be offered for the sin of the world. Contrast the blindness and malice of the high priest with the clear consciousness of Jesus of the part He was to play in the great work of redemption, and with the meekness with which He submitted to His sufferings.
“Followed afar off.”—It is scarcely possible to form a distinct image of the mood in which the impetuous disciple, impelled by curiosity, anxiety, and affection, ventures to enter the high-priestly palace.—Van Oosterzee.
“Afar off.”—Peter is the David of the New Testament. He did not fall into the same sins, but he fell, was penitent, was forgiven, was restored. His sin was faithlessness, failure in affection, ceasing to regard Christ as first and to follow Him closely to the last. His case illustrates a phase of disciple-life—how one, under fear, may get out of the range of Christ’s influence, and, while continuing a dis-disciple, follow only “afar off.”
I. Peter followed afar off; still, he followed.—Many had never followed Christ, or followed only to hate and harass Him.
II. He was too much influenced by the feelings and conduct of others.—And so he thought a little distance from Christ was safer than perfect nearness. This is often the state of mind of those who begin deliberately to follow Christ at a distance. It is cowardice.
III. It was a sad episode in an otherwise devoted life.—No need to excuse or exaggerate. It was very natural. Without all-mastering faith in Christ self-distrust is sure to betray us.
IV. The only remedy is to rise and follow again.—To begin afresh, to come near, to keep near, at all hazards; to be ready for sacrifice, to be reliant on the look, the word, the hand, the help of our Master. All this will keep us near, and make us faithful.—McColl.
Luke 22:56. “A certain maid.”—The women introduced on this occasion are the only women mentioned as taking part with the enemies of our Lord, and even they are not concerned in bringing about His condemnation, nor any further than to detect St. Peter. It is remarkable that no woman is mentioned, throughout, as speaking against our Lord in His life, or having a share in His death. On the contrary, He is anointed by a woman for His burial, women are the last at His grave, the first at His resurrection; to a woman He first appeared after His rising from the dead; women from Galilee ministered to His wants; women bewailed and lamented Him; a heathen woman interceded for His life with her husband, the governor: and, above all, of a woman He was born.—Williams.
Luke 22:57. “I know Him not.”—No excuses can be found for Peter’s guilt, but it is only just to him to remember the very trying circumstances in which he stood.
I. His hopes had been overthrown; he saw his Master the sport of cruel foes.
II. He was subjected to special temptation by Satan.
III. He felt himself alone among enemies—one apostle had become a traitor, and the others had forsaken their Master.
Luke 22:58. “Another saw him.”—The longer he continues in the company of enemies of Christ the worse it is for him—the more frequent do the temptations to unfaithfulness become. Flight from temptation is often the only safe course.
Luke 22:59. “Confidently affirmed.”—The apostle is now overwhelmed by proof of the charge against him. As St. John tells us (Luke 18:26) it is a kinsman of Malchus who identifies him as having been in the garden with Christ.
Luke 22:60-62. Peter’s Repentance.
I. His conscience awoke when the crowing of the cock reminded him of Christ’s prophecy.
II. He was gently reproached and convicted of ingratitude and cowardice by the look of his Master.
III. He is filled with godly sorrow and penitence.
Luke 22:60. “I know not.”—St. Luke omits reference to the “cursing and swearing” which accompanied this last denial (Matthew 26:74).
Luke 22:61-62. The Fall and The Rising.—Such is the after-taste of sin. Such is the awakening from the sleep of the soul, to which the tempter has successfully presented one of his bright, seductive visions. It is an example of the process of temptation. Three things are to be noticed:
1. The sleep.
2. The dream.
3. The awakening.
I. The state of the soul before sin.—A state of sleep, or of security. Not of safety, but of imagined safety. Peter was ignorant, rash, self-confident. Christian people are all liable to this state of fancied strength. It is our chief bane.
II. The state of the soul during the sin.—The sort of disguise under which the offence comes. The temptation came suddenly and repeatedly. The apostle’s only impulse was that of self-preservation. What a picture of human nature! in our little timidities about the world’s opinion.
III. The state of the soul after the sin.—Christ’s prayer did not prevent the fall, but it secured the rising. The look of Christ, full of pity, of sorrow, of tenderness, recalled the sinner to himself, and brought a flood of penitence. If we have sinned like him, may we, like him, bitterly lament our cowardice and ingratitude, and hasten back to Christ’s feet for forgiveness. Happy these whose shameful fall has been salutary. But to how many has there been no return from the downward course!—Vaughan.
Peter’s Repentance, a Type of True Sorrow.—
I. Peter’s sorrow did not arise from the fact that his guilt was known.
II. It was not simply the suffering of remorse.
III. It rose from the sense of Christ’s love.
IV. It was manifest in the conquest of self-trust.
V. It became the element of spiritual strength.—Hull.
Luke 22:61. “The Lord turned and looked.”—O Saviour, couldst Thou find leisure, when Thou stoodest at the bar of that unjust and cruel judgment, amidst all that bloody rabble of enemies, in the sense of all their fury and the expectation of Thine own death, to listen unto this monitor of Peter’s repentance, and, upon the hearing of it, to cast back Thine eyes upon Thy denying, cursing, abjuring disciple? Oh mercy beyond measure, and beyond all the possibility of our admiration, to neglect Thyself for a sinner, to attend to the repentance of one, when Thou wert about to lay down Thy life for all!—Hall.
The Saviour’s Look.—What was expressed in that look of our blessed Saviour, thought of man cannot conceive, and words cannot utter. That it spoke of all that had passed in our Lord’s long intimacy with St. Peter, and especially of the conversation of that night, and that it derived a peculiar force and meaning from the indignities which our Lord was suffering—that it implied something of this, we may well suppose; but what more we cannot tell. The conciseness and sublimity with which it is mentioned resembles the account in Genesis of His word being spoken, at which the world was created. Christ looked, and light filled the soul of Peter. The thought of his Lord’s Divinity, which he had believed, but had forgotten, now rushed afresh on his mind. In the darkness and silence of the night, his eyes were opened to all that had passed.—Williams.
Luke 22:62. “Wept.”—The word means rather “wept aloud” than “shed tears.” He “went out” from the presence of men, and after this, in the whole history of the Passion we no longer discover the least trace of him.
Peter and Judas: a Contrast.
I. Consider their privileges.
II. Contrast their characters.
III. Contrast their sins.—In their origin, their growth, their results.
IV. Contrast their repentance.—W. Taylor.
Luke 22:63-65. “Mocked Him and smote Him.”—One is fain to pass hastily over the record of the brutality to which Jesus was exposed. Yet, in reading it, two thoughts strike us.
I. That the insults disgraced those who offered them, rather than Him who bore them.
II. That these servants followed their masters’ example—the rancour which priests and elders cherished was thus manifested by their attendants in ruder, coarser ways. Sin ever tends to grosser and baser forms as it passes from mind to mind.
Luke 22:63-71. Christ here an Example to us in
(1) His patience;
(2) His innocence;
(3) His prudence;
(4) His holy boldness.
Luke 22:66. “Art Thou the Christ?”—There was nothing in itself blasphemous in claiming to be the Christ. This claim, even if false, did not infringe upon the honour of God. If, then, the statements concerning His Messianic dignity, which Jesus made, assumed a blasphemous character in the opinion of the Jews, it was because the title “Son of God,” which He so often used of Himself, expressed a higher claim than that of Messiahship. Hence the question here asked is merely preparatory to that in Luke 22:70 : “Art Thou then the Son of God?” It was only as the first claim was completed by the second that a capital charge against Jesus could be constructed.—Godet.
Luke 22:67-69. The Enemies of Christ are Not Fair Judges of His Claims.
I. They ask a question, but have their minds already made up against Him.
II. If confuted they do not admit the fact, but maintain a sullen silence.
III. Yet a convincing answer will they receive when they see Him on the throne of His power and appear at His tribunal.
Luke 22:67-68. “If I tell you,” etc.—They were neither fair-minded judges, whom He might convince of His innocence, nor disciples whom He might instruct.
Luke 22:69. “Sit on the right hand.”—The present, with all its ignominy, is contrasted with the glory of the future: now a prisoner, at the mercy of men; then to be supreme ruler of the universe.
Luke 22:70. “The Son of God.”—The Jews regarded the Messiah as Son of God in virtue of His theocratical office; but they are here face to face with the fact that Jesus claims the title as belonging to Him on other grounds—those of His essential Divinity.
Luke 22:71. “What further need?”—The ground on which Christ was condemned was His own claim to be the Son of God. Either His claim was well-founded, or the Jews were right in putting Him to death. To deny or to ignore His Divinity is to side with His murderers.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Exell, Joseph S. "Commentary on Luke 22". Preacher's Complete Homiletical Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29