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Bible Commentaries

L. M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible
Luke 22

 

 

Other Authors
Verses 1-71

THE TREACHERY OF JUDAS

(vs.1-6)

As the Passover feast drew near, the chief priests and Pharisees felt hard pressed to find some way of apprehending and killing this "prophet" who was offending their pride. They feared to arrest Him in the presence of the people, and further, they did not want to do it on the Passover, for it might cause an uproar of the people (Matthew 26:5). But God had decreed that the Passover would be the day of His sacrifice. Also Judas, because of having hardened his heart against every kindness of the Lord Jesus, had at this time permitted Satan to enter into him (v.3), showing that he was not a true believer. His motive was greed, which he might have restrained, but Satan's power impelled him to bargain with the chief priests and captains of the Jewish soldiers as to betraying his Master for a price. But note the shame of the condition of the chief priests. Being in close outward relationship to God, one would expect their character to be honorable, faithful, reliable, but they were glad to patronize a man in his treachery toward a friend! Judas then looked for an opportunity to betray Him when the masses of the people were not present.

The day of unleavened bread arrived, and Luke added, "when the Passover must be killed" (v.7). It was the day God had ordained for the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus. That day began at 6:00 pm. The mock trial took place during the night, and at 9:00am that same day He was put on the cross. But knowing well all that awaited Him, the Lord was in calm control of all the circumstances.

PREPARING THE PASSOVER

(vs.7-13)

He sent Peter and John with instructions to prepare the Passover, "that we may eat." This fellowship of eating together with His disciples was a matter of precious value to Him as He was about to be taken from them to suffer and die. How good to see that the disciples did not trust themselves to decide where to prepare the Passover, but rather asked Him to direct them. If they had not had this simplicity of faith, they could not have expected His miraculous answer to their question. He told them that as they entered the city they would meet a man bearing a pitcher of water (v.10). They needed only to follow him to the house to which he was going. The Old Testament refers often of those carrying containers of water. The container holds only a very limited measure. Does this not remind us of the ministry of the Word of God under law, as for instance with Hagar, type of the legal covenant, and the water in her bottle soon spent? (Genesis 21:14-16). The Old Testament ministry was only a sample of something better than itself (2 Corinthians 3:7-11). The man with the pitcher led to the house, as the ministry of the law leads to the house of the New Testament, that is, the truth of God's house, the Church. In reading the Old Testament all who had spiritual eyes to see would recognize that the Old Testament was leading to something far better than itself. But sad to say, only comparatively few in Israel were prepared for the marvelous revelation of the truth of the Church, for which the Old Testament was intended to prepare them.

The Lord's message to the owner of the house was immediately received, and he showed them a large upper room furnished. If the house speaks of the truth of the Church, the house of God, the upper room speaks of the heavenly elevation of Christian worship in contrast to Israel's earthly, carnal worship. The furnished room reminds us that God has made every provision for the Church: no human additions are needed, such as a robed choir, stained glass windows, imposing ceremonies, musical instruments, etc.

Indeed, at this Passover and the introduction of the Lord's supper there was nothing ornate or imposing: the Lord was facing the stark reality of the death of the cross with a small group of sorrowful men, distressed at having been told that He was leaving them. As will always be the case for faith, they found things just as He had told them, and they prepared the Passover. How little they understood all that was involved in this at the time! Later they would see it with better understanding, specially when Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. But they were obedient.

THE PASSOVER AND THE LORD'S SUPPER

(vs.14-23)

The observance of the Passover, followed by the breaking of bread, was "when the hour had come" (v.14). The breaking of bread is not to be a haphazard thing, observed just whenever people feel the Spirit leads them. The time should be known beforehand, so that the coming together is for this purpose (note Acts 20:7 as to the stated reason for gathering). What the time should be is of course dependent on local circumstances, but all should know beforehand that all may be present at the appointed hour.

Verse 15 is a most beautiful expression, restrained, yet intimating the depths of His desire for fellowship with His disciples at the moment when His great sufferings were imminent, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before suffer." In deep affection for them He sought their affections too, some little comfort of their fellowship in view of His very soon being utterly alone on a cross of unspeakable agony.

He would not again eat of the Passover until the spiritual significance of the Passover is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Of course His own death was the fulfillment of the meaning of the Passover, but Israel remains blinded as to this until they will "look on Me whom they pierced" (Zechariah 12:10) and He will bring in the kingdom for that nation. Only then will the Passover be fulfilled for them.

Verses 17 and 18 refer strictly to the Passover, and again the Lord referred to the kingdom of God in connection with the cup He gave them. He would not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God should come. This is in reference to Israel also, and the spiritual significance is most important. From that nation as such, the Lord would receive no joy until that time. This fact was in His mind when He immediately introduced the Lord's supper. For since He receives no joy from Israel at this present time, He seeks His joy from the Church, the body of Christ, during this dispensation of the grace of God.

The observance of the Lord's supper (verses 19 and 20) forms a parenthesis here, so that verse 21 connects with the Passover, not the Lord's supper, at which Judas was not present (John 13:27-30), for he had gone out before the Lord's supper. This parenthesis coincides with the parenthetic character of this present dispensation. The whole Church dispensation is a parenthesis inserted between Israel's rejection of Christ and the future time when God will deal with Israel in the tribulation period to bring them into subjection to Christ. Thus the Church is set as a lovely jewel in the dark background of Israel's history, and these two verses (1-20) are also like a beautiful jewel presented in a black background, precious indeed to the hearts of those who love the Lord at a time when He has been cast out by Israel and the world.

The bread, for which He gave thanks and broke it, is the staple food of life, symbolical of His body given for us. Suffering and death are strikingly illustrated in the bread. A grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies. After growing up, it is cut down, then threshed, and the grain ground into flour, then mixed with other ingredients, kneaded, allowed to rise, kneaded again and again, then exposed to the heat of the fire to provide food for people. Little indeed do we know the depths of His sufferings, but the remembrance of His sufferings and death is surely of vital importance in the breaking of bread. Tenderly He asked His disciples to observe this for a remembrance of Himself.

The cup -- the wine -- speaks, not so much of His sufferings, but of His blood shed, the sign of an accomplished sacrifice, for the wine symbolically speaks of joy, the precious result of the work of Christ in redemption. For it is "the cup of blessing which we bless" (1 Corinthians 10:16), though it too is the result of suffering and death, for grapes are crushed to produce the wine. Indeed, unspeakable joy is the result of the unutterable sufferings of our blessed Lord. Therefore it is "with joy and sorrow mingling" that we remember Him.

The cup is "the new covenant in My blood" (v.20) as the Lord Jesus says. For this new covenant, as was true of the old, must be ratified with the shedding of blood, but in this case the blood of a sacrifice of eternal value, for He is Himself the eternal God as well as sinless, unique Man. This new covenant had been made with Israel centuries before (Jeremiah 31:31-34), and its terms will be totally fulfilled to Israel in the Millennium. The Church today was the subject of that covenant, but we receive all the benefits of it by pure grace, through not under it! We receive those blessings, not as a matter of having been promised them, but as brought in from being far from God, by the grace of God alone. See Romans 9:4 and Ephesians 2:11-13.

Next we are faced with the somber contrast of the sad treachery of Judas. The Lord spoke the words of verses 21 and 22 during the Passover feast, before the Lord's supper was introduced, but Luke only reported those words afterwards to emphasize the great contrast of the betrayer's cold unfaithfulness to the unswerving faithfulness and grace of the Lord Jesus as expressed in the supper. The hand of Judas was with the Lord on the table when the Passover had been celebrated. Divine sovereignty had ordained that the Son of Man would go to the cross, yet this took nothing from the seriousness of human responsibility on the part of Judas. The inquiring of the disciples as to whom the Lord referred to shows that evidently none had suspicions, so the deceit of Judas was apparently well covered.

THE DISCIPLES' SELFISH AMBITION

(vs.24-30)

Verses 24 to 30 indicate another sad contrast to the grace of the Lord Jesus. This contrast is seen in His own disciples. Judas was false, but these were true disciples who quarreled about who would be the greatest! But the Lord Jesus was at the very time willingly taking the lowest place! His answer to them was beautifully gentle and faithful. The kings of the nations, while flattered as "benefactors," were actually putting others in subjection to their authority. Sinful human nature aspires to such power over men, but believers were to have no such ambitions. If one is great, let him be as the younger, taking a lesser place: if one would be chief, let him be a servant.

In natural relationships the one who is served is the greater, but the blessed Lord of glory reversed this in the world: He was in the midst of His disciples as a servant. How precious an example indeed! True service is a most honorable and fruitful occupation. The Lord gave them also a word of commendation and encouragement. It was they who had continued with Him at a time when He was tried by the animosity of the world. He deeply valued this faithfulness, and His words would surely encourage them in their appointed path of trial and of service.

Yet, though they could expect present trial, He appointed His disciples a kingdom -- future indeed, but such as the Father had appointed to Him to be revealed in due time. They would have to wait for the time of this glorious exaltation, when they would be feasted in His kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. This judging will be an administrative government in the Millennium, for which suffering with Him has fitted them. Then indeed they will have no such attitude of seeking to exalt themselves, and only then will he exalt them.

PETER WARNED, YET SELF-CONFIDENT

(vs.31-34)

In verses 31 to 34 the Lord dealt with another evil in His own disciples that contrasts sharply with His own blessed character as seen in the Lord's supper. This is human self-confidence. Peter was singled out in this case, for he was a natural leader, yet we must not suppose that he alone needed to learn lessons concerning self-confidence. Rather he was an object lesson to speak seriously to all the disciples.

The Lord Jesus told Peter that Satan had desired to have "you" (a plural word), that is, all the disciples, that he might sift them as wheat. To sift wheat is to remove the chaff from the kernels. The disciples were "wheat," but needed fleshly "chaff" removed from them. Certainly all the disciples were deeply tried that night: in fact all "forsook Him and fled" (Matthew 26:56). But it is Peter alone to whom He says, "I have prayed for you (singular) that your faith should not fail." The King James Version reads, "I have prayed for thee," which is singular. Modern English uses the word "you" for either singular or plural, but the original is singular. A special need was present, which the Lord fully discerned, though Peter did not. Yet it is good to observe that the eleven (Judas having gone out) were wheat from which of was necessary that the chaff should be separated through their experience of failure. The Lord Jesus, as the faithful Advocate, prayed for Peter before his fall. Certainly then Peter's faith did not fail, though he failed. Indeed, his faith in Christ was more strengthened by this experience that taught him to have "no confidence in the flesh" (Philippians 3:3), and after that he was fitted to "strengthen his brethren" (v.32).

But at that moment Peter's self-confidence was so strong that he virtually said the Lord was in error by telling Him that he was ready to accompany Him to prison and to death. His denial later was sadly shameful, yet his self-confidence was worse evil than his denial because it was the root cause of his denial. The Lord had the last word, however, telling Peter firmly that the rooster would not crow until Peter had three times denied that he knew Him.

THE LORD'S REPROVAL OF FLESHLY ZEAL

(vs.35-38)

Yet another sad feature of the disciples' contrary character was exposed by the Lord's words in verses 35 to 38. He reminded them of His former commission to them, when He sent them only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, without money, a container for food or shoes (Matthew 10:5-23); and they acknowledged that they had lacked nothing in this venture. Now He changes the commission. Why? Verse 37 gives the answer: Christ was to be reckoned among the transgressors. His death was imminent. Israel had rejected Him. They could no longer depend on that nation for support. In fact they would be sent to others beside the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and they would have to be prepared for their new mission by taking their purse and a food container. Vitally important also was a sword, for which even their garment was to be exchanged if one had no sword.

It is most evident that the Lord referred to "the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17), for this is the weapon most essential for every servant of God in the present age. If we must sacrifice our garment of self-respectability so as to have the Word of God as a vital possession, this is preferable to being without a solid grounding in the Word of God, by which to meet the enmity of Satan in a world under his domination. For we must take the offensive in carrying the gospel to a world opposed to it, and this requires serious preparation. For we serve a Lord who has been reckoned among the transgressors, and we can expect no sympathy from His enemies.

The disciples, however, missed the force of the Lord's words, and considered only their carnal weapons. Their forwardness in displaying two swords indicated their fleshly zeal that was ready to fight, in contrast to His firm, decided faith in meeting all enmity with His Word, without carnal weapons. He simply said, "It is enough," certainly not enough swords, but enough discussion. He would say no more since they did not understand. They had to learn by sad experience.

HIS PRAYER OF AGONY IN THE GARDEN

(vs.39-46)

Again, from verse 39 to 46, the beauty of the grace, faithfulness and devotedness of the Lord Jesus shone radiantly in contrast to the spiritual sloth of His wearied disciples. As had been His practice each night, He went to the mount of Olives, His disciples following Him. But well knowing that the sufferings of the cross lay immediately before Him, and knowing the serious testing His disciples were about to face, He told them to pray that they might not enter into temptation, that is, pray that they should not succumb to it. His words surely ought to have prepared them for the solemnity of that hour, yet how little did they realize their need of preparation! Indeed, Peter had said, "I am ready" (v.33); but we may reverently say that the Lord Himself was not ready to face the cross until His blessed preparatory prayer in the garden. He always did everything at precisely the right time, not too early, not too late.

Withdrawing a distance from them, He prayed alone. With what holy, reverent awe and adoration we should view that sight. Even this sorrow of His in Gethsemane we cannot rightly enter into; and far less that of the cross.

While the Lord Jesus prayed for the removal of the cup of the anguish of being made a curse by God (and it was perfectly right that He should have a will desirous of avoiding this), yet He added, "not my will, but Yours, be done." Here is precious, perfect manhood, having and expressing His own Human will, yet fully submitting Himself rather to the will of the Father.

Only Luke mentions an angel from heaven strengthening Him. The intensity of His distress had a weakening physical effect, and this specially is noted in the Gospel that deals with His true manhood. The angel ministered physical strength, not spiritual. Even in His saints it is the Spirit of God Himself who ministers spiritual strength (Ephesians 3:16). But as His deep agony increased the earnestness of His prayer, He was bodily afflicted with His sweat becoming like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. How truly and fully He is Man, with all the limitations of dependent weakness that this implies, but totally apart from sin and always doing the Father's will.

In contrast to His anguish, His disciples, unaware of the imminent accomplishment of the most dreadful yet wonderful event of all history, were asleep. The Lord had told them what lay before, but the sorrow of it was only sufficient to make them heavy with sleep, rather than earnestly concerned (v.45). They had slept in the presence of His glory (Luke 9:32), and now also in the presence of His agony. How sadly we resemble them! We too might take to heart His serious admonition to rise and pray lest we enter into temptation rather than resisting it.

BETRAYED AND ARRESTED

(vs.47-53)

Only the Lord was prepared when the enemy came. Judas went ahead of the crowd, evidently thinking that the Lord would not know that he was in any way linked with these soldiers. How blind was his unbelief, and how grossly deceitful, that he would kiss the Lord with the object of betraying Him! The Lord's words to him (v.48), faithful, yet with no bitterness or anger, showed him that his treachery had been discerned. What could he do now? Where could he go? For he had proven to friends and enemies alike that he could not be trusted. Terrible exposure! We know from Matthew 27:3-5 the tragic end of this pathetic victim of Satan's delusion, that he hanged himself and entered eternity lost, and destined to eternal punishment.

But the disciples were panic stricken. What could they do? They questioned the Lord as to whether they should use their carnal weapons for defense. But one of them (Peter) didn't wait for an answer. We too may sometimes pray, then excitedly act without an answer from the Lord. No doubt he aimed for the man's head, but only cut off his right ear. If the Lord had not been present, this act would have likely started a violent riot, but how blessed it is to see the calm dignity of the Son of God in true control of the situation. With gentle words He touched the servant's ear and healed him. One may wonder if that act was not enough to awaken some serious exercise in the man's soul, which would never have been awakened by Peter's fleshly zeal. For it is the goodness of God that leads people to repentance.

No mention is made in Luke of the divine power by which the Lord Jesus, speaking His Old Testament name, "I Am", put His attackers prostrate on their backs. Only John mentions this (John 18:6). But His calm rebuke to the chief priests, captains and elders in verses 52 and 53 should have burned deeply into their consciences. They had come with carnal weapons, but His daily contact with them in the temple had shown that He never adopted such weapons. The incongruity of their coming in this way only exposed their evil motives. "But," He added, "this is your hour and the power of darkness" (v.53). They were to be allowed in their brief hour, to fully express their hatred against Him and against God, they being the willing tools of satanic power.

BROUGHT TO THE HIGH PRIEST: PETER'S DENIAL

(vs.54-65)

The Lord with calm dignity submitted to being apprehended. First, He was brought to the house of the high priest, a man responsible to be Israel's intercessor, but become the accuser of Israel's Messiah! Peter followed, but afar off. In fact, all the disciples had at this time forsaken Him and fled (Matthew 26:56). John had however later entered the high priest's house, and through his influence Peter also was allowed in (John 18:15-16). Peter's heart needed warming, but the world's fire is a poor substitute for the Lord's companionship. Peter sat down in the wrong company. His self-confidence (v.33) his rash use of the sword (v.50), his following afar off (v.54), had been leading him in this dangerous direction, and now he was caught in Satan's snare. It required only the words of a girl to frighten him into denying that he knew the Lord.

Peter had a little while to think this over before another challenged him, with the same result. Then an hour went by before the third challenge, a confident, pressing one. What could he expect in remaining in their company? He certainly had no more strength the third time than the first, except to deny more strongly that he knew the Lord. As he spoke, the rooster crew. How could his eyes refrain from turning toward the Lord, as the Lord turned to look (surely in tender compassion) at Peter? No use any longer to try to brazen the matter through: he went out and wept bitterly. For he was "wheat," a true believer, but he had miserably failed in this solemn sifting of Satan. What believer has not had a similar experience in one way or another falling under Satan's attack?

MOCKED AND BEATEN BY THE JEWISH SOLDIERS

(vs.63-65)

Our eyes are directed now to the Master, who was the object of the vindictive hatred of the Jews who had arrested Him (vs.63-65). With the same quiet calmness of perfect manhood He bore in lowly dignity the many abuses inflicted on Him all that night. Luke does not say as much about this ordeal as does Matthew, but refers to the many things spoken blasphemously against Him. Peter did not have the privilege of witnessing the Lord's calm dignity in bearing the cruel abuse of the soldiers.

BEFORE THE JEWISH COUNCIL

(vs.66-71)

In the early morning the Jewish council (the Sanhedrim) was gathered to sit in judgment against the Lord Jesus. Yet the due order of a court was glaringly absent. No charge was laid, but they asked Him if He was the Christ. He responded that if He would tell them the truth, they would not believe Him. They had already made up their minds to disbelieve Him. On the other hand, if He would ask them the same question, that is, if He was Christ, they would not answer. They did not want to be involved in a discussion as to who the Christ really is, lest they should trap themselves. But they demanded that He declare Himself, was He the Christ? Why did they ask Him this? He had not demanded any official position as Christ, the Messiah. Nor would His answer to them in one way or the other affect their determination not to let Him go. They were seeking only some deceitful justification for their murderous intentions.

But He added a positive, solemn, striking statement to the effect that, in spite of all they would do against Him, the Son of Man would in due time sit on the right hand of the power of God. Though killed Him, God would exalt Him above all creation.

Blindly, they have no hesitation in fighting against God. They asked the crucial question: was He the Son of God? His answer was positive, the form of the expression meaning simply, "as you say, so it stands: I am." He had not been advertising who He was, but the matter bothered their consciences: they were afraid He might be the Son of God because of much evidence in His life and ministry, but they hated the thought of having to give Him a place of honor, and in spite of every evidence they were determined to reject Him. His answer then was all the more designed to strike their consciences.

Because of the Lord's answer they considered they had justification for condemning Him. His faithful confession was interpreted by their religious prejudice as blasphemy. He was condemned for telling the truth as to who He is.

 


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Bibliography Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Luke 22:4". L.M. Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/lmg/luke-22.html. 1897-1910.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 19th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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