Jesus’ Ministry Continues
Explore the Bible Series
February 13, 2005
Background Passage: Luke 22:1-71
Lesson Passage: Luke 22:14-22, 41-44, 66-71
Introduction: Abandonment. The icy fingers of that word grip the human heart with terrible apprehension. God did not create man to live in isolation. “It is not good that man should be alone.” The most hardened, calloused person needs companionship, and, if left isolated, he will suffer the emotional and spiritual consequences.
The twenty-second chapter of Luke, among many other things, describes the downward spiral of Christ’s abandonment as the hour of his suffering approached. Isaiah predicted that the Savior would be “despised and rejected of men,” and the ghastly prophecy came true at this time. In the first passage we will consider, Jesus gathered with his disciples for a final meal together. They should have sensed that the hour of his death approached, but instead of supplying solace and comfort to Jesus, they squabbled at the table about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom of God. Furthermore, the Lord knew perfectly well that one of his dear “followers” had already arranged to betray the Master to the Jewish religious authorities, and that man reclined at the table with him, engaging in a grisly, macabre charade of affection and devotion. Jesus must have felt alone, even in the presence of other people.
Later that evening, Jesus took several of his most “discerning” followers to a nearby garden to pray. The distress of this hour must have tried the Savior beyond what any human could understand. He asked his closest companions to pray with him; yet, three times, he returned to find them asleep. His abandonment was almost complete.
Some hours after the agonies of Gethsemane, Jesus stood before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish ruling counsel) to receive the judgment and sentence for his “crime.” The disciples’ silly neglect and indifference pales in comparison to the settled hatred of the Sadducees and priests. Their hated for Jesus, dammed up in their souls for some time, now broke forth with destructive fury. No one stood to defend the innocent Savior. Jesus stood alone before his accusers, and his abandonment was almost complete.
I. The Last Supper (Luke 22:14-22)
A. “And when the hour arrived…” (v14): The chronology of this event poses some problems. Jesus gave instructions to Peter and John about locating a room where Jesus could observe Passover with his disciples (See vv.8-12), and they followed his directive carefully. Most scholars agree that the Last Supper occurred on Thursday evening, and the Passover did not take place until Friday night. This fact led Robert Letham (The Lord’s Supper: Eternal Word in Broken Bread) to conclude that Jesus did not observe Passover with the Twelve; rather, this repast was the Covenant Meal described in Exodus 24:1-11. Our text, however, creates problems for this view. Luke, four times, referred to this event as “Passover” (See vv. 8, 11, 13, 15). Certainly, in some sense, Jesus saw this as the observance of Passover.
B. The Passover observance (vv. 15-22)
1. Geldenhuys provides a helpful, brief summary of the pattern the Jews followed in Passover observance. After the drinking of a cup of wine, the head of the household retold the story of Passover (See Exodus 12) and, the family and guests sang Psalms 113 and 114 (the little hallel). A second cup of wine followed and the eating of the lamb. Prayer, the drinking of more wine, the consumption of bitter herbs and unleavened bread, and the singing of Psalms 115-118 (the great hallel) proceeded in sequence.
2. Jesus again predicted his suffering (v. 15): The insensitivity of the disciples, in light of this verse, seems almost unbelievable. Despite his clear predictions, over the many months leading to this hour, the disciples seem oblivious to the Lord’s impending Passion.
3. Jesus anticipated that he would enjoy a formal, ceremonial meal with his followers again, some day (vv.16 and 18). These statements certainly have eschatological implications.
4. The wine and bread (vv. 17-20): The Twelve apparently ate from one loaf of bread and drank from one cup. The passage indicates the following truths about the Lord Supper:
(a) The broken bread memorialized the body of Christ that was given for the Lord’s people. Notice the language of sacrifice that Jesus employed (“…given for you”).
(b) The cup represented the New Covenant in Christ’s blood. Again, Jesus used the language of sacrifice (“…which is shed for you”). Luke clearly pointed out that the cup came after supper; thus, this was probably either the third or fourth cup consumed as part of the commemoration (Again, see Geldenhuys’ discussion).
C. The hand of the betrayer (vv. 21-22): Judas’ charade sickens the heart. He had already, of course, made arrangements to sell the Master to the Sanhedrin; yet, he played his deadly and sinister role without tipping his hand to his unsuspecting companions. The disciples had no idea who the traitor was among them. Jesus knew all things perfectly and called out the conspirator (v. 21).
III. The Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46)
A. Jesus, after the supper, made his way to the Garden of Gethsemane, east of Jerusalem (v. 39). Luke pointed out that the Lord followed his usual pattern of behavior. Surely, he knew that Judas would anticipate Jesus’ retreat to pray in the garden; yet, the Lord willingly and knowingly went to the garden anyway. The eleven disciples accompanied him to Gethsemane.
B. Verse forty reveals the Master’s concern for his followers. He urged them to pray (“keep praying”) that they would not enter temptation. Despite the Savior’s clear warnings, they seemed oblivious to the great test of faith they would encounter in the coming hours. Peter, John, and James accompanied the Lord a little farther into the garden, and Jesus knelt to pray (See Matthew 26:37 and Mark14:33). Also, Matthew and Mark indicate that Jesus awakened the “inner circle” three times during his prayers in the garden.
C. The Synoptics record that Jesus prayed for the “cup” to pass from him. The Lord, no doubt, anticipated the horrors of his impending death and, above all, the unspeakable agony of the judicial abandonment of the Son by the Father. He recoiled from this dreadful prospect; nevertheless, he freely submitted to the sovereign will of the Father.
D. Luke recorded that an angel attended the Lord during his Gethsemane agonies (the other Gospel writers do not mention this). Hendriksen provided a brief, helpful discussion of hemotidrosis, the phenomenon of small amounts of blood mixing with a person’s sweat. The strain of the experience may have caused tiny capillaries to rupture and mingle blood with perspiration.
Note: There is some debate concerning the authenticity of verses forty-three and forty-four. Some of the older Greek manuscripts do not contain these verses. Hendriksen and Geldenhuys, however, argued persuasively that these verses belong in the text.
IV. The Trial Before the Sanhedrin (Luke 22:66-71)
A. Luke concluded this chapter by recording a portion of the Sanhedrin’s examination of Jesus. They waited until daylight to bring their final suit against him.
B. The Lord acknowledged their intractable refusal to hear his testimony. The Jewish elders deserve this much credit; they knew that this trial turned on Jesus’ identity as the Christ. Their previous efforts to introduce false witnesses had miserably failed (See Mark 14:55-59). These witnesses brought conflicting testimony concerning the things Jesus said and did. The Sanhedrin finally realized that the Master’s words and deeds merely served as a indicator of his identity as the Son of God.
C. Verses sixty-seven to seventy unmistakably specify that Jesus was (and is) the Son of God. He states this unequivocally.
Conclusion: In the last sentence of the introduction of this Sunday School lesson, we considered that the abandonment of Jesus, as he stood before his accusers, was nearly complete. Of course, the final desertion did not occur until the crucifixion. Matthew and Mark record the most catastrophic abandonment of all, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” What can these piercing words mean? Who could span the breadth or plumb the depths of the Lord’s anguish expressed in these words? What did it mean for the Father to forsake the Son? Was this a judicial abandonment, one aspect of the thorough and complete atonement Jesus made for the sins of his people? These sorrowful words take us to a holy place where, perhaps, we should refuse to speculate about their meaning. At least this much we may know, at that hour, the abandonment and rejection of the Savior was complete. Let the Lord’s people never forget the unspeakable agonies he endured for the redemption of sinners.