Notes on Luke 22:1-34

Luke 22:1‑34  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 8
The end approaches with all its solemn and momentous issues; which our evangelist relates after the wonted manner, adhering to moral connection rather than illustrating dispensational change, or the series of facts in His ministry, or the glory of His person.
“Now the feast of unleavened [bread] that is called passover was drawing nigh, and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might kill him, for they were afraid of the people. And Satan entered into Judas that is called Iscariot being of the number of the twelve; and he went away and spoke with the chief priests and captains how he should deliver him up to them. And they rejoiced and engaged to give him money; and he agreed fully and was seeking an opportunity to deliver him up to them away from [the] crowd.” (Ver. 1-6.) When the will is thus engaged on the one side and on the other nearness to the Lord was enjoyed without self-judgment, nay, in conscious hypocrisy and the habitual yielding to covetousness, Satan readily found means to effect his own designs, as a liar and murderer, against the Son of God. Yet how reassuring it is to observe that both man and the devil were powerless till the due moment came for the execution of God's purposes which their malice even then only subserved, unconsciously and in a way which they counted most sure to hinder and nullify them. But He catcheth the wise in their own craftiness.
It may be well here to note that the English Version misleads if it be inferred from verse 3 that it was at this time Satan entered into Judas; for we know from John 13:2727And after the sop Satan entered into him. Then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. (John 13:27) that it was only after the sop, the latter Gospel also distinguishing this full action of the enemy from the earlier occasion when he had put it into the betrayer's heart. The truth is that Luke has no expression of time here, using only a particle of transition, and therefore contents himself with the broad fact without entering into the detail of its successive stages, which found their fitting place with him whose task of love was to linger on the person of the Lord.
“And the day of unleavened [bread] came in which the passover was to be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare the passover for us that we may eat. But they said to him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said to them, Behold, when ye have entered into the city, there shall meet you a man bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he goeth in; and ye shall say to the owner of the house, The Master saith to thee, Where is the guest chamber where I shall eat the passover with my disciples? And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went away and found as he had said to them; and they prepared the passover.” (Ver. 7-13.) There is no ground of difficulty here for him who believes the word of God. He who beforehand could describe thus minutely the person, place, time, and circumstances was in communion with the divine power and grace which controlled the heart of the Jewish householder, even though a stranger hitherto, and made him heartily acquiesce in the Lord's using it for the paschal feast with His disciples. That God should thus order all in honor of His Son for the last passover seems to me beautifully in keeping as a testimony in Jerusalem where the religious chiefs and even a disciple with the mass were hardening themselves to their destruction in His rejection and death.
“And when the hour was come, he took his place, and the apostles with him. And he said unto them, With desire I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer, for I say to you that I will not any more at all eat it until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. And having received a cup, he gave thanks and said, Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will in no wise drink henceforth of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God come.” (Ver. 14-18.) What an expression of tender love for the disciples! For the last time He would eat it with them, not at all more. As to the cup of the passover, they were to take and divide it among themselves, not He with them. The passover was to be fulfilled in the kingdom of God; and of the fruit of the vine He would in no wise drink henceforth till the kingdom of God come. It is the sign of the passing away of the old system.
Next, the Lord institutes the new thing in a foundation sign of it. “And having taken a loaf with thanksgiving he broke and gave [it] to them, saying, This is my body that is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. In like manner also the cup after having supped, saying, This cup [is] the new covenant in my blood, that is poured out for you.” (Ver. 19, 20.) It was a better deliverance on an infinitely better ground, as the cup was the new covenant in His blood, not the old legal one guarded by penal sanction in the blood of accompanying victims. What immeasurable love breathes in “my body that is given for you,” “the new covenant in my blood,” &c. It will be observed that Luke presents a more personal bearing of the Lord's words here, as in the great discourse of chapter 6. Matthew gives rather the dispensational change in consequence of a rejected Messiah.
“But, behold, the hand of him that delivereth me up [is] with me on the table; for indeed the Son of man goeth according to that which is determined, but woe to that man by whom he is delivered up! And they began to question together among themselves which of them could be he that was about to do this. And there was also a strife among them which of them should be accounted greater: but he said to them, The kings of the nations rule over them, and those that exercise authority over them are called benefactors. But ye [shall] not [be] so; but let the greater among you be as the younger, and the leader as he that serveth. For which [is] greater, he that is at table or he that serveth? [Is] not he that is at table? But I am among you as he that serveth. But ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations. And I appoint to you as my Father appointed to me a kingdom, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Ver. 21-30.) The Lord announces the betrayer's presence at that last feast of love. How perfect the grace which knew but never once by behavior made known the guilty soul! how consummate the guile of him who had so long heartlessly companied with such a Master! Now when His death in all its ineffable fragrance and power for them is before Him and as a sign little then appreciated by them, He tells out the sad secret which lay on His heart, a bitter burden He felt for him who as yet felt it not at all. And the disciples question who it could be, but none the less strive for the greater place. How humbling for the twelve, especially at such a moment in presence of Him, of the supper before them, and of the cup before Him alone! But such is flesh, in saints of God most of all offensive when allowed to work. No good thing dwells in it. Tenderly but in faithful love the Lord contrasts the way of men with that which He would cultivate and sanction in His own. The condescension of patronage is too low for saints. It is of earth for nature's great ones. He would have them to serve as Himself. In a ruined wretched world what can the love that seeks not its own do but serve? The greatest is he that goes down the lowest in service. It is Christ: may we be near Him! Then He turns to what they had been in view of His disposal of the kingdom according to the Father's mind, and puts the highest value on all they had done. Matchless love surely this which could thus interpret His calling and keeping them as their continuing with Him in His temptation! But such is Jesus to us as to them, while in the day of glory each will have his place, yet all according to the same rich unjealous grace.
But the Lord makes a special appeal to one while warning all of a common danger. “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has begged for1 you to sift as wheat, but I have besought for thee that thy faith fail not; and thou, when once turned back,2 stablish thy brethren. And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both unto prison and unto death. And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow to-day till thou hast thrice denied that thou knowest me.” (Ver. 31-34.) Love not only brings into what itself possesses, but holds out and provides against the greatest possible strain where every appearance must condemn the object loved. Yet was it no lack of love that exposed Peter to the sin of denying his Master, but his self-confidence made shipwreck of his faithfulness. Through grace alone his faith failed not utterly. We see it not only in the tears of bitter self-reproach, but yet more in the earnest ardor after the Lord which went into the tomb whither John had outrun him. But we see the grace of the Lord, which here supplicated beforehand, still shining after all in the message to the “disciples and Peter,” in His early appearing to him by himself, and in his later more than reinstatement when all his failure was traced and judged to the root. What can we express but our shame and sorrow that such is nature even in the most zealous, when put to the test and above all when the word of the Lord is practically slighted? If we believe not His admonition of our own weakness, we are on the point of proving its truth, perhaps to the uttermost.