Notes on Luke 22:35-71

Luke 22:35‑71  •  11 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The Lord now prepares the disciples for the great change at hand. He contrasts their past experience with that which was coming. “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse and scrip and sandals, did ye lack anything? And they said, Nothing. He said therefore to them, But now he that hath a purse, let him take [it] and likewise his scrip, and he that hath none, let him sell his garment and buy a sword. For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among lawless [men], for also the things concerning me have an end.” Thus the changes to them depended on Him. Jesus was about to be given up to the hands of wicked men; the protection thrown around Him, as around them, was now to be withdrawn. Clearly this is no question of atonement though of suffering and rejection in which others could have communion, as the apostle expressly teaches in Phil. 3 Jesus was despised and rejected of men, yea, given up to it finally of God, besides being for us made sin which belongs to Him alone.
Little did the disciples understand their Master. Indeed flesh and blood can never relish suffering, more especially suffering such as His where man proves his vileness and opposition to God to the uttermost. Even saints are slow to enter in. They necessarily feel the value of atonement; for otherwise they have no standing-place, not even a well-grounded hope of escape as sinners before God. “And they said, Lord, behold, here [are] two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough” —a correction of their thought, however mild. For had it been a question of the literal use of the sword in self-defense, two must have proved a wholly inadequate means of protection. The Lord had employed the sword, purse, and scrip as symbolic of ordinary means on which the disciples were henceforward to be thrown, but certainly not to abandon personally the ground of grace in presence of evil, even to the last degree of insult and injury, on which He had insisted at the beginning of their call and charge as apostles. No more however is said; the true sense is left for that day when the Holy Spirit being given would lead them into all the truth. Alas! Christendom has lost the faith of the Spirit's presence as well as the certainty of the truth, into which grace alone has been leading back a feeble remnant as they wait for the return of the Lord Jesus. Truths such as this cannot be appreciated unless We go forth unto Him without the camp bearing His reproach.
But now we approach what is still more solemn and sacred ground. “And going out he proceeded according to custom to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples also followed him. And when he was at the place, he said to them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation. And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and, having knelt down, he prayed, saying, Father, if thou wilt, remove this cup from me; nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” It was indeed no wonted occasion even for Him, but the awful moment of the enemy's return who had departed for a season after his old defeat in the wilderness. But this garden was to behold an equally decisive defeat of the enemy as became the Second man, the Lord from heaven. It was no longer Satan seeking to draw away from the path of obedience by what was desirable in the world. He sought now, if he could not drag Jesus out of the path of obedience, to fill Him with alarm and to kill Him in it. But Jesus shrank from no suffering and weighed before God all that was before Him.
He watched and prayed and suffered being tempted. The disciples failed to pray and entered into temptation, so that nothing but grace delivered them.
The Holy Spirit does not give us the detail of the three prayers of the Lord as in Matthew, but rather a summary of all in one. In both we see His dependence in prayer and His tried but perfect submission to the will of His Father. Here however we have what is characteristic of our evangelist, both in the angelic succor which was sent Him, and in the bloody sweat that accompanied His conflict. It is well known that many fathers, Greek and Latin, have cast a doubt upon verses 43 and 44. “And an angel appeared to him from heaven strengthening him. And being in conflict he prayed more earnestly and his sweat became as clots of blood falling down upon the earth.” Several of the more ancient MSS indeed also omit them, as the Alexandrian, Vatican, and others, besides ancient versions; but they are amply verified by external witnesses, and the truth taught has the closest affinity to the line which Luke was given to take up. The true humanity and the holy suffering of the Lord Jesus stand out here in the fullest evidence.
Here again however, observe that the suffering differs essentially from atonement. For not only does He speak out of the full consciousness of His relationship with the Father, but He has also the angelic help which would have been wholly out of season when forsaken of God because of sin-bearing. All was most real. It is not meant that His sweat fell merely like great drops of blood, but that it became this as it were; that is, the sweat was so tinged with blood which exuded from Him in His conflict that it might have seemed pure blood. “And rising up from prayer he came to his disciples and found them sleeping from grief. And he said to them, Why sleep ye? Rise up and pray that ye enter not into temptation.” We shall see presently the result of their sleeping instead of praying. Not only did the absent Judas betray, but all forsook, and the most prominent of the three chosen to be nearest the Lord denied Him with oaths, denied Him thrice before the cock crew. They entered into temptation and utterly failed. We can only be kept by watching and prayer. Evil is not judged aright save in the presence of God. There the light detects and His grace is sufficient, even for us. But man has no strength against Satan. It must be His light and His grace; without the power of His might we enter only to dishonor our Master. Leaning upon Him the weakest of saints is more than conqueror. Thus only is the devil resisted, and he flees from us.
“As he was yet speaking, lo, a crowd and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss him. And Jesus said to him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?” How gracious, but how terrible the words of Jesus to him who knew his Master and his Master's haunts enough to deliver Him thus to His enemies! “And those around him, seeing what was about to happen, said, Lord, shall we smite with the sword? And a certain one of them smote the bondman of the high priest and took off his right ear. And Jesus answering said, Suffer thus far, and having touched the ear he healed him.” He could still work miraculously by the Holy Ghost. Indeed we know from John 18 that He could and did cast them all down to the ground by the power of His name; but here it is the witness of His grace to man, even at such a moment, rather than of His own personal majesty, who was about to be cast off and to suffer on the cross. Each incident is of the deepest interest and eminently suited to the Gospel in which it occurs.
“And Jesus said unto the chief priests and captains of the temple and elders who had come against him, Have ye come out as against a robber with swords and sticks? When I was day by day with you in the temple, ye did not stretch out your hands against me; but this is your hour and the power of darkness.” (Ver. 52, 53.) God was giving up the Lord Jesus to men before He was forsaken in accomplishing the work of redemption.
“And having apprehended him, they led and introduced him into the house of the high priest. And Peter followed afar off. And having lit a fire in the midst of the court, and sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a certain maid having seen him sitting by the light fixed her eyes on him and said, And he was with him. But he denied him, saying, Woman, I do not know him. And after a short while another seeing him, said, And thou art of them. But Peter said, Man, I am not. And after the distance of about one hour, another strongly maintained, saying, In truth he also was with him, for he is a Galilean too. But Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he was yet speaking, a cock crew. And the Lord turned and looked upon Peter, and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he said to him, Before the cock crows to-day, thou shalt deny me thrice. And Peter going forth without wept bitterly.” (Ver. 54-62.) We see here the worthlessness of natural courage in the saint and the weakness of one's own love when relied on. Only God can sustain, and this too in exercised distrust of self, when the word is received by faith and the heart abides in dependence on God. A servant girl frightens an apostle, and the first false step involves others deeper and farther if possible from God, for what is our consistency if we be not consistent with the cross? The unbelief which refuses the humiliating warning of the Lord works out the accomplishment of His word. But the Lord never fails, and as He had not in faithfulness beforehand, so, after the fact, He does not hide His face from Peter, but turns round and looks at him. His own sufferings did not pre-occupy the Lord, so as to forget Peter, and Peter's guilt and shame in no way turned the Lord from him but rather drew His look towards him. “And Peter remembered the word of the Lord,” and his sorrow worked repentance, though the Lord carried it farther still, as we know, after He rose from the dead; for the root of evil must be judged as well as the fruit, if we are to be fully blessed and would know how to help others, as Peter was called to do and did.
Then follows the sad tale of men's insolence and blasphemy towards the Lord. “And the men that held him, mocked him, striking him; and covering him up they asked, saying, Prophesy who it is that struck thee. And many other things they spake blasphemously against him.” (Ver. 63-68.) Such was the rude evil of the underlings. The chiefs might act with more seeming decorum, but with no less unbelief and scorn of His claims. “And when it was day, the elderhood of the people, both chief priests and scribes, were gathered together, and led him into their council, saying, If thou art the Christ, tell us. But he said to them, If I tell you, ye will not at all believe; and if I should ask, ye will not at all answer. But henceforth shall the Son of man be seated on the right hand of the power of God. And they all said, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am. And they said, Why have we need of witness further? For we have ourselves heard from his mouth.” (Ver. 66-71.) There was lying testimony brought against Jesus; but it failed. He was condemned for the truth, which man believed not. He declines speaking of His Messianic dignity, which was already rejected by man, and was about to be replaced by His position as Son of man on the right hand of the power of God. If they all infer that He is the Son of God, say it or gainsay it whoever will, He acknowledged and denied not, but acknowledged that truth which is eternal life to every believer.