Betrayal Begins (22:1-6)
We are now the day before Jesus’ death. Luke 22:1 tells us that it is the Passover week. The religious leaders are still looking for a way to put Jesus to death. In chapter 20 we saw the leaders give their best efforts to trip Jesus up in his words so that either (1) he would say something treasonous against Rome and therefore be handed over to the Roman authorities for judgment or (2) he would say something unpopular so that the crowds would not care if the Jewish authorities arrested him. But the Jewish leaders have failed in both efforts. However, they are still looking for a way to execute Jesus.
The opportunity now arises. Luke 22:3 tells us that Satan entered the heart of Judas, one of the apostles, to betray Jesus to them. John 13:2 records that the devil had put it into Judas’ heart to betray Jesus. This is a description of temptation, quite simply. This is not saying that Judas was forced to do something against his will. This is what Satan does: he puts an idea in our hearts. It is our choice whether we will accept the idea or reject the idea. The sinful creatures that we are, so often we accept the idea. Judas accepts the idea of betrayal. We should be shocked by this. We cannot forget that Judas is an apostle. It is easy for us to not think of who Judas was. Judas was a close companion, a student and disciple of Jesus. Judas was a friend of Jesus. Judas was one of the chosen twelve apostles. I believe that God uses the language of Satan putting this temptation into the heart of Judas to remind us that this event is something far greater than one close companion of Jesus going rogue. This is more than an apostle becoming a double agent. This is the unfolding of a cosmic struggle between Satan and the Lord, not just Judas and Jesus (cf. Revelation 12:4). Satan is at work to crush the plan of the Lord.
We also need to understand the purpose of the betrayal. The Jewish leaders fear the crowds. They cannot go into the temple courts and arrest him because of the backlash that would occur against them. Luke 21:37 tells us that Jesus is not staying in a house at night where they could find him. At night he is going back to the Mount of Olives. He is staying somewhere in the Kidron Valley and Mount of Olives. The Jewish leaders and authorities do not know where he is sleeping. So Judas is agreeing to betray Jesus at a time when there are no crowds around Jesus (22:6). The negotiation of money is made. Judas will betray Jesus for a certain sum, 30 pieces of silver. We are not told why Judas was willing to betray Jesus. The text simply tells us that he was looking for money and was willing to trade Jesus for that sum. We may read this story with disgust. How can Judas do this? How can Judas betray Jesus for money? But I want us to consider what we willingly trade Jesus for. What do we trade Jesus for? How often we will trade Jesus so we can have comfort? We will trade Jesus so we don’t have to do anything or only do what we want to do. We trade Jesus to maintain our beliefs and keep the laws of God that we want to keep. We trade Jesus to have more wealth. What will you trade a full life devoted to Jesus for?
Passover Preparation (22:7-13)
It is time for the disciples to make preparations to keep the Passover. Verse 7 contains theologically significant words. It is the day on which the Passover lamb must be sacrificed. The lamb must be sacrificed. There is no alternative. There is no other option. The lamb must be sacrificed so that the people may be delivered. Jesus tells Peter and John to go make preparations for the Passover. This was not that simple. This was a time when every Jew was required to come to Jerusalem. The city swelled to hundreds of thousands of people during the time of the Passover. The Law required a room where the family would eat the Passover meal and keep the regulations of the Law. So it is a natural question in verse 9 by Peter and John. Where are going to prepare this Passover? When we get the lamb, the herbs, the wine, and unleavened bread, where are to take it? Jesus’ answer in verses 10-11 remind us of what Jesus did when he told his disciples to get a donkey for him to ride on into Jerusalem. When they took the donkey just tell the owner that the Lord has need of it and everything will be fine. In the same way, when you go into the city a man carrying a water jar will meet you. Follow him to the house that he goes and tell the master of the house that the Teacher says you need a room to eat the Passover. He will show you a large furnished upper room. Prepare the Passover meal there. Luke is reminding us again that nothing is happening by accident. Everything is planned. Everything is purposed by God. Nothing is happening by accident. The Lord is in control of the events. There are no surprises.
Remember Jesus! (22:14-23)
Jesus immediately shows the predetermined plan of God. Jesus knows what is going to happen. Listen to his statement. He has wanted to share in this Passover with his disciples. It is the last time he is going to eat it with them because he is going to suffer (implication: he is going to be killed). Jesus is going to be killed and will not eat this Passover with them again in the flesh. But he will not remain dead because he says that he will eat it when it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. The Passover is about to be fulfilled. The shadow is becoming reality. The true Lamb of salvation is about to be slain. With these words the Passover commences.
Jesus first takes the cup. Now we should not be thrown by this. I remember reading this as a child and being confused about there being a cup, then the bread, and then the cup. But we need to know that there were many cups at the Passover feast. The first cup was when gratitude was given to God for his acts of provision and salvation. Psalms 113 and 114 were typically sung after drinking the first cup. Notice that this fits what we read in verse 17. They take the cup of the Passover and give thanks. The thanksgiving is appropriate because thanks is being given to God for his provision and salvation. The true Lamb of God has been provided and deliverance from sin is about to come. The Passover from Egypt now takes a new meaning as Jesus becomes our Passover, delivering us from Satan’s slavery, setting us free from sin and death. With this context in mind, the memorial of the Lord’s Supper begins.
Verse 19 describes the first act. Jesus takes the bread. The bread was unleavened bread during the Passover, symbolizing the removing of filth and wickedness. So if you have ever wondered why we use funny looking bread, you now know that it is unleavened bread, just as Jesus used as he instituted his memorial. After taking the bread, he gave thanks. We also follow this pattern of giving thanks for the offering of Jesus as the sacrifice for sins so that we can be set free. Then he breaks the bread and gives it to his disciples while explaining the meaning of this act. “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
The bread represented something. No one at the table thought that the bread he handed them was is actual body. During the Passover meal the bread represented the affliction of their days when Israel was enslaved in Egypt. No one thought that this was 1500 year old bread. The bread represented the affliction and suffering they experienced while in Egypt. Jesus now changes the meaning of the bread. In the same way, the implication is that the bread they are eating represents his body and is done to remember Jesus. Remember the body of Jesus that was about to suffer and be crucified. Remember the sacrifice he made for you and me. Remember the love that was shown as he would give his life for those who will kill him. He gives his life for those who are sinners. This shows the depths of God’s love for us. This is the highest price a human can pay to show that he cares for his creation. We have been amazed a couple weeks ago by the teachers who willingly gave their lives in an effort to protect their children from a wicked coward who came to shoot little children. There is no greater act of love, of sacrifice, and heroism. Giving your life for another is the pinnacle. But can you imagine giving your life for the gunman? It is one thing to give your life for these poor children. But who would give their life for the wicked? Jesus would and Jesus did. We want to think of ourselves as clean, moral, and righteous. But the scriptures tell us over and over that we are wicked, enemies, children of wrath, and despicable because of our sinfulness. But God being rich in mercy gave Jesus to die. That is what we are to remember as we take the bread. Remember the death of Jesus. Remember that your sins and mine put him on that cross.
Then Jesus took the cup after eating the bread. The “likewise” tells us that he divided the cup and gave thanks just like he did with the unleavened bread. Verse 18 tells us that the contents of the cup was fruit of the vine, which refers to grape juice or wine. Jesus explains what this cup represents. “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” The fruit of the vine that we take remembers that it was the blood of Jesus that was needed to establish a covenant with us so that we could be forgiven. To “pour out the blood” means to be murdered (cf. Genesis 9:6; Isaiah 59:7; Ezekiel 18:10). Jesus is allowing himself to be killed so that a new covenant could be enacted. This is what Jeremiah prophesied, that the days were coming when a new covenant would be made (Jeremiah 31:31-34). Moses spoke of the blood of the covenant as a pledge between us and God to do all that God has commanded us to do in this covenant (Exodus 24:8). Fellowship with God, communion with God, now becomes possible through the death of Jesus.
However, Jesus drops a bombshell. The one who betrays Jesus is sitting at the table. Jesus is going to give his life just as was determined. Nothing is a surprise. Everything is happening according to plan. But the betrayer is sitting in their very midst.
The meal we partake is a memorial to Jesus. Great events deserve great memorials. We rightly spend millions on memorial to remember wars and lives lost in those battles. We build monuments to important presidents in our countries history. We write books to remember the actions of people who did great things in history. Isn’t it shocking what a simple memorial God has given us to remember the greatest person and the greatest act ever made? But the power of the memorial should not be lost. Just as going to a monument and memorial causes us to pause, to reflect, to consider, and be moved, so we should do the same as we approach the body and the blood of Jesus.
Reflect on one more thing. Why was this the day that Jesus chose to institute the memorial? Why not any other day in his life? The reason is that the power of the Passover was intended to come through. Jesus’ disciples are eating the Passover meal but Jesus taking that meaningful moment and applying it to himself. He is our Passover. He is our deliverer. It is his blood that causes God’s wrath to pass over us. We do not receive what we deserve because Jesus has given his life for us. The apostle Paul said that Christ is our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). Our Passover has been sacrificed. Let us live in the knowledge that we have been delivered and we owe Jesus everything. And let us remember that every Sunday as we partake of the memorial.