For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough

22:1.  “Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.”

As here the feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread are linked together, so are what they typify linked together in 1 Cor 5:6-8, “Your glorying is not good.  Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.  For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  As Christ is the true Passover Lamb Whose precious blood has cleansed us from all sin, so do the seven days of the feast of Unleavened Bread represent the whole of our Christian lives.  Sin, which leaven represents, should have no part in our lives.

This would be the last Passover that God would recognize until the resumption of the Levitical ritual in the Millennium (see comments on verse 16), for following that celebration, the true Passover Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ would offer Himself without spot to God, making complete atonement for sin by the shedding of His Own precious blood at Calvary, He being the One portrayed by all the Passover lambs of the OT dispensation, as it is written, “For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us,” 1 Cor 5:7.

The Passover lamb was killed on the 14th of the month, and in the following seven days only unleavened bread was eaten, the whole eight day period being called “the feast of unleavened bread.”  The typological picture is of conversion through faith in Christ as the true Passover Lamb, the following seven days portraying the life of the believer feeding on the unleavened bread of the written Word which is the revelation of Him Who is the living Word, see 1 Cor 5:6-8.

22:2.  “And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.”

The murderous intent of the Jewish leaders declares the adamant hatred of the natural man against God.  That old nature, still in the believer, hates God with the same intensity.  As the religious leaders of the Jews sought to hide their hatred under the cloak of religion, so does unconverted humanity today use the same disguise.

22:3.  “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.”

Satan means an adversary; Judas, Greek for Judah, means he shall be praised; and Iscariot, he will be hired: a man of the cities (?).  There is a fitting irony in that the name which means praise, should in Judas be for ever associated with infamy; nor should we miss the evil significance of his name he will be hired.  And who can calculate the evil to which a man will be impelled when Satan takes possession of him!  The very contemplation of Judas’ treachery, and his miserable end, should make us tremble at the evil that may result from even a momentary departure from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The extent to which Satan entered into Judas and possessed him may be gauged from the fact that only he and the beast emperor are called “the son of perdition,” see Jn 17:12 and 2 Th 2:3.

22:4.  “And he went on his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.”

Two unimaginable wonders confront us in this verse: one, that those claiming to be in fellowship with God and to be leaders of His people, could have been guilty of such villainy as to plot the murder of an innocent man; and two, that one who had been in such close association with the Lord for over three years, could have plotted His betrayal so coldly and calculatedly.  In the first we see the evil that lies behind the mask of mere religion; and in the second, the inherent hatred against God lurking in the heart of every unbeliever.

23:5.  “And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.”

In Jn 12:6 it is recorded that Judas was a thief, who stole from the bag containing the money which belonged to the Lord and the little group of disciples, and the context of that announcement makes it clear that he loved money.  What he didn’t know was that the Lord knew all about his greed and thievery, and the wonder is that he himself didn’t realize this, for the Lord had demonstrated on more than one occasion that He knew, not only what men did, but also what they thought.  Similar lack of wisdom afflicts all who steal from God, e.g., withholding what is His due in our weekly offering; keeping for ourselves time that belongs to Him; pretending to others that we give adequate time to prayer and study, when in fact we don’t, etc.

Satan has few more successful enticements than the love of money, that illicit love costing millions their souls, and others the loss of reward at the judgment seat of Christ.  Every believer should pray to be kept from this evil.

22:6.  “And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.”

He who would not be bound by love to the service of Christ, bound himself by avarice to that of Satan, and so does everyone who loves money.  It will cost every such sinner his soul; and every such believer, reward at the Bema.  Nor should we fail to note the secrecy surrounding his evil work.  He would keep it hidden from the eyes of the people, forgetting that he couldn’t hide it from the eye of God.  Much similar dissimulation is practiced today, not only by sinners, but by those professing faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The priests’ need of Judas is explained by the fact that he knew best where the Lord could be found after the crowds who thronged Him during the day had gone to their own homes, for any attempt to arrest Him in the presence of the multitude would have incited a riot.

22:7.  “Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.”

The feast beginning on the fourteenth day when the Passover lamb was killed, and ending on the twenty-first day, was generally called the feast of unleavened bread because during that time leaven was not to be found in any Jewish home.

22:8.  “And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.”

Why Peter and John were sent to make the preparation, isn’t disclosed.

22:9.  “And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare?”

22:10.  “And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.”

This nameless man who guided the disciples to the upper room, is a type of the Holy Spirit; the pitcher of water on his shoulder, portraying the written Word borne by the Holy Spirit.  He would be easy to find, for it was unusual to find a man doing this work which was normally done by women.

22:11.  “And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, the Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?”

How or when is not disclosed, but clearly the head of that house had been previously instructed by the Lord relative to the matter of furnishing a room where He could eat the Passover with His disciples.

22:12.  “And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished, there make ready.”

22:13.  “And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.”

Their finding everything exactly as the Lord had foretold reminds us that every word He has spoken will likewise be fulfilled, not only as to the earth, but also as to the eternal bliss of the saved, and the eternal misery of the lost.

22:14.  “And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.”

The Lord was never a minute before or behind His Father’s time, nor should we; and their being there “when the hour was come” indicates that none was tardy in taking his place there.  It is blatant irreverence for any believer to be late in coming to the Lord’s Supper.  Judas was also present, but a careful reading of the four Gospels makes it clear that he was there only for the Passover.  He went out before the Lord instituted the Lord’s Supper.

22:15.  “And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:”

The Lord’s very great desire to eat this Passover with them may have been because its being the last which God would recognize invested it with a special character: it would be not only the end of the old order, but the introduction to the new and better, the blessings of that new order being made available to men through the offering of the better sacrifice: the Lord Himself, He being the true Passover Lamb to which all the others pointed.

22:16.  “For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

This assures us that the Passover, like all of the OT ordinances, was typological, pointing to the better reality of which it and the others were but the shadows.  The Lord’s clear statement that He would eat the Passover in a future day, that is, in the Millennium, reminds us that in that coming halcyon age the OT ritual will be restored, but with the character of commemoration rather than anticipation.  As in the past it has anticipated Calvary, in the Millennium it will be the means by which, not only Israel, but also the Gentiles will celebrate their remembrance of that great sacrifice, and express their worship.

22:17.  “And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:”

There has been much debate as to whether they all drank from that one cup, though there is nothing in Scripture relative to the Passover, to indicate that such was ever done.  Here the Lord simply told them to divide it among themselves, and there is nothing connected with the word “divide” to imply that the division of the contents was accomplished by all of them drinking out of that one cup.  The idea seems to be rather, that each one poured some wine into his own cup from that one handed them by the Lord.  It is to be remembered also that this was the Passover, not the Lord’s Supper which He ordained after the Passover meal had ended.

22:18.  “For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.”

As noted already, “the kingdom of God” here refers to the millennial kingdom; and the clear implication is that then the Lord will drink wine again.  It is difficult, however, to imagine just why He would eat the Passover, and it may be that He was speaking metaphorically, for in Scripture bread speaks of satisfaction; and wine, of joy, so that He may have been saying that in the Millennium He would experience the satisfaction and joy of seeing the result of His sacrifice at Calvary, not just in relation to Israel and the converted Gentiles, but also in relation to the redeemed earth itself.

22:19.  “And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you:”

This appears to have been after the Passover meal.  He was instituting a new ordinance, the Lord’s Supper. It is necessary, however, to realize that as is made clear in Acts, believing Jews continued to use the Levitical ordinances as well as Christian baptism and the Lord’s Supper until the end of the Jewish dispensation in AD 70, there being one order for believing Jews, and another for believing Gentiles, during that thirty-eight year era.  Thereafter, the order appointed for believing Gentiles, became the order for the whole Church.

Some translators insist that the words following “This is my body,” and all of verse 20 are not in the better manuscripts, and should be omitted, but whether they belong in Luke’s Gospel is of little consequence, for Paul quotes some of them in 1 Co 11:24, so clearly they do constitute part of the record of what the Lord did that night.

As to the frequency with which the supper is to be eaten, Scripture, not only in its direct statements, but also in its typology,  makes it very clear that it is to be on the first day of each week, see, for example, Ac 20:7, and Le 24:8.

22:20.  “Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”

This very obviously relates to the Lord’s Supper rather than the Passover, and what has been said concerning the cup used at the Passover meal, applies here also, there being nothing in Scripture that would warrant insistence on the use of a communal cup at the Lord’s Supper.  It seems better therefore, to leave the settlement of that question with the elders of each local church, without making their decision binding on all the churches.

More important than the exact form to be used relative to the cup at the Lord’s Supper, is the supreme value of the precious blood which is portrayed, not by the cup, but by the wine in it.  Apart from the shedding of that precious blood there could be no remission of sin.

The fact that the Lord hadn’t yet been crucified when He instituted the Lord’s Supper, negates the erroneous doctrine of Rome that by transubstantiation the bread and wine become His actual flesh and blood.  It is to be further noted that Jews were forbidden to drink blood.

22:21.  “But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.”

Having described the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Luke now goes back to describe part of what took place while the Passover meal was still in progress, for it is evident from Jn 13:26-30 that Judas was given the sop during the Passover meal, and that he went out before the Lord’s supper was instituted.

22:22.  “And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!”

Even as the hour of His own death approached, the Lord warned Judas of the terrible eternity to which he was going, but nothing would deter this dupe caught in Satan’s toils.  His love of money had blinded him to everything else, and he would plunge on to his doom.  How tarnished those thirty pieces of silver quickly became, but the realization of their worthlessness came too late! For them Judas had sold his soul.  There are multitudes in hell who have also sold their souls for equally worthless things.

22:23.  “And they began to enquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.”

They too found it incredible that one of their own company should be guilty of betraying the Lord.

22:24.  “And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.”

It seems that they didn’t realize how near the Lord’s betrayal and death were, for it is highly unlikely that had they known they would have been quarreling over something as petty as their positions in the coming kingdom.  It is also unbelievable that on that particular night when they had kept the Passover, and eaten the Lord’s Supper, they should have stooped to what was unworthy of those who had been called, not just to be His disciples, but to be apostles in a very special sense: those to whom the Lord had committed the doctrine which would be the foundation of the Church, He Himself, of course, being the great foundation Stone.

22:25.  “And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.”

The quarreling, envious disciples were manifesting the very same proud spirit as marked the men of the world, not realizing that the kingdom of God was governed by very different principles.  It is sadly apparent that the same spirit marks some professing believers today also.  They covet high positions among men, and seem to give little thought to the positions they will occupy in the eternal kingdom, nor realize that their positions in that kingdom will be determined by how they lived their lives here on earth.

22:26.  “But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.”

The Lord was introducing them to a principle that was completely foreign to their way of thinking.  The greatest must take the place of the least, and be as a servant to all the others.  But why?  The Lord was looking, not at earth, but at the millennial kingdom and the eternal state.  A man’s place in the economy of earth was brief at best, and therefore of little importance, except for the fact that as he aspired to a high place here on earth, he would occupy a correspondingly low one in the coming kingdom; and vice versa.

22:27.  “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.”

According to the Wycliffe Bible Commentary the word serveth “was not used of slaves, but of those who performed tasks for the aid of others.”

He was to be their example.  What He was on earth was very different from what He would be in eternity.  On earth He “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross,” Php 2:7-8; “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” Php 2:9-11.  The depths to which He stooped here on earth determined the heights to which He has now been exalted.  And so will it be with us.  The lower the place we have been willing to occupy on earth for His sake, the higher will be the place He assigns us in heaven.  What folly then to be seeking high places on earth, when the eternal place will be correspondingly lower!

22:28.  “Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations (trials, testings).”

In spite of much that merited rebuke, there was this which the Lord valued highly: they had continued faithfully with Him through all He had endured at the hand of His enemies during the years of His public ministry.  He still sets a high value on faithfulness.

22:29.  “And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;”

It is not that He was appointing them a kingdom separate from His, but that He was assigning them places of authority in that kingdom which the Father had given Him.  As to that kingdom, it is first the millennial, and then the eternal in the new earth and heavens.

22:30.  “That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

What a recompense for a few years of faithfulness on earth!  Since the eternal recompense of every man will be in proportion to faithfulness or disloyalty on earth, it behooves us to pass through this scene having our eyes fixed on “the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus,” Php 3:14, evaluating the worth of earthly things by the standard of heaven.

As noted already, eating speaks of satisfaction; and drinking, of joy, so that above and beyond the literal pleasure of sitting at the Lord’s table in His kingdom, will be also eternal satisfaction and joy.  What dignity and honor are reserved for those who have been willing to suffer shame and abuse for His sake here on earth!  And again we must note that there is nothing in Scripture to indicate that resurrected individuals will return to earth in the Millennium.  They will be reigning with us over the millennial earth, but from the heavenly, not the earthly Jerusalem.

22:31.  “And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:”

It is to be noted that it wasn’t just Simon Peter whom Satan wanted to sift or test: it was “you” (plural) all of them.  As to why the Lord specifically addressed Himself to Peter, it may be that He knew Peter’s failure would be more personal than that of the others.  They all forsook Him and fled, but it was Peter who personally and vehemently denied the Lord three times.

22:32.  “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

While Satan’s sifting was to be of all of them, it was for Peter personally that the Lord had prayed.  The others, having forsaken Him as a group, more than as individuals, would have guilt, but it would be less intensely personal than that of Peter.  There was the very real possibility that Peter’s consciousness of guilt would have been so great that he would never return to the Lord. Neither this, nor the words “when thou art converted” should be taken to imply that Peter wasn’t a believer, or that there was danger of his losing his salvation.  A believer can never lose his salvation.  The failure of faith here has to do with the possibility of his failing to return to the Lord’s service, but that is a very different thing from losing his salvation. 

In connection with interrupted service, it is very possible for a believer to be guilty of some fault which he himself considers so great as to preclude his ever resuming his service, when in fact, the fault may not be of such a nature.  Peter’s was such a case. Another example is that of John Mark whom Paul refused to take with him and Barnabas, because Mark had “departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work,” Ac 15:36-40, but later Paul wrote to Timothy saying, “Take Mark and bring him with thee, for he profitable to me for the ministry,” 2 Tim 4:13.  On the other hand, however, it is tragic when the fault is of such a character as to permanently mar that believer’s testimony and make further profitable service impossible.

“... when thou art converted” is literally “when you have retraced your steps and returned to me.”  As noted already, it does not imply that Peter wasn’t converted at the time the Lord addressed him, or that there was any possibility of his losing his salvation.

God’s ways are not our ways.  Peter’s failure in the testing proved to be one of the “all things” which God works together for good to them that love Him.  Had there not been the failure, Peter’s self-confidence would have been bolstered, but it is evident that he emerged from the failure with his self-confidence gone, as Job emerged from his testing with his self-righteousness gone.  That failure equipped Peter to do what the Lord commanded him, “When thou art converted (have returned), strengthen they brethren.”  The God Who brings life out of death, can also bring success out of seeming failure.  The death of Christ is the supreme example.  Peter, no longer relying on self, but on God, would not only be strong himself, but would also be able to strengthen his brethren, for God has said, “My strength is made perfect in weakness,” and Paul having also learned that lesson, could write, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me ... for when I am weak, then am I strong,” 1 Co 12:9-10.

22:33.  “And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.”

How little Peter knew of his own feeble frame, or the foolishness of his boasting!  He is a wise man who has learned to distrust self completely.

Another lesson we may learn from Peter’s experience is that very often we are tested, not in great things, but in small.  He might indeed have been ready to go to prison or to die for Christ’s sake, but the test came in a totally unexpected form, Would he admit that he knew Christ?

Relative to this verse Norman Crawford makes the instructive comment, “He said, ‘with thee I am ready’ but he found that, when alone, he was not ready.”  The closer we keep to Christ the less likelihood there is of our falling.

22:34.  “And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.”

It might have been expected, that thus forewarned, Peter would have been on guard, and would not have denied the Lord, but in spite of the warning, he failed; and in spite of many warnings so do we.

22:35.  “And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.”

22:36.  “Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

The significance of these two verses isn’t readily apparent at first reading, but relative to the first part, He had shown them that they could trust Him for all their needs, and even when He would be taken away from them, they were to have that same trust. Even when they had taken nothing, they had been provided with all they needed.  That same care would continue after He had returned to heaven.  But this was not meant to beget an irresponsible attitude relative to their needs.  The Lord Himself, though possessed of all power, never once used that power on His own behalf.  The disciples had to learn that they were to live as He had lived.  The power with which He had endowed them was for ministry to others, not to place them in a superior position that would see their temporal needs met in a manner different from that by which He supplied the needs of other men.

Relative to the second part, the need for each one to buy a sword, the language here is obviously symbolic, the sword being the figure of the written Word, “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword,” Heb 4:12; “... the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Eph 6:17.  “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds,” 2 Co 10:4.  In Pr 23:23 it is written, “Buy the truth, and sell it not,” and in Isa 55:1 it is also written, “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”  But in what way is the Word to be bought?  Very simply. They (and we) must be willing to give up the world and the things that pertain to it, and live according to what is written in Scripture.  Knowing the Word, however, is not buying it.  We buy it when we obey it.  Obedience costs something.

If, however, we spiritualize the sword, sound exegesis requires that we also spiritualize the purse, scrip, and shoes, and clearly they too portray the written Word.  The purse is associated with money, and Scripture obeyed will make us rich spiritually beyond our wildest dreams. 

Strong’s Concordance defines a scrip as “a wallet or leather pouch for food.”  The written Word is our spiritual food. 

The shoe, separating the foot from the ground, is used symbolically in Scripture to speak of separation.  The Word obeyed will enable us to walk in separation from an evil world.

22:37.  “For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.”

His being reckoned among the transgressors is a quotation from Isa 53:12, and clearly He was telling them that His death was about to take place, not, however, because the Jewish leaders hated him, but because it was written in Scripture that He would die to make atonement for sin.  As He informed Pilate, “Thou couldest have no power at all against me, except it were given thee from above,” Jn 19:11, neither had the Jews any power against Him except by God’s permission.  He laid down His life voluntarily.

“... for the things concerning me have an end” means simply that He had come to the end of His earthly life.  All that was written concerning Him was about to be fulfilled.

22:38.  “And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords.  And he said unto them, It is enough.”

Obviously they hadn’t understood the spiritual import of His words, and when He said, It is enough, He wasn’t saying that it was enough for them to have two swords, but that for the present it was enough that He had given them this command: their enlightenment would come in due time.  For example, they hadn’t understood His words relative to His death and resurrection, but they understood on the resurrection morning when the angel said, “He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.  And they remembered his words,” Lk 24:6-8.

22:39.  “And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.”

As He had spent many other nights on that same mount, so would He also now on His last night on earth, return to the place hallowed by the memory of the times when He had communed there with His Father.

22:40.  “And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”

Right to the end, His concern was for His disciples, rather than for Himself, and His telling them to pray that they might not have to face trial or testing, was undoubtedly related to the knowledge, that as stated in verse 31, Satan had insisted on the right to sift (test) all of them like wheat.  He knew how vulnerable they would be after seeing Him led away by the multitude, and later crucified. 

If they obeyed His command, and did pray to be kept from testing, God’s answer to their prayer was No, for they weren’t spared the testing which revealed just how very human and failing they were; but the Lord’s prayer, verse 32, was answered: their faith failed only momentarily.  Following His resurrection they all returned to Him, and spent their lives in His service.  Judas of course, wasn’t among them.  He wasn’t to be subjected to this trial.  He had already been tested - by the offer of thirty pieces of silver - his professed faith being revealed for the spurious thing it was.

22:41.  “And he was withdrawn from them about a stone’s cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,”

Matthew and Mark inform us that He took Peter and James and John with Him, but He separated Himself a little distance from them also.  His reverent kneeling rebukes the irreverence displayed today by many, not only in their posture during prayer, but also in their language.

22:42.  “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”

The dread with which He anticipated Calvary is disclosed in this fervent prayer, reminding us of how perfectly human He was, and how dreadful was the experience lying before Him.  But the appended condition declares also how perfect was the submission of His will to that of His Father.  We should be careful to conclude every petition addressed to God, with the same words.

22:43.  “And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.”

Calvary and its terrible agony might not be avoided, but His Father supplied the needed strength to endure it; and so is it in regard to every trial which we encounter: while it may be necessary for us to endure the trial, our Father will make sure that we are given the needed strength to meet it, see 1 Co 10:13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able: but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

22:44.  “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”

It is impossible to measure the Lord’s deep distress as He contemplated Calvary, nor can finite minds ever comprehend the agony of soul that would turn sweat to blood.

22:45.  “And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,”

Whether the disciples understood the imminence of the Lord’s death is uncertain, but one thing is clear: they too were deeply troubled and sorrowful, but unlike their Lord Who prayed, they were overcome with sleep.

22:46.  “And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”

Only the Lord understood the malign activity raging that night in the realm of darkness, for as He approached the end of His earthly life, Satan, maddened by the knowledge that his own end also was near, must have been impelled to frenzied exertion in an attempt to avert his doom.  (That Satan is aware of all that is written in Scripture is declared in Re 12:12, “... the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.”  Note also his quotation of Scripture in Lk 4:10, during his temptation of the Lord).  Had they known of the evil power overshadowing them that night, the disciples would have been praying instead of sleeping.

22:47.  “And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.” 

22:48.  “But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?”

It was the prince of darkness who had energized that multitude, this being another of his vain attempts to destroy the Lord.  And the kiss of Judas must surely remain for ever the supreme symbol of treachery.

22:49.  “When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?”

This brings us back to the swords mentioned in verses 36 and 38, but leaves us no closer to an explanation of their significance, so again I regret having to leave this without comment.

22:50.  “And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.”

John informs us that it was Peter who wielded the sword, and that the name of the man whose ear he severed was Malchus, meaning kingly, but I regret having to leave this verse also without comment since I can neither see the significance of the meaning of the name, nor the cutting off of the ear.

22:51.  “And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far.  And he touched his ear, and healed him.”

There can be no question that the Lord’s forbidding the disciples to intervene was because what was happening was all part of God’s great plan for the putting away of sin, and the reconciliation of believers to Himself.  The healing of Malchus reminds us of the Lord’s concern for the blessing of others even as the hour of His own death drew near.

22:52.  “Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?”

22:53.  “When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

The Lord directed His words to the leaders, and rebuked them for the cowardice that cloaked their nefarious activity under the cover of night, reminding us that the literal darkness was entirely suited to the deed, for the work they did was that of their master, the evil prince of darkness.

22:54.  “Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest’s house.  And Peter followed afar off.”

To the natural eye it may have looked like the arrest of a criminal, but spiritual eyes see instead the fulfillment of what the prophet had written, “He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter,” Isa 53:7.

Peter also went that night to the high priest’s house, but for a very different purpose.  Satan wasn’t so busy orchestrating the Lord’s death that he hadn’t time also to sift Peter.  What occurred in that house that night revealed the perfect integrity of Christ, but also the human weakness of His poor over confident disciple.  What opportunities were given there for Peter to display his loyalty to his Lord!  How miserably he failed!  But before condemning him we must ask ourselves whether we haven’t also denied our Lord.  Did I have an opportunity today to present the Gospel to someone, but didn’t?  Then I too denied my Lord.

22:55.  “And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.”

As the darkness was the fitting backdrop for the evil being perpetrated that night, so was the chill air the fitting reflection of the cold calculating merciless hearts of the perpetrators.  Well might they seek warmth around a fire.  The chill had penetrated their very souls, excluding any thought of mercy or of repentance.  And Peter sat down among them!  But how often have we also “sat down among them”?  Whenever we have deliberately chosen the company of the unconverted for any reason other than to present them with the Gospel, we have repeated Peter’s folly.

22:56.  “But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.”

When or where this servant girl had seen Peter in His company isn’t disclosed, nor is it important for us to know.  She had seen him, and now saw him sitting with His enemies.  What inconsistency on Peter’s part!  But before hastening to condemn him we should reflect upon the possibility that we ourselves may have been guilty of similar inconsistency.  Have we, for example, ever been found needlessly involved in some of the social activities of those who are the Lord’s enemies: the unconverted?

22:57.  “And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.”

In spite of the Lord’s warning given just an hour or two earlier relative to such denial, Peter said, “I know him not.”  It is unbelievable, but none the less a fact!  How true are the words of Scripture, “The fear of man bringeth a snare,” Pr 29:25!

22:58.  “And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them.  And Peter said, Man I am not.”

Again Peter denied his Lord, and this after having had time to ponder his first denial.  How little we know the treachery of our own sinful hearts, as it is written, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Jer 17:9.

22:59.  “And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilean.”

After an hour given to consider what he had done, Peter was given yet another opportunity to redeem himself, and surely it might have been expected that he would have remembered the Lord’s words, “Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me,” verse 34.  But again there came the third denial.

22:60.  “And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest.  And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.”

22:61.  “And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.  And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.”

22:62.  “And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.”

Surely that look must have pierced the very soul of Peter, but nothing could undo the three denials.  All his bitter weeping couldn’t call back those lying  words.  His weeping, however, was very different from that of Esau, who also wept “with a great and exceeding bitter cry,” Ge 27:34.  Peter’s was the repentant weeping of a believer: that of Esau the unrepentant wail of an unbeliever who had sold his soul for “a mess of pottage.”  The precious blood to be shed at Calvary that same day would cleanse Peter and make possible his restoration to an obedient walk; but nothing could save Esau.  He had crossed over the invisible line that separates God’s mercy from His wrath.

22:63.  “And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.”

Mere men with darkened minds and hardened hearts dared to mock and beat the Creator, ignorant of the fact that it was He Who gave the very breath they drew, and ignorant also of the fact that one day they would have to stand before Him for judgment.

22:64.  “And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy  who is it that smote thee?”

Had they but known, He Whose eyes they covered wasn’t dependent upon physical sight.  He knows the thoughts and intents of each man’s heart, and was fully aware of the identity of each tormentor.  It was they who were blind - blind to the identity of the One they abused, and blind to their desperate need to trust him as Savior.

22:65.  “And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.”

Their impious remarks aren’t recorded, but the clear implication is that they impugned His claims of Deity, in spite of the fact that the miracles He had performed publicly attested His claim.  With what dread they must now, in the torment of hell, contemplate that awful day when they will be arraigned before Him for judgment!

22:66.  “And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,”

22:67.  “Art thou the Christ? tell us.  And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:”

What the Lord endured that night in the judgment hall is often overlooked as attention is focused on  what He endured at Calvary, but it seems certain that the abuse to which He was subjected during the long hours of that night was what brought fulfillment of the prophet’s words, “His visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men,” Isa 52:14.  Another translation of this verse reads, “The crowds were appalled on seeing him, so disfigured did he look that he seemed no longer human.”  It was this same sinless Man Who was brought before that council - for the most part hypocrites - to answer the question, Art thou the Christ?  The miracles performed during His public ministry had already presented incontrovertible proof, but no evidence would convince those darkened minds and steely hearts.  His ministry had exposed their hypocrisy, and they wouldn’t rest until they had killed Him, so He replied, “If I tell you, ye will not believe.”

22:68.  “And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.” 

The Lord knew their hearts, as He knows the heart of every man.  He knew that nothing He might say would change their minds.  The emphasis here, however, is not on what answer He might have given, but rather on what questions He might have asked them, and there were many such.  For example, He might well have asked why they refused the testimony of Scripture concerning Him; why they refused the evidence of the miracles wrought daily during His public ministry; why they failed to see from Scripture that Messiah must first die to make atonement for sin, before coming again in power and glory to reign.  He might well have asked how they justified the payment of thirty pieces of silver paid to Judas to betray Him; their presentation of false witnesses to accuse Him; and He might have asked also how they, who professed to be the leaders of God’s people, could have determined to execute a man who had been proved guilty of no crime.

The Lord knew that nothing would persuade these sons of Satan to release Him.

22:69.  “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.”

Beyond that terrible night’s cruelty, which was to be compounded by His crucifixion, lay resurrection and eternal glory at His Father’s right hand.  That night He stood before them as the Lamb of God about to bear away the sin of the world, but their next sight of Him would be as the mighty Lion of Judah sitting on the great white throne as Judge, asking them questions they would be unable to answer, and concluding His examination with a command they would be powerless to disobey, “Depart ye cursed into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” 

The redeemed, on the other hand, will worship eternally because He was willing to endure such mockery and suffering as part of the price He must pay to save them from that dreadful lake, and fit them to dwell with Him eternally in glory in heaven.

22:70.  “Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.”

Obviously there had been much to convince them that He was the Son of God.  There was sufficient doubt in their minds relative to their charges against Him, as to impel the repeated question, “Art thou the Christ?”  That they ought to have been convinced is declared by the acknowledgement of one of themselves, Nicodemus, “No man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him,” Jn 3:2.  But such was their jealous hatred that even when He declared His divinity, they refused to accept it, though all the evidence pointed to the fact that His answer was true.

Nothing will dispel the darkness of the mind that has deliberately rejected light, and hardened itself against the truth.

22:71.  “And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.”

What sickening hypocrisy!  What had they heard from His own mouth?  Truth!  Yet with everything to verify the Lord’s claim, and without any attempt on their part to prove it false, these evil sons of darkness adjudged the Lord a liar, and condemned Him to death!  What terror, and torment of conscience must be theirs today in hell as they await that dread assize, where the innocent One they unjustly condemned, will judge righteously, and banish them to the eternal torment of the lake of fire!

[Luke 23]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough