The treachery of Judas. (1-6) The passover. (7-18) The Lord's supper instituted. (19,20) Christ admonishes the disciples. (21-38) Christ's agony in the garden. (39-46) Christ betrayed. (47-53) The fall of Peter. (54-62) Christ confesses himself to be the Son of God. (63-71)
Verses 1-6 Christ knew all men, and had wise and holy ends in taking Judas to be a disciple. How he who knew Christ so well, came to betray him, we are here told; Satan entered into Judas. It is hard to say whether more mischief is done to Christ's kingdom, by the power of its open enemies, or by the treachery of its pretended friends; but without the latter, its enemies could not do so much evil as they do.
Verses 7-18 Christ kept the ordinances of the law, particularly that of the passover, to teach us to observe his gospel institutions, and most of all that of the Lord's supper. Those who go upon Christ's word, need not fear disappointment. According to the orders given them, the disciples got all ready for the passover. Jesus bids this passover welcome. He desired it, though he knew his sufferings would follow, because it was in order to his Father's glory and man's redemption. He takes his leave of all passovers, signifying thereby his doing away all the ordinances of the ceremonial law, of which the passover was one of the earliest and chief. That type was laid aside, because now in the kingdom of God the substance was come.
Verses 19-20 The Lord's supper is a sign or memorial of Christ already come, who by dying delivered us; his death is in special manner set before us in that ordinance, by which we are reminded of it. The breaking of Christ's body as a sacrifice for us, is therein brought to our remembrance by the breaking of bread. Nothing can be more nourishing and satisfying to the soul, than the doctrine of Christ's making atonement for sin, and the assurance of an interest in that atonement. Therefore we do this in rememberance of what He did for us, when he died for us; and for a memorial of what we do, in joining ourselves to him in an everlasting covenant. The shedding of Christ's blood, by which the atonement was made, is represented by the wine in the cup.
Verses 21-38 How unbecoming is the worldly ambition of being the greatest, to the character of a follower of Jesus, who took upon him the form of a servant, and humbled himself to the death of the cross! In the way to eternal happiness, we must expect to be assaulted and sifted by Satan. If he cannot destroy, he will try to disgrace or distress us. Nothing more certainly forebodes a fall, in a professed follower of Christ, than self-confidence, with disregard to warnings, and contempt of danger. Unless we watch and pray always, we may be drawn in the course of the day into those sins which we were in the morning most resolved against. If believers were left to themselves, they would fall; but they are kept by the power of God, and the prayer of Christ. Our Lord gave notice of a very great change of circumstances now approaching. The disciples must not expect that their friends would be kind to them as they had been. Therefore, he that has a purse, let him take it, for he may need it. They must now expect that their enemies would be more fierce than they had been, and they would need weapons. At the time the apostles understood Christ to mean real weapons, but he spake only of the weapons of the spiritual warfare. The sword of the Spirit is the sword with which the disciples of Christ must furnish themselves.
Verses 39-46 Every description which the evangelists give of the state of mind in which our Lord entered upon this conflict, proves the tremendous nature of the assault, and the perfect foreknowledge of its terrors possessed by the meek and lowly Jesus. Here are three things not in the other evangelists. 1. When Christ was in his agony, there appeared to him an angel from heaven, strengthening him. It was a part of his humiliation that he was thus strengthened by a ministering spirit. 2. Being in agony, he prayed more earnestly. Prayer, though never out of season, is in a special manner seasonable when we are in an agony. 3. In this agony his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down. This showed the travail of his soul. We should pray also to be enabled to resist unto the shedding of our blood, striving against sin, if ever called to it. When next you dwell in imagination upon the delights of some favourite sin, think of its effects as you behold them here! See its fearful effects in the garden of Gethsemane, and desire, by the help of God, deeply to hate and to forsake that enemy, to ransom sinners from whom the Redeemer prayed, agonized, and bled.
Verses 47-53 Nothing can be a greater affront or grief to the Lord Jesus, than to be betrayed by those who profess to be his followers, and say that they love him. Many instances there are, of Christ's being betrayed by those who, under the form of godliness, fight against the power of it. Jesus here gave an illustrious example of his own rule of doing good to those that hate us, as afterwards he did of praying for those that despitefully use us. Corrupt nature warps our conduct to extremes; we should seek for the Lord's direction before we act in difficult circumstances. Christ was willing to wait for his triumphs till his warfare was accomplished, and we must be so too. But the hour and the power of darkness were short, and such the triumphs of the wicked always will be.
Verses 54-62 Peter's fall was his denying that he knew Christ, and was his disciple; disowning him because of distress and danger. He that has once told a lie, is strongly tempted to persist: the beginning of that sin, like strife, is as the letting forth of water. The Lord turned and looked upon Peter. 1. It was a convincing look. Jesus turned and looked upon him, as if he should say, Dost thou not know me, Peter? 2. It was a chiding look. Let us think with what a rebuking countenance Christ may justly look upon us when we have sinned. 3. It was an expostulating look. Thou who wast the most forward to confess me to be the Son of God, and didst solemnly promise thou wouldest never disown me! 4. It was a compassionate look. Peter, how art thou fallen and undone if I do not help thee! 5. It was a directing look, to go and bethink himself. 6. It was a significant look; it signified the conveying of grace to Peter's heart, to enable him to repent. The grace of God works in and by the word of God, brings that to mind, and sets that home upon the conscience, and so gives the soul the happy turn. Christ looked upon the chief priests, and made no impression upon them as he did on Peter. It was not the mere look from Christ, but the Divine grace with it, that restored Peter.
Verses 63-71 Those that condemned Jesus for a blasphemer, were the vilest blasphemers. He referred them to his second coming, for the full proof of his being the Christ, to their confusion, since they would not admit the proof of it to their conviction. He owns himself to be the Son of God, though he knew he should suffer for it. Upon this they ground his condemnation. Their eyes being blinded, they rush on. Let us meditate on this amazing transaction, and consider Him who endured such contradiction of sinners against himself.
Luke 22:1-6 . CONSPIRACY OF THE JEWISH AUTHORITIES TO PUT JESUS TO DEATH--COMPACT WITH JUDAS.
3. Then entered Satan, &c.--but not yet in the full sense. The awful stages of it were these: (1) Covetousness being his master--passion, the Lord let it reveal itself and gather strength by entrusting him with "the bag" ( John 12:6 ), as treasurer to Himself and the Twelve. (2) In the discharge of that most sacred trust he became "a thief," appropriating its contents from time to time to his own use. Satan, seeing this door into his heart standing wide open, determines to enter by it, but cautiously ( 2 Corinthians 2:11 ); first merely "putting it into his heart to betray Him" ( John 13:2 ), suggesting the thought to him that by this means he might enrich himself. (3) This thought was probably converted into a settled purpose by what took place in Simon's house at Bethany. (See Matthew 26:6 , and (4) Starting back, perhaps, or mercifully held back, for some time, the determination to carry it into immediate effect was not consummated till, sitting at the paschal supper, "Satan entered into him" effectually stifled, only rose again to be his tormentor. What lessons in all this for every one ( Ephesians 4:27 , 4:7 , 1 Peter 5:8 1 Peter 5:9 )!
5. money--"thirty pieces of silver" ( Matthew 26:15 ); thirty shekels, the fine payable for man- or maid-servant accidentally killed ( Exodus 21:32 ), and equal to $25 in our money--"a goodly price that I was priced at of them" ( Zechariah 11:13 ).
6. in the absence, &c.--(See Matthew 26:5 ).
Luke 22:7-38 . LAST PASSOVER--INSTITUTION OF THE SUPPER--DISCOURSE AT THE TABLE.
7. the day of unleavened bread--strictly the fifteenth Nisan (part of our March and April) after the paschal lamb was killed; but here, the fourteenth (Thursday). Into the difficult questions raised on this we cannot here enter.
10-13. when ye are entered the city--He Himself probably stayed at Bethany during the day.
there shall a man,
14-18. the hour--about six P.M. Between three and this hour the lamb was killed ( Exodus 12:6 , Margin)
15. With desire . . . desired--"earnestly have I longed" (as Genesis 31:30 , "sore longedst"). Why? It was to be His last "before He suffered"--and so became "Christ our Passover sacrificed for us" ( 1 Corinthians 5:7 ), when it was "fulfilled in the Kingdom of God," the typical ordinance thenceforth disappearing.
17. took the cup--the first of several partaken of in this service.
divide it among, &c.--that is, It is to be your last as well as Mine, "until the Kingdom of God come," or as it is beautifully given in Matthew 26:29 , "until that day when I shall drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." It was the point of transition between two economies and their two great festivals, the one about to close for ever, the other immediately to open and run its majestic career until from earth it be transferred to heaven.
24-30. there was--or "had been," referring probably to some symptoms of the former strife which had reappeared, perhaps on seeing the whole paschal arrangements committed to two of the Twelve.
25. benefactors--a title which the vanity of princes eagerly coveted.
26. But ye . . . not--Of how little avail has this condemnation of "lordship" and vain titles been against the vanity of Christian ecclesiastics?
28. continued, &c.--affecting evidence of Christ's tender susceptibility to human sympathy and support! see John 16:32 .)
29. I appoint, &c.--Who is this that dispenses kingdoms, nay, the Kingdom of kingdoms, within an hour or two of His apprehension, and less than a day of His shameful death? These sublime contrasts, however, perpetually meet and entrance us in this matchless history.
30. eat and drink, &c.--(See Luke 22:16 and
desired to have--rather, "hath obtained you," properly "asked and obtained"; alluding to Job ( Job 1:6-12 , 2:1-6 ), whom he solicited and obtained that he might sift him as wheat, insinuating as "the accuser of the brethren" ( Revelation 12:10 ), that he would find chaff enough in his religion, if indeed there was any wheat at all.
you--not Peter only, but them all.
32. But I have prayed--have been doing it already.
for thee--as most in danger.
fail not--that is, entirely; for partially it did fail.
converted--brought back afresh as a penitent disciple.
strengthen, &c.--that is, make use of thy bitter experience for the fortifying of thy tempted brethren.
33. I am ready, &c.--honest-hearted, warmly-attached disciple, thinking thy present feelings immovable as a rock, thou shalt find them in the hour of temptation unstable as water: "I have been praying for thee," therefore thy faith shall not perish; but thinking this superfluous, thou shalt find that "he that trusteth in his own heart is a fool" ( Proverbs 28:26 ).
34. cock . . . crow--"twice" ( Mark 14:30 ).
35-38. But now--that you are going forth not as before on a temporary mission, provided for without purse or scrip, but into scenes of continued and severe trial, your methods must be different; for purse and scrip will now be needed for support, and the usual means of defense.
37. the things concerning me--decreed and written.
have an end--are rapidly drawing to a close.
38. two swords . . . enough--they thinking He referred to present defense, while His answer showed He meant something else.
Luke 22:39-46 . AGONY IN THE GARDEN.
39. as . . . wont--(See John 18:2 ).
40. the place--the Garden of Gethsemane, on the west or city side of the mount. Comparing all the accounts of this mysterious scene, the facts appear to be these: (1) He bade nine of the Twelve remain "here" while He went and prayed "yonder." (2) He "took the other three, Peter, James, and John, and began to be sore amazed [appalled], sorrowful, and very heavy [oppressed], and said, My soul is exceeding sorrowful even unto death"--"I feel as if nature would sink under this load, as if life were ebbing out, and death coming before its time"--"tarry ye here, and watch with Me"; not, "Witness for Me," but, "Bear Me company." It did Him good, it seems, to have them beside Him. (3) But soon even they were too much for Him: He must be alone. "He was withdrawn from them about a stone's-cast"--though near enough for them to be competent witnesses and kneeled down, uttering that most affecting prayer ( Mark 14:36 ), that if possible "the cup," of His approaching death, "might pass from Him, but if not, His Father's will be done": implying that in itself it was so purely revolting that only its being the Father's will would induce Him to taste it, but that in that view of it He was perfectly prepared to drink it. It is no struggle between a reluctant and a compliant will, but between two views of one event--an abstract and a relative view of it, in the one of which it was revolting, in the other welcome. By signifying how it felt in the one view, He shows His beautiful oneness with ourselves in nature and feeling; by expressing how He regarded it in the other light, He reveals His absolute obediential subjection to His Father. (4) On this, having a momentary relief, for it came upon Him, we imagine, by surges, He returns to the three, and finding them sleeping, He addresses them affectingly, particularly Peter, as in mark 14:37 mark 14:38 . He then (5) goes back, not now to kneel, but fell on His face on the ground, saying the same words, but with this turn, "If this cup may not pass," &c. ( Matthew 26:42 )--that is, 'Yes, I understand this mysterious silence ( Psalms 22:1-6 ); it may not pass; I am to drink it, and I will'--"Thy will be done!" (6) Again, for a moment relieved, He returns and finds them "sleeping for sorrow," warns them as before, but puts a loving construction upon it, separating between the "willing spirit" and the "weak flesh." (7) Once more, returning to His solitary spot, the surges rise higher, beat more tempestuously, and seem ready to overwhelm Him. To fortify Him for this, "there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven strengthening Him"--not to minister light or comfort (He was to have none of that, and they were not needed nor fitted to convey it), but purely to sustain and brace up sinking nature for a yet hotter and fiercer struggle. And now, He is "in an agony, and prays more earnestly"--even Christ's prayer, it seems, admitted of and now demanded such increase--"and His sweat was as it were great drops [literally, 'clots'] of blood falling down to the ground." What was this? Not His proper sacrificial offering, though essential to it. It was just the internal struggle, apparently hushing itself before, but now swelling up again, convulsing His whole inner man, and this so affecting His animal nature that the sweat oozed out from every pore in thick drops of blood, falling to the ground. It was just shuddering nature and indomitable will struggling together. But again the cry, If it must be, Thy will be done, issues from His lips, and all is over. "The bitterness of death is past." He has anticipated and rehearsed His final conflict, and won the victory--now on the theater of an invincible will, as then on the arena of the Cross. "I will suffer," is the grand result of Gethsemane: "It is finished" is the shout that bursts from the Cross. The Will without the Deed had been all in vain; but His work was consummated when He carried the now manifested Will into the palpable Deed, "by the which WILL we are sanctified THROUGH THE OFFERING OF THE BODY OF JESUS CHRIST ONCE FOR ALL" ( Hebrews 10:10 ). (8) At the close of the whole scene, finding them still sleeping (worn out with continued sorrow and racking anxiety), He bids them, with an irony of deep emotion, "sleep on now and take their rest, the hour is come, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners, rise, let us be going, the traitor is at hand." And while He spoke, Judas approached with his armed band. Thus they proved "miserable comforters," broken reeds; and thus in His whole work He was alone, and "of the people there was none with Him."
Luke 22:47-54 . BETRAYAL AND APPREHENSION OF JESUS--FLIGHT OF HIS DISCIPLES.
Luke 22:55-62 . JESUS BEFORE CAIAPHAS--FALL OF PETER.
The particulars of these two sections require a combination of all the narratives, for which
61. And the Lord turned, and looked upon
62. And Peter went out, and wept
Luke 22:63-71 . JESUS CONDEMNED TO DIE AND SHAMEFULLY ENTREATED.