The Gospel According to Luke – Last Hours of Christ’s Life

March 15, 2008

Although Chapter 22 depicts Jesus’ final Passover beginning with Him blessing a cup, let us not be confused that this is the Institution of the Eucharist; he reveals Himself to us in bread and wine at the climax of the meal. Instead of following the order of the Passover meal to say "this is the Passover," upon the revelation of the hidden piece of unleavened bread, when Christ brings forth this bread, He says "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me." It is after the meal that He says, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood."

Luke then provides a recapitulation of the earlier conversation while at table. Thus, his reference to Judas perfectly is logical, for the other synoptics clearly show the betrayer leaving their company before the Eucharist (v. 20 ff).

As we mentioned last week, Luke provides a wonderful account of Jesus’ words to Peter during the meal, "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you…but I prayed for your faith may not fail…" (vv. 31-32). This is akin to other Biblical descriptions of Satan the accuser.

Bewildered after Christ’s arrest, the man who was first to draw his sword in defense of Christ is the first to commit apostasy. Christ foreknows His sin and still trusts in His leadership, for He says at the meal "when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren" (v. 32).

According to His custom, He travels to the Mount of Olives to pray after the meal under the full Passover moon. In agony, Portraying His supreme obedience to God, He prays, "Father, if thou art willing, remove this cup from me; nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done" (v. 42).

Perhaps dressed in civilian clothes to deter a riot, "there came a crowd, and the man called Judas…was leading them." One of Luke’s key details is the retort "Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?" (v. 49). After this, Luke gives the brief account of Peter’s sword-wielding in Gethsemane, the apostle’s betrayal, the fateful glance upon the face of Jesus and the start of Peter’s repentance.

While incarcerated, Jesus is maltreated and mocked. At the end of Chapter 22, the Jews have united in a desire to kill Him and decided to present Him to Pilate.

Upon hearing that Jesus is a Galilean, Pilate takes Him to Herod Antipas, who is in Jerusalem for the Passover. Not deeming Him worthy of death, the worldly, shrewd Herod and his men treat Him with contempt before sending Him back to Pilate dressed in a purple robe. Pilate is hesitant to kill Jesus (let us remember his wife’s warning, accounted in the other Gospels), wanting instead to "chastise him and release him." At the incessant crowd’s demands, Pilate agrees to crucify Him in order to deter an insurrection and maintain his Governorship.

In 23:26, Luke’s account then depicts the Way of the Cross. Simon of Cyrene (North Africa) assists Jesus and He speaks to the Daughters of Jerusalem to beware an hour when even greater disorder will come: "do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children…For if they do this when the wood is green, what will happen when it is dry?" (v. 28, 31).

Mocking Him all the way to the cross, "And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on the right and on the left" (v. 23). While the rulers scoff at Him, Jesus says to the good thief at His right, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (v. 43). Paradise, a term that literally means a garden or a blessed state speaks to this man’s eternal resting place, even though he may have needed a time of purification.

Even in Luke’s truncated transcription of these events, he provides key details that exemplify Christ’s deity during His last earthly moments. Only Luke relates that the "curtain of the temple was torn in two."  

"’Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit!’ And having said this He breathed His last" (v. 46).

The multitudes, upon seeing His crucifixion, returned home beating their breasts. Verse 50 shows a fulfillment of the prophesy of Isaiah 53, as Joseph of Arimathea lays Christ’s body in a rich man’s tomb. Before the Sabbath rest, the women hurried to prepare his body and prepared to return to the tomb on the first day of the week.

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