The Gospel According to Luke – Olivet Discourse, First Eucharist

March 8, 2008

Luke’s depiction of the Olivet Discourse is a wonderful, powerful message. Verse 5 begins with the warning, "the day will come when not one stone [of the Temple] will be left on another, but it will all be torn down" and "take care not to be misled. Many will come in my name saying, ‘I am he’ […] do not follow them." He assures us, "the end will not be at once," meaning to state the various stages in the eschatological events to come.

All who are in the world during the times of cataclysms must be radically dependent on the Father to survive for any length of time, and many will win the crown of martyrdom: "some of you will be put to death […] yet not a hair of your head will be harmed. By patient endurance you will save your lives" (v. 12-19). Jesus warns the crowds to leave Jerusalem when soldiers surround it, good advice not only because David’s City will later be sacked by Gentiles in 70 A.D., but because it will experience a final destruction. He then speaks of the foolishness that is fearful speculation as to the timing of such events. Rather, He confirms that a living in radical obedience to the Gospel is the only way to heed these words spoken on the Mount of Olives.

The Parable of the Fig Tree illustrates the nearness of God’s Kingdom and establishes that succumbing to "the cares of this life" is equally destructive to drunkenness or indulgence.

On Wednesday before His crucifixion, the high priests and scribes plot Jesus’ death with Judas.

The following day, Thursday, Jesus and His Twelve celebrate the Passover. Jesus celebrates the first Eucharist with His disciples, effectively saying that He is the passover sacrifice who will die for them. Immediately after this, He takes the Eucharistic cup and says "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which will be shed for you". Though some believe Luke places Judas at the meal during the Eucharist, the Gospel of John explicitly contradicts this. Luke instead is trying to summarize Judas’ role in the Passover meal.

Let us not overlook what Jesus says to Peter: "Simon, Simon! Remember that Satan has asked for you, to sift you all like wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may never fail. You in turn [even though you will betray me] must strengthen your brothers" (v. 31-33).

Verses 35-38 may initially seem difficult to interpret, but a closer look reveals that instead of an assent to violence or statement of God’s abandonment, but He is simply stating that this is a night where everything will be turned upside down and therefore all must be ready.

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