Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching.
The Feast or festival of unleavened bread, ran for a week (Ex. 13:7). Passover, one of the three great feasts of Israel, was distinct from and celebrated on the day preceding the feast (Lev. 23:5-6). However, it was common to treat the two festivals as a single feast called Passover (see entry for Matt. 26:2).
The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people.
(a) The chief priests and the scribes. In Matthew’s account it is the chief priests and the elders who plot to kill Jesus (Matt. 26:3), while in John’s account it is the chief priests and the Pharisees (John 11:47). The plot involved the whole ruling council or Sanhedrin (see entry for Matt. 26:59), with only a few dissenters (Luke 23:50-51).
(b) Were seeking how they might put Him to death. The simple thing to do would have been to stone Jesus as they stoned Stephen (Acts 7:58), but as they had witnessed on Palm Sunday, Jesus was immensely popular with the people (Matt. 21:9).
(c) They were afraid of the people, that is, they were afraid of starting a riot (Matt. 26:5).
The religious leaders had two reasons for fearing a riot. First, they risked incurring the wrath of the people who, just days earlier, had hailed the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:9). Second, they risked the wrath of the Romans who had the power to remove them from office and destroy their country (John 11:48).
The chief priests and the scribes needed to seize Jesus privately (Luke 22:6). For this, they needed an inside man, someone who knew Jesus’ habits. Enter, Judas.
And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve.
(a) Satan entered into Judas. The desire and plan to deliver Jesus to those who would kill him came from Satan.
The love of money is the root of all evil, and Judas was captive to avarice (John 12:6). It was through his greed that the chief priests tempted him to sin (Matt. 26:15).
(b) Judas. Two of the twelve disciples were named Judas, hence the need to distinguish the one who betrayed Jesus (Luke 6:16). The name Iscariot suggests this Judas was from the town of Kerioth, in Judea. If so, he was the only one of the twelve who was not a Galilean.
And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them.
(a) He went away and discussed. Judas heard that the chief priests were looking to seize Jesus (John 11:57). Seeing an opportunity to make some money, he went to them to do a deal. It does not seem to have occurred to Judas that his betrayal would result in Jesus’ death (Matt. 27:3).
(b) The officers were the armed Levites who formed the temple guard.
They were glad and agreed to give him money.
(a) They were glad. The chief priests had a problem – how to find Jesus alone and arrest him (Luke 22:2) – and Judas offered a solution. Judas knew what Jesus did and where he went. He knew the Lord sometimes took his disciples to a garden on the Mount of Olives (see Luke 22:39, John 18:2).
(b) Give him money. Judas was in it for the money. “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” (Matt. 26:15). They agreed to pay him thirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:15), the price of a common slave (Ex. 21:32).
So he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the crowd.
A good opportunity was a time when Jesus could be taken quietly and without attracting attention (Luke 22:6). When such opportunity eventually presented itself, Judas seems to have been unready, and Jesus had to nudge him into action (John 13:27).
Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.
(a) The first day of Unleavened Bread. Technically, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread did not begin until 15th of the month after the Passover feast (Lev. 23:5-6). But since the Jews began to eat unleavened bread on the 14th (Ex. 12:18), this day came to be known as the first day of Unleavened Bread.
(b) Passover; see entry for Matthew 26:2.
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves;
Take this. Jesus wants us all to partake of his cup because he wants all of us to experience his sacrificial love. If we deny the cup to some, perhaps because we judge them too young or too sinful, we are acting contrary to his heart.
“For I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.”
Until the kingdom of God comes. Jesus’ mind was never unsettled by his present circumstances. In his immediate future, he faces torture and crucifixion, yet his mind was on higher things. Just as he looked forward to eating this last meal with his disciples (Luke 22:15), he looked forward to sharing the new wine of the new covenant with them soon.
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
(a) Some bread. This would have been unleavened or flat bread, on account of this being the first day of unleavened bread (Luke 22:7).
(b) Given thanks. Jesus thanked God for the bread, and from his example Christians have been giving thanks ever since.
(c) He broke it symbolizing the brokenness that would be inflicted on his body in the following hours. Jesus’ body was scourged, nailed, and pierced. His body was broken so that we might live whole (Is. 53:5).
(d) This is My body. During his time on earth, sick people touched Jesus’ body and were healed (Mark 6:56). They touched Jesus because they knew there was power in his body (Luke 6:19). When we partake of the Lord’s Supper or communion or the Eucharist, we are remembering that Jesus is the Bread of Life (John 6:35). He is our healing and wholeness.
(e) Do this in remembrance of Me. When we come to the Lord’s Table to partake of communion or the Eucharist, we are not to remember ourselves or our sins; we are to remember him and his sacrifice.
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
(a) The new covenant. A covenant is an oath-based agreement establishing some sort of relationship between two or more parties. On the cross, the sinless Savior fulfilled all the requirements of the old covenant while forging a new covenant in his blood. Just as the old covenant was an agreement between God and Israel, the new covenant would be an agreement between God the Father and humanity’s representative, God the Son. (See entry for Matt. 26:28.)
(b) My blood. If the bread represents his body, broken so that we might be made whole, his blood represents his life, poured out so that we might live. Further reading: “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.”
“But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table.
The opportunity to betray Jesus had come, but Judas wasn’t paying attention. He knew the Lord’s plans for the evening, yet he did nothing to alert the chief priests as he had promised (Matt. 26:16). Jesus, troubled that one of his friends was planning to betray him (John 13:21), had to nudge him into action. “One of you will betray me.” In other words, “Judas, the time has come! That secret plan you made with the chief priests – go put it into action, and quickly” (John 13:27).
“For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”
Woe to that man. Woe means great sorrow, and Judas would be very sorry that he had betrayed the Lord (Matt. 27:3).
Jesus had to be betrayed as foretold by prophecy (Ps. 41:9), but pity the man who betrayed him. That man’s name would be forever tied with this infamous act. Judas’ tale is a sad one. He missed the way, wasted his life, and ended up prematurely dead.
Jesus is warning Judas. “Beware, there is great sorrow ahead, and you’re going to rue the day you were born.” He’s giving his dodgy disciple a final chance to repent.
And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing.
Jesus knew all about Judas’s secret plan to betray him to the chief priests (Luke 22:6), but the disciples were oblivious.
And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.
How quickly the disciples forgot the issue at hand! While Jesus and Judas exchange knowing looks, the disciples begin to bicker like children. Against this noisy background, the betrayer withdraws from the table and slips into the night (John 13:30).
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
(a) Satan has demanded permission. The word permission is normally in italics because it is not in the Bible. It has been added by translators, but it may convey the wrong impression. Just as a thief does not ask permission to steal, the sifter does not seek permission to sift. It is more accurate to read this as, “Satan desires” or “Satan demands.”
(b) To sift means to separate. Satan wants to separate you from Jesus. Since Jesus will never let you go (John 10:28), the only way he can make that happen is to cause you to run from the Lover of your soul. “Satan has tried his best to separate all of you from me, like chaff from wheat” (MSG). This is what Peter and the disciples did: When the pressure came, they abandoned the Lord (Matt 26:56).
(c) But I have prayed for you. What Satan meant for evil, God turned around for good. This is what God does – he redeems our failures and turns defeat into victory so that we might experience his unconditional love and grace (Rom. 8:28). Jesus’ prayer was answered. Peter’s faith did not fail and he went on to bigger and better things.
(d) That your faith may not fail. Many things failed that night: The disciples’ strength failed, their courage failed, and their resolve failed. But their faith endured because Jesus prayed for them.
In the kingdom of grace we do not stand on our promises or even our faith. We stand because the One who saves us also keeps us to the end (1 Cor. 1:8).
Further reading: “Satan desires to sift you.”
But he said to Him, “Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!”
How many believers have made a similar promise? Peter was utterly committed to the Lord and ready to die for him. And these weren’t empty words either, as Peter proved when he single-handedly attacked a mob of 500 armed men (Luke 12:50). But Peter was seriously misguided and Jesus had to rebuke him for his hot-headedness (Luke 12:51).
And He said, “I say to you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me.”
Within hours, this prophecy came true: Peter denied Jesus three times. It was a spectacular failure for Peter, but a wonderful encouragement for all who stumble. Jesus does not love and accept us because of the promises we make. He loves us just because.
Manmade religion says you have to earn God’s approval, but the gospel of grace declares, “God loves you without any regard for your performance.” And where is the proof? It is in the cross and a hundred other things. It is in Jesus’ acceptance of Peter who denied him three times.
And He said to them, “When I sent you out without money belt and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?” They said, “No, nothing.”
(a) I sent you out. Israel was a dangerous place for travellers. (Remember what happened to the traveller in the story of the Good Samaritan?) Yet on several occasions Jesus sent out his disciples without the usual travel essentials. They didn’t take money, extra clothes, or even a staff (see Matt. 10:9-10), and God took care of them.
(b) You did not lack anything. The Good Shepherd cares for his sheep (Ps. 23:1), and he has promised to supply all our needs (Php. 4:19).
And He said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one.
Whoever has no sword… buy one. Jesus did not change his no-sword-on-road-trips policy because he feared violence. He wanted his disciples to carry swords into the Garden of Gethsemane so that the prophecy of Isaiah might be fulfilled and he would be numbered with the transgressors (see next verse).
“For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘AND HE WAS NUMBERED WITH TRANSGRESSORS’; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.”
(a) Which is written. Jesus quoted Isaiah 53:12. When the soldiers and temple guards came for him, Jesus wasn’t holding a late night Bible study. From their perspective he was conspiring with armed and dangerous men.
(b) Has its fulfillment. Jesus can see the finish line. Prophecies are being fulfilled and his mission is coming to an end. There’s almost a sense of excitement, as though Jesus is ticking boxes. “Has the son of perdition left? Check. Have I done communion? Check. What else? Um… ‘numbered with the transgressors’! Nearly forgot. Okay, lads, anyone got a sword?”
They said, “Lord, look, here are two swords.” And He said to them, “It is enough.”
The eleven disciples were met by a cohort of 500 armed soldiers (John 18:3). Two swords could provide no defence against such a large number, and it’s not as if Jesus needed protection anyway (John 18:6). But two swords were sufficient to turn the disciples into a band of dangerous conspirators, at least as far as the jittery men of the Sanhedrin were concerned (Luke 22:52).
While He was still speaking, behold, a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them; and he approached Jesus to kiss Him.
(a) A crowd came. More than 500 armed men were sent to arrest Jesus (see entry for John 18:3).
(b) Judas; see entry for Matt. 26:14.
(c) To kiss him. A kiss on the cheek was a common greeting (Rom. 16:16).
But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
It was dark and the soldiers did not know Jesus as well as Judas did. To ensure they got their man, they needed a sign. In this way a kiss on the cheek became a knife in the back.
When those who were around Him saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?” And one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear.
(a) One of them struck. It was Simon Peter who struck the servant (John 18:10). A few hours earlier Peter had boasted that he was ready to die for Jesus (Luke 22:33), and here he delivered on the promise. Attacking 500 armed men with a single sword was a suicide mission. Peter would have been cut down, except Jesus intervened to save his life.
(b) The slave of the high priest was called Malchus (John 18:10). A relative of Malchus later accused Peter of being a follower of Jesus causing Peter to deny his association with the Lord (John 18:26).
But Jesus answered and said, “Stop! No more of this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.
(a) Stop! Although it was the Lord’s idea to bring swords to the Garden (Luke 22:36), Jesus rebuked Peter for using one. Jesus wasn’t looking for a fight, but an arrest. And for that to happen he needed some transgressors or lawbreakers to help get him arrested. Thank you, Peter.
(b) No more of this. Jesus would say something similar to any hot-headed believer who thinks violence and aggression are ways to advance his kingdom. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, and the weapons of our warfare are not worldly (Eph. 6:12, 2 Cor. 10:4).
(c) He touched his ear and healed him. The crowd who came to arrest Jesus witnessed two miracles, and the healing of Malchus was the second. The first miracle was the overwhelming power of God that knocked them all off their feet (John 18:6).
Then Jesus said to the chief priests and officers of the temple and elders who had come against Him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as you would against a robber?
(a) The chief priests. In Matthew and Mark’s account, the soldiers are sent by the chief priests (Matt. 26:47, Mark 14:43). But here we learn that some of the chief priests and elders came with the crowd.
(b) The officers of the temple were the armed Levites who constituted the temple guard. This was the second time they had tried to seize Jesus (John 7:32).
(c) Swords and clubs. Swords were the normal weapon for Roman soldiers, but clubs or staves would have been used for crowd control. Evidently, the chief priests had told the soldiers to prepare for a riot.
(d) As you would against a robber? Jesus is not defending his innocence as much as drawing everyone’s attention to the prophecy being fulfilled in front of them (see Luke 22:37).
“While I was with you daily in the temple, you did not lay hands on Me; but this hour and the power of darkness are yours.”
(a) Daily in the temple. The Sanhedrin did not want to arrest Jesus publicly because they feared it might start a riot (Matt. 26:5).
(b) The power of darkness or the prince of darkness refers to Satan. Jesus is saying, “This hour belongs to you, but when my hour comes the tables will be turned.” To paraphrase Tony Campolo, on Friday, it seemed as though the enemy had won. “But that was Friday; Sunday’s a coming!”
Having arrested Him, they led Him away and brought Him to the house of the high priest; but Peter was following at a distance.
(a) The house of the high priest. They led Jesus away first to the house of Annas, a former high priest (John 18:13), then to Caiaphas, the current high priest (John 18:24).
(b) The high priest was the supreme religious leader of Israel who oversaw the Sanhedrin. The high priest was a ruler of the people (Acts 23:5) and a signpost to Jesus our great high priest, Jesus (Heb. 5:5). Israel’s first high priest had been Aaron, the brother of Moses. At the time of Jesus’ trial, the high priest was Caiaphas, a wicked and corrupt man.
(c) Peter was following. Torn between his love for Jesus and his fear of getting arrested, Peter kept to the shadows to see what would happen to the Lord. He was not the only disciple who followed Jesus. Another, unnamed disciple, gained access for both of them into the courtyard of the high priest (John 18:16).
After they had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter was sitting among them.
The courtyard. It was a cold night, so Peter sat near a charcoal fire among the same officers who had arrested Jesus (John 18:18).
And a servant-girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight and looking intently at him, said, “This man was with Him too.”
One of the servant-girls. She was the servant who kept the door and she may have recognized Peter on account of his association with the other disciple (John 18:15, 18). This humble girl became the downfall of the proud man who was ready to swing the sword and kill for Jesus.
But he denied it, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”
I do not know Him. Peter’s self-confidence is about to come crashing down. Earlier in the night he had told Jesus that he was ready to go to prison and even die for him, if necessary (Luke 22:33). Peter meant what he said. When the armed crowd came to arrest his Lord, he was ready to fight to the death (Luke 22:50)! But Peter’s aggression looked foolish next to Jesus’ compassion. Jesus rebuked Peter and told him to put his sword away (Luke 22:51).
Now Jesus is in bonds and Peter is all at sea. He doesn’t understand what is happening. Peter is a man of action and a fighter. How does he fit in the peaceable kingdom of Jesus? “Woman, I do not know him.” It was not just self-preservation that prompted these words. Peter is truly lost.
A little later, another saw him and said, “You are one of them too!” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”
One of them. Peter quits the Lord, then he quits the church. “I am not one of them. I thought I was, but we’ve parted ways.” Peter is all alone.
After about an hour had passed, another man began to insist, saying, “Certainly this man also was with Him, for he is a Galilean too.”
(a) An hour. If Peter’s earlier denials were rashly spoken in the heat of the moment, his final denial was a calculated rejection.
(b) He is a Galilean too. Jesus was famously Galilean (Luke 23:6) and most of his disciples were from Galilee. Peter had a distinctive Galilean accent.
But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about.” Immediately, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed.
(a) I do not know. For a third time, Peter denies all association with Jesus, and this time he does it by making oaths and invoking curses (see entry for Matt. 26:74).
(b) A rooster crowed and the Lord’s prophecy was fulfilled (Luke 22:34).
The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had told him, “Before a rooster crows today, you will deny Me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.
Wept bitterly. Having betrayed his best friend and Lord, Peter’s sorrow was understandably great. His proud heart had been thoroughly broken by sin. But in contrast with the remorse of Judas (Matt. 27:3), this was a good and godly sorrow that would ultimately lead Peter to repentance.
Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking Him and beating Him,
(a) Holding Jesus in custody. In the other Gospel accounts, Jesus is severely beaten at the end of his trial before the Sanhedrin. But Luke records that Jesus was also beaten prior to the trial. Jesus experienced three severe beatings on this day: (1) he was beaten while in custody, (2) he was beaten after his trial before the Sanhedrin (Matt. 26:67, Mark 14:65), and (3) he was scourged and beaten by the Roman soldiers in the Praetorium (Matt. 27:30).
The Lord’s trial before the Sanhedrin is recorded in the other Gospels, and Luke sees no need to repeat those details here.
(b) Mocking and beating. The violent abuse Jesus received at the hands of his captors was not that of a prisoner being held in custody, but of a man found guilty of the capital crime of blasphemy (Matt. 26:65).
And they blindfolded Him and were asking Him, saying, “Prophesy, who is the one who hit You?”
Prophesy. If Jesus was the Christ, the Anointed One and Prophet of God, he would know who was beating him. Thus they taunted him, but Jesus probably did know who his persecutors were. He knew every hate-filled thing about them, yet forgave them any way (see Luke 23:34).
And they were saying many other things against Him, blaspheming.
Blaspheming. Luke does not record the wicked insults heaped upon our Lord other than to note the irony of blaspheming or slandering the One who had been condemned for blasphemy.
When it was day, the Council of elders of the people assembled, both chief priests and scribes, and they led Him away to their council chamber, saying,
(a) The Council of elders was Israel’s ruling council or Sanhedrin (see entry for Matt. 26:59).
(b) Their council chamber. The word chamber is italicized in scripture indicating it has been added. Jesus was led from the house of Annas to the place where the council was meeting, which on this unusual and illegal occasion was the court of Caiaphas the high priest (Matt. 26:3, John 18:24).
“If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe; and if I ask a question, you will not answer.
If I tell you. The One who searches the hearts and minds knows their true agenda. He knows this is not an inquiry into the legitimacy of his claims, but a kangaroo court where the outcome has already been decided.
“But from now on THE SON OF MAN WILL BE SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND of the power OF GOD.”
From now on; see entry for Matt. 26:64.
And they all said, “Are You the Son of God, then?” And He said to them, “Yes, I am.”
(a) Are You the Son of God? In Matthew and Mark’s accounts, this question is put to Jesus by Caiaphas the high priest (Matt. 26:63, Mark 14:61). Luke assumes that the high priest is speaking for the entire council.
(b) Yes, I am. When asked a straight question, Jesus gives a straight answer, and it’s an answer that condemns him to death. This is one of the few times where Jesus acknowledges he is the Son of God (see entry for Rev. 2:18).
Then they said, “What further need do we have of testimony? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”
From His own mouth. The false witnesses that had been called upon to testify against Jesus were unreliable, but Jesus is the faithful and true Witness (Rev. 1:5, 3:14).
The Grace Commentary is a reader-funded website. Got something to say about the commentary? Please use the Feedback page. To report typos or broken links or give feedback on this specific page, please use the comment form below.
- Luke 22:1
- Luke 22:2
- Luke 22:3
- Luke 22:4
- Luke 22:5
- Luke 22:6
- Luke 22:7
- Luke 22:17
- Luke 22:18
- Luke 22:19
- Luke 22:21
- Luke 22:22
- Luke 22:23
- Luke 22:24
- Luke 22:31-32
- Luke 22:33
- Luke 22:34
- Luke 22:35
- Luke 22:36
- Luke 22:37
- Luke 22:38
- Luke 22:47
- Luke 22:48
- Luke 22:49-50
- Luke 22:51
- Luke 22:52
- Luke 22:53
- Luke 22:54
- Luke 22:55
- Luke 22:56
- Luke 22:57
- Luke 22:58
- Luke 22:59
- Luke 22:60
- Luke 22:61-62
- Luke 22:63
- Luke 22:64
- Luke 22:65
- Luke 22:66
- Luke 22:67-68
- Luke 22:69
- Luke 22:70
- Luke 22:71