THE LAST SUPPER
The Festivals of Passover and Unleavened Bread took place one right after the other. The Passover took place on the 14th of the first month - the month known as Nisan. It was immediately followed by an entire week of feasting known as the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
On the day after the Sabbath during this week, a sheaf of grain was brought to the Temple, taken by the priest, and waved before the presence of the Lord as a grain offering.
14th of Nisan (single day)
15th-22nd of Nisan (full week)
Began at sundown on previous day and observed for one day.
Observed for entire week with Waving Ceremony on the day after the Sabbath (Sunday).
Commemorated the Exodus from Egypt.
Symbolized the promise of a harvest which was blessed by the Lord.
Looked to Redemption
Looked to Resurrection
Looked back to the Exodus
Looked forward to future promises
This was a happy time. It was a time of remembrance of past blessing and hope for future promises. This was to be a time of dedication and praise and prayers. But in the hearts of some, there was only murder.
Within the ranks of the chief priests and the scribes, there was a plot to have Jesus arrested. After all, He had been messing up their religion. He had cleaned out the temple and He had overturned tables and He had driven out the people selling animals. And it was their temple and their tables and their animals with which He had been interfering. And so, they have decided to get rid of Him.
There is only one problem. Jesus has become very popular. And it would not be politically correct to arrest Him right now. And so, if they are to arrest Him, it must be done secretly and away from the crowds. The conspiracy took shape when help was offered from an unexpected source.
THE PASSOVER PLOT
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching.2 And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people.
And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve.4 And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. 5 And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. 6 And he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the multitude. (Luke 22:1-6).
The atmosphere in Jerusalem has been tense and exciting. Two days ago, Jesus confronted all of the religious leaders in the Temple. He rebuked them and pronounced the woe of God upon them.
As He was leaving the Temple, He prophesied that not one stone would be left standing upon another.
The religious leaders are incensed. They plot to capture Jesus and put Him to death. However, they are afraid to do so in public because they fear that the crowd will side with Jesus. They are looking for a way to trap him in a house at night or in a dark alley.
And then, as if in answer to the wishes, Judas of Kerioth comes to them and offers to betray Jesus to them. The price is not mentioned in Lukeís account. It is left to the other Gospel account to tell us that it will be 30 pieces of silver. They need only the opportunity to catch Jesus alone.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE MEAL
Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.
And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat it."
And they said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare it?"
And He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters.11 And you shall say to the owner of the house, ĎThe Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"í 12 And he will show you a large, furnished, upper room; prepare it there."
And they departed and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover. (Luke 22:7-13).
Did you ever stop to wonder why Jesus used such a round about way of selecting the upper room? Why didnít he give the two disciples the address? Why send them on this search for a man carrying a waterpot?
I believe that it was because of Judas. Judas had already determined to betray Jesus. He is looking for an opportune moment at which he can catch Jesus in a place that is away from the crowds. The upper room will be such a place.
Jesus knows this. He knows that Judas is the betrayer. He has already predicted that He will be crucified. But it will only be permitted to happen at the proper time. Jesus will not allow His last supper to be interrupted.
And so, He sends two trusted disciples into Jerusalem, giving them instructions that Judas will not be able to decipher.
A PROMISE FOR THE FUTURE
And when the hour had come He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him.15 And He said to them, "I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God."
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, "Take this and share it among yourselves;18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes." (Luke 22:14-17).
This was not the first time that Jesus had kept the Passover with His disciples. But it would be the last time. They would not partake it with Him again until the coming of the kingdom.
When we partake of the elements of the Lord's Supper, we do not only look to the past. We also look to the future. We believe that Jesus is with us in Spirit. But there is coming a day when we shall sit at His banquet table and we shall eat this supper in His physical presence.
Her name was Fanny J. Crosby. When she was a child, she was taken to a doctor who put some salve on her eyes which blinded her for life. She lived for 95 years. She began state schools for the blind. She knew 5 presidents personally. She played the harp and the organ. She memorized Genesis, Psalms, several of Paul's epistles.
She was a woman of faith who wrote a number of hymns to the Lord which are sung by us today. One of my favorites is entitled "To God be the Glory." The third stanza says:
Great things He has taught us, great things He has done,
And great our rejoicing through Jesus the Son;
But purer and higher and greater will be
Our wonder, our transport, when Jesus we see.
Fanny Crosby knew that the very next thing that her blind eyes shall see will be the face of her Lord and Savior as He beckons her to His banquet table.
A PRECEPT TO BE PASSED DOWN
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."20 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. (Luke 22:19-20).
The Lordís Supper looks both forward and backward. It has a connection with both the past as well as with the future.
1. A Connection with the Past: And when He had taken some bread (22:19).
The institution of the Lord's Supper took place while they were eating the Passover. They did not clear the table and start from scratch. Instead, Jesus used the materials at hand.
Christianity is based upon Judaism. Jesus was the fulfillment of every ordinance and every ritual of the Law. There is a lesson here. It is that Christianity is not something new. It is a part of something very old that goes back to the founding of the nation of Israel. It goes even further to the person of Abraham.
You see, this is not the first time that bread and wine were offered by a King in Jerusalem. There was a supper that took place over a thousand years earlier. It was before...
It was in the days of Abraham. It is found in Genesis 14. You remember the story. Abrahamís nephew, Lot, had been carried off by an invading hoard from the east. Abraham gathered up a force of men under arms and set out in pursuit. He caught the invaders and defeated them in a daring night attack. Lot was rescued.
On their way back home, they were met by a mysterious king. His name was Melchizedek. The name means "King of righteousness." He was king of a mountain fortress called Salem. It was short for "Jerusalem."
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out BREAD and WINE; now he was a priest of God Most High. (Genesis 14:18).
We donít know much about Melchizedek. He seems to come from nowhere and he bestows a blessing upon Abraham and when he is done we never hear from him again. But forever after, there is a promise of a once and future king.
He is seen in David who...
He is seen in the person of Solomon who likewise wore the white priestly robes at the dedication of the Temple and who made a sacrifice and blessed the people.
But the final fulfillment of the Melchizedek motif was Jesus. We see Him here. The King has entered Jerusalem amidst the waving of palm trees and the singing of hosannas as even the rocks held their collective breath to greet Him. And now we see Him, offering bread and wine and a blessing to those who will partake.
And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it, and gave it to them...
Jesus took ONE of the Passover cakes from the table. He did not take several of the cakes and pass them around. Instead, He took one and broke it. There was one loaf which was taken and broken for the disciples. He took ONE cup and passed it around and they all drank from the same cup.
There was a point that Jesus was trying to make in this. It was the point of the unity of the body. When we partake of the Lordís Supper, there is a sense in which we are being spiritually united with Him.
But that is not all. We are also being united with one another. We are made parts of a single body. That doesnít mean that we all...
But it does mean that we experience an organic unity - that when one part of the body hurts we all say, "Ouch." We are united by a tie that binds. It is not merely "until death do us part." It is for all eternity.
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. (22:20).
When Jesus spoke of the Covenant, He was invoking an Old Testament concept. In those days, a covenant was a legally binding oath which was entered by two parties.
You would take an animal and kill it and cut its body into two pieces. The pieces would be placed upon the ground. Then the parties who were invoking the covenant would pass between the pieces as they recited the terms of the covenant.
The idea behind this was one of blessing and cursing. If you would keep the terms of the covenant, then you would be blessed. If you broke the covenant terms, then you would be cursed. The idea was that, just as this animal had been killed and torn into pieces, so you were also swearing destruction upon yourself should you break the terms of the covenant.
Here is the point. Jesus is establishing a covenant. He has just broken bread and they have eaten. He is giving wine and they shall drink.
Where is the animal who shall be killed? Where is the sacrifice? HE is the sacrifice.
But that is not all. He is also the KEEPER of the covenant. He took the curse of the covenant upon Himself. The Law said: "Cursed is anyone who hangs upon a tree." He became a curse for us.
4. A Continuing Ceremony.
You have been invited tonight to a Supper. I am not the one who invites you. It is not your pastor or even the elders of the church. It is Jesus.
Max Lucado asks that you imagine a knock at your door and, when you open it, there are two men in business suits. They show you some identification. It declares them to be government employees. They are with the White House.
The first thought that goes through your mind is that this is some practical joke. But they look so authentic. And you look past them to see a giant limousine with the Presidential Seal. You decide to go along with the gag, just in case.
They drive you to the airport. Air Force One is waiting for you. Before you know it you are at 25,000 feet cruising north. You land at Andrews and another Limo takes you to the White House. A butler shows you to the dining room. You try to act natural, but you can't help staring at all of the presidential portraits.
The dining room. Elegant. Mahogany table. Crystal china. You hear that Midwestern voice and you know who it is without looking. Youíve heard it on the television. You turn and look and there they are. The president of the United States and his wife.
They look both older & younger than you had imagined. Styled hair. Friendly smiles. Aprons. APRONS?
Yes. They begin to serve you dinner. Sounds a little far out, doesnít it? But that is exactly what happens when you come to Him in faith. You have been invited to dinner, not by a president and first lady, but by the King of the Universe. And that is not all. He not only invites you, but he is also serving the meal.
A PROPHECY OF BETRAYAL
"But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Me on the table.22 For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!"
And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing. (Luke 22:21-23).
It is bad enough to be betrayed. But Jesus was betrayed by one who was with Him as His table. One who ate of the bread and drank of the wine. One who had been a co-worker in ministry.
The tragic thing about Judas is that he had so many opportunities to hear the gospel and to believe. He was with Jesus. He saw the miracles. He heard the teachings. But he never entrusted himself to Jesus. When I look at Judas, I am forced to look also at my own heart. Iíve had opportunities to see the Scriptures and to entrust myself to Him.
There is a tension presented here between the foreordination of God and the responsibility of man. The fact that the cross was foreordained in no way alleviated Judas from the responsibility of his actions in the betrayal.
Foreordination of God
Responsibility of Man
The Son of Man is going as it has been determined
Woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!
The words of Jesus brought about a response from the disciples. They began discussing who it might be who would be the betrayer. I can imagine them all looking at Peter and nodding. Or perhaps Matthew, the retired tax-collector. Or Simon the former freedom-fighter.
THE PARODY OF POSITION
And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest.
And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called ĎBenefactors.í26 But not so with you, but let him who is the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as the servant. 27 For who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. 28 And you are those who have stood by Me in My trials; 29 and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you 30 that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:24-30).
It was only a small step for the disciples to go from talking about who might be the promised betrayer -- who would be the worst among them -- to speak about who would be the greatest among them.
This is not the first time such a dispute had arisen among the disciples. Luke 9:46 tells us that they had already entered once before into a similar argument. Jesus had settled it at that time by taking a little child and using him as a picture of true kingdom greatness. He gives the same lesson here.
Kings of the Gentiles
The Kingdom of God
Lord it over their subjects
Called to serve others
Those who have authority are given the title of Benefactor
The greatest becomes as the youngest and the leader becomes as the servant
The one who reclines at the table is greater than the one who serves
Jesus is the example of the King who serves
Leadership in the Kingdom of God is not arranged according to the way the world defines leadership. The leader in Godís kingdom is called to serve.
THE PERIL OF PRESUMPTION
"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat;32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers."
And he said to Him, "Lord, with You I am ready to go both to prison and to death!"
And He said, "I say to you, Peter, the cock will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know Me." (Luke 22:31-34).
I have no way of knowing for certain, but I have a feeling that Peter was very much involved in the dispute that we saw back in verse 24. After all, he had been one of the first to come and to follow Jesus. He was one of the inner circle that witnessed the transfiguration. If a vote were to be taken to determine who would be the greatest, he would win hands down.
But Peter is in great danger. Pride goes before a fall and he is in danger of such a fall. He is given a warning, a promise and a commission.
1. Peterís Warning: "Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat" (22:31).
Satan was out to attack Jesus. He had tried to tempt Jesus at the very beginning of His ministry. But since that did not work, Satan was now trying to get at Jesus through His disciples.
You need to know that you are a part of a conflict that is bigger than you. There is a cosmic conflict at work. Satan wants to get at God. But since God is ungettable, he tries to do it through you. There is a battle going on, but it isnít for boundary lines or territories. It is for the hearts of men. It is for your heart.
2. Peterís Encouragement: I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail" (22:32).
This is a wonderful statement. We saw Jesus praying on the slopes of the Mount of Olives and we saw Him sweating great drops of blood. A part of that prayer was that the cup of suffering and sin might pass from him. But there was another part of that prayer. It was for Peter. And it was for you. How do I know that? Because John 17 records a portion of that prayer.
"I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine" (John 17:9).
"I do not ask in behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word;
Do you see it? Jesus prayed for Peter and for the rest of the disciples that night. But He also prayed for those who would come. He prayed for you.
3. Peterís Promise: "and you, when once you have turned again..." (22:32).
Peter is going to fall. He is going to sin big. But in the midst of that sobering prophecy, there is a promise of hope. It is that Peter will not stay fallen. There will be a turning back to God. And there will be forgiveness.
4. Peterís Commission: "... strengthen your brothers" (22:32).
Do you recall what had been the subject of discussion among the disciples? They were arguing over who was the greatest. Jesus pointed out that the key to greatness in the Kingdom of God is through serving one another. Now Jesus tells Peter to do just that. He is to serve the other apostles. He is to strengthen them.
SANDALS AND SWORDS
And He said to them, "When I sent you out without purse and bag and sandals, you did not lack anything, did you?" And they said, "No, nothing."
And He said to them, "But now, let him who has a purse take it along, likewise also a bag, and let him who has no sword sell his robe and buy one.37 For I tell you, that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ĎAnd He was numbered with transgressorsí; for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment."
And they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough." (Luke 22:35-38).
Luke has already described two different occasions in which Jesus sent people out to proclaim the gospel. He sent out the Twelve in Luke 9. And then He sent out the Seventy in the following chapter. He prefaced these commission with some very specific instructions. They were to make no preparations for these trips. Instead they were to trust in the Lord to provide for them.
But this has changed. Now they will be called to make certain preparations. What made the difference? How are we to understand this passage?
The key is seen in verse 37. This verse is given by way of explanation. Jesus is quoting from Isaiah 53:12.
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. (Isaiah 53:12).
Donít miss the context of what has been going on! The disciples have been arguing about who is the greatest in the Kingdom. They are thinking in terms of being head honchos in the kingdom. In the past when they went out through the land of Israel, they were supported by all of the people of the land. This was a measure of the popularity with which they had been received.
But that is going to change. The Messiah-King is going to a cross instead of a crown. The Judge of the universe will Himself be judged for the sins of men. The King will serve as a sacrifice.
This will also bring about a change for the disciples. No longer will they be popular among the people. Rather they shall be hated by all men for the name of Christ. No longer will they be supported at large through the land of Israel. There is a sense in which they will be on their own.
That does not mean that we are to take the words of Jesus with rigid literalism. He is not calling his disciples to take up arms for the kingdom. When one of the disciples starts swinging a sword, Jesus will stop him. Our sword is to be that which is of the Spirit -- the word of God.