Lukeby Mike Raiter
Almost from the very beginning of His ministry, the Jewish leaders had been plotting against Jesus (see Luke 6:11), and now they are looking for an opportunity to kill Him. His repeated humiliation of them in the Temple debates has only hardened their resolve. To arrest Him openly would incite a riot, as He is too popular. They need a time and place when Jesus can be quickly and quietly seized, and then tried and executed, but they don’t know His daily timetable. They are delighted when one of His own disciples decides to betray Him (vv. 3–6).
Luke gives us two reasons for this betrayal. “Satan entered Judas” (v. 3). Satan’s great work has been to destroy the mission of God’s Son, and so undermine all that God is doing to bring salvation to the world. Yet that does not diminish Judas’ own responsibility (v. 22). The Jews were delighted to give Judas money and, we can be sure, he was equally glad to receive it (v. 5).
There is, however, another power behind all these events. Satan’s will and human will are not sovereign. Jesus says, “The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed” (v. 22). Behind these evil events of the next few days is the powerful hand of God, working through betrayal, suffering, and death to reconcile men and women to Him.
The Passover meal consisted of meat, herbs, and vegetables, but Jesus focuses on the unleavened bread and the wine, teaching the disciples their true meaning. The book of Exodus predicted that the Christ would die (Exodus 12:1–28). The broken bread looked forward to His body, and the wine symbolised His shed blood. Jesus is revealing what had always been the true meaning and intent of the Passover (see Luke 24:44–46). How appropriate that we regularly gather as His disciples and share a meal that remembers His death for us (v. 19).
We believe in an all-mighty God who wonderfully and mysteriously achieves His good purposes for our salvation by working through the deliberate, wilful choices and actions of men and women as well as the schemes of the devil. It is because we believe in the awesome sovereignty of God that we can pray with confidence and not fear the future.
How do you think someone who had seen and heard all that Jesus did could betray Him? Is there a warning here for us?
We have repeatedly seen that meals were an important part of Jesus’ ministry (Luke 5:29; 14:15–24; 15:2). Jesus now initiates a meal as the context in which we are to remember His death for us. Why is a meal such an important and effective way to remember the cross?