Passion 1: Luke 22:14-38
Prepare to Say Goodbye
How do you prepare to say “Goodbye?” Farewells can cause pain. An abrupt leave seems callous, while an extended goodbye can bring out grief. What is the right balance to take your leave?
Jesus said “goodbye” with a meal and a teaching. His meal would be his Last Supper. His teaching exhorted service as leadership, just as he led. Of course, his teaching had a promise and a caveat. The promise was the Kingdom. The caveat was shaken faith and a loss of reputation. Jesus would fall in reputation like a criminal.
Institution of the Eucharist
14 When the hour occurred, (HE) reclined (at table) and the apostles with HIM. 15 (HE) said to them, “I yearned with desire to eat this Pasca with you before (I am) to suffer. 16 For (I) say to you that (I) will not eat it until it should be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” 17 Having taken a cup, giving thanks, (HE) said, “Take this and distribute (it) among yourselves. 18 For I say to you [that] (I) shall not drink from now on of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God should come.” 19 Taking bread, blessing (it), (HE) broke (it) and gave (it) to them, saying, “This is my body, the (one) being offered up (in sacrifice) for you. Do this in memory of me.” 20 The cup in the same way after (they) ate, saying, “This cup (is) the new covenant in MY blood being poured out for you. 21 Yet, Look! The hand of the (one) betraying ME (is) with ME upon the table (in intimate fellowship). 22 For yet, the SON OF MAN travels (towards HIS destiny) according to the ordained (by God), however, woe to that man through whom (HE) is betrayed." 23 They began to question each other, which of them, thus, might want to do this (thing).
22:15 “I yearned with desire...” is literally “I desired with desire...” The double made Jesus' statement emphatic.
22:16 “(I) will not eat it until it should be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.” The meal Jesus referred to was the Passover celebration. In other words, he would not celebrate the feast of Israelite liberation until it found completion in the Kingdom.
22:19 “This is my body, the (one) being offered up (in sacrifice) for you." The phrase "being offered up (in sacrifice)" referred to ritual worship in the Temple.
22:20 “This cup (is) the new covenant in MY blood being poured out for you." The term "poured out" could also be translated "spilled," indicating his murder.
In Luke's gospel, Jesus swore off any celebration of the Passover in anticipation of the coming Kingdom. He refused to eat or drink from the cup until he could in full presence of his Father. Notice he would not but he distributed the cup to his disciples so they would continue to celebrate. In doing so, he shifted the emphasis from the past (liberation from Egypt) to the future (liberation in the Kingdom). He also turned the attention of his followers from what God had done to what he would do for them.
The denial of eating and distribution of the first cup set up the theme of self-giving. In the words of Institution, Jesus conflated ritual sacrifice (the giving of his Body) with his murder (the spilling of his Blood), all within the context of the Passover meal. Notice the idea of worship in this context shifted from what the worshiper offered to God to what God's Son gave to his faithful. He would die as a means of offering sacrifice; he would die as way to realize the Kingdom. And these he would bestow on his disciples.
Yet, one who sat with him would betray him. As the Son of Man, Jesus would face his destiny. The traitor, however would face perdition. The Lord looked upon the Kingdom through his Passion. Part of his self-giving required an evil agent to fulfill God's plan of salvation.
Teaching on Leadership
24 (There) was a dispute among them, who of them would be regarded (by the others) as the greatest. 25 So, JESUS said to them, “The kinds of the Gentiles act as lords over them and the (ones) having authority over them are called 'benefactors.' 26 But with you not so, instead the greatest among you (is) to be as the youngest and the (one) leading as the (one) serving. 27 For who (is) greater, the (one) reclining (at table) or the the (one) serving? (Is it) not the (one) reclining (at table)? Yet, I in your midst am as the (ONE) serving.”
22:25 Jesus described the social hierarchy of the ancient world. Rulers would control the masses not only by military means, but through the cultural institution of patronage. They would be the people's benefactors, granting some among the populace privileges, sponsoring religious festivals and paying for infrastructure improvements.
The question of leadership flowed easily from the self-giving theme of the Last Supper. Leadership style defined the community. If Jesus set the example for the leaders through his death, how could they argue over places of power and privilege? Unlike a society based upon hierarchy and patronage, the Church would find its moorings in service. The leader would serve. Just as the Master did.
Promise of the Kingdom
28 “You are the (ones) having remained with ME in MY trials. 29 And so, I grant to you, just as MY Father granted to ME, (the) Kingdom, 30 so that (you) can eat and drink at the MY table in MY Kingdom, and (you) will sit upon the thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
Jesus turned to the subject of the Kingdom as a corollary of his teaching on leadership. If he led through the service that the Father desired, then he would receive the Kingdom. In other words, his temporal trials led to eternal glory. Those who remained faithful, despite their own sufferings, would receive the same from Jesus. Notice, however, that service gave power. The servant in this world would become the judge in the next world. The one who sacrificed for others would find intimacy at the table of the Lord.
Prophecy of Simon Peter's Betrayal
31 “Simon, Simon! Look! Satan claimed you, to sift (you) like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you so that your faith might not fail. When (you) turn back (to ME), strengthen your brothers.” 33 (Peter) said to HIM, “LORD, I (am) ready to go with YOU to prison and to death.” 34 (HE) said, “I say to you, Peter, today the cock will not crow until you will deny to know ME three (times).”
Self-giving has the risk of looking weak to those in a society built on power. Faithfulness to a servant-leader opened a follower up to criticism and even worse. So, a disciple always faced the temptation of rejecting his Lord, despite promises of future glory. Simon Peter became the prime example of this sin. The leader of the disciples have his faith shaken, like sifted wheat, and he would deny his Lord three times before the night was over. Yet, he would return to strengthen his fellow disciples with his words and example, thus giving them the hope of a second chance.
Preparations for the Mount of Olives
35 (HE) said to them, “When I sent you off without money pouch or provision satchel or sandal, did you lack for anything?” The (disciples) said, “Nothing.” 36 (HE)said to them, “But, now, the (one) having a money pouch (is) to carry (it), and likewise a provision satchel, and the (one) not having (a sword is) to sell his cloak and (is) to buy a sword. 37 For I say to you that (it) is necessary to fulfill this scripture (verse) in me, 'With the lawless (HE) was counted.' For the (verse) concerning me has an end (point). 38 (They) said, “LORD. Look! Here (are) two swords.” The (ONE) said to them, “(It) is enough.”
22:37 This verse has a quasi-chiastic or “A-B-A” construction. Thematically, the verse begins and ends with a reference to the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12:
Therefore I will give him a portion with the great, and he will divide the plunder with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was counted with the transgressors; yet he bore the sins of many,and made intercession for the transgressors.
Notice in the “A” section, Jesus referred to himself as the one in whom the prophecy would find fulfillment. Implicitly in Luke, he tied the image of Isaiah's Suffering Servant to his view of the Messiah.
22:38 “(It) is enough.” This phrase did not mean the number of swords was sufficient. Instead, Jesus declared the discussion at an end. It could also be translated simply as “Enough!”
Jesus instructed his disciples to prepare for a journey, but not on an apostolic mission. Instead he ordered them to take a money bag , provisions satchel and swords. Either he told them to pack like others who would travel in caravans, with money, food and weapons for self-defense. Or he readied them to make a quick exit, like a band of criminals. Either way, he intended his statements as commands for a final exit. It was enough.
In short order, Luke presented Jesus as the servant who would suffer. He gave himself as an example of leadership for his followers, through his self-giving in the Eucharist. Those who remained faithful had the promise of the Kingdom, but rough times lay ahead. Simon Peter would deny his Master. They would pack as those leaving town and symbolically leaving Jesus. Thus, the scene was set for the arrest of the Lord, for his goodbye.
How have you prepared for Luke's Passion? What insights have you gained recently when you received Eucharist?