Passion 2:  Luke 22:39-72

Shaming the Innocent

To cover guilt, many will shift responsibility. They “blame the victim.” They would have done what they did, if the victim wasn't present. Of course, the twisted logic only compounds their guilt. But, the innocent still suffer at the hands of the evil.

Luke's gospel presented Jesus as the innocent man caught in a web of deceit. One of his own would betray him. The leadership wanted him dead. Both worked to frame him, despite the protests of others. They would shame him to cover their own crimes, but, unlike their plans, his shame would lead to glory.

At the Mount of Olives

39 Departing (from the Passover meal), (HE) traveled according to (HIS) custom to the Mount of Olives, and the disciples followed HIM. 40 Having arrived at the place, (HE) said to them, “Pray not to enter into temptation.” 41 HE withdrew from them about a stone's throw and, bending his knee, (HE) prayed, 42 saying, “Father if (you) are willing, remove this cup from ME. But, not MY will, but yours happen.” 45 Standing up from prayer, going to the disciples, (HE) found them sleeping from grief. 46 (HE) said to them, “Why are (you) resting? Standing up, pray, so that (you) might not enter into temptation.” 47 Yet, as (HE) was speaking, Look! A crowd, and the (one) called Judas, one of the twelve, was preceding them and came near to JESUS to kiss HIM. 48 JESUS said to him, “Judas, with a kiss (you) betray the SON OF MAN?” 49 The (disciples) around him, seeing the (things that) would follow, said, “LORD, should (we) strike with a sword?” 50 One out of them stuck the servant of the high priest and cut (off) his ear, the right (one). 51 Responding, JESUS said, “Leave off from this!” Touching the ear, (HE) made him whole. 52 JESUS said to the (ones) having come out against HIM, the chief priests and the guards of the Temple and the elders, “As against a thief you come out with swords and (wooden) clubs? 53 (Every) day when I was with you in the Temple, (you) did not extend hands against ME, but this is your hour and the force of darkness.” 54 Seizing HIM, (they) led (HIM out) and brought (HIM) to the house of the high priest. Peter followed from afar.

22:43-44 “43 Then an angel from heaven appeared to HIM and strengthened HIM. 44 And in his anguish HE prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood failing to the ground.” These verses do not appear in the many codices, so their authenticity is questionable.

22:54 “Seizing HIM, (they) led (HIM out) and brought (HIM)...” The third person male pronoun (HIM) acted as the object of the participle (seizing) and the two main verbs (led out and brought).

After the Last Supper, Jesus withdrew to a familiar place of prayer, the Mount of Olives. And, as usual, he went off to pray alone. His predictable behavior made betrayal by Judas and the arrest possible.

Jesus' prayer in 22:41-42 and his admonition to his followers to pray in 22:45-46 set up an interesting parallel. He prayed for relief but acquiesced to the will of the Father. He urged his disciples to fight temptation with that same surrender. Luke designed the scene so the struggle of the Lord would set the example for the disciples. One could only fight evil by giving into the will of the Father.

Judas arrived with the arrest party and betrayed Jesus with an act of intimacy, a kiss on the cheek. And the Lord noted the irony of the act. Notice the reaction of the disciples. In Luke, they responded by asking his permission to strike, then with a single attack, not to provoke violence or to defend their position, but to insult the man who implicitly orchestrated the arrest, the high priest's servant. Yet, the mercy of Lord extended even to an enemy. At this point, he called a halt. From then until the end of the scene, the disciples froze in place. Neither did they run away nor did they act to protect their teacher. Luke did not indicate cowardice nor heroism on the part of his followers.

The focus shifted to Jesus' speech towards his enemies. Luke listed the chief priests, the Temple guard and the elders in the arrest party, the same men who would be present at his trial. In this sense, the leadership arrested him, tried him, then turned him over the Pilate for execution. For Luke, this was a group activity.

In his arrest statement, Jesus noted the irony of the leadership's action (seizing him as they would a criminal when he was vulnerable) and flipped the moral onus back on them (their hour of triumph was the moment of dark power). At that moment, they arrested him and led him away to his trial.

Peter's Denials

55 When (the arrest party) kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. 56 A slave girl, seeing him sitting before the fire and staring at him, said, “This (man) was with HIM.” 57 He denied (it), saying, “I do not know him, woman.” 58 After a short (time), another seeing him said, “ You are also of them.” Peter said, “Man, I am not.” 59 After an interval passed of about one hour, someone else insisted, saying, “Without a doubt, this (one) was with HIM, for (he) is a Galilean.” 60 Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying.” Immediately, just as he was speaking, a rooster crowed. 61 Having turned, the LORD looked (straight) at Peter and Peter recalled the word of the LORD just as (HE) spoke to him, “Before the rooster crows tonight, (you) will deny ME three times.” 62 And departing, he wailed bitterly.

In Luke, the arrest party made a stop at the high priest's courtyard, built a fire and warmed themselves, all with Jesus in tow. Here, Peter fulfilled the Lord's prophecy of denial. However, many modern readers miss the depth of Peter's shame. A slave girl, a “paidiska” in Greek, confronted him first. In a male dominated, gender segregated society, a young female slave stood at the bottom of the social ladder. Most Jewish free men would have not even acknowledged, much less addressed, such a girl. Yet, Peter lied to a person of such low rank, compounding the shame of his sin, placing himself beneath her status. Twice more he denied his association with Jesus, all implicitly in the Lord's presence. Then, in 22:61, Luke made his presence explicit: “Having turned, the Lord looked straight at Peter...” The full force of Peter's indiscretion became complete; he left the stage to wail bitterly.

The Trial before the High Priest

63 The men holding HIM mocked HIM, beating (HIM); 64 blindfolding HIM, (they) kept demanding, saying, “Prophesy, who is the (one) beating YOU.” 65 (They) said many (things), blaspheming against HIM. 66 As the day came, the elders of the people gathered, both the chief priests and the scribes, and (they) led HIM into their council, 67 saying, “If YOU are the CHRIST, tell us.” But (HE) said to them, “If I tell you, (you really) will not believe, 68 but if (I) question (if you believe in ME), (you definitely) will not answer. 69 From now on 'the SON OF MAN will be sitting at the right (hand) of the power of God.'” 70 All (of them) said, “So, YOU are the SON OF GOD?” HE said to them, “You say that I am.” 71 The (ones) said, “What testimony do (we) still have need of? For (we) heard the (statements) from his (own) mouth.”

22:66 “their council” was specifically the Sanhedrin.

22:67-68 “you really will not believe.” This phrase actually contained a double negative (“you will not not believe”) giving it emphasis. The word “really” was added to give it such weight. “you definitely will not answer...” Jesus used the same construction of the double negative in his retort. In other words, he doubted the intent of his interrogators.

22:69 “...the SON OF MAN will be sitting at the right (hand) of the power of God.” The phrase “power of God” referred to God himself; this was an indirect reference to give reverence to the divine name. “...sitting at the right hand...” came from Psalm 110:1: “YHWH says to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool for your feet.” The imagery of enthronement in heaven echoed Daniel 7:13: “...behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.” Jesus predicted his glory before God.

After Peter left the stage, the Temple guards and religious leaders turned their attention back to Jesus. In the courtyard, they abused him physically and psychologically, treating him for the trial scene. Notice Luke shifted the mockery from the Roman soldiers (with their faux coronation) to the religious leaders and later to Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great and tetrarch of Galilee (Luke 23:6-12). True, Pilate did have Jesus scourged (Luke 23:16), but the insult scenes were missing; Luke implicitly wanted to relieve the Gentiles on the scene of any guilt beyond the governor's order to execute the Lord.

Finally, they led Jesus in to face the charges against him. Notice the double questions from leadership: “Are you the Christ?” and “So you are the Son of God?” To the first question, he answered with two phrases, both with double negatives for emphasis, both stating their unbelief. He followed those phrases with his prophecy about the Son of Man coming in glory, a statement that weaved Psalm 110:1 with THE apocalyptic image from Daniel 7:13. Here, he asserted his unique relationship with YHWH.

Naturally, the leadership asked about that assertion: “So you are the Son of God?” But Jesus flipped the responsibility of the phrase back onto his interrogators, for he never referred to himself with this title in Luke; others called him “Son of God” as a proclamation of faith. The angel Gabriel called him “Son of the Highest” and the “Son of God” before Mary (Luke 1:32, 35). The demon declared him “Son of God” before he was exorcised (4:4:41). Jesus referred to himself as the “Son of Man,” not as the “Son of God.”

Step back to notice the perspective of Jesus' enemies. They presumed his guilt before their two questions, so they naturally assumed it after his answer. When he placed the responsibility of the title “Son of God” back onto his interrogators, he received condemnation for a blasphemy he never admitted to. But, that didn't matter to the leaders. Their questioning was only a formality along the road to his death.

The three scenes in this study, the arrest of Jesus, the denial of Peter and the trial before the leadership, all meant to shame Jesus. Yet, Luke highlighted the shame of his antagonists to a much greater degree. The leaders arrested him under the cover of darkness like cowards. They unfairly condemned him in a kangaroo court. Along the way, even his first in command abandoned him, in his very presence. Jesus was alone and abused. But the shame lie with others. He was innocent. They were the guilty ones.

Their guilt would lead to his death. And to the possibility of their acquittal. Only if they believed.

How have you been shamed at the hands of the guilty? How have you forgiven them?