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Luke 21:37-22:20

After Luke covers Jesus’ warnings to the disciples in 21:34-36, he returns to giving an overview of Jesus’ activities during the week. While we are unclear as to the reason that Jesus stayed outside of the city, Luke makes it clear that He did do so, entering the city during the day to teach, setting the stage for the events of chapter 22. Luke also emphasized Jesus’ popularity with the people, a popularity which caused a problem for the religious leaders who were looking for an opportunity to arrest Him without incurring the wrath of the people. The celebration of the Passover marked the day before the seven Days of Unleavened Bread, but the two were often referred to together as an eight day feast. This year, Passover fell on a Thursday. As that day approached, the priests and experts in the law, who wielded great political influence as well as religious, still lacked the means to arrest and try Jesus.  What they did not anticipate, is that the betrayal of Judas would create that opportunity.

When Luke makes it clear that Satan entered Judas, he is emphasizing Satan’s continuing involvement in spiritual conflict, but he is not absolving Judas of responsibility. Rather, Judas allows Satan to enter him. While Judas’ motives for betraying Jesus are never clear, we are given plenty of context that could indicate motive. Although the money he receives is a paltry sum, we have already received indication of his greed. He is also a lowly regarded disciple, certainly not in the inner circle, and that could have led to resentment. We also have some evidence that he was connected with groups advocating a violent overthrow of Roman rule; a position which would have made him impatient with Jesus’ approach and could have led him to try to force Jesus to take more drastic measures. Whatever his motives were, what is clear is that there was something that he valued more highly than obedience to Jesus. Despite all of his time with and around Jesus, he still was not willing to truly follow Him.

      The day on which the lamb had to be sacrificed would have been Thursday. The lamb was sacrificed in the temple, then each family took their lamb home to roast it and prepare it with bitter herbs. The meal was supposed to be eaten within the walls of Jerusalem, which mean that travelers to the city would have to find a place to celebrate it. For that reason, residents who had an extra room were expected to have that room ready for travelers and to give it to them to celebrate the Passover if they asked. Needing the same thing, Jesus sends Peter and John into the city to prepare for the feast, and tells them to look for a man carrying a jar of water. Since men usually carried water in skins instead of jars, this man would have stood out, indicating that it was his house they were to use.

      Luke’s narrative of the Last Supper is more condensed than some of the other Gospels, and it also gives less information about their actual celebration of the Passover. Luke’s gentile audience would have been less familiar with the history and meaning of the celebration, so Luke may have felt that it was less necessary to tie Jesus’ institution of communion into the original feast. The Jewish people usually celebrated Passover with a feast that was organized around four cups of wine, each with a distinct meaning that tied back to the promises of Exodus 6:6-7. These promises both reflected on their deliverance from bondage that had already occurred, and looked forward to a future as God’s people. When Jesus says in v. 18 that He will not drive of the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom comes, He is also giving us reason to look forward when celebrate the Lord’s Supper.

      The betrayal of Judas is perhaps the most disconcerting warning in Scripture of the futility of proximity to the Church without true conversion. All of Judas’ time around Jesus and the disciples did nothing to save him. Because he valued his own desires over obedience to Christ, he allowed Satan to enter him and guide him in betrayal. Those who have accepted Christ, however, can be assured by the promise that we will be preserved in Him and delivered from sin. While the practice of communion, like baptism, does not save us, it is provided for us to give an outward indication of our inner conversion. Just as we celebrate our deliverance from sin through His blood, so too do we look forward to an eternity with Him, with the promise that He will be our God, and we will be His people.

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