It seems like there should be 5 chapters wrapped up into one chapter here. So many events in the life of Christ take place, and they are extraordinarily memorable events. Think about the progression that takes place in the chapter, and try to follow the mood and the excitement that ebbs and flows during the chapter. Jesus begins the chapter as the Alpha in that region. We read that the religious leaders “were afraid of the people” because of Jesus. He is without a doubt one of the most popular and influential people in the region in that time period. But then all it takes is one person to begin to sow seeds of discontent that can then escalate into a train that is running which cannot be stopped. Judas’ motivation, according to Luke, was money. He consented because they agreed to pay him. Some of the other Gospel writers may have different approaches to the motivation behind Judas’ betrayal (the realization that Jesus was not instilling a political kingdom, the recognition that there never would be an opportunity to be with the front runner and at the helm of a movement that would bring the kingdom of God on the earth with Israel in charge militarily). But here Luke is very clear, money was behind his decision making.
But the disciples and Jesus were not privy to Judas’ decision making. Okay, Jesus knew, but the disciples were still flying high. I’m guessing that throughout this whole last week of his life Jesus was pretty reflective and maybe was even considered moody. I don’t think he joined in the celebrations of Palm Sunday, but was much more serene and stoic than his disciples as he rode into Jerusalem. That’s my take.
The last supper takes place and Jesus gives the Words of Institution in the midst of trying to describe who it would be that was going to betray him. This leads them to ask of themselves who is it that will betray Jesus. This then leads, and I’m not sure how they get here, to who is the greatest among them as far as being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Can you imagine that conversation: “I wonder who it is that is going to betray Jesus. It is probably that John guy, he is so quiet and maybe even mischievous. Maybe it’s Peter, he seems to be pretty puffed up on himself. Wait, isn’t Peter the greatest among us, Jesus seems to think so. Peter? No way! I’m the greatest among us, no I’m the greatest.” It sounds like a room full of Mohammed Ali’s arguing over who is the greatest of all time. Jesus tells them simply that he has given to them all a seat at the kingdom and that kingdom allows them to eat and drink at the Lord’s table. Appropriate that on this evening of the Last Supper he gives his disciples the right to eat and drink at His table.
I love what he does with his disciples starting at vs.35. He really builds a case for their being able to trust and rely upon his word. Do you remember when I sent you out without a purse, bag or sandals? Did you ever find yourself in need? Now I’m adding this part, and didn’t you think at the time that it was a crazy idea and that it would never work? Remember that? Well, did it work out? Were you ever in need? So just trust me that things are going to work out. It is hard to trust someone until you have a bit of a track record with them.
At this point things start to go south. Jesus prays in the garden and Luke has the very illustrative verses of 43-44 that depict him sweating drops of blood. I can think of no other more graphic representation of Jesus’ agony than this one. Judas betrays him, Peter betrays him…three times, the chief priests betray him. Nuff said. Things only get worse.