January 13, 2013

Luke Looks Back 27


Study 27-Luke 22:1-46

Joys and Sorrows

In this chapter Jesus is a source of great strength and joy to his disciples as they gather to eat the Passover together. At the same time betrayal, misunderstanding and desertion surround him.

Read Luke 22:1–6.

Question 1: If ‘Satan entered Judas’ how responsible was Judas for what he did? When is it permissible for us to say ‘Satan entered somebody?

To answer the second part of the question first:it is very doubtful whether we should ever say this. Judas was fully responsible as he eventually recognised; Matt 27:3, 4 says ‘When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. I have sinned, he said, for I have betrayed innocent blood. What is that to us? They replied. That's your responsibility.

There is an interesting and important parallel in Isaiah 10 where we read:“Woe to the Assyrian, the rod of my (the Lord’s) anger, in whose hand is the club of my wrath! I send him against a godless nation (that is Israel), I dispatch him against a people who anger me, to seize loot and snatch plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.” But this is not what he (Assyria) intends, this is not what he has in mind; his purpose is to destroy, to put an end to many nations. When the Lord has finished all his work against Mount Zion and Jerusalem, he will say, I will punish the king of Assyria for the wilful pride of his heart and the haughty look in his eyes. For he says:'By the strength of my hand I have done this, and by my wisdom, because I have understanding.’ So we see in that passage it is true both that the Lord in his sovereign power used Assyria to punish Israel and the Assyrians were completely responsible for what they did.

Here Judas was completely responsible for what he did even if in so doing he fulfilled the greater purposes of the Lord. That may not agree with our logic but that kind of both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility at the same time is the common teaching of the word of God.

As with the arrangements for the triumphal entry it seems likely that Jesus had pre-arranged the hire or loan of the room.

We read Luke 22:7–23.

Question 2: Luke is not interested in the detailed arrangements for the meal, which must have included things like the sacrifice of a lamb in the temple. What is he interested in? Can you think of any reason for that?

He is only interested in the human aspects of the story, the depth of fellowship it showed and the inauguration of the Lord’s Supper. He draws attention to the way this celebration was repeated in the very early church in his account in Acts. He expected the church to follow the main points of what Jesus did down through the centuries.

Question 3: What is the intended symbolism of the bread and the cup? What are the intended symbolisms in the way the elements must have been handled? How many of these symbolisms are lost the way your fellowship do it?

Bread was the common essential of life in those days. It was nothing special that Jesus used. The loaf had to be forcibly broken, as was the body of Jesus to be. The cup was poured out but none was spilt as the blood of Jesus was. It represented blood and therefore (life-giving) death. In addition this was a Passover meal so it also carried the symbolisms of Exodus 12, particularly perhaps the redemption under the covering blood and the sense of a meal to be eaten in haste, prepared to go on a great journey of faith.

It is up to you to think through how that relates to what your fellowship do when they celebrate this meal.

Question 4: Sadly the communion service/breaking of bread/eucharist/ mass has become the chief symbol of division in Christendom when it should have been the great symbol of unity. Why do you think this has happened?

Unfortunately men have sort power by claiming they, by reason of some office they hold, and they alone, have the right to dispense the elements and control the procedure. Very sad. There is surely no justification for any church or group of churches preventing Christians who are not of their fellowship from participating at the Lord’s Table.

Jesus called it the feast of the ‘new covenant’. Gen 17:3–8 is the original covenant with Abraham. Deut 5:1–4 records the covenant with Moses and the Israelites at Siana. Jer 31:31–34 promises a new covenant which this is. Many churches never really talk about covenants, new or old. They lose by not doing so.

Read Luke 22:24–38.

The dispute of v24 must have filled Jesus with dismay as it contradicted all that he had tried so hard to teach his disciples.

Question 5: In what ways are we most likely to contradict all that the communion service is meant to achieve in us even before we leave it? What should we learn from the words of Jesus responding to that dispute (v25–30)?

The tendency of men and women to want to feel superior to other people is always present where people gather together. Jesus reiterates his teaching that we are not to seek that superiority for ourselves remembering that such things will be reversed in the Kingdom anyway.

Question 6: The instruction to buy a sword (v 36) is very strange. There is no evidence that the early church ever did this. Should they have? How can we understand these verses?

Read Luke 22:39–46.

Luke’s account of Jesus praying on the Mount of Olives (v 39–46) is considerably shorter than Matthew’s (26:36–46) and Mark’s (14:32–42) accounts. What does Doctor Luke tell us to emphasise the importance of the event? What can we learn about prayer from this account?

And so the scene is set for the final hours of Jesus and the beginning of new possibilities in human life. That will be in our next study.

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