Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.XXII.
(1, 2) Now, the feast of unleavened bread . . .—See Notes on Matthew 26:1-5; Mark 14:1-2. St. Luke’s way of giving a preliminary explanation of the Jews’ Passover is characteristic of the Gentile Evangelist.
Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.(3-6) Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot.—See Notes on Matthew 26:14-16; Mark 14:10-11. St. Luke stands alone in the first three Gospels as thus describing the origin of the Traitor’s guilt. John 13:27 shows, however, that such a way of speaking had become common, though he places the “entrance” at a later stage. The use of the name Satan for the devil, as the author of the many forms of human evil, is, it need hardly be said, a prominent feature in St. Paul’s writings (1Corinthians 7:5; 2Corinthians 2:11; 2Corinthians 12:7. et al.). Compare also St. Peter’s speech in Acts 5:3, where Satan appears as instigating the sin of Ananias and Sapphira.
And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.(4) Chief priests and captains.—The latter term is used by St. Luke, and by him only in the New Testament, of the officers who presided over the Levite guardians of the Temple. Here and in Luke 22:52 it is used in the plural. In Acts 4:1; Acts 5:24, we read of “the captain of the Temple,” presumably the chief officer in command. Such was in earlier times Pashur, the “governor of the house of the Lord” (Jeremiah 20:1). As watchmen the Levite sentinels carried clubs, and would use them freely against any sacrilegious intruder. The attempt to seize our Lord, recorded in John 7:32, shows why Judas applied to these officers as well as to the priests.
And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.(6) In the absence of the multitude.—The marginal reading, without a tumult, is perhaps nearer to the meaning of the original.
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.(7-13) Then came the day of unleavened bread.—See Notes on Matthew 26:17-19; Mark 14:12-16. St. Luke, like St. Mark, writing for Gentiles, adds the explanatory note, “when the Passover must be killed,” or, better, sacrificed. (Comp. “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us,” in 1Corinthians 5:7.)
And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.(8) He sent Peter and John.—St. Luke’s is the only Gospel that gives the names of the two disciples. They were together now, as they were afterwards in John 20:3; John 21:20; Acts 3:1. We may, perhaps, recognise the purpose of a loving insight in the act which thus brought the two disciples together at a time when our Lord foresaw how much one would need the love and sympathy of the other.
And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.(10) A man . . . bearing a pitcher of water.—The signal is one of the details common to St. Mark and St. Luke. (See Note on Mark 14:13.)
And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?(11) The Master.—Literally, the Teacher—i.e., the Rabbi whom the man acknowledged. The narrative agrees almost verbally with St. Mark’s.
And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.(14-18) And when the hour was come.—See Notes on Matthew 26:20; Mark 14:17. The other Gospels name “the evening.” St. Luke uses simply “the hour” as referring to the appointed time, “in the evening” (literally, between the two evenings, i.e., the close of twilight; see Exodus 12:6), for the “killing,” the lamb being eaten afterwards as soon as it was roasted. It is characteristic of the comparatively late date of St. Luke’s narrative that he speaks of “the twelve Apostles,” while the other two reports speak of “the disciples.” (Comp. Luke 9:10; Luke 17:5; Luke 24:10.)
And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:(15) With desire I have desired.—The peculiar mode of expressing intensity by the use of a cognate noun with the verb of action, though found sometimes in other languages, is an idiom characteristically Hebrew (comp. “thou shalt surely die” for “dying thou shalt die,” in Genesis 2:17), and its use here suggests the thought that St. Luke heard what he reports from some one who repeated the very words which our Lord had spoken in Aramaic. The whole passage is peculiar to him, and implies that he had sought to fill up the gaps in the current oral teaching which is reproduced in St. Matthew and St. Mark. It was natural that in so doing he might feel some uncertainty as to the precise position of these supplementary incidents, and hence the difficulties, of no great importance, which present themselves on a comparison of the three narratives. The words now before us bear obviously the impression of having been spoken at the beginning of the Feast. The Master yearned, if we may so speak, for a last Passover with His “friends,” as we yearn for a last Communion with ours; all the more so, we may believe, because it was in His purpose to perfect the former by transfiguring it into the latter. The words have been thought to confirm the view that our Lord was anticipating by twenty-four hours the strictly legal time of the Passover. It must be admitted, however, that they-do not in themselves suggest that thought. All that can be said is that they fall in with it, if proved on independent evidence.
For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.(16) Until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.—The words are obviously the expression of the same thought as those in Matthew 26:29, where see Note. Here the word “fulfilled” presents a new depth of meaning. The “Passover” was fulfilled in the kingdom of God: (1) in the sacrifice on the cross; (2) in every commemoration of that sacrifice by the acts which He appointed. Every such act was one of Communion, not only of the disciples with each other, but with Him, and in it He is, as it were, joining in the feast with them. Hereafter, as in the promise of Revelation 3:20, “I will sup with him, and he with Me,” there will be a yet fuller consummation. (Comp. Luke 22:18.)
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:(17) Take this, and divide it among yourselves.—The cup was probably the first of the three cups of wine, or wine mingled with water, which Jewish custom had added to the ritual of the Passover. As being a distinct act from that of Luke 22:20, it is natural to infer that it had a distinct symbolic meaning. Looking to the fact that wine is partly the symbol, partly the antithesis, of spiritual energy in its highest form (comp. Zechariah 9:17; Acts 2:13; Ephesians 5:18), and to the re-appearance of the same somewhat exceptional word for “divide,” in the tongues “parted, or divided, or distributed” (“cloven” is a mistranslation), in Acts 2:3, we may see in this cup the symbol of the bestowal of the spiritual powers which each of the disciples was to receive, according to the gift of the self-same Spirit, who “divideth to every man severally as He will” (the Greek word in 1Corinthians 12:11 is, however, different, though expressing the same thought), just as the second was the pledge of a yet closer fellowship with His own divine life.
For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.(18) I will not drink of the fruit of the vine.—Better, of the product. (See Notes on Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25.) Here the words precede, in the other Gospels they follow, the institution of the Lord’s Supper. It is not probable that the same words were repeated both before and after. The position which it occupies here, as standing parallel to what had before been said of the Passover, seems on the whole in favour of St. Luke’s arrangement. On the other hand, it is noticeable, whatever explanation may be given of it, that St. Matthew and St. Mark omit (in the best MSS.) the word “new” as connected with the “covenant,” and emphasise it as connected with “the fruit of the vine,” while he omits in the latter case, and emphasises it in the former. It is, perhaps, allowable to think of him as taught by St. Paul, and possibly by Apollos, to embrace more fully than they did, in all its importance, the idea of the New Covenant as set forth in Galatians 3, 4, and Hebrews 7-10.
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.(19, 20) He took bread, and gave thanks.—See Notes on Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-25. The other two reports give “He blessed,” instead of “He gave thanks.” There is, of course, no real difference between them. Thanksgiving and blessing both entered into what we may call the Jewish “Grace,” and were so far convertible terms. It is noticeable that St. Paul’s account, in 1Corinthians 11:23, agrees on this point with St. Luke’s.
Which is given for you.—Literally, which is now in the act of being given. The sacrifice was already inchoate in will. St. Paul’s report omits the participle.
This do in remembrance of me.—Literally, as My memorial, or, as your memorial of Me. The words are common to St. Luke and St. Paul, but are not found in the other two reports. The word for “remembrance” occurs, in the New Testament, only here and in Hebrews 10:3. In the Greek version of the Old Testament it is applied to the shew-bread (Leviticus 24:7), to the blowing of trumpets (Numbers 10:10), in the titles of Psalm 38:1 (“to bring to remembrance,”) and Psalm 70:1. The word had thus acquired the associations connected with a religious memorial, and might be applied to a sacrifice as commemorative, though it did not in itself involve the idea of sacrificing. The fact that our Lord and His disciples had been eating of a sacrifice which was also a memorial, gives a special force to the words thus used. In time to come, they were to remember Him as having given Himself, sacrificed Himself, for them, and this was to be the memorial in which memory was to express itself, and by which it was to be quickened. It may be noted that the early Liturgies, as a rule, follow St. Luke’s report, attaching the word “memorial” sometimes to the bread, sometimes to the cup, sometimes to both.
Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.(20) This cup is the new testament in my blood.—Better, New Covenant. The adjective is, in the best MSS., peculiar to St. Luke, as also is the “shed for you” instead of “shed for many.” The participle is in the present tense, which is being shed, like the being given, in Luke 22:19. St. Paul and St. Luke agree in placing the giving of the cup “after they had supped.” (See Note on Matthew 26:28.)
But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.(21-23) But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me . . .—See Notes on Matthew 26:21; Matthew 26:25; Mark 14:18; Mark 14:21; John 13:21; John 13:35. St. Luke’s account is here the briefest, St. John’s by far the fullest. There is again a slight discrepancy in the order of facts, St. Luke placing the mention of the Betrayal after, St. Matthew and St. Mark before, the institution of the memorial. St. John, who makes no mention of the institution, leaves the question open. On the whole, the order of the first two Gospels seems here the most probable. and agrees better with the fourth. The date before us do not enable us to say with certainty whether Judas partook of the memorial; but, if we follow the first two Gospels, it would seem probable that he did not.
And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!(22) As it was determined.—The word is eminently characteristic of St. Luke. (Comp. Acts 2:23; Acts 10:42; Acts 17:26; Acts 17:31.)
Woe unto that man . . .—As occurring in all the first three Gospels, the words must be noted as among those that had made an indelible impression on those who heard them, and were therefore reproduced verbatim in the midst of many variations on other points of the narrative.
And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.(24) And there was also a strife among them.—The incident that follows is peculiar to St. Luke. The noun which he uses for “strife” does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, but the corresponding adjective meets us in the “contentious” of 1Corinthians 11:16. The dispute was apparently the sequel of many previous debates of the same kind, as, e.g., in Luke 9:46; Matthew 18:1; Mark 9:34; and the prayer of the two sons of Zebedee (Matthew 20:23; Mark 10:37). What had just passed probably led to its revival. Who was greatest? Was it Peter, to whom had been promised the keys of the kingdom, or John, who reclined on the Master’s bosom, or Andrew, who had been first-called? Even the disciples who were in the second group of the Twelve, might have cherished the hope that those who had been thus rebuked for their ambition or their want of faith had left a place vacant to which they might now hopefully aspire.
And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.(25) The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them.—See Notes on Matthew 20:25; Mark 10:42. The repetition of the same words that had then been spoken in answer to the petition of the sons of Zebedee, suggests the probability that they were again prominent in the strife for pre-eminence.
Are called benefactors.—This takes the place of “their great ones exercise authority upon them,” in St. Matthew and St. Mark. Antiochus VII. of Syria, and Ptolemy III. of Egypt, were examples of kings who had borne the title of Euergetes, or benefactor. There is apparently an emphasis on “are called” as contrasted with “let him become,” in the next verse. The world gave the title of “benefactor” to those who were great in power only. In Christ’s kingdom true greatness was to be attained by benefiting others in the humblest services.
But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.(26) He that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger.—The latter word naturally carried with it, as in the old monastic rule, juniores ad labores, the idea of service. In Acts 5:6, “the young men” appear as a distinct body in the society of disciples, with functions like those of the later deacons or sextons; and the same sense is, perhaps, traceable in 1Timothy 5:1; Titus 2:6; 1Peter 5:5.
He that is chief.—Here again the Greek word came to have a half-technical sense as equivalent, or nearly so, to bishop or presbyter. So in Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17; Hebrews 13:24, where it is rendered “they that have the rule over you.”
He that doth serve.—The verb is the same as that from which the word “deacon” is derived, and, with Matthew 23:11, Mark 10:43, probably suggested the ecclesiastical use of the word. It is noticeable that the first recorded example of that use is in the salutation to “the bishops and deacons” of Philippi (Philippians 1:1), the Church which more than any other was under St. Luke’s influence. The “seven” of Acts 6:3; Acts 6:5, of whom we commonly speak as the first deacons, are never so named in the New Testament.
For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.(27) I am among you as he that serveth.—An obviously undesigned coincidence presents itself on a comparison of the words with the narrative of John 13:1-16, where see Notes. The Lord had actually on that very evening been among them, “as he that serveth,” girded, like a slave, with the linen towel, and washing the feet of the disciples. He had seen, at the beginning of the feast, the latent germs of rivalry, the later development of which not even that example had been able to check.
Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.(28) Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.—We trace a kind of loving tenderness in this recognition of faithfulness following upon the words of rebuke. The “temptations” cannot, it is clear, be those of which we commonly speak as the Temptation of the Christ, for that had been encountered in absolute solitude. The word must, accordingly be taken in its wider sense of “trials,” as in 1Corinthians 10:13; James 1:2; James 1:12; 1Peter 1:6, and probably referred to the crises in our Lord’s ministry (such, e.g., as those in Matthew 12:14; Matthew 12:46; John 6:60; John 6:68; John 12:43) when the enmity of scribes and rulers was most bitter, and many disciples had proved faithless and faint-hearted.
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;(29) And I appoint unto you a kingdom.—As being the verb from which is formed the noun for “covenant,” or “testament,” the Greek for “appoint,” has a force which we lose in the English. This was part of the New Covenant with them. They were to be sharers in His glory, as they had been in His afflictions. The latter clause, “as the Father hath appointed unto Me,” conveys the thought that His throne also was bestowed on the fulfilment of like conditions. The “sufferings” came first, and then the glory (1Peter 1:11). He was to endure the cross before He entered into joy (Hebrews 12:2). The Name that is above every name was the crowning reward of obedient humility (Philippians 2:8-9).
That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.(30) That ye may eat and drink at my table.—The promise is the same as that implied in what had been already said in Luke 22:16.
And sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.—See Note on Matthew 19:28. The repetition of the promise at the moment when apparent failure was close at hand, is significant as carrying the words into a higher region of symbolic meaning. Not on any thrones of earth were those disciples to sit, any more than the Master was to sit on the throne of His father David in an earthly Jerusalem.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:(31) And the Lord said, Simon, Simon.—The first three Gospels agree in placing the warning to Peter after the institution of the Lord’s Supper. The two-fold utterance of the name, as in the case of Martha (Luke 10:41), is significant of the emphasis of sadness.
Satan hath desired to have you.—Both this verb, and the “I have prayed,” are in the Greek tense which indicates an act thought of as belonging entirely to the past. The Lord speaks as though He had taken part in some scene like that in the opening of Job (Job 1:6-12; Job 2:1-6), or that which had come in vision before the prophet Zechariah (Zechariah 3:1-5), and had prevailed by His intercession against the Tempter and Accuser.
That he may sift you as wheat.—The word and the figure are peculiar to St. Luke’s record. The main idea is, however, the same as that of the winnowing fan in Matthew 3:12; the word for “sift” implying a like process working on a smaller scale. The word for “you” is plural. The fiery trial by which the wheat was to be separated from the chaff was to embrace the whole company of the disciples as a body. There is a latent encouragement in the very word chosen. They were “to be sifted as wheat.” The good grain was there. They were not altogether as the chaff.
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.(32) I have prayed for thee.—The individualising pronoun is significant as indicating to the Apostle, who was most confident, it may be, of his claim to greatness, that he, of the whole company of the Twelve, was in the greatest danger. In the Greek the other pronoun also is emphatic. “It was I who prayed for thee.” The prayer was answered, and the words that follow assume the answer as certain. In one sense “faith” did “fail” when the disciple denied his Lord; but repentance came after it, and a new power was gained through that weakness to make others strong. The word for “strengthen” does not meet us in the other Gospels, but is used frequently by St. Paul (Romans 1:11; 1Thessalonians 3:2, et al.), and twice by St. Peter himself (1Peter 5:10; 2Peter 1:12).
And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.(33) Lord, I am ready to go with thee.—There is something like a latent tone of indignation as well as devotion. The disciple half-resented the thought that a special prayer should be necessary for him. Here, again, the Greek order of the words is more emphatic than the English, “With Thee am I ready . . .”
And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.(34) I tell thee, Peter.—See Notes on Matthew 26:34-35; Mark 14:30-31,
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.(35) When I sent you without purse, and scrip.—The words refer specially to the command given to the disciples in Luke 10:4; Matthew 10:9-10. The whole incident is peculiar to St. Luke. The appeal to their past experience is interesting as showing that on their first mission they were welcomed by those who heard them, and received food and shelter that met all their wants.
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.(36) He that hath a purse, let him take it.—The word for “purse” is the same as in Luke 10:4, where see Note. On “scrip,” see Note on Matthew 10:10. If the words had stopped short of the “sword,” we could have received their literal meaning without difficulty. They would have seemed to counsel the prudence which provides for want, instead of a simple trust, as before, in the providence of God, and so would have sanctioned all equitable forms of Church organisation and endowment. The mention of the “sword,” however, introduces a new element of thought. Our Lord’s words to Peter (Matthew 26:52) show that the disciples were not meant to use it in His defence. It is not likely that He would teach them to use it in their own, as they preached the gospel of the Kingdom. True teachers felt afterwards that the weapons of their warfare were not carnal (2Corinthians 10:4). What follows supplies a probable explanation. The Master knew that two of the disciples (Peter and another) had brought swords with them, and with that acceptance of the thoughts of others which we have so often traced, He sadly, and yet, as it were, with the gentle sympathy with which a man speaks to those who are children in age or character, conveyed His warnings in the form which met their fears and hopes. If they meant to trust in swords, a time was coming when they would sorely need them.
For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.(37) And he was reckoned among the transgressors.—Literally, the lawless ones, or, breakers of the law. The distinct reference to the words of Isaiah 53:12 is remarkable as showing that the picture of the righteous sufferer in that chapter had all along been present, if we may so speak, to our Lord’s thoughts as that which He Himself had to realise. It was, as it were, a hint given to the disciples before the Passion, that they might learn, when it came, that it was part of the divine purpose that the Christ should so suffer; not singled out for the honour of a martyr’s death, but hurried as a malefactor, with other malefactors, to the death of the rebel or the robber.
And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.(38) Behold, here are two swords.—Peter, we find, had one (John 18:10); we can only conjecture who had the other. Possibly, Andrew; possibly, one of “the sons of thunder.”
It is enough.—Here again there is a touch of grave irony. The “two swords” were enough, and more than enough, for Him who did not mean them to use the swords at all. The word for “enough” may be noted as used far more often by St. Luke than in the other Gospels. The mystical interpretation which sees in the two swords the symbol of the spiritual and temporal authority committed to St. Peter, and to the Pope as his successor, stands on a level with that which finds the relations of the Church and the State foreshadowed in the “two great lights” of Genesis 1:16. Both are simply the dreams of a diseased fancy, and find their fit home at last in the limbo of vanities.
And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.(39) And went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives.—The words agree with the previous statement in Luke 21:37, and with John 18:2. Here, as in the parallel passage of Matthew 26:30 (where see Note), we have to insert the discourses of John 14-17.
And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.(40-46) When he was at the place.—See Notes on Matthew 26:36-46; Mark 14:32-38. It is noticeable that St. Luke neither gives the name Gethsemane, nor describes it as “a garden.” It is with him simply “the place” to which our Lord was wont to resort.
Pray that ye enter not into temptation.—The words are suggestive (1) as throwing light on the meaning of the “temptation” clause in the Lord’s Prayer, which the disciples were now to use in all the fulness of its meaning; (2) as indicating that our Lord was Himself about to enter on a time of temptation, to which He was called, and from which He would not shrink. And yet even He, too, as the sequel shows, could utter a prayer which was in substance identical with that which He taught the disciples to use.
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,(41) About a stone’s cast.—The descriptive touch, implying a report coming directly or indirectly from an eye-witness, is peculiar to St. Luke.
Kneeled down, and prayed.—Literally, and was praying. The tense of the latter verb implies continuous and sustained prayer.
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.(42) Not my will, but thine, be done.—See Notes on Matthew 26:39. Here there is a more distinct echo of the prayer which He had taught His disciples. He, too, could say, “Lead us not into temptation,” but that prayer was subject, now explicitly, as at all times implicitly, to the antecedent condition that it was in harmony with “Thy will be done.”
And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.(43) There appeared an angel unto him from heaven.—This and the following verses are omitted by not a few of the best MSS., but the balance of evidence is, on the whole, in their favour. Assuming their truth as part of the Gospel, we ask—(1) How came the fact to be known to St. Luke, when St. Matthew and St. Mark had made no mention of it? and (2) What is the precise nature of the fact narrated? As regards (2), it may be noted that the angel is said to have “appeared to him,” to our Lord only, and not to the disciples. He was conscious of a new strength to endure even to the end. And that strength would show itself to others, to disciples who watched Him afar off, in a new expression and look, flashes of victorious strength and joy alternating with throbs and spasms of anguish. Whence could that strength come but from the messengers of His Father, in Whose presence, and in communion with Whom He habitually lived (Matthew 4:11; John 1:51). The ministrations which had been with Him in His first temptation were now with Him in the last (Matthew 4:11). As to (1) we may think of one of the disciples who were present having reported to the “devout women,” from whom St. Luke probably, as we have seen, derived so much of the materials for his Gospel (see Introduction), that he had thus seen what seemed to him to admit of no other explanation.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.(44) And being in an agony.—The Greek noun primarily describes a “conflict” or “struggle,” rather than mere physical pain. The phenomenon described is obviously one which would have a special interest for one of St. Luke’s calling, and the four words which he uses for “agony,” “drops,” “sweat,” “more earnestly” (literally, more intensely), though not exclusively technical, are yet such as a medical writer would naturally use. They do not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The form of the expression, “as it were, great drops (better, clots) of blood,” leaves us uncertain, as the same Greek word does in “descending like a dove,” in Matthew 3:16, whether it applies to manner or to visible appearance. On the latter, and generally received view, the phenomenon is not unparalleled, both in ancient and modern times. (Comp. the very term, “bloody sweat,” noted as a symptom of extreme exhaustion in Aristotle, Hist. Anim. iii.19, and Medical Gazette for December, 1848, quoted by Alford.) If we ask who were St. Luke’s informants, we may think either, as before, of one of the disciples, or, possibly, one of the women from whom, as above, he manifestly derived so much that he records. That “bloody sweat” must have left its traces upon the tunic that our Lord wore, and when the soldiers cast lots for it (Matthew 27:35; John 19:24), Mary Magdalene, who stood by the cross, may have seen and noticed the fact (John 19:25), nor could it well have escaped the notice of Nicodemus and Joseph when they embalmed the body (John 19:40).
And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,(45) He found them sleeping for sorrow.—It is, perhaps, again characteristic of St. Luke, that while the other Gospels state simply the fact that the disciples slept, he assigns it psychologically and physiologically to its cause. Prolonged sorrow has, at last, a numbing and narcotising effect. (See Note on “believing not for joy,” Luke 24:41.)
And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.(46) Why sleep ye?—St. Luke is here briefer than the other two records, and omits the three-fold prayer and warning, and the words, half-permissive and half of veiled reproof, which bade the disciples at last to “sleep on and take their rest.”
And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.(47-49) And while he yet spake.—See Notes on Matthew 26:47-50; Mark 14:43-46.
Went before them.—The tense implies, not that Judas then left those with whom he had walked before, but that he was seen walking, as he had been all along, in advance of the others. He was “guide to them that took Jesus” (Acts 1:16).
But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?(48) Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man?—The first three Gospels all record the Traitor’s kiss. St. Luke alone reports the question. In our Lord’s use of the words, “the Son of Man,” we may trace a two-fold purpose. It was the old familiar title by which He had been wont to speak of Himself in converse with the disciples, and so it appealed to memory and conscience. It was the name which was specially connected with His office as Judge and King (Daniel 7:13), and so it came as a warning of the terrible retribution which the Traitor was preparing for himself.
When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?(49) When they which were about him.—The phrase is apparently chosen as more accurate than “the disciples” would have been. Those who spoke were probably the three that had been nearest to Him, and possibly one or two others who had rushed forward.
And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.(50-53) And one of them.—See Notes on Matthew 27:52-56; Mark 14:47-49. It will be remembered that all the four Gospels relate the incident, but that St. John alone gives the name of the disciple. It is possibly characteristic of St. Luke’s technical accuracy that he uses the diminutive form of “ear,” as if part only were cut off. In Deuteronomy 15:17 it seems to be applied specially to the fleshy lobe of the ear.
And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.(51) Suffer ye thus far.—The words and the incident are peculiar to St. Luke. We are. not told to whom the words were spoken. If to the disciples, they were a command to be patient, and to let things take their course. If, as is possible, to the servants and officers, they were a plea for His disciples—“Do not visit them with punishment for this one act.” The immediate healing of the ear is in favour of the latter view, as tending to conciliation.
Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?(52) Then Jesus said unto the chief priests.—St. Luke stands alone in recording the presence of the men of higher rank with the officers and multitude. On the “captains of the Temple,” see Note on Luke 22:4.
As against a thief, with swords and staves.—Better, as against a robber, and with swords and clubs. (See Note on Matthew 26:55.)
When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.(53) This is your hour, and the power of darkness.—The words are peculiar to St. Luke in this connection, but they present a point of coincidence, (1) as regards the phrase, with St. Paul (Colossians 1:13); and (2) as regards the thought, with St. John (John 14:30). In identifying the power that worked through human instruments against Him with darkness, our Lord virtually claims to be Himself the Light (John 8:12).
Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.(54-62) Then took they him.—See Notes on Matthew 26:57-58; Matthew 26:69-75; Mark 14:53-72. Peter’s following “afar off” may be noted as a feature common to the first three Gospels.
And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.(55) When they had kindled a fire.—The fire is mentioned by St. Luke in common with St. Mark and St. John.
Of the hall.—Better, of the court-yard—“hall” with us conveying the idea of a covered space inside the house.
But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.(56) As he sat by the fire.—Literally, by the light, or blaze, as in Mark 14:54.
Earnestly looked upon him.—The verb and adverb are both expressed by St. Luke’s characteristic word. (See Note on Luke 4:20.)
This man was also with him.—Minute as the coincidence is, it is interesting to note that it is through St. John’s narrative that we get the explanation of the “also.” St. John had been already seen and known as a disciple of Jesus (John 18:15).
And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.(58) Man.—The noun so used in the vocative always implies a certain touch of anger or impatience. (See Note on Luke 12:14.)
And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.(59) About the space of one hour after.—Literally, about one hour having intervened, the verb so rendered being peculiar to St. Luke in the New Testament (Luke 24:51; Acts 27:28).
Confidently affirmed.—This word also is peculiar to St. Luke (Acts 12:15).
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.(61) And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter.—The glance which was thus the turning point of Peter’s life, is mentioned only by St. Luke. As he was sitting in the porch, our Lord must have looked on the disciple as He was being led from Annas to the more public trial before the Sanhedrin. The form in which the fact is narrated, “the Lord turned,” points, probably, as in other instances, to its having been gathered by St. Luke from his informants at a time when that mode of naming Him had become habitual; and possibly in answer to inquiries, natural in one who sought to analyse the motives that led to action, as to what had brought about the change that led Peter, as in a moment, from the curses of denial to the tears of penitence.
And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.(63-73) And the men that held Jesus . . .—See Notes on Matthew 26:59-68; Mark 14:55-65. The verbs “mocked” and “smote” are both in the tense that implies continued action.
And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?(64) Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?—On the popular view of the lower form of Judaism that identified prophecy with clairvoyance, see Note. on Matthew 26:68.
And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,(66-71) And as soon as it was day.—See Notes on Matthew 27:11-14; Mark 15:2-5. The special mention of the hour, though agreeing with what is implied in the other Gospels, is peculiar to St. Luke.
The elders of the people.—Literally, the presbytery of the people. St. Luke uses here, and in Acts 22:5, the collective singular noun, instead of the masculine plural. St. Paul uses it of the assembly of the elders of the Church, in 1Timothy 4:14.
Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:(67) Art thou the Christ?—St. Luke passes over the earlier stages of the trial, the false-witnesses that did not agree, the charge of threatening to destroy the Temple, and the silence of Jesus until solemnly adjured.
And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.(68) Ye will not answer me, nor let me go.—The last clause is omitted by the best MSS. The first clearly refers to the question which He had so recently put to priests and scribes, whether the Christ was the son of David only, or also the Lord of David; and which they had been unable to answer (Matthew 22:41-46). The words were accordingly an indirect protest against their claim to question Him. when they had proved themselves impotent to solve a primary problem as to the being and character of the Messiah.
Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.(69) Hereafter shall the Son of man sit.—Literally, From this time forth shall the Son of Man be sitting. In St. Luke’s shorter record the immediate sequence of this confession upon an apparent refusal to answer seems hardly consistent. The narrative of St. Matthew shows that the change of purpose or of action was caused by the solemn adjuration of the high priest, which no longer left Him the alternative of silence. The form of the answer, too, is somewhat altered. Not “ye shall see,” but simply “shall be sitting,” as though the dominant thought in St. Luke’s mind in reporting the words was that even in the agony and death that were so soon to come on Him, our Lord found Himself glorified (John 12:23). The Cross was-His Throne, and while hanging on it, He was in spirit sitting at the right hand of the Father.
Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.(70) Ye say that I am.—The question, as asked by the whole company of priests and elders, is given only by St. Luke. It apparently followed, as a spontaneous cry of indignant horror, on the answer which had been made to the adjuration of the high priest. The answer is complete in itself; but it implies, as in the less ambiguous forms in St. Matthew and St. Mark, the confession that He actually was what they had asked Him. The “I am” has something of the same significance as in John 7:24-25; John 8:58 (where see Notes).