Through the Bible Day by Day
Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.
SELLING OR SERVING THE MASTER
The world seemed in arms against the greatest Lover of souls that had ever trod earth’s soil. Satan entered the heart of Judas, for it was his hour, and he gathered all his strength for one last prodigious effort to overthrow the Son of man and thwart His sublime purpose of redemption. Judas, one of the inner circle, did not hesitate to choose thirty pieces of silver rather than love, purity, compassion, as they were incarnate in the Son of man. The religious leaders of the age also eagerly caught at their chance.
In the meanwhile the Lord girded Himself for the conflict by gathering to His heart the remainder of the apostolic band, though none of them really understood. The arrangement of the man with the waterpot was evidently to elude arrest during the supper, as Judas could not inform his accomplices beforehand of the selected supper room. Remember that Jesus asks each of us for the guest chamber of our heart! Ask Him, not to be as a wayfaring man who tarries for the night, but to abide always.
And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
THE FEAST OF LOVE AND ITS SHADOW
The human soul of Jesus needed this sweet fellowship with loyal friends to nerve it for its sorrows; and He desired to transmit it as a perpetual legacy for His Church in after-days. We may think of that table being elongated till it reaches down the centuries to where we are seated. Look down the long vista and at the end behold the Master Himself!
These two allusions to the kingdom of God, Luk_22:16; Luk_22:18, point onward to the marriage supper when the full purpose of redemption will be consummated. As we partake of bread for our natural strength, so spiritual strength to suffer, to resist temptation and to serve is possible only in proportion as we feed on Christ by meditation and appropriation. And let us never forget that the wine is the emblem of His blood, by which the new covenant was sealed. See Heb_9:18. When therefore at the sacred feast we place the wine to our lips, we may quote the provisions of that covenant, and hold God pledged to fulfill them. See Heb_8:8, etc.
And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.
DISCIPLES WHO GRIEVE THEIR LORD
It is probable that this dispute about priority took place on their entering the supper room. It could hardly have taken place after the tender scene of Joh_13:1-38. But doubtless the irritated feelings which that contention engendered prepared the way for the testing, sifting and ultimate fall of Peter. It is the little waves that eventually become the mighty billows which wreck the big ships and engulf human lives.
Satan cannot assail us until he has asked and obtained permission, Luk_22:31. God does not tempt, though He permits us to be tempted, as in the case of Job; but with the temptation there is always a way of escape, if we wait on Him, 1Co_10:12-13. How often does our Lord anticipate our trial hours by His prayers, Luk_22:32! We owe it to them, either that we do not fall, or that, having fallen, we turn back. This is the best use we can make even of our failures; they teach us humility, pity, and how to help others. How little do we know ourselves! See Luk_22:33-34.
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
DRINKING THE CUP FOR OTHERS
Our Lord knew to what He was going. All lay naked and open before His eyes. He laid down His life of Himself; but in this supreme act of love He suffered beyond words. It was not that He feared physical pain, but it was the horror of standing before the universe identified with the sin and sorrow of the world, as though these were His own.
In these instructions to His Apostles, as to wallet, purse and sword, we must understand that He meant them to realize that the storm was about to burst upon them with furious intensity.
Some think that our Lord prayed most of all that His body should not give way under His awful anguish. He feared lest He should die before He could reach the Cross! See Heb_5:7. “Oh, my Lord, thy chosen disciples failed thee in that hour; but so have we! What can we say! Help us to share thy vigil and thy prayer!”
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.
“THE POWER OF DARKNESS”
It may have been about midnight when the lights and movement of feet indicated the approach of Judas and his band. The kiss of Judas was probably intended to hide his treachery from his fellow-disciples; but it did not deceive his Master, who even in that sad hour sought to touch his heart, Luk_22:48.
When Malchus’ ear was almost severed from the body, it was needful that our Lord should interpose, because, if Peter had been arrested, the gaze of mankind would have been diverted from the spectacle of Christ’s atonement, and a struggle might have ensued at the gate of the garden which would have justified the worst accusations of the high priest.
The quiet remonstrance with which the Lord met that ruffian band, reminding them of their cowardice in the daylight and amid the crowds, was followed by His submission to be led “as a lamb to the slaughter.”
Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.
THE DISCIPLE WHO DENIED HIS LORD
Peter loved Christ truly, but miscalculated his strength. Be very careful not to adventure yourself into the midst of temptation. If God leads you thither, that is another matter. We do well to remember Psa_1:1-3. Let us beware of warming ourselves at the world’s fires. It was the firelight falling on his face that revealed Peter, and his brogue that betrayed him.
If, even at that hour, however, He had looked to God, a way of escape would have been found. “He delivereth and rescueth, and worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in earth,” Dan_6:27. But Peter sought to save himself from the results of his folly and sin; only to land deeper and deeper in the morass.
What a look that must have been, Luk_22:61! But, even now, when we sin, Christ looks at us from out of His holy heaven, with such mingled pity and love, that these constitute the worst torment. There is no need of literal fire to make hell. Disappointed love is hotter than “coals of juniper.”
And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.
“REJECTED OF MEN”
This scene of mockery is very terrible. How difficult the twelve legions of angels must have found it to restrain themselves. See Mat_26:53. Here we have an exhibition of the hidden evil of the human heart, which is drawn forth in contact with infinite purity, as the stench of stagnant water is elicited by the summer sun.
Our Lord answered not a word to all the false accusations that were leveled against Him. He left the false witnesses to refute each other. But as soon as His divine claims were challenged, He could not keep silence. It is very noticeable that, in this Gospel, which lays such stress on Christ’s pure humanity, Luke makes it so clear that the unwavering affirmation of His equality with God was the cause of His death, Joh_5:18. Is there not a sense in which the eye of faith always beholds Him seated at the right hand of God’s power?