|Jesus, being arrested, heals Malchus' ear|
In the Upper Room, the oil lamps flicker was the Lord and His disciples drink the final cup of praise, sing a song of praise from the Psalms, and then go out into the chilly spring night.
Meanwhile, Judas hurries like a nervous cat to the high priest’s house. As he ducks inside, a curtain of evil descends upon the city, the darkest night the world has ever known, as all the powers of darkness gather to snuff out the Light of the World.
Key Truth: Luke wrote Luke 22:39-65 to teach believers that in time of testing, pray; in time of betrayal, be gracious; and in time of trial, stand firm.
Key Application: Today I want to show you what God’s Word says about handling tough times.
Pray and Read: Luke 22:39-65
All of Luke’s Gospel has been building toward these climactic final hours in Jesus’ life. The first four chapters give a wide-angle shot at Jesus’ first 30 years. The next five chapters show snapshots of Jesus’ two-and-a-half-year ministry in Galilee. Chapters 10-19 give us Jesus’ 6 month travelogue as He ministered on His way to Jerusalem. With dramatic close-ups, Luke zooms in on Jesus’ final week in chapters 20-24. It is in these final photos that we see the reason for the rest of Luke’s book. The plot takes a terrible twist, but it is a role the main character has been preparing since the beginning of time.
Throughout his Gospel, Luke emphasizes the importance of walking in faith and avoiding unbelief. He has made it clear that every individual who meets Jesus Christ must make a decision about Him. Christ must be received or rejected. His claims must be believed or denied. Once Jesus enters Jerusalem, Luke urges us to trust Jesus because He is worthy to be praised (Luke 19:28-40), and the only Hope for a doomed world (Luke 19:41-44). He stands by His Word (Luke 19:45-48), and He has ultimate authority (Luke 20:1-8). Luke calls Jesus our Inheritance (Luke 20:9-16), our Cornerstone (Luke 20:17-19), our Lord (Luke 20:20-26), our Resurrection (Luke 20:27-40), our Messiah (Luke 20:41-47), and our Provider (Luke 21:1-4) as we watch and pray until He returns (Luke 21:5-38). In the Last Supper, Luke identifies Jesus as our Passover Lamb (Luke 22:1-23) and Suffering Servant (Luke 22:24-38). Today we come to Jesus’ night of testing, betrayal, and trial, and Jesus’ response teaches us important things.
1. In a time of testing, pray (Luke 22:39-46).
2. In a time of betrayal, be gracious (Luke 22:47-53).
3. In a time of trial, stand firm (Luke 22:54-65).
Exposition: Note well,
1. IN A TIME OF TESTING, PRAY (Luke 22:39-46)
a. The walk from the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives, where it was Jesus’ custom to go and pray each night on the way home to Bethany (Luke 21:37; 22:39), took about 15 minutes. Now at the supreme crisis of Jesus’ life, we see our Lord in prayer, in intense agony and a sustaining angel. Jesus’ true humanity and His willing obedience are evident in His prayer. By contrast, the disciples’ weakness in their sleeping (exhausted by sorrow (Luke 22:45), failing to obey Jesus’ call to watchfulness and prayer (Luke 21:36; three times, Matt. 26:36-46).
b. APPLICATION: Have you ever prayed for something with such intensity that you dropped to your knees, buried your face in the ground, and burst into tears? With every sob, your heart cried out to God, “Please heal my child!” or “End this hardship!” or “Let me live!” You find yourself left to crawl alone to Jesus. Even when your most trusted friends fail to stand by you in your most difficult hour, Jesus understands. He has knelt in Gethsemane. He has been there.
c. Luke 22:42-44 – Take this cup: Drinking a cup was a common metaphor for experiencing a traumatic event (Mark 10:38), in the OT, often associated with the outpouring of judgment (Isaiah 51:17; Jer. 25:15, 17, 28; Ezek. 23:31-34; Zech 12:2). An angel appeared as a servant to strengthen Him, found only in Luke. The Creator of angels now needs an angel’s strengthening presence. Luke also says Jesus’ sweat was like drops of blood, that is, it fell profusely, perhaps mixed with blood. The One who changed water into wine watches His sweat become bloody drops of agony. The perfectly obedient Son now cries out to His Father, “Remove this cup!” Jesus did not fear the cup of suffering His enemies had planned for Him. Jesus at this moment was gazing into the cup of God’s wrath (Isaiah 51:17-20).
d. Jesus suffered as a man and as the Son of God. He was vulnerable to physical and psychological torment, just like us. His suffering as Son of God, however, was unique, involving a mystery we cannot fully comprehend. Jesus suffered throughout his years of ministry. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him (John 1:11). The crowds mobbed him as a prophet (Matt 16:14) and a miracle worker, but they were unwilling to accept Him for His true identity as their long-awaited Messiah and Son of God. The religious leaders frowned on His teachings, saw Him as a threat to their spiritual authority, and even more, the integrity of His life enraged them because it contrasted so brilliantly with theirs. So they plotted to kill Him. Even His own fully-committed disciples were unclear of the meaning of His most significant teachings and insensitive to the internal pain of isolation and loneliness He was suffering daily.
e. APPLICATION: You and I know something of the raw misery of being rejected. We know something of the pain when no other human being seems to care how we feel, and yet demands that we be sensitive to their hurts. We know something of the ache of the loneliness which strikes us when we realize that no other human being really understands what is happening to us. All this pain was Christ’s constant companion as He ministered among us, the Son of God, unacknowledged and unrecognized by those He had created and for whom He had cut covenant. All this pain is focused in Christ’s prayer here in the Garden and exposed in the stress of this terrible hour (Matt 26:36-41; Mark 14:32; Luke 22:39-47).
f. APPLICATION: Everyone must endure a Gethsemane. Gethsemane is the place we go when there’s no place to go but God. It is a lonely place, but a necessary one if we are to learn submission to the fullest extent. For only when you stand alone before God can you discover God’s faithfulness.
2. IN A TIME OF BETRAYAL, BE GRACIOUS (Luke 22:47-53)
a. Luke 22:47 - Now events begin to move swiftly. The Sanhedrin, at the suggestion of the high priest, Caiaphas, determined to kill Christ (Matt. 26:3-4). Judas, having earlier arranged to betray Jesus (Luke 22:1-6), suddenly appears with his new-found allies to arrest Him. They arrive on the Mount of Olives with a huge group (Matt. 26:47) armed with torches, lanterns, and weapons (John 18:3). When Christ identified himself, the soldiers fell down, literally, as “one overcome in battle by a superior” (John 18:6). Judas tries to kiss Jesus, a common Middle Eastern greeting between friends and those with a special bond (Gen 29:13; 33:4; Job 31:27; “Kiss the Son,” Psalm 2:12). Here it is treachery (cf. 2 Sam 20:9). Jesus reminds him that it is the Son of Man whom he is betraying.
b. Luke 22:49-50 - In a brief attempt to defend Jesus, one of the disciples (identified as Peter by John 18:10) strikes the servant of the high priest with a sword and cuts off his ear. Jesus, completely in control and in his last miracle of healing of his earthly ministry, heals the man’s ear (found only in Luke), and stops further resistance. Unresisting and simply majestic, Jesus asks why they bring this armed rabble with them, and He rebukes the leaders for treating him like a rebel when they could have openly arrested him at any time of day in the Temple courts. But Jesus knows the answer to His question: They were afraid of the people (Luke 22:2). Darkness is a fitting time for their diabolical act.
c. Luke 22:52 – Chief priests, officers of the temple guard, and the elders: These are officers of the Sanhedrin along with their police force which had authority only within the Temple courts. Jesus asks, “Am I leading a rebellion?” Am I a revolutionary, lit. a “thief”? All the disciples fled (Matt. 26:56). It was helter-skelter in the dark, as one was seized, possibly John Mark, but slipped out of his outer garment and ran off in just his undershirt, naked (Mark 14:51).
d. APPLICATION: Everyone will experience betrayal. This is one of those bitter pills this sin-sick world forces us to swallow. A close friend, a trusted coworker, even our spouse may deceive us. The heartache of betrayal is deep and profound. But it forces us to cling more tightly to Jesus, for only he will never betray you.
3. IN A TIME OF TRIAL, STAND FIRM (Luke 22:54-65)
a. Luke 22:54 – Jesus is unceremoniously (and against the law) bundled along to the house of the high priest to await trial, either the house of Caiaphas, the actual high priest, or Annas, his father-in-law, whom Luke also calls the high priest (Luke 3:2). John tells us that Jesus first went to Annas, then to Caiaphas (John 18:13, 24). Peter follows at a distance, but he at least has the courage to follow Him. The rest have scattered. It took a lot of commitment from Peter to trespass on the high priest’s private property, especially with the Temple guard on high alert.
b. Luke 22:55 – Courtyard fire: Arriving at the home, Peter sits down among a crowd warming themselves at a courtyard fire. Large homes were built around an open courtyard. While the leaders go into the house with Jesus, the servants and some guards stay in the courtyard.
c. Luke 22:56-59 – Peter’s resolution weakens, and almost without realizing it, three times he denies any knowledge of Jesus. He is a Galilean: Peter’s accent must have given him away as a Galilean (Matt. 26:73). Why did Peter deny his Lord after just defending Him on the Mount of Olives? Several reasons have been suggested. First, Peter was overly self-confident (Luke 22:33; Matt 26:35), and that of that there is no doubt, but it seems he had lost it after he attacked a guard with a short sword to crush his head and only sliced his ear – kind of embarrassing, don’t you think? Second, Peter separated himself from Christ and followed Him only at a distance (Mark 14:54), but Peter was the only one to follow Him. Everyone else ran! Third, Peter sat down in the company of Jesus’ adversaries (Luke 22:55), but it was cold, and he would really look out of place by standing alone in the yard! I think Peter was crippled by fear.
d. APPLICATION: Peter’s overconfidence reminds us of two truths about ourselves. No matter how confident we feel or how devoted we may be to Christ, we are all human and we all fail (1 Cor. 10:12). Satan often attacks us when we think we are our strongest because he guesses that we are trusting in our own strength instead of God’s. And Peter’s bloated confidence falls into running fear.
e. Luke 22:61 - The cock-crow reminds him of Jesus’ warning, and he looks up to see the Lord looking at him. The word for Jesus’ look is emblepto, which makes it clear that it was not a glance, but it was not a glare. Instead, it is a look of love and concern for Peter, a look that reached Peter’s heart and broke it. That look told Peter that despite what he had done, Jesus still cared and remained concerned about him. Peter runs away in repentance and bitter tears. In contrast, Judas does too, but his weeping led to suicide (Matt. 27:5), two excellent examples of Godly and worldly sorrow.
f. APPLICATION: How wonderful if at the moment of our greatest failure, you or I could sense the Saviors loving gaze on us. How quickly our hearts too would break, and we would return to Him in cleansing, grateful tears. Everyone fails. Just as with Peter, failure is humiliating and devastating. It shoves all our inadequacies into our faces. But it also has the power to clear away the dross of our lives and produce in us the shining power of humility.
g. Luke 22:63-64 – Mocking and beating: Jewish law permitted public flogging of a condemned person, but not the treatment here, especially one who has not been proved guilty in a trial. The boasted fairness of Roman justice and Jewish law is reduced to a farce by these coarse buffoons of the Temple guard. Luke places the taunting of Jesus with the elements of mocking, beating, and blindfolding before the trial, emphasizing the unprovoked and undeserved treatment of the Lord, underlining the innocence of the Lamb. (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 22:37). The abuse of Jesus recalls the suffering of the righteous servant in Isaiah 50:6; 53:3-5.
 When the Gospel shifts gears at Luke 9:51, Luke urges us to prioritize faith over unbelief (Luke 9:57-11:36) and warns us to trust the Lord rather than ourselves (Luke 11:37-12:59).Christ then calls us to a Kingdom marked by grace (Luke 13:1-21), repentance (Luke 13:22-35), provision (Luke 14), and redemption of the lost (Luke 15). Luke warns us to prepare for His Return by responding in repentance (Luke 16), obedience (Luke 17:1-19), faithfulness (Luke 17:20-37), and persevering prayer (Luke 18:1-8), and humility (Luke 18:9-14), and complete reliance on Christ (Luke 18:15-17). True faith is complete reliance on Christ’s provision (Luke 18:18-23), power (Luke 18:24-30), Person (Luke 18:31-34), and mercy (Luke 18:35-43). Therefore, Jesus draws us into His Presence (Luke 19:1-7) and purpose on the planet, “to seek and save the lost,” (Luke 19:8-10), assigning us a mission until He returns (Luke 19:11-27).
 Pentecost, 455, says Hebrews 5:7 points to Jesus’ prayer about the cup. So what was it? It obviously wasn’t physical or spiritual death, for Jesus went directly there on the Cross (Heb. 2:9; Matt 27:45, 50; John 19:33). The penalty for sin fell on God’s own Son. That penalty is eternal separation from God, the second death (Rev 20:4). God would have been just if He had demanded that Christ, who tasted death for everyone, be eternally separated from Himself. Pentecost says that Christ prayed that God might accept His death as a full payment of the sin of sinners and bring Him out of death and restore Him to life again. Thus Jesus’ prayer should be understood as a prayer for restoration to physical life by resurrection and to full fellowship with His Father out of the spiritual death He would enter. The problem with this perspective is that the OT is clear that resurrection has been part of redemption from the beginning. Also, A.B. Simpson (4:340-341) teaches that the devil tried to kill Jesus in the Garden, and that prayer was answered, but this argument does not make sense to me.
 Galileans were known for mispronouncing guttural sounds. In Judges 12:6, the Ephraimites were identified by their accent as well in their pronunciation of Shibboleth as Sibboleth.