In his twenty-second chapter, Luke opens the scene on the feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover, some of the biggest events of Jewish history. Jews gathered in Jerusalem to remember Moses, Egypt, and a showdown that God had with Pharaoh. Another showdown was about to take place.
Do you ever feel trapped by the circumstances of your life? What if you could count down the days until you were killed?
The chief priests and Pharisees finally got their opportunity: Satan entered Judas to betray Jesus. It’s hard to believe, still. Judas had been given power by Jesus. He had seen all the miracles. How did he turn so far?
Jesus is waiting for His final Passover. “Where do you want us to prepare?” two disciples ask. Judas edges closer. How awful to have a spy in the midst of your 12 closest friends! Jesus gives them an obvious sign to follow, a cultural anomaly of a man carrying water.
Jesus ate the symbolic meal, and added new layers of symbolism by interpreting it for His disciples: His blood, His body as the sacrifice given to make peace with God.
He said His betrayer was at the table? Who could it be? the disciples asked. Not me, of course. Well, obviously not me! Jesus stopped them there. Yes, the Gentiles called rulers the best, but in God’s kingdom things work differently. The greatest becomes like the servant (John interjects the story of Jesus washing their feet here). Jesus was among them as one who serves. What a different way to look at the world!
Jesus continued. As to the greatest, they would be granted to sit and judge the 12 tribes of Israel. But Peter, watch out, tonight is not going to be your best. You will swear that you don’t know Me, don’t associate with me, have no clue who I am.
They walked to His normal spot in the garden outside Jerusalem. They slept from sorrow instead of praying. He prayed for God’s will, but oh, if it could change, please don’t make this happen! An angel strengthened Him, but He still sweated drops of blood from the horror of anticipation. How quickly I disregard how much sin cost.
It was a bizarre night, horrible, and dark. A “friend” approached Jesus to kiss Him goodbye, literally. Jesus performed another act of healing on His enemy’s slave that His disciple attacked. And He was dragged off to be questioned and condemned by both the Jews and the Gentiles. One of His best friends followed, then denied association. He was mocked, beaten, and in an instant He could have ended it. But He went on.
They waited until dawn to hold the official meeting. He said the Son of Man would be seated by God. They asked if He was the Son of God. He said yes. The Son of God and Man. And they were satisfied: now they could kill Him. Think about it from their side – this upstart nobody who can do impressive things but does not follow all the laws and traditions will make the Romans upset and undermine our authority. From God’s side: again, they will not listen. They are killing My only Son. And it’s part of the plan.
No matter what I go through, Jesus knows the pain. The disciples were confused, and tried to sleep. Judas was discontent and tried money. The Pharisees wanted to keep power. Jesus prayed in anguish, but then stepped into the path of pain. He knows. And He cares. And we can trust what He says.
The showdown was coming, the ultimate showdown to determine the fate of the earth. A Champion had stepped up for humanity, and the final hours were approaching. He did not go because He had to, but rather because the alternative was our death. And He loved us more than His life.