1Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching,2and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus, for they were afraid of the people.3Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.4And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.5They were delighted and agreed to give him money.6He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present. 7Then came the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.8Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover."
9"Where do you want us to prepare for it?" they asked.
10He replied, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters,11and say to the owner of the house, 'The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?'12He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there."
13They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
14When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table.15And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.16For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God."
17After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you.18For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes."
19And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
20In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.21But the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table.22The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him."23They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.
Main Things to Observe
1. God ordained the time of our Lord's death to occur simultaneously with the very event that pointed to it - the Passover. (v.1, 7-8, 14-15, 19-20)
"Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called the Passover" (v. 1) - "The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a week long celebration that followed the day of Passover, so one name was used for both feasts (Exod 12:1-20; 23:15; 34:18; Deut 16:1-8)." [NET Bible]
"We cannot doubt that the time of our Lord's crucifixion was overruled by God. His perfect wisdom and controlling power arranged that the Lamb of God should die, at the very time when the passover-lamb was being slain. The death of Christ was the fulfillment of the passover. He was the true sacrifice to which every passover-lamb had been pointing for 1500 years. What the death of the lamb had been to Israel in Egypt, His death was to be to sinners all over the world. The safety which the blood of the passover-lamb had provided for Israel, His blood was to provide far more abundantly for all that believed in Him." (Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke)
2. Those in high religious positions may, in fact, hate Jesus, and be delighted with the prospect of casting out His presence. (vv. 2-6)
Yet, no such opposition to our Lord takes Him off guard in the least. He knows what's in a man's heart (Jn 2:23-25), and He predicted long before this event that the chief priests would seek to destroy Him (Lk 9:21-22; see also Ps 2:1-6).
Just as the chief priests sought to destroy our Lord, so many leaders - throughout church history and even today - do not want to have anything to do with the true Jesus (2 Cor 11:4-5, 13-15). "Then Satan entered Judas" (v. 3) - Satan is always behind the plans people have to diminish Jesus' influence (2 Cor 4:4; 11:13-15).
Question for Reflection: In a day and age where we may find ourselves among many groups of people who come together to decry certain realities (e.g., the prominence of secularism), does it become easier for us to gladly accept anyone who invokes the name of God or Jesus? If so, is this a wise thing for us to do?
3. Jesus orchestrates everything that He wants to have happen. (vv. 8-13)
Just as our Lord moved events just before his arrival into Jerusalem - so that his disciples would be able to find, and to bring to him, a donkey to ride on (Luke 19:28-34), just as He predicted - so here, He controls what happens in order to facilitate the use of a meeting room for Him and His disciples to eat in. (It's somewhat amusing to me, by the way, how he ensures that his disciples won't miss the sign of the person carrying the jar of water. Usually it's a woman - but this time it's a man.)
"(He) works out everything according to the purpose of His will" (Eph 1:11)
"The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time." (Ps 145:15)
4. Jesus reminds His disciples that the final consummation of His rule is yet to come (vv. 15-18).
"I will not eat it again/I will not drink again until the kingdom of God comes..."(v. 16/18) While the LORD's ultimate celebration with His people ("the marriage supper") is sure, it will not happen until He returns (Rev 19:9; 1 Co 15:20-28; 50-56).
5. Jesus, in commanding His disciples to observe the commemoration of His death until He comes, confirms that His work on the cross is the very heart of His mission (vv. 19-20).
"This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." (v. 19) "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you."(v.20)
"...I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified." (1 Co 2:2)
Question for Reflection: In recent years, it's been popular in many evangelical circles to ask - presumably, with the goal of helping believers make decisions - "WWJD?" (What would Jesus do?) What is helpful, and harmful, about such a focus?
6. Even if the sovereign work of God utilizes evildoers to accomplish His will, it does not allow them to escape just condemnation and punishment. (v. 22)
"The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him."
As is so often the case with matters related to the tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility, this is hard to get our heads around. Nevertheless, we should rejoice that God has complete control over evildoers and directs them to accomplish His own ends - especially the objective of Christ's redemption for us, which is His greatest work of all.
7. True and false professions of faith are not always obvious. (v. 23)
The fact that Jesus' announcement - i.e., that His betrayer was among His disciples - took them completely off-guard, and caused each of them to ask who it was, means that there must have been a sense in which Judas fit in seamlessly with the rest.
"Let the recollection of Judas Iscariot constrain every professing, Christian to pray much for humility. Let us often say, "Search me, O God, and know my heart--try me, and know my thoughts." (Psalm. 139:23.)....The lengths to which men may go in religion, and yet be without grace, is far greater than we suppose." (Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: Luke)