Preparing the disciples

Chatswood Baptist Church

Luke 22:1-38

1. Getting Ready

How are you at getting ready? Are you the sort of person who know what needs to be done and plans it out meticulously so that nothing is left undone and nothing gets overlooked or forgotten? Or are you the sort of person that waits until the last minute to get ready and then finds yourself unprepared for what you are going to face?

1.1 For a bushwalk

There are some things that you really need to prepare for. Once or twice a year I usually go on a overnight hike for two or three days and sometimes even more. When you are going bushwalking, you need to make sure that you are prepared – that you’ve prepared yourself as much as you can and you’ve exactly what you need for the hike. You try and get yourself ready and do was much bushwalking beforehand as you can and because you are going to be walking long distances and carry a pack that’s going to be somewhere between 15 to 20 kgs. So you not only start walking but you start to load yourself up getting used to weight you’ll be carrying. But then there is the packing. You’ve got to make sure that on the one hand you’ve got everything you need but on the other hand you don’t have too much. For about a week I have everything laid out on the dining room table having weighed everything that goes in my pack. I usually bring too much but I’ve also known people to bring to little and find it tough going because they’ve over prepared. You need to be prepared for what’s up ahead.

In the reading today this is what Jesus is doing with his disciples in the upper room. He is getting them ready, preparing them for what they were going to face not only in the next few days but also for that time that he wouldn’t be with them anymore.

1.2 For Passover

In the reading today verse 1 of chapter 20 of Luke’s gospel says that the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover was approaching. With Passover approaching most people in Jerusalem would have been busy preparing for it.

There was a lot to be done to be ready. Each year Israelite pilgrims with their families would come from Judea and Galilee and from far and wide to celebrate and remember how God had delivered the Israelites out of Egypt. The population of Israel would swell until it was almost bursting at the seams[1]. In the home it wasn’t just a matter of getting ready for the extended family who were about to arrive on your doorstep it was a matter of making sure you had a thoroughly cleaned the house to get rid of every bit of leavened bread in the place for the next seven days.

2. Making preparations

In verses 1 to 13 of the chapter we read about the preparations that chief priests and teachers of the law were making and Jesus was making with the Passover drawing near. In verses 1 to 6 we read that although Passover was fast approaching, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were making more sinister preparations.

2.1 Preparing to get rid of Jesus

The chief priests were preparing to get rid of Jesus. They were looking for ways to get rid of Jesus without drawing the attention of the pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem. We read in verses 3 to 6 that it was Judas who provide them with the means to do this.

Luke 22:3-6

Then Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve. And Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus. They were delighted and agreed to give him money. He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.[2]

It is hard to know exactly what motivated Judas to betray Jesus. But one thing that seems to have a hand in it was his love of money. From John’s gospel we know that Judas was the keeper of the money bag and he had been helping himself to what he put in it (see John 12:6). In Luke 22 we now see him agreeing to betray Jesus for money. Jesus had told his disciples that no-one can serve two masters for either you will love one and hate the other or be devoted to the one and despise the other. He told them that you cannot serve God and money (see Luke 16:13). Perhaps Judas thought that he could both, but he ended up betraying Jesus for money and showing that he really belonged to the evil one.

2.2 Preparing to eat the Passover

In contrast to the plans that the religious authorities were making in verses 7 to 13 we read of the preparations that Jesus had made to eat the Passover with his disciples. What these verses show is that Jesus had everything in hand so that he could do this. It also seems to be done in way that would not allow Judas to tip off the authorities. One does not know whether this is meticulous planning on the part of Jesus or just Jesus knowing in advance what would happen. It could be either but what is highlighted by this is that Jesus was completely prepared for what was about to take place even though the disciples were not. We read in verse 13 that Peter and John found things just as Jesus had told them and that got things ready.

3. Preparing the disciples

In that upper room Jesus eats the Passover with his disciples and prepares them for what was about to take place. I think Jesus was eager to eat the Passover with them before he suffered because it was the key to understanding what was about to take place and what they would need to remember once he had gone.

Luke 22:14-16

14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfilment in the kingdom of God.”

3.1 Christ is our Passover Lamb.

The Passover was a festival that for centuries had been reminding the people of how God had delivered them from Egypt. God brought judgment down on the land of Egypt and the last of these acts of judgment was the angel of Death that came to every household. But in the case of the Israelites, the angel of Death had passed over those Israelites who had poured out the blood of a sacrificial lamb and had smeared it on their doorposts. But what Jesus now made clear to his disciples was that the Passover festival as much as it had been looking backwards had also been looking forward to a day that it would find its fulfilment in him and in the kingdom.

When Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples, he didn’t celebrate it as they always had, but he reinterpreted it to show how it would be fulfilled in his suffering and death that was about to happen. This re-interpreted Passover meal becomes what we call the Lord’s Supper. He told the disciples that from now on that they were to do this in remembrance of him. Listen to how he explains it in verses 17 to 20.

Luke  22:17-20

17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”

19 And 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.”

20 In 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.

Jesus was telling them that he was the Passover Lamb that every lamb that had been sacrificed over the centuries had been looking forward to. As the John the Baptist declared, Jesus is “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (see John 1:29). Jesus took the bread that had at one time reminded the Israelites of the night that they had to flee Egypt and he gave it to them and said that now it was to represent his body given for them. They were to eat it in now in remembrance of him. The cup now spoke of a new covenant in his blood, which had been poured out for them. What they needed to understand and was that it would be through the shedding of his blood that he would deliver them from the judgment of God coming on the world. Jesus was explaining to the disciples how they were to understand what was about to take place with his suffering and his death.

3.2 We are to remember this

But he was also giving them a way to keep on remembering this. He would soon be leaving them, and they need to keep on remembering and trusting in the fact that he had given himself for them. “Do this in remembrance of me” he said. His disciples were to now break bread together and eat it remembering that his body had been given for them on that cross. They were to drink from the cup remembering his blood had been poured out for them to provide a new covenant, a new way for them to be reconciled to God and have life.

Every time we gather for the Lord’s supper, we remind one another that his body was broken, and his blood poured out for us. We do this to remember for we are prone to forget the things that are important especially when we are going through difficult times. But as we eat the bread and drink from the cup we remember that Jesus loved us and gave himself for us on that cross to deliver us from sin and death and give us life. The judgment of God that is coming on the world, won’t fall on us because it has already fallen on him. As the apostle Paul writes, “Christ our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7). This is what we trust and must remember. As the old hymn says, “nothing in my hand I bring simply to the cross I cling”.

We need to remember this when Satan accuses us of not being worthy or good enough. We need to remember Christ loved us and died for us to deliver us and give us life. We need to remember his sacrifice was enough.

We need to remember this when Satan tempts us to be proud and arrogant and we want to glory in all that we have achieved. We need to remember that one day we stand before God not because of anything that we have achieved but because Christ loved us and gave himself for us.

We need to remember this when times are tough and the whole world seems to be against us. We need to remember the love of Christ. He loved us and gave himself for us. We need to remember that nothing can separate us from his love (see Romans 8).

What we now call “the Lord’s supper” constantly reminds us of the love of Christ who gave himself for us. As the apostle Paul writes, as we eat the bread and drink from the cup, we proclaim his death until he comes. We remember that he gave himself for us.

3.3 It was God’s plan

The other thing that the Lord wanted the disciples to know and remember was that everything that was happening was according to plan, God’s plan. This comes out at least twice in what Jesus had to say to them after the supper in the upper room.

  • The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed (21-22)

In verse 21 and 22 the Lord Jesus told them that one of them whose had was on the table with his would betray him and that the Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. He makes it clear that he knew that one of those gathered around that table would betray him, but at the same time it was all happening as had been decreed (literally – in accord with what has been determined). What had been decreed or determined had been decided by God. It was the will and purpose of God that the Son of Man should suffer in this way for them. It’s was God’s plan working out that day and not merely that of Judas or the high priest or even Satan working behind the scenes. It was God who was in control. He had decreed what would take place. These others were still guilty for the part that would play because their intentions were always evil, but they weren’t directing the course of history. It’s was the plan and purpose of God that would see Jesus die on the cross for the sins of the world.

  • Scripture was reaching its fulfilment in Christ (37,38)

A little later, in verse 37 and 38 Jesus makes it clear that what had been written about him in Isaiah 53, was now reaching its fulfilment. Jesus quoted from a chapter that foretold how a servant of the Lord would suffer in the place of his people bearing their sin and guilt and punishment. In verse 12 of chapter 53 the prophet Isaiah wrote that this suffering servant would pour out his life unto death and that he would be numbered with the transgressors. By quoting the second part of this verse, Jesus was making it clear that the suffering that he was about to go through was the fulfilment of the prophet’s words. It was all happening according to the plan and purpose of God. It was God’s plan to save us in this way for there was no other way. We need to remember that despite what we see going in this world, the reality is that God’s plan and purpose for us and world will be fulfilled in Christ.

4. Still unprepared

Now, it would be great to think that having explained all this to the disciples that they immediately understood what he’d been say and were completely ready for what was about to take place. But, like so many of us, they were slow to take it all in. We see this in the dispute that arose among the disciples in verses 24 to 28 and reaction of Peter to Jesus words of assurance in verses 31 to 33.

4.1 A dispute about greatness

In verses 24 to 29 after the initial shock of hearing that one of them would betray Jesus their thoughts seem to have quickly turned to which of them might be considered the greatest. They really hadn’t understood what Jesus was telling them for they were still thinking about their own personal glory and not the sort of service that Jesus had been talking about that would involve him giving his life for them. They were still thinking like the Gentiles did whose idea of greatness was having the sort of authority that allowed them to lord it over others. But Jesus said to them it wasn’t to be that way with them for he was among them as one who serves. We must remember to follow his example and not get caught up in the way the world does things. It is suffering and service now not glory and honor. As Jesus explained to the disciples in verses 28 and 30 that comes later.

4.2 An overconfident Peter

Lastly, we see that Peter was unprepared for what they were going to face. Jesus knew this and told Peter that he had already prayed for him.

Luke 22:31

31 “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. 32 But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

33 But he replied, “Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.”

34 Jesus answered, “I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.”

Peter was unprepared. Satan was going to put him to the test and Peter would stumble. But the Lord knew Peter. He knew his weaknesses and he had prayed for him that his faith might not fail. But even after being told this Peter came back to Jesus with those self-confident words about how he was ready to go to prison and to death, but Jesus knew Peter better than Peter knew himself and Jesus told him that before the cock would crow that today, he would deny even knowing him three times.

What I like about this story is that Jesus understands how unprepared we are as people and how weak and frail in and of ourselves. He knows us better than we know ourselves and he knows what help we will need and when we need it and he can make us stand even through the worst of times. He is always there interceding for us so that our faith won’t fail.

We might feel unprepared and overwhelmed and sometimes even defeated but he will uphold us. Peter had not right to be so confident in himself and none of us do. But we can trust the Lord Jesus and be confident in him. We might stumble, but our faith won’t fail completely because Jesus faithful and doesn’t give up on us. He reassured Peter and told him, “When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Peter might have denied Jesus, but it would be a stumble and not a fall from which he wouldn’t get up from. He would turn back and when he did, he was to strengthen and encourage others. The truth is God uses weak and frail people for that is really all he has to work with. It’s him that makes the difference.

5. Be prepared

In that upper room Jesus was preparing his disciples for the difficult times that were ahead of them. Verses 36 to 38 make it clear that there were rough times ahead. But in what Jesus said in that upper room, we discover a number of things that we need to understand and remember if we are going to be prepared.

  • He is our Passover Lamb

Firstly, we need to understand that Jesus is our Passover Lamb. Our ultimate security is found in the fact that Jesus died and rose for us. Jesus retooled that Passover meal and he instituted what we call Lord’s Supper so that we might remember and never forget that God’s wrath won’t ever fall on us because it fell on him our Passover Lamb. He loved us and gave himself for us. Whenever we eat the bread and drink from the cup, we remember this and proclaim it. It’s the truth that we must always hold on to and remember.  It’s at the heart of what we believe. One day we will all eat and drink at his table in his kingdom because he became our Passover Lamb giving himself for us.

  • He is God’s plan for us and this world.

Secondly, we need to remember that He is god’s plan for us and this world. It is in Christ that God’s plan is working out. The Son of Man would go as it had been decreed. All that been written about him was reaching its fulfilment. He was the fulfilment of the Passover. He was the suffering servant who was laying down his life for the sheep. Scripture is all fulfilled in him.

We will all go through difficult times and hardship but what we need to know and remember is that God’s plan to redeem us and give us life are all working out in and through Christ. All our hope is to be in him. We might go through difficult times and not know why things happen as they do but we can know that everything that God has promised will reach its fulfilment through Jesus.

  • He knows us better than we know ourselves

Thirdly, we need to remember that the Lord Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows exactly how weak we are. He is under no illusion about the people that he was laying down his life for. He knew that the disciples would abandon him, and that Peter would deny him three times. He is fully aware of what sinners are like and the struggle that even continues to go on inside of us as believers. He also knows what’s ahead of us and how we so easily stumble. Our failures don’t surprise him he knew about every one of them when he gave himself for us.

  • He doesn’t give up on us

But lastly, we are to remember that he doesn’t give up on us. He is there interceding for us. He doesn’t abandon us when we stumble. He is there interceding for us so that our faith, even though small or weak, might not fail. He is there upholding his people right up until the end. We might stumble like Peter and deny Jesus in some way, but we know that we can turn back and be restored. Peter needed to realize this and so do we if we are going to be prepared for the difficult times ahead. You need to realize that your failures don’t mean the end of the road with Jesus. He is faithful. He is your Passover Lamb. He God’s plan for this world and provision for you and he doesn’t give up on those who belong to him

[1] Hundreds of thousands of people would pour into the city and there were lots of things to be done. Road and bridges would be repaired along the way for pilgrims. Tombs along the way would be white-washed and hundreds of thousands of animals needed to be sourced and brought into the city ready for sacrifice.

[2] Unless otherwise indicated all Scripture citations are taken from The Holy Bible: New International Version—Anglicised. (1984). (electronic edition). London: Hodder & Stoughton.