Luke 22:7–23: The Passover with the Disciples, Institution of the Lord’s Supper
In this passage Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples, transforming it in the process into the Christian institution of the Lord’s Supper (also called Communion, the Lord’s Table, and various other names that aren’t occurring to me right now).
But before they get started, Jesus instructs Peter and John to prepare for the celebration. They ask him where, and he gives them instructions on how to find the place where they’ll celebrate:
He said to them, “Behold, when you have entered the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him into the house that he enters and tell the master of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ And he will show you a large upper room furnished; prepare it there.” (verses 10–12)
They go to the city and find it exactly as Jesus had told them they would, so they prepare for the meal.
When the time comes to actually celebrate the Passover, Jesus tells the Apostles that he’s been earnestly desiring to celebrate Passover with them, since this is the last time he’ll be eating it until it is “fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (verse 16).
This is the point where Jesus takes the institution of the Passover and creates the institution of the Lord’s Supper out of it:
And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood." (verses 17–20)
He then delivers some bad news, however: someone at that very table, at that very moment, is going to betray Jesus! He is clear about the fact that the Son of Man is going to go “as it has been determined” (verse 22)—that is, going to the cross is exactly the reason he came into this world, so it’s going to happen—adding, “but woe to that man by whom he is betrayed!” So the Apostles start to question amongst themselves as to who the betrayer could be.
Modern-day Christians who are unfamiliar with the Passover would be well served by going back and reading about it in Exodus. (I wrote about it in Exodus 12.) This was an extremely important part of the Jewish calendar, one of their most important celebrations, but it also pointed forward to the work Jesus was going to do on the cross, taking our sins upon himself so the Lord’s wrath would pass over us—just as the lamb did, in the Jewish celebration of Passover. In fact, for the modern-day Christian, it’s impossible to read about the original Passover in Exodus 12 without thinking of Jesus’ work on the cross.
Preparing for the Passover
When Jesus tells Peter and John to go and prepare for the Passover, there are a few things they need to do. According to the ESV Study Bible notes, this preparation “involved having the lamb sacrificed at the temple, roasting it, preparing the room for the meal, and preparing various side dishes.”
As for the instructions Jesus gives the two men about how they’re to find the place, any commentaries or study Bible notes I’ve read tend to be agnostic as to whether this was a pre-arranged thing or miraculous in nature. If others aren’t going to pick a side on that question, I’m definitely not either…
The Lord’s Supper
For such an important institution as the Lord’s Supper, I don’t actually have much to say about this passage; Jesus explained it all clearly in the passage listed above (verses 17–20).
Jesus predicts that one of the Twelve is going to betray him, but doesn’t specify that it’s Judas. The psychology of this moment has always fascinated me:
- Why doesn’t Jesus name Judas? I’m guessing that if he did the other Apostles would probably prevent Judas from betraying him, and the Scriptures wouldn’t be fulfilled, but that’s just a guess. (I don’t remember reading commentaries that covered this point, but it’s not important anyway.)
- How was Judas feeling at this moment? Did he feel guilty? Did he feel superior to Jesus and/or the other disciples? Was he regretting his decision, or still convinced he’d done the right thing?
- Given the reaction of the other Apostles it seems obvious to me that there weren’t outward signs of Judas’ betrayal. Jesus says someone is going to betray him and their reaction is, “Who could it be?” We don’t see anyone saying, “Someone’s going to betray Jesus? It’s probably Judas—he’s been acting weird lately!” Judas’ name has become synonymous with betrayal in the centuries since the Gospels were written, but I have to assume that he’s been following Jesus just like the other disciples for the last few years, at least to outward appearances.
- That being said, it is recorded in John 12:1–8 that Judas was a thief, and that he was in control of Jesus’ finances from which he used to pilfer money, so I guess there were some signs that he wasn’t a full-on follower of Jesus. But even that passage in John 12 comes close to the end of Jesus’ life, so I’m guessing that Judas’ falling away was probably a later thing, as opposed to how he’d felt/behaved all along.