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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Luke 22

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The Last Supper; Jesus Is Betrayed

A. The Last Supper.

1. (Luk 22:1-6) Judas seeks to betray Jesus.

Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might kill Him, for they feared the people. Then Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve. So he went his way and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray Him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he promised and sought opportunity to betray Him to them in the absence of the multitude.

a. Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread drew near, which is called Passover: The time is significant, because at Passover not only was there a great expectation of the Messiah, but Jerusalem was also crowded with Messiah-expecting multitudes.

i. Because it was a major feast, many of the people who had heard and seen Jesus in the region of Galilee were in Jerusalem, with great respect and great expectation for Jesus and His ministry.

b. For they feared the people: The chief priests and the scribes did not fear God, but they did fear the people. They are not afraid to kill the Son of God; they just had to find a way to do it in a politically wise manner.

c. Satan entered Judas: Not that this diminishes Judas' personal responsibility (God allowed what Judas, in his corrupt heart, wanted), but it shows that the real enemy of Jesus was Satan, even more than Judas was an enemy.

i. Many have wondered about the motives of Judas; some have even said that he might have had a noble motive, such as wanted to "force" Jesus to show Himself as Messiah. The Bible indicates no such praiseworthy intention.

ii. It may well be that Judas followed Jesus from selfish motives, expecting to receive a position of great status and prestige when Jesus came triumphantly to Jerusalem as Messiah. When Jesus came, and it was evident that He was not going to be the Messiah Judas hoped for, he may have lashed out against Jesus and opened this door to Satan out of spite. Jesus didn't give Judas what his selfish heart wanted, so Judas felt his ties to Jesus were broken. In essence, Judas may have said, "You betrayed me by not being the kind of Messiah I wanted. So I will betray you."

iii. But what about Satan's motive? The death of Jesus on the cross was the great defeat of Satan; why is he steering things towards that course? Satan is not all knowing; perhaps he did not know how these events would turn against him - but he reads the Bible, so he should have!

iv. A better explanation is that Satan is not all-wise; even if he did know that the death of Jesus would crush his head, his hatred got the best of him. Since Satan is the great deceiver, he has no doubt deceived himself-and may actually believe that he could win over Jesus.

d. But it all plays into God's plan-this was the appointed time for Jesus to go to the cross, but before Judas' treachery, the leaders were not going to do it then, out of a fear of the people.

2. (Luk 22:7-13) Preparations for the Passover.

Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. And He sent Peter and John, saying, "Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat." So they said to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare?" And He said to them, "Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. Then you shall say to the master of the house, 'The Teacher says to you, "Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?"' Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready." So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.

a. A man … carrying a pitcher: This was an unusual sight, because carrying a pitcher was typically a woman's work, and men carried liquids in animal's skin containers. This would be a distinctive sign to the disciples.

b. The Teacher says to you: The scene here implies secrecy, and Jesus good reason to quietly make arrangements for Passover. He didn't want Judas to betray Him before He could give a final talk to the disciples.

c. Eat the Passover with My disciples: There seems to be a difference between the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke) and John about the Passover. The implication in the synoptic gospels is that Jesus was crucified on the day after Passover, and that this meal was the day before. John seems to say that Jesus was crucified on the day of Passover itself, as a Passover lamb (John 18:28, John 19:14).

i. "Possibly the best explanation is that there were different calendars in use. Jesus died as the Passover victims were being slain according to the official calendar; but he had held the Passover with his followers the previous evening, according to an unofficial calendar." (Morris)

ii. None of the synoptic gospels mention a lamb at the Passover meal. This may be because they could not obtain one before the "official" day of Passover. In addition, Jesus may have wanted it this way, to emphasize the idea that He was the Passover sacrifice.

3. (Luk 22:14-20) The Last Supper.

When the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve apostles with Him. Then He said to them, "With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God." Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, "Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

a. With fervent desire I have desired: This was a passionate moment for Jesus. It wasn't so much that He was saying "goodbye" to His disciples, as much as now He arrived at the central reason why He came to man: to institute a new covenant with men, based on His own sacrifice. This is not the beginning of the end; it is the beginning of the beginning.

i. He took the cup … He also took the cup after supper: From Luke, it seems that Jesus took the cup both before and after the bread. According to the customs of a Passover dinner, this was nothing unusual-there would be four different cups of wine ceremonially sipped during the meal.

b. I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes: Jesus has not yet celebrated a Passover in heaven. He is waiting for all His people to be gathered to Him, then there will be a great supper, known as the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). This is the fulfillment in the kingdom of God Jesus longs for.

c. Beyond all the controversy about what the elements of this supper really are and what they really mean, the command of Jesus to do this in remembrance of Me stands out. We must remember who Jesus is, and all He has done for us.

i. Every time Jesus is misrepresented, we have forgotten. Every time we rebel against the One who bought us, we have forgotten. Every time we look to ourselves instead of Jesus Himself, we have forgotten.

d. Beyond all the controversy about what the elements of this supper really are and what they really mean, the announcement that Jesus is bringing a new covenant stands out.

i. What mere man would have the audacity to institute a new covenant between God and man? But here, Jesus founds a new covenant, sealed with blood, even as the old covenant was sealed with blood (Exodus 24:8).

ii. What is the new covenant all about? It is all about an inner transformation, that cleanses us from all sin. As Jeremiah 31:34 says, For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more. It is about putting God's Word and will in us, as Jeremiah 31:33 says: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts. It is all about a new, close, relationship with God, as Jeremiah 31:33 says (I will be there God, and they shall be My people).

iii. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have can have a new covenant relationship with God. But many of us live as if there is no inner transformation, as if there is no cleansing from sin, as if there is no word and will of God in our hearts, and as if there is no new and close relationship with God.

4. (Luk 22:21-23) Woe to the betrayer.

"But behold, the hand of My betrayer is with Me on the table. And truly the Son of Man goes as it has been determined, but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!" Then they began to question among themselves, which of them it was who would do this thing.

a. The Son of Man goes as it has been determined: It was determined by prophecy that the Messiah should be betrayed (Psalm 41:9), but woe to the one who does it! Judas cannot claim that he "helped" Jesus by fulfilling prophecy. He was and is fully accountable for his sin before God.

i. "The fact that God overrules the evil that bad people do as he brings his purposes to pass does not make them any the less evil." (Morris)

b. They began to question among themselves, which of them it was: Judas had done his job well as a traitor, because none of the other disciples seemed to suspect him.

B. Final teachings to the disciples.

The fullness of this marvelous discourse must be gathered from all four gospels-especially from John chapters 13-16.

1. (Luk 22:24-27) Jesus teaches about true greatness.

Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called 'benefactors.' But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves."

a. A dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest: It's almost frightening to think that after Jesus has poured three years of His life into these men; after they have seen the character of Jesus on display in almost every conceivable circumstance; that now, at the final hours before His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion, they are arguing-about which of them is the greatest!

i. This seems to be a common topic of conversation among the disciples (Matthew 18:1, Matthew 20:20-26, Mark 9:33-34, Luke 9:46).

b. We might think that Jesus should have settled the issue by saying, "Hey dummies-I'm the greatest!" Instead, Jesus answered their question by what He did. John 13:3-5 tells us that Jesus washed their feet after supper, and He may have spoken these words about true greatness while He was washing their feet, or after He was finished.

i. In fact, the supreme patience of Jesus is displayed in His gentle correction of His squabbling disciples. After all-didn't He have enough on His mind?

c. The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them: The world exercises authority and power with a certain style, all of it ultimately self-exalting. But Jesus wasn't like that, and neither should His followers be. In fact, the greatest should be like the younger (the one who didn't have a stake in the system, the outcast), and the one who governs should be like one who serves.

i. The idea of being called benefactors is really the idea of getting credit. Many people only will "serve" if they can be assured of getting proper credit.

ii. "In the ancient world it was accepted that age gave privileges; the youngest was, by definition, the lowliest." (Morris)

d. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? The world regards the one who is served as greater, but Jesus showed us that true greatness is in serving, more than in being served.

i. Cultures have always envied the person who has many people serving him. In ancient China, the rich grew long, long fingernails, so long they could do nothing for themselves-and this was seen as a sign of status.

ii. But the people who are really great in our lives are the servants. If the President took a month off, no one would really miss it; but if all the trash collectors in the country took the month off, we would miss it! Jesus is trying to re-arrange our thinking, our priorities.

d. Living as a servant really is the best way to live. We are no longer concerned for our own honor and credit; we don't walk around with hurt feelings and disappointed expectations, because all we want to do is to serve. We can always do what we want to do, because we can always serve somehow.

i. Don't we think that Jesus knew the best way to live?

ii. Jesus isn't saying that if you serve in a lowly place, you will be given a great place. He is saying that in God's eyes, the lowly place is the great place.

e. How much of a servant are you? We should measure ourselves against Jesus; but another good indicator is to see how we react when we are treated like a servant.

2. (Luk 22:28-30) The reward for the disciples.

"But you are those who have continued with Me in My trials. And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

a. I bestow upon you a kingdom: The disciples will receive a unique reward, because they are the ones who have continued with Jesus in His trials. Jesus appreciated and valued the support He received from His disciples.

b. The apostles will have special status in the Kingdom of God. They will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, and their names will be on the twelve foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:14).

c. Being a servant does not mean that we are unrewarded. Quite the opposite; God's greatest servants receive the greatest rewards. But a great servant does not serve for the sake of reward, but for the sake of God's glory.

3. (Luk 22:31-34) Jesus warns Peter of his coming fall.

And the Lord said, "Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren." But he said to Him, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death." Then He said, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me."

a. Indeed, Satan has asked for you: Jesus was aware of a spiritual battle behind the scenes. Peter was no doubt ignorant of the fact that Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat-Satan wanted to completely crush and defeat Peter.

i. Apparently, Satan wanted to do much more against Peter than the Lord would allow; and Satan could not do whatever he wanted against Peter, but he must ask.

ii. "Satan desires that in the sifting process 'no wheat shall remain', but that all (like Judas) will be blown away like chaff." (Geldenhuys)

b. But I have prayed for you: What prevented Satan from having his way with Peter had nothing to do with Peter. It was because of Jesus' prayers on Peter's behalf.

i. The thought of Jesus interceding for us, protecting us from Satan, is wonderful! How many times we would have perished, had not Jesus prayed for us!

c. That your faith should not fail: Peter's faith would falter, but not fail. Jesus did not see the temporary lapse that was to come as a failure of faith, because He knew that Peter would return to Him.

i. In the Christian life, we may falter, but we must never fail. If we have denied Jesus in some way, then we must return to Him immediately.

ii. And, having returned, we must turn our focus towards helping others-when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren. The one who returns after faltering isn't necessarily to be put on a shelf, or to become self-focused-but they should reach out and strengthen the brethren.

d. How could Peter say, "Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death"? Peter was unaware of both the spiritual reality and the spiritual battle that Jesus could see. Peter just looked to how he felt at the moment, and at the moment he felt pretty brave!

i. But when you are walking on feelings, all this can change pretty quickly. Soon, Peter will be intimidated before a humble servant girl, and deny to her that he even knew Jesus.

ii. "It is sometimes easier to bear a great load for Christ than a small one. Some of us could be martyrs at the stake more easily that confessors among sneering neighbors." (Maclaren)

e. Jesus told Peter the truth about himself and the situation not to discourage him, but to let him know there is a spiritual reality and a spiritual battle that he is unaware of, but that Jesus knew well.

4. (Luk 22:35-38) Jesus calls the disciples to readiness.

And He said to them, "When I sent you without money bag, knapsack, and sandals, did you lack anything?" So they said, "Nothing." Then He said to them, "But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack; and he who has no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one. For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end." So they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."

a. But now, he who has a money bag, let him take it, and likewise a knapsack: Jesus is saying: "I am on the point of leaving you, and when I am gone, you must use common sense means for provision and protection." Such practical considerations were not needed before, but were needed now.

b. The disciples had been sent out to do ministry without Jesus before (Luke 10:1-17), but then they were received with goodwill and hospitality. Now they are facing a hostile world without Jesus, and must be prepared.

c. It is enough means enough of this kind of talk (Jesus' firm way of ending the conversation), not two swords will be enough. How could two swords ever be enough against all those who came to arrest Jesus?

i. Jesus' disciples must be "just as determined and whole-hearted as a fighting man who gives up everything, even his garment, as long as he only possesses a sword to continue the struggle with." (Geldenhuys)

C. Jesus' agony, arrest and arraignment.

1. (Luk 22:39-46) Jesus' agony in the garden.

Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him. When He came to the place, He said to them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation." And He was withdrawn from them about a stone's throw, and He knelt down and prayed, saying, "Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done." Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground. When He rose up from prayer, and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow. Then He said to them, "Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you enter into temptation."

a. Jesus went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed. He had spent His nights there that week (Luke 21:37), and He refused to alter this routine, even though He knew it meant that Judas would easily find Him.

b. He knelt down and prayed: Here is the passionate account of an eyewitness, who no doubt related this incident to Luke. Only an eyewitness would remember a detail such as Jesus prayed about a stone's throw away from the disciples.

i. "The usual manner of prayer at that time was to pray in a standing position. That Jesus knelt down proves the violence of His struggle in Gethsemane." (Geldenhuys)

c. Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me: If Jesus knew what the Father's will was, why was this such agony? Because Jesus is going to the cross as a sacrifice for sins, and He was no dumb sacrificial animal, no victim of circumstances. He willingly resolved to lay down His life.

i. This helps us understand why Jesus used the figure of a cup. Repeatedly in the Old Testament, a cup is a powerful picture of the wrath and judgment of God:

For in the hand of the Lord there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down. (Psalm 75:8)

Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the Lord The cup of His fury; you have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and drained it out. (Isaiah 51:17)

For thus says the Lord God of Israel to me: "Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it." (Jeremiah 25:15)

ii. Jesus became, as it were, an enemy of God, who was judged and forced to drink the cup of the Father's fury, so we would not have to drink from that cup. Taking this figurative cup was the source of Jesus' greatest agony on the cross.

d. Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done: Jesus came to a point of decision in Gethsemane. It wasn't that He had not decided nor consented before, but now He had come upon a unique point of decision. He drank the cup at Calvary, but He decided once for all to drink it at Gethsemane.

e. Being in agony, He prayed more earnestly: What did Jesus do in His time of agony? He prayed more earnestly, to the point where His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

i. "There have been cases in which persons in a debilitated state of body, or through horror of soul, have had their sweat tinged with blood. . . . Cases sometimes happen in which, through mental pressure, the pores may be so dilated that the blood may issue from them; so that there may be a bloody sweat." (Clarke)

ii. The Greek wording of Luke 22:44 is clear-Luke is not saying that Jesus' sweat was blood, but that it was like blood; either in the way that it poured off His brow, or because it was tinged with blood

f. Then an angel appeared to Him from heaven, strengthening Him: In response to Jesus' prayers, the Father did not take the cup from Jesus; but He strengthened Jesus to be able to take-and drink-the cup.

g. He found them sleeping from sorrow: The disciples were also filled with sorrow; but instead of praying, they slept. Jesus wakes them and encourages them to pray!

2. (Luk 22:47-53) Jesus is betrayed and arrested.

And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him. But Jesus said to him, "Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?" When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, "Lord, shall we strike with the sword?" And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear. But Jesus answered and said, "Permit even this." And He touched his ear and healed him. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs? When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness."

a. Drew near to Jesus to kiss Him: Apparently, Jesus was normal enough in appearance so that it was necessary that Judas specifically identify Him for the sake of those arresting Jesus, and he chose to identify Him by greeting Jesus with a kiss.

b. Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss? Of course, Jesus knew the irony of being betrayed with a warm greeting; so He essentially asked Judas "are you so dead to all feeling that you can kiss and betray?" Judas is a good example of a seared conscience.

c. And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear: John 18:10 identifies this unnamed swordsman as Peter. Peter is a great example of someone who, wielding the power of this world in his hands, could only cut off ears; but wielding the Word of God, could pierce hearts for God's glory (Acts 2:37).

i. "When the Church takes sword in hand, it usually shows that it does not know how to wield it, and as often as not has struck the wrong man." (Maclaren)

ii. Luke, with his medical precision, identifies the ear as the right ear. Assuming Peter was right handed, the only way to cut off someone's right ear in this manner is if you attack from behind. Peter probably attacked from behind!

d. And He touched his ear and healed him: Even here, Jesus is present to clean up the mess His disciples have left behind. He heals the damage done by Peter.

e. It is your hour, and the power of darkness: This is not in the sense that Jesus is out of control, but that He allows the darkness to do what it wanted to do all along-arrest and kill Jesus. The light will shine the brightest in the midst of this darkness.

3. (Luk 22:54-62) Peter denies that he knows or is associated with Jesus.

Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest's house. But Peter followed at a distance. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them. And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, "This man was also with Him." But he denied Him, saying, "Woman, I do not know Him." And after a little while another saw him and said, "You also are of them." But Peter said, "Man, I am not!" Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, "Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean." But Peter said, "Man, I do not know what you are saying!" Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, "Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

a. Peter's first problem was that he followed at a distance. When we distance ourselves from Jesus, it is hard to make a proper stand for Him at the critical time.

b. Next, Peter sat among them-the ungodly-having forsaken the fellowship of the fleeing disciples. Peter wants to seem just one of this crowd, and not be identified as a follower of Jesus.

c. First, Peter denied ever knowing Jesus (Woman, I do not know Him), then he denied being a follower of Jesus (Man, I am not), finally he denies that he is even from Galilee (Man, I do not know what you are saying!).

d. While he was still speaking, the rooster crowed. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter: At the crowing of the rooster, Jesus looked through the crowd around Him, and made eye contact with Peter. Peter was immediately convicted of his sin; not only of his denial of Jesus, but also of the pride that led him to think he could never deny Him.

i. The ancient Greek word for looked "usually signifies a look of interest, love, or concern." (Liefeld)

e. Peter finally remembered the word of the Lord, but he remembered it too late-after he had sinned. For now, all Peter can do is to weep bitterly-but he will be restored.

i. As much as Jesus' promise that Peter would deny Him was true, so was the promise that your faith should not fail (Luke 22:32)-Peter has fallen, but he will not fall away.

ii. We all make promises to Jesus that we do not keep. When that is the case, there is an appropriate time to weep bitterly. But then there is a time to come back to Jesus, who will always receive you back.

4. (Luk 22:63-65) Jesus is beaten and mocked.

Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him. And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, "Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?" And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.

a. Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him: Jesus is under arrest at the home of the high priest. Even though He is in such a "spiritual" place, He is treated in this gross way-both beaten and mocked.

i. The children's rhyme goes, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." But this is a patently false statement, for words can hurt far past the time a broken bone is healed. Jesus endured the worst of both of these kinds of abuse, being both mocked and beaten.

b. Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You? Of course, Jesus not only could tell the one who struck Him, but he could also tell everything about the man-the physical description, his life story, the number of hairs on his head, and every sin he had ever committed-but Jesus did not.

c. The idea of Jesus taking this mocking without reply is painful to us. We wonder why He, who had all the right and all the power to put an end to it immediately, why He endured it without a word.

i. He did it to demonstrate that the proper reply to hate is not more hate, but love.

ii. He did it to demonstrate His trust in God the Father, that God would vindicate Him and He did not need to defend Himself.

iii. He did it so that every time we are humiliated we can find refuge in a God who can say, "I know exactly what you are going through."

5. (Luk 22:66-71) Jesus' second trial before the Sanhedrin.

As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying, "If You are the Christ, tell us." But He said to them, "If I tell you, you will by no means believe. And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go. Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God." Then they all said, "Are You then the Son of God?" So He said to them, "You rightly say that I am." And they said, "What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth."

a. On the night of His betrayal, and the day of His crucifixion, Jesus actually stood in trial several times, before different judges. It will be helpful to fill in the gaps provided by the other gospel accounts.

i. Before Jesus came to the home of Caiaphas, the official high priest, He was led to the home of Annas, who was the ex-high priest and the "power behind the throne" of the high priest (John 18:12-14, John 19-23).

ii. Then Jesus was led to the home of Caiaphas, the sitting high priest. There He was placed on trial before an ad-hoc gathering of the Sanhedrin still during the night (Matthew 26:57-68), when false witness were brought before the council and the high priest demanded to know of Jesus if He was the Son of God. To this question, Jesus replied: "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, "He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! "What do you think?" They answered and said, "He is deserving of death." (Matthew 26:64-66)

iii. After that, the beating described in Luke 22:63-65 begins.

iv. When dawn breaks, the Sanhedrin gathered again, this time "officially," and they conducted the trial described in Luke 22:66-71.

b. As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council: Why did the Sanhedrin meet to put Jesus on trial again, after they had already condemned Him during the trial in the night?

i. Because by the Sanhedrin's own laws and regulations the night trial described in Matthew 26:57-68 was illegal. To begin with, according to Jewish law, all criminal trials must begin and end in the daylight. This second trial was held because they knew the first one-the real trial-had no legal standing.

ii. According to Jewish law, only decisions made in the official meeting place were valid. The first trial was held at the home of Caiaphas, the high priest, so they called together this trial, held at their council.

iii. According to Jewish law, criminal cases could not be tried during the Passover season.

iv. According to Jewish law, only an acquittal could be issued on the day of the trial; guilty verdicts had to wait one night to allow for feelings of mercy to rise.

v. According to Jewish law, all evidence had to be guaranteed by two witnesses, who were separately examined and could not have contact with each other.

vi. According to Jewish law, false witness was punishable by death; nothing is done to the many false witnesses in Jesus' trial.

vii. According to Jewish law, a trial always began by bringing forth evidence for the innocence of the accused, before the evidence of guilt was offered; this was not the practice here.

c. If I tell you, you will by no means believe: Jesus is entirely correct here. He already told them at the night trial described in Matthew 26, and they found Him guilty. The present trial was all for show, and they had already decided on Jesus' guilt.

i. It is a terrible thing to pretend openness about Jesus. We must never act or talk as if we really wanted to know who Jesus is if we really have already made up our minds.

d. But Jesus at the same time stands His ground. In essence, His reply is "You may sit in judgment of Me today, but I one day will sit in judgment of you, when you will see that the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God."

e. What further testimony do we need? This was an interesting statement. At this daytime trial, they made no effort to find testimony against Jesus, because the witnesses at the nighttime trial had hopelessly contradicted themselves. So they didn't bother to bring forth witnesses.

© 2000 David Guzik-No distribution beyond personal use without permission

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The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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