Hard to Take?

There’s so much in Luke 22 that I want to just focus on its three main characters: Judas Iscariot, Peter, and Jesus.

Judas: We start the chapter with his agreeing to betray Jesus. Luke doesn’t tell us why, but in all the other gospels, this happens after an incident at Bethany. Jesus has returned to the home of Martha and Mary, and their brother – Lazarus. In John 11, an illness took the life of Lazarus and Jesus raised him from the dead. That’s why when Jesus arrived at Bethany, a dinner was given in His honour and Mary, still full of gratitude, poured expensive perfume on His feet (John 12:2-3). Some of the guests were indignant. The perfume was worth nearly a year’s wages and they thought she had wasted it (Mark 14:4-5), but Jesus told them to leave her alone; she had done a beautiful thing (Mark 14:6). That’s when Judas goes to the priests to ask about betraying Jesus. Judas loved money, and Jesus’ attitude to it offended him.

Peter: He and John were sent to prepare the very last meal Jesus would have with His closest friends here on earth. The meal begins and as they eat, Jesus talks to Peter, using his old name. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32). Peter protests that he’s ready to be imprisoned and even to die, but Jesus knows better. By the end of the chapter, Peter has denied knowing Him three times, just as predicted. Peter’s also the one Jesus had to chastise for fighting when He was arrested (John 18:10-11). Doctor Luke is the only gospel-writer to tell us Jesus healed the servant after Peter cut off his right ear with a sword. What was written about Jesus had to be fulfilled, but Peter took exception to the way things were playing out.

Jesus: After eating supper, He goes with His friends to a familiar place of prayer – so familiar, in fact, it’s the place Judas has arranged to betray Him. Jesus encourages them to pray, then goes a little farther away to bring His request to the Father. “Please take this cup of suffering away from Me. Yet I want Your will to be done” (Luke 22:42). He surrenders His life to God and at that point, an angel comes and strengthens Him. This strengthening leads to more earnest prayer and Luke puts his doctor-hat on again, saying Jesus is in such agony that He sweats drops of blood – a medical condition called hematidrosis (when someone’s under extreme stress, capillaries in the sweat glands can break, mixing blood with sweat). But while Jesus agonised in prayer, His friends were falling asleep. They were exhausted from grief and hadn’t come to the point of surrender, like their Master. “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray,” He says, and along come His adversaries. When Peter fights to try to prevent His arrest, Jesus commands: “No more of this.” Jesus was mocked by those guarding Him. They blindfolded Him and demanded to know who struck Him. He was well able to answer the question and shut them up, but He didn’t. Jesus went through all that He had to, in order that God’s Word would be fulfilled and He would become the price paid for the wrongs of many people (Isaiah 53:11).

Judas took offence; Peter took exception; Jesus took it all in His stride.

What about us? Are we offended by Jesus? Do we take exception to the way He works? Or will we, as individuals, take Him into our hearts and surrender to what God has for us?

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