For an introduction to this series, click here.
April 4, 2007
This chapter gets us into the story of the Crucifixion, the most important event in the history of the world. The most important thing to observe in the story of the Crucifixion is the sovereignty of God. One of the most important passages that brings out this truth is found in Isaiah 53:10-11: "Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;" Nothing that happened during the Crucifixion caught God or Jesus off-guard. Everything happened according to the plan set in place before time began.
Even Satan obeys the will of God, as we see in this chapter: "Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd." (22:3-6)
Try as he might, Satan's plans ultimately work out to the glory of God. I certainly have no idea of what goes on between God and Satan and how they work in the human race, but even Satan has to obey the will of God. I often wonder why God doesn't just do away with him completely, but even that is part of His plan.
The next section deals with the Last Supper, and I think you are familiar with that, but we must remember that each Gospel records this event differently. John is the only one who mentions that Jesus washed the disciples' feet after the supper. Luke mentions that the disciples were arguing as to who would be the greatest in the kingdom after supper. I don't want to steal my own thunder from when we get to this passage in John, but no doubt Jesus' shocking action of washing their feet was in response to this argument.
After supper, of course, they went to the garden, although Luke calls it the Mount of Olives. The two must have been very close together, or maybe the garden was on part of the mount. You are no doubt familiar with the story, but twice Jesus comes back from praying to rebuke the sleeping disciples, and He tells them, "Pray that you may not enter into temptation."
What kind of temptation were the disciples facing? I think maybe I have found the answer, and it is something I have never noticed before. Read verses 31-32 from the King James: "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Now in normal reading, we don't notice an important difference in the pronouns in this verse, and you certainly will not notice the difference in the modern versions- that is why I specifically used the KJV. In modern English, the only second person pronoun is "you." But in the era of the KJV there were four: "thou," "thee," "ye" and "you." If you go back and read that again, you will notice that Jesus first addresses all the disciples: "you" is used twice in verse 31. But in verse 32, He addresses Simon Peter specifically: "thee," "thy" and "thou." So Jesus says Satan desired all of the disciples, but Peter specifically. All of the disciples were subject to being tempted to deny Christ. Sadly, all but Peter and John fled.
At the very end of the chapter, you notice Jesus does something He never did before: He plainly answers a point-blank demand from the religious leaders if He was the Son of God. For years, people had been asking Him that and He had brushed it off or responded back with another question. Here comes the moment of ultimate rejection. Jesus is brought before the Council: "So they all said, 'Are you the Son of God, then?' And he said to them, 'You say that I am.' Then they said, 'What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips.'" (22:70-71, ESV) Jesus finally answered truthfully, and instead of worshiping Him as who He was, they condemned Him to death.