Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Luke 22:1-2. Approach of the Passover. The Purpose of the Priests.
In this narrative of the Last Supper, Passion, Trial, and Crucifixion the chief points peculiar to St Luke are in Luke 22:8; Luke 22:15; Luke 22:24; Luke 22:28-30; Luke 22:43-44; Luke 22:61, Luke 23:2; Luke 23:5-16; Luke 23:27-31; Luke 23:34; Luke 23:39-43; Luke 23:46; Luke 23:51
Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.1. drew nigh] Rather, was drawing near.
which is called the Passover] This little explanation shews most clearly that St Luke is writing mainly for Gentiles. Strictly speaking the Passover was not co-extensive with the Feast of Unleavened Bread, as is clearly stated in Numbers 28:16-17, “In the fourteenth day of the first month is the passover...and in the fifteenth is the feast” (Leviticus 23:5-6). Passover is the translation of the Hebrew Pesach; of this the Greek pascha is a transliteration with a sort of alliterative allusion to the Greek pascho, I suffer. See on the Passover Exodus 12:11-20. The Jews of later ages had gradually assumed that a wide difference was intended between the “Egyptian passover” and the “permanent passover.”
And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.2. the chief priests and scribes] Their humiliation and defeat before the people—the immense and divine superiority of the wisdom of Jesus so publicly displayed—had at last aroused them into irreconcilable hostility. It is very noticeable that the Pharisees, as a distinct party, now vanish entirely into the background. They are scarcely mentioned again except in Matthew 27:62.
sought] Rather, were seeking. The word involves a continuous effort, and probably includes the memorable meeting in the Palace of Caiaphas, which is traditionally placed on the ‘Hill of Evil Counsel,’ but was probably close to the Temple precincts. They seem to have come on that occasion, in consequence of the advice of Caiaphas, to three conclusions. (1) To put Jesus to death; (2) to do it as secretly as possible; and (3) not to do it during the Feast, so as to avoid the chance of tumults on the part of the Galilaean pilgrims. If this meeting was on Tuesday evening, at the very time that they were deciding not to kill Jesus (Psalm 2:2) for more than eight days—and it was unusual to put to death during the Passover, Acts 12:4—He, seated on the slopes of Olivet, was telling His disciples that before the Passover He should be slain, Matthew 26:1-5.
Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.3-6. The Traitor and the Priests.
3. Then entered Satan into Judas] No other expression seems adequately to explain his wickedness. It began in avarice, disappointment, and jealousy; and, when he had long weakened his soul by indulgence in these dark, besetting sins, the imaginary loss of the “300 pence” of which he would have had the disposal (John 12:4-5; Mark 14:10), — the now undisguised announcement of our Lord that He should be not only rejected, but crucified (Matthew 20:19)—the consequent shattering of all Messianic hopes—the growing sense that he was becoming distasteful to his Master and his fellows—the open rebuke which he had drawn on his own head by his hypocritic greed at Bethany (John 12:6)—the rumoured hostility of all the most venerated authorities of the nation—all these formed the climax of his temptations:—and then, at last, the tempting opportunity met the susceptible disposition. “Instead of dominion—service; instead of power—per-
secution; instead of honour—shame; this was all that was left of his hopes and prospects once so brilliant.” His crime was but the epitome of months—perhaps years—of secret faithlessness. “Dicitur Satan in reprobos intrare, cum reverso Dei metu, extincta rationis luce, pudore etiam excusso, sensus omnes occupat.” Calvin.
Iscariot] See on Luke 6:16.
And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.4. he went his way] We infer -from the combined accounts that he met the priests on two occasions, on one of which the bargain was proposed, and on the other concluded.
communed] Spoke with.
captains] Literally, “generals” The Levitic captains of the Temple who kept order during the Feasts. There was strictly only one who bore the title of “the general of the Temple”—“man of the mountain of the House” (see Nehemiah 2:8; Nehemiah 7:2; Jeremiah 20:1; 2Ma 3:4); but he had guards under him (Jos. B. J. vi. 5, § 3), and the name might be applied to the whole body. One of the bitter complaints against the High Priests of the day was that they made their own sons “generals of the Temple.” St Luke was aware that the special title applied only to one person, as appears from Acts 4:1.
how he might betray him] Rather, give Him up. The word used is not prodo, but the milder parado.
And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.5. they were glad] This spontaneous offer—and that too from one of Christ’s immediate followers—seemed to solve all their difficulties.
covenanted] Or, ‘agreed;’ in St Mark, ‘promised’ In Matthew 26:15 it is said that they ‘paid’ or ‘weighed’ him the money, with a reference to Zechariah 11:12-13 (LXX.). This was perhaps done at a second meeting when the actual plan was ripened.
to give him money] The proposal came from the wretched man himself (Matthew 26:15). The paltry sum given (which is mentioned by St Matthew only)-30 shekels, about £3. 16s., the price given for the meanest slave—shews that this sum was either regarded as earnest money, or more probably that the Priests felt themselves quite able to carry out their plot, though less conveniently, without any aid from Judas. On one side of these shekels would be stamped the olive-branch, the emblem of peace; on the obverse the censer, the type of prayer, with the inscription, “Jerusalem the Holy”!
And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.6. sought opportunity] Doubtless he was baffled at first by the entire and unexpected seclusion which Jesus observed on the Wednesday and Thursday.
in the absence of the multitude] Rather, without a mob; ἄτερ is poetic, and only occurs here and in Luke 22:35.
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.7-13. Preparation for the Passover.
7. Then came the day of unleavened bread] All leaven was most carefully and scrupulously put away on the afternoon of Thursday, Nisan 13.
when the passover must be killed] Rather, be sacrificed. On the difficult question whether the Last Supper was the actual Paschal meal, or an anticipatory Passover, see the Excursus.
And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.8. he sent Peter and John] Apparently our Lord, now withdrawn from His active work, said nothing about the Passover till the disciples questioned Him as to His wishes. The old law that the Paschal Lamb must be chosen ten days beforehand had long fallen into desuetude. Its observance would have been impossible for the myriads of pilgrims who came from all parts of the world.
And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare?
And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.10. a man...bearing a pitcher of water] A very unusual sight in the East, where the water is drawn by women. He must probably have been the slave of one who was an open or secret disciple; unless we have here a reference to the Jewish custom of the master of a house himself drawing the water with which the unleavened bread was kneaded on Nisan 13. If so the “man bearing a pitcher of water” may have even been the Evangelist St Mark, in the house of whose mother, and probably in the very upper room where the Last Supper was held, the disciples used at first to meet (Acts 12:12). The mysteriousness of the sign was perhaps intended to baffle, as long as was needful, the machinations of Judas.
And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?11. goodman] See on Luke 12:39.
guestchamber] Kataluma, rendered “inn” in Luke 2:7.
the passover] Although reasons will be given in Excursus V. for the view that this was not the actual Passover, it is clear that our Lord designedly spoke of it as His Passover, and gave it a paschal character. It is possible that Jewish customs unknown to us made it allowable for individuals on special occasions to anticipate the regular passover.
And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.12. upper room] The usual place of resort for large gatherings in a Jewish house; probably the very room which also witnessed the appearance of the Risen Christ to the Twelve, and the Descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost.
furnished] with divans, cushions, &c. Ezekiel 23:41 (LXX.); Acts 9:34 (Greek).
And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.14-38. The last Supper.
14. when the hour was come] If the meal was intended to be directly Paschal, this would be “between the two evenings” (Exodus 12:6); a phrase interpreted by the Jews to mean between three and six, and by the Samaritans to mean between twilight and sunset. Probably Jesus and His disciples, anxious to avoid dangerous notice, would set forth towards dusk.
he sat down] Rather, reclined. The custom of eating the Passover standing had long been abandoned.
And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:15. With desire I have desired] i.e. I earnestly desired. A Hebraism. Matthew 13:14, &c.
to eat this passover] The expression may perhaps point to the fact that this was not the actual Jewish Paschal meal, but one which was intended to supersede it by a Passover of far more divine significance.
For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.16. I will not any more eat thereof] The true reading probably is, I will not eat it. The ‘not any more’ however is a correct gloss.
until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God] i.e. until the true Passover has been offered by my death, and so the new kingdom established.
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:17. he took the cup, and gave thanks] Literally, “and after receiving the cup, and giving thanks.” From eucharistein comes our word Eucharist.
The main customs of the Jewish Passover are as follows:—(1) Each drinks a cup of wine—‘the cup of consecration’—over which the master of the house pronounces a blessing. (2) Hands are washed, and a table carried in, on which are placed bitter herbs, cakes of unleavened bread, the Charoseth (a dish made of dates, raisins, and vinegar), the paschal lamb, and the flesh of the Chagigah or feast-offering. (3) The father dips a morsel of unleavened bread and bitter herbs, about the size of an olive, in the Charoseth, eats it with a benediction, and distributes a similar ‘sop’ to all present. (4) A second cup of wine is poured out, and the youngest present asks the meaning of the service, to which the father replies. (5) The first part of the Hallel (Psalms 107—114) is sung. (6) Grace is said, and a benediction again pronounced; after which the father distributes bitter herbs and unleavened bread dipped in the Charoseth. (7) The Paschal lamb is eaten, and a third cup of wine handed round. (8) After another thanksgiving, a fourth cup—the cup of joy—is drunk. (9) The rest of the Hallel (Psalms 115-118.) is sung.
The cup mentioned in this verse has been supposed to be the third cup of wine in the Jewish ceremonial; and the actual chalice of the Eucharist (the “cup of blessing,” 1 Corinthians 10:16, Cos ha-Berachah) is identified with the fourth cup. We also see in the Last Supper the benediction, and possibly the Hallel (Matthew 26:30). But (1) the identifications are somewhat precarious. (2) There is no certainty that the “Sacrificial Passover” thus observed by the Jews was identical in ceremonial with the “Memorial Passover” which now alone they are able to observe.
For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.18. of the fruit of the vine] This is perhaps a reference to the Jewish benediction pronounced over the first cup, ‘Blessed be Thou, O Lord our God, who hast created the fruit of the vine.’
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.19. he took bread] The account in St Luke closely agrees with that given by St Paul (1 Corinthians 11:23-26), which he ‘received from the Lord.’
This is my body] Comp. “I am the door,” John 10:7. “That rock was Christ,” 1 Corinthians 10:4. “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” 1 Corinthians 10:16. All the fierce theological debates between Roman Catholics, Lutherans, Zuinglians, Calvinists, &c. might have been avoided if men had borne in mind the warning of Jesus, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life,” John 6:63.
in remembrance of me] The emphasis is on the latter words. The Christian Passover was no more to be in remembrance of the deliverance from Egypt, but of that far greater deliverance wrought by Christ.
Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.20. the new testament] Hence the name of the New Testament. The word Diatheke (Heb. Berith) means both a will, and an agreement or covenant, see Jeremiah 31:31. “It contains all the absolute elements of the one, with the conditional elements of the other. Hence the New Testament (kaine Diatheke) is the revelation of a new relation on God’s part with the conditions necessary to its realisation on man’s part.” Fairbairn.
in my blood] i.e. ratified by my blood shed for you. The best comment is Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 9:18-22; 1 Corinthians 11:25. The other Synoptists have “my blood of the New Testament.”
But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.21. the hand of him that betrayeth me] For fuller details of this last awful warning to Judas, and of the intimation of the person intended to His nearest disciples, see Matthew 26:21-25; Mark 14:18-21; John 13:21-26. Whether Judas actually partook of the Holy Communion has always been uncertain. Bengel quotes the language of St Ambrose to Theodosius, “Will you hold forth those hands still dripping with the blood of unjust slaughter, and with them take the most holy body of the Lord?”
And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!22. as it was determined] “being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God,” Acts 2:23; Acts 4:27-28. “The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world,” Revelation 13:8. The type of Judas was Ahithophel, Ps. 12:9.
And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.23. to inquire among themselves] The pathetic details are given by St John. It is characteristic of their noble, simple, loving natures that they seem to have had no suspicions of Judas.
And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.24. And there was also a strife] Philoneikia, ‘an ambitious contention,’ occurs here only. It is probable that this dispute arose while they were taking their places at the couches (triclinia), and may possibly have been occasioned by some claim made by Judas for official precedence. He seems to have reclined on the left of our Lord, and John on the right, while Peter seems to have been at the top of the next mat or couch, at the left of Judas, across and behind whom he stretched forward to whisper his question to St John (John 13:23-24). For previous instances of this worldly ambition see Luke 9:46-48; Matthew 20:20-24.
And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.25. exercise lordship] Peter learnt this lesson well. 1 Peter 5:3.
are called benefactors] Euergetai—a name often inscribed on coins. How worthless and hollow the title was the disciples knew from the instances of Ptolemy Euergetes and other Syrian tyrants. Onias had been more deserving of the name, 2Ma 4:2.
But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.26. let him be] Rather, let him become,—let him shew himself to be in reality.
the younger] who in Eastern families often fulfils menial duties. Acts 5:6.
For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.27. I am among you as he that serveth] The true Euergetes is the humble brother, not the subtle tyrant. See Matthew 20:28. “Took upon him the form of a servant,” Php 2:7. St Luke here omits the beautiful acted parable of the Lord washing the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-20), as also the words to Judas, and his going forth into the night. .
Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.28. in my temptations] See on Luke 4:13.
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;29. I appoint unto you a kingdom] See Luke 12:32. “If we suffer we shall also reign with Him,” 2 Timothy 2:12. Diatithemai is ‘I appoint by way of bequest,’ Psalm 81:4 (LXX.).
That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.30. sit on thrones] Our Lord here perhaps designedly omitted the word “twelve,” Matthew 19:28 (Revelation 3:21).
judging] “The saints shall judge the world,” 1 Corinthians 6:2. But the clause is omitted in some MSS.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:31. Simon, Simon] The repetition of the name gave combined solemnity and tenderness to the appeal (Luke 10:41).
Satan hath desired to have you] Rather, Satan demanded you (plur.), or ‘gained you by asking.’ “Not content with Judas,” Luke 22:3. Bengel.
that he may sift you] The word siniasai, from sinion, a sieve, occurs here only. Satan, too, has his winnowing fan, that he may get his chaff. Judas has been already winnowed away from the Apostolic band, and now Satan demands Peter (comp. Job 1:9). The warning left a deep impression on Peter’s mind. 1 Peter 5:8-9. For the metaphor see Amos 9:9-10.
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.32. I have prayed for thee] Rather, I made supplication concerning thee, shewing that Peter, the most confident, was at that moment the most imperilled, though Jesus had prayed for them all (John 17:9; John 17:11).
that thy faith fail not] The word means ‘fail not utterly, or finally.
when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren] Comp. Psalm 51:13.
So, after the Resurrection, Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17). The very word for ‘strengthen’ sank into his heart, and is repeated in his Epistle, 1 Peter 5:10.‘Converted’ has not here its technical meaning—but ‘when thou hast turned again.’ It means more, however, than merely vicissim, ‘in turn.’ Comp. 1 Peter 2:25; 2 Peter 2:21-22; Matthew 13:15, &c.
And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.33. I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death] Rather, even into prison, even into death, and the order and emphasis should be, ‘Lord, with Thee I am ready,’ &c. This ‘flaring enthusiasm’ is always to be suspected of weakness. Proverbs 28:26; 1 Corinthians 10:12.
And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.34. Peter] The only occasion on which Jesus is recorded to have used to him the name He gave. It is used to remind him of his strength as well as his weakness.
the cock shall not crow this day] It was, perhaps, already past midnight. St Mark says more exactly (Luke 14:30) ‘shall not crow twice.’ But St Luke’s expression merely means, ‘that part of the dawn which is called the cock-crow (alektorophonia, gallicinium) shall not be over before, &c.’
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.35. without purse, &c.] See Luke 9:3, Luke 10:4.
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.36. But now] This was an intimation of their totally changed relation to the world. There was no spontaneous hospitality, no peaceful acceptance, no honoured security, to be looked for now.
he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one] Rather, lie that hath not (either purse or scrip to buy a sword with), let him, &c. Of course the expression was not meant to be taken with unintelligent literalness. It was in accordance with that kind metaphorical method of expression which our blessed Lord adopted that His words might never be forgotten. It was to warn them of days of hatred and opposition in which self-defence might become a daily necessity, though not aggression. To infer that the latter is implied has been one of the fatal errors which arise from attributing infallibility to wrong inferences from a superstitious letter-worship.
For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.37. he was reckoned among the transgressors] A quotation from Isaiah 53:12. Hence clearly the sword could not be for His defence, as they carelessly assumed.
for] Rather, for indeed.
have an end] The end (telos) was drawing near; it would come on the following day (Tetelestai, John 19:30).
And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.38. here are two swords] It was a last instance of the stolid literalism by which they had so often vexed our Lord (Matthew 16:6-12). As though He could have been thinking of two miserable swords, such as poor Galilaean pilgrims took to defend themselves from wild beasts or robbers; and as though two would be of any use against a world in arms ! It is strange that St Chrysostom should suppose ‘knives’ to be intended. This was the verse quoted by Boniface VIII., in his famous Bull Unam sanctam, to prove his possession of both secular and spiritual power !
And he said unto them, It is enough] Not of course meaning that two swords were enough, but sadly declining to enter into the matter any further, and leaving them to meditate on His words. The formula was one sometimes used to waive a subject; comp. 1Ma 2:33. See p. 384. “It is a sigh of the God-man over all violent measures meant to further His cause.”
And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.39-48. The Agony in the Garden.
39. And he came out] St Luke here omits all the touching incidents which St John alone records—the discourses so “rarely mixed of sadness and joys, and studded with mysteries as with emeralds Peter’s question, “Lord, whither goest thou?”; the melancholy remark of Thomas about the way; Philip’s “Lord, shew us the Father;” the perplexed enquiry of Judas Lebbaeus; the rising from the Table; the Parable of the Vine and the Branches, perhaps suggested by the trellised vine under which they passed out into the moonlight; and the great High Priest’s prayer.
to the mount of Olives] down the valley over the brook, or, rather, dry wady of the Kedron, and then up the green slope beyond it to the garden or small farm (χωρίον) of Gethsemane, “the oil press,” which is about half a mile from the city. Probably (John 18:2) it belonged to a disciple; possibly to St Mark. Judas knew the spot, and had ascertained that Jesus was going there. He had gone out to get the band necessary for His arrest.
followed him] The walk would be under the full Paschal moon amid the deep hush that falls over an Oriental city at night. The only recorded
And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.40. he said unto them] First He left eight of them to sleep under the trees while He withdrew with Peter and James and John, whom He told to watch and pray.
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,41. he was withdrawn] Literally, “He was taken away,” or ‘He tore Himself away’ (comp. Luke 21:1), shewing the reluctance with which He parted from this support of loving sympathy under the imperious necessity of passing through His darkest hour alone. Perhaps He withdrew deeper into the shadow of the ancient olive-trees. (In estimating the force of such words as ekballo, apospao, &c., it should however be borne in mind that in Hellenistic Greek their old classical force was weakened by colloquialism. See 2Ma 12:10.)
and kneeled down] “and fell on His face,” Matthew 26:39.
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.42. if thou be willing] The principle of His whole life of suffering obedience, John 5:30; John 6:38.
this cup] Matthew 20:22; comp. Ezekiel 22:31; Psalm 75:8. This prayer is an instance of the “strong crying and tears,” amid which He “learned obedience by the things which He suffered,” Hebrews 5:7-8.
And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.43. there appeared an angel] As after His temptation, Matthew 4:11. This and the next verse are not of absolutely certain authenticity, since they are omitted in A, B, and by the first corrector of א; and Jerome and Hilary say that they were omitted in “very many” Greek and Latin MSS. Their omission may have been due to mistaken reverence; or their insertion may have been made by the Evangelist himself in a later recension.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.44. being in an agony] The word which occurs here only in the N.T.— though we often have the verb agonizomai—means intense struggle and pressure of spirit, which the other Evangelists also describe in the strong words ademonein (Matthew 26:37) and ekthambeisthai (Mark 14:33). It was an awful anguish of His natural life, and here alone (Matthew 26:38; John 12:27) does He use the word ψυχὴ of Himself. It was not of course a mere shrinking from death and pain, which even the meanest natures can overcome, but the mysterious burden of the world’s guilt (2 Corinthians 5:21)—the shrinking of a sinless being from the depths of Satanic hate and horror through which He was to pass. As Luther says ‘our hard impure flesh’ can hardly comprehend the sensitiveness of a fresh unstained soul coming in contact with horrible antagonism.
as it were great drops of blood] Such a thing as a ‘bloody sweat’ seems not to be wholly unknown (Arist. Hist. Anim. iii. 19) under abnormal pathological circumstances. The blood of Abel ‘cried from the ground;’ but this blood ‘spake better things than the blood of Abel’ (Genesis 4:10; Hebrews 12:24). St Luke does not however use the term ‘bloody sweat,’ but says that the dense sweat of agony fell from him “like blood gouts”—which may mean as drops of blood do from a wound.
And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,45. sleeping for sorrow] Psalm 69:20. The last two words give rather the cause than the excuse. They are analogous to “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” of Matthew 26:41. St Luke here abbreviates the fuller records given in Matthew 26; Mark 14, from which we find that Jesus thrice came to His Apostles, and thrice found them sleeping (see Isaiah 63:3),—each momentary pause of prayer marking a fresh step in His victorious submission. This was the Temptation of Jesus by every element of anguish, as He had been tempted in the wilderness by every element of desire.
And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.46. Why sleep ye?] “Simon, sleepest thou? Were ye so unable to watch with me a single hour?” Matthew 26:40; Mark 14:37. The second time He does not seem to have spoken to them. The third time He knew that it was too late. The object of their watching had now ceased, for He heard the tramp of men in the distance, and saw the glare of their torches; and therefore it was with a tender irony that He said, ‘Sleep on now and take your rest’ (as far as any help which you can render to Me is concerned), but ‘Rise, let us be going,’ for now sleep will be alike impossible to us all.
And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.47-53. The Traitor’s Kiss. The Arrest. Malchus.
47. behold a multitude] Composed of Levitical guards under their ‘general;’ a Roman Chiliarch (‘tribune’), with some soldiers, part of a maniple or cohort (σπεῖρα) from the Fort of Antonia (John 18:12); and some priests and elders.
one of the twelve] It seems as if in narrating the scene the Evangelists unconsciously add the circumstance which to their mind branded the deed with its worst horror. For the terror which seized the multitude, the precipitate entrance of Judas into the garden, and our Lord’s first words to him, see John 18:3-9.
But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?48. with a kiss] He exclaimed ‘Rabbi, Rabbi, hail’(‘Peace to thee, Rabbi’), Mark 14:45; but received no ‘Peace to thee’ in reply. Overacting his part, he not only kissed His Lord (ephilesen), but kissed Him fervently (katephilesen, deosculatus est).
When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?49. they] Specially Peter, but the Synoptists suppress his name from obviously prudential reasons which no longer existed when St John wrote.
Lord, shall we smite with the sword?] Since it was illegal to carry swords on a feast-day, we have here another sign that the Last Supper had not been the Passover. The bringing of the sword was part of the misconception which Jesus had not cared further to remove at the supper; and if Judas had pressed into the enclosure they may have been entirely unaware as yet of the number of the captors. Future years would teach them that Christ’s cause is served by dying, not by killing. The full reply of our Lord on this incident must be found by combining Matthew 26:53, John 18:10-11.
And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.50. the servant of the high priest] Malchus.
right ear] A specific touch not found in the other Evangelists. All three use the diminutive—if the readings can be relied on. (ὠτίον, Matthew 26:51; ὠτάριον, Mark 14:47; ὠτίον, John 18:10. In this passage we have both οὖς and ὠτίον.) No stress can be laid on this. Languages in their later stage often adopt diminutives to avoid the trouble of genders.
See my Language and Languages, p. 319.
And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.51. Suffer ye thus far] Probably addressed to the captors, and meaning Excuse thus much resistance; or ‘Allow me liberty thus far’—free my arms a moment that I may heal this wounded man. These snatches of dialogue—often of uncertain interpretation from their fragmentary character (e.g. Mark 9:23; Matthew 26:50; John 8:25), are inimitable marks of genuineness. It was probably during this pause that ‘all His disciples’—even Peter, even John—‘forsook Him and fled.’
Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?52. unto the chief priests...which were come to him] The expression shews that these venerable persons had kept safely in the background till all possible danger was over. It is evident that the whole band dreaded some exertion of miraculous power.
as against a thief] Rather, a brigand or robber. Am I one of the Sicarii, or bandits? It is a reproach to them for their cowardice and secrecy. ‘If I had really done wrong, how is it that you did not arrest me in the Temple?’
When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.53. this is your hour, and the power of darkness] A reproach to them for their base, illegal, midnight secrecy. St Luke omits the incident of the young man with the sindon cast round his naked body, Mark 14:51-52.
the power of darkness] Rather, the authority (exousia). The power is not independent, but delegated or permitted, since the Death of Christ is part of a divine plan (John 18:4; John 19:11, &c.).
Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.54-62. Peter’s Denial.
54. Then took they him] Rather, seizing Him.
and led him] with His hands bound, probably behind His back, John 18:12.
into the high priest’s house] The actual High Priest was Joseph Caiaphas (another form of Kephas), son-in-law of Annas (see on Luke 3:2). The trial of our Lord by the Jews was in three phases—(1) before Annas (John 18:12-18); (2) before Caiaphas (here and Matthew 26:59-68; Mark 14:55-65); (3) before the entire Sanhedrin at dawn (Luke 22:66; Matthew 27:1; Mark 15:1). Each trial might be regarded as supremely important. Annas, or Hanan son of Seth, was the most influential of the ex-High Priests, and may, as Sagan (Deputy) or Nasi (President), have virtually wielded the sacerdotal power. The result therefore of a trial before him would involve a fatal praejudicium, since the utmost reverence was paid to his age, wealth, power, and shrewdness.—The second trial was before the most important committee of the Sanhedrin, which might in one sense be called ‘the whole Sanhedrin’ (Mark 14:55), and though it could have no legal validity, being held at night, it served as a sort of anakrisis or preliminary enquiry, which left the final decision only formal.—The third trial was held at dawn before the entire Sanhedrin, and passed the final decree of condemnation against Jesus for blasphemy, which had been already pre-determined. The enmity of the priests may have partly arisen (as I have given reasons for believing in the Life of Christ, ii. 334) from the fact that the cleansing of the Temple involved an interference with their illicit gains. After the first trial—at which Jesus was first smitten— He was sent bound to Caiaphas, who perhaps lived in the same house. These three Jewish trials were illegal in almost every particular. The Sanhedrin was generally a merciful and cautious tribunal, but was now a mere dependent body entirely under the influence of the Sadducees, who were the most ruthless of Jewish sects.
Peter followed afar off] “to see the end,” Matthew 26:58. It was a most unwise exposure of himself to temptation. His admission into the courtyard of the High Priest’s house was due to the influence of John, who was known to the High Priest, and spoke to the portress (John 18:15-16).
And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.55. they had kindled a fire] The spring nights at Jerusalem, which is 2610 feet above the level of the sea, are often cold.
in the midst of the hall] Rather, of the court.
sat down among them] i.e. among the servants of the High Priest— sat in the middle (mesos) of a group composed of the very men who had just been engaged more or less directly in the arrest of His Lord.
It was like the impetuosity of his character, but most unwise for one of his temperament. St John says (John 18:18) that ‘he stood,’ and perhaps we have here a touch of restlessness.
a certain maid] Apparently the portress (John 18:17) who had been meanwhile relieved, and who, after a fixed gaze, recognised Peter as the man whom she had admitted. She therefore exclaimed, “This fellow too (as well as John) was with Him.” The reports of the Evangelists differ, but each faithfully preserves the kai.
a certain maid beheld him] The accounts of these denials by the Evangelists are (as St Augustine says of their narratives generally) “various, but not contrary.” They are capable of perfectly easy and perfectly natural reconcilement, and are a valuable proof of independence.
But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.56. by the fire] Rather, to the light, i.e. with the light of the brazier shining full on him.
earnestly looked upon him] See Luke 4:20.
And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.57. Woman, I know him not] “nor do I understand what you mean,” Mark 14:68. The ‘Woman!’ should come last. Peter—who has been described as ‘homalos anomalon’ or ‘consistently inconsistent’—shewed just the same kind of weakness many years later. Galatians 2:12-13.
And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.58. after a little while] The trial before the Sacerdotal Committee naturally took some time, and they were awaiting the result.
another saw him] After his first denial “before them all” (Matthew 26:70) he probably hoped to shake off this dangerous curiosity; and, perhaps as his guilt was brought more home to him by the first crowing of the cock (Mark 14:68), he stole back out of the light of the brazier where he had been sitting with the servants, to the gate or vestibule (pulona, Matthew 26:71, proaulion, Mark 14:68). Of this second denial St John says, “they said to him” (Luke 18:25); and as the portress was sure to have gossipped about him to the girl who relieved her at her post, the second denial was due to his being pointed out by the second maid to the group of idlers who were hanging about the door, one of whom was prominent in pressing the charge against him. Matthew 26:71 (ἄλλη); Mark 14:69 (ἡ παιδίσκη); John 18:25 (εἶπον); here ἕτερος. What discrepancy then worth speaking of is there here? Doubtless the second and third charges became more and more general as the news spread among the group. It is much more important to notice the moral law of “linked lies” by which ‘once denied’ always has a tendency to become ‘thrice denied.’ “Whom,” asks St Augustine, “have you ever seen contented with a single sin?”
Man] A mode of displeased address, Luke 12:14.
And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.59. about the space of one hour after] To St Peter it must have been one of the most terrible hours of his life.
another] Here again the main charge was prominently made by one —a kinsman of Malchus, who had seen Peter in the garden, and was known to St John from his acquaintance with the High Priest’s household (John 18:26, συγγενης); but others came up (προσελθόντες οἱ ἑστῶτες, Matthew 26:73; οἱ παρεστῶτες, Mark 14:70), and joined in it, and this is implied by St Mark’s “kept saying to Peter” (ἔλεγον).
for he is a Galilean] This they could at once tell by the misplaced gutturals of the provincial dialect which ‘bewrayed him’ (i.e. pointed him out).
And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.60. Man, I know not what thou sayest] St Luke drops a veil over the ‘cursing and swearing’ which accompanied this last denial (Matthew 26:74).
the cock crew] Rather, a cock. It crew for the second time. Minute critics have imagined that they found a ‘difficulty’ here because the Talmud says that cocks and hens, from their scratching in the dung, were regarded as unclean. But as to this the Talmud contradicts itself, since it often alludes to cocks and hens at Jerusalem (e.g. Berachdth, p. 27, 1). Moreover the cock might have belonged to the Roman soldiers in Fort Antonia.
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.61. the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter] St Luke alone preserves this most touching incident. Jesus must have looked on His erring Apostle either from the chamber in which He was being tried, if it was one of those chambers with open front (called in the East muck’ad); or else at the moment when the trial was over, and He was being led across the courtyard amid the coarse insults of the servants. If so the moment would have been one of awful pathos to the unhappy Apostle.
And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.62. went out] into the night, but “to meet the morning dawn.”
and wept] Not only edakruse, ‘shed tears,’ but eklause, ‘wept aloud;’ and, as St Mark says (Mark 14:72), eklaie, ‘he continued weeping.’ It was more than a mere burst of tears.
bitterly] St Mark says epibalon, which may mean, ‘when he thought thereon,’ or ‘flinging his mantle over his head.’
And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.63. smote him] No less than five forms of beating are referred to by the Evangelists in describing this pathetic scene—derontes here (a general term); etupton, ‘they kept smiting;’ paisas in the next verse, implying violence; ekolaphisan, ‘slapped with the open palm,’ Matthew 26:67; errapisan, ‘smote with sticks’ (id.); and rapismasin eballon, Mark 14:65. See the prophecy of Isaiah 1:6. The Priests of that day, and their pampered followers, were too much addicted to these brutalities (Acts 21:32; Acts 23:2), as we learn also from the Talmud.
63-65. The First Derision.
Hanan had simply tried to entangle Jesus by insidious questions.
The course of the trial before Caiaphas was different. The Priests on that occasion “sought false witness,” but their false witnesses contradicted each other in their attempt to prove that He had threatened to destroy the Temple. Since Jesus still kept silence, Caiaphas rose, walked into the midst of the hall, and adjured Jesus by the Living God to say whether He was “the Christ, the Son of God.” So adjured, Christ answered in the affirmative, and then Caiaphas, rending his robes, appealed to the assembly, who, most illegally setting aside the need of any further witnesses, shouted aloud that He was ‘A man of Death’ (ish maveth), i.e. deserving of capital punishment. From this moment He would be regarded by the dependents of the Priests as a condemned criminal.
And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?64. blindfolded him] Probably by throwing an abba over his head and face. Mark 14:65. The Talmud says that the False Messiah, Bar Cochba, was similarly insulted.
And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.65. blasphemously] This term now bears a different meaning. Here it merely means ‘reviling Him.’
And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,66-71. The third Jewish Trial.
66. as soon as it was day] The Oral Law decided that the Sanhedrin could only meet by daylight.
elders of the people] Literally, “the presbytery of the people,” as in Acts 22:5.
elders...chief priests...scribes] See Mark 15:1. The three constituent parts of the Sanhedrin, 1Ma 14:28. The Sanhedrin was the successor of the Great Synagogue, which ended with Simon the Just. Where they met is uncertain. It was either in the Paved Hall, or ‘Hall of Squares’ (Lisehath haggazzith); or in the Beth Midrash (Temple Synagogue), a chamber which abutted on the “middle wall of partition” (Chet), or in the Chanujoth ‘shops’ or ‘booths’ founded by the house of Hanan to sell doves, &c. for the temple.
their council] Synedrion, from which the word Sanhedrin (mistakenly spelt Sanhedrim) is derived. The word is first found on the occasion when they summoned before them Hyrcanus II., son of Alexander Jannaeus. It gloried in being a mild tribunal, but was now an extremely degenerate body, and unworthy of its earlier traditions (Jos. Antt. xiii. 10, § 6; B. J. ii. 8, § 14). The Jewish authorities had lost the power of inflicting death; they could only pass sentence of excommunication, and hand over to the secular arm.
Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:67. Aid thou the Christ?] The object of the Sanhedrin was somewhat different from that of the Priests in the house of Caiaphas. They had only succeeded in establishing (by a most illegal personal appeal) a charge of constructive blasphemy. But ‘blasphemy’ was not a charge on which a Roman could pronounce capital sentence. Hence, in order to get Christ crucified, they needed a charge of treason, which might be constructed out of His claim to be the Messiah.
ye will not believe] As they had shewn already. John 8:59; John 10:31.
And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.68. if I also ask you, you will not answer] This is our Lord’s protest against the illegal violence of the whole proceedings.
Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.69. Hereafter shall the Son of man sit] Rather, But from henceforth (comp. Luke 1:48, Luke 5:10) shall the Son of man he seated at. Our Lord seems at last to have broken His silence in these words, in order to end a miserable and useless scene. The words would at once recall Daniel 7:13-14; see John 1:51.
Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.70. Ye say that I am] A Hebrew formula (antt’ amarta). “Your words verify themselves.” See some striking remarks in De Quincey, Works, in. 304. But the formula like “Thou sayest” in John 18:37 seems also to have been meant to waive further discussion. See p. 385.
What need we any further witness?] Caiaphas had made the same appeal to the audience at the night trial. Van Oosterzee mentions that at the trial of the Reformer Farel, the Genevan Priests addressed him in these very words, and he replied, “Speak the words of God, and not those of Caiaphas.”—This trial was followed by the second derision, in which it almost seems as if the Sanhedrists themselves took part. Matthew 26:67. St Luke here omits the remorse and horrible end of Judas, on which he touches in Acts 1:18.
And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.