Luke 22:1-23 – The Last Passover!
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 10, 2013 AM
People came into Jerusalem the same as they always had for the Passover. They hurried to their favorite places to stay, to celebrate, and to purchase foods for the meal to come. They had heard the rumors of Jesus being in the city. They had heard the stories or had participated in His triumphal entry. Perhaps He was the One they had been waiting for who would reign over them and throw off the yoke of Roman rule and their national humiliation. They could not understand that this would be the last Passover they would need to celebrate under the bondage of the old law. A new way had come. This indeed was the last Passover.
The chief priests and teachers of the Law were wondering how they could thwart this perceived threat from Jesus. The people loved Him and people’s emotions always ran high during this holy time of Passover. They religiously clung to their old greedy ways and wanted the Romans to continue to make them wealthy. And now a way had presented itself by way of one of this heretic’s followers, Judas by name. He wanted them to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the king of the Jews. He was willing to force his reluctant master to take a political stand by betraying Him. They did not care they were willing to murder an innocent man, and they could care less that this would be their last Passover under the Law. Let’s remind ourselves what occurred and why…
Judas hurried as fast as he could so he would not be missed by the others. He was headlong into…
I. The Passover plot! (Vv. 1-7)
1. We discover that “the Feast of Unleavened Bread, called the Passover, was approaching” which lasted seven days during which the Jews ate their bread without yeast. It was a remembrance of the haste in which they left Egypt, showing that they did not even have the time to allow their dough to rise, but took it with their kneading boards! Yet, while everyone else in Israel was preparing to celebrate God’s deliverance, we find “the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some way to get rid of Jesus.” They did this in secret because “they were afraid of the people.” Large crowds had been following Jesus and they had just recently hailed Him with hosannas and praises as He rode into Jerusalem by throwing their cloaks and palm branches on the road. In fact, it was upon the advice of Caiaphas (John 11:49), to put Jesus to death, and very likely they had already decided what kind of death Jesus should suffer. However, just as Satan had already been working in the lives of the religious leaders, we find “Satan entered Judas, called Iscariot, one of the Twelve.” Inside the ranks of Jesus’ followers was one who wanted his own way instead of what God desired. Sin loves corrupt company and finds solace in sin with likeminded folks, “Judas went to the chief priests and the officers of the temple guard and discussed with them how he might betray Jesus.” How horrendous to learn that these religious men “were delighted” in their sin “and agreed to give him money.” How awful to learn one of Jesus’ own would willingly betray Him. The choice was made, the die was cast, and “He consented, and watched for an opportunity to hand Jesus over to them when no crowd was present.” The opportunity presented itself on “the day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed.” When the Passover lamb was slain, the Lamb of God was betrayed. It was a Passover plot!
EXAMPLE: People love to scheme where Jesus is concerned. They try to do exactly what Judas was guilty of, trying to mold Jesus into a character they desire rather who He truly is. They sell their souls for worthless relationships, fleeting fame, or a few coins. They may think they are doing the right thing, but often what we think is the right thing is not the righteous thing. When Cain’s sacrifice was unacceptable to God, the Lord warned him, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7 NIV) Satan seeks to devour us, like a roaring lion. (1 Peter 5:8) Satan had sold the chief priests and the teachers of the law on their self-righteousness. He had entered Judas’ heart and controlled his rational mind with irrational emotions of greed and power. How ironic that when the Passover lamb was slain, the Lamb of God was betrayed. It was a Passover plot!
While Judas was neck deep into his plot, some of the other disciples were given the task to make…
II. The Passover preparations! (Vv. 8-13)
1. Meanwhile, Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and make preparations for us to eat the Passover.” While the schemers and plotters were trying to figure a way to murder Jesus, He was finding a way to celebrate the gospel, the new covenant with His disciples. Jesus who was born under the old law, observed its ordinances, especially the Passover. By Jesus’ willingness to observe it, He was also teaching us to observe His new gospel tradition, particularly the Lord’s Supper. “‘Where do you want us to prepare for it?’ they asked.” Preparation is everything and perhaps Jesus’ cryptic instructions were to keep Judas from informing his accomplices where they were to celebrate. God’s plan would not be denied. “He replied, ‘As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him to the house that he enters, and say to the owner of the house, “The Teacher asks: Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?” He will show you a large upper room, all furnished. Make preparations there.’” Even during these final preparations for His death, Jesus was doing miraculous things. He told Peter and John exactly what they would find, how to find it, and what they were to do about the preparations for the Passover. Jesus was preparing them for their last supper they would celebrate together. A tradition says the house that was chosen was where John Mark lived as a young man with his parents. Whatever the reason and whatever the place, “They left and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.”
EXAMPLE: I had to laugh the other night when watching American Idol, a fifteen-year-old declared, “I have worked my whole life for this!” It reminded me of the humorous VW commercial where the family is leaving the hospital with a newborn. They almost crash but are saved because of the Jetta they are driving. The baby’s entire existence of just a few days flashes before his eyes! Here we find Jesus, who’s entire existence, since the creation of all things, has been leading up to this one meal! I believe the preparations were cosmically important. Of course they had no idea at the time, but I betcha for the rest of their natural lives they often pondered how even with these simple preparations, Jesus was preparing them also! Everything had to be just so, and God made sure it was.
Right now at this time being with His friends, Jesus could not be happier. His whole life had led to this moment in time. He was looking forward to…
III. The Passover party! (Vv. 14-23)
1. Jesus enjoyed the fellowship of those men who had believed His message of the kingdom. They were the ones who had followed Him, knowing that He was truly the Messiah. They were the ones who had left friends, family, and fishing in order to follow Him. They had been called to a radical form of discipleship and now Jesus gives them a radically new Passover! And so, “When the hour came, Jesus and His apostles reclined at the table.” He begins to teach them what the final meal was all about. He tells them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer.” Jesus knew He would soon finish His work. His church body would be established, His sacrifice would be over, and He would only eat with them again when He saw them in His heavenly kingdom, “For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.” Four cups of wine were drunk at the Passover, which the poorest man in Israel was obliged to drink. A blessing was pronounced and so it seems to be the first cup of the meal. “After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, ‘Take this and divide it among you. For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” Jesus meant the entire meal and not just the wine. We discover that shortly “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.’” It was the fourth cup. Mark, the one whose house where they enjoyed this meal, relates Jesus told them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.” (Mark 14:24 NIV) Jesus also “took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.’” Jesus gives new meaning to the wine and the bread. They would not become His actual body or blood but rather both would symbolize His sacrifice for our sins. Jesus became the sacrificial lamb. And yet, Jesus knew that “the hand of him who is going to betray me is with mine on the table. The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed, but woe to that man who betrays him.” More occurs, but we will leave that for another time as “They began to question among themselves which of them it might be who would do this.” We think we would not betray Jesus, be we all would if given the opportunity during our weakest moments. That is when Satan schemes are most successful. He is the ultimate party crasher.
EXAMPLE: Events had come full circle. It began with Judas already deciding to betray Jesus, and it ends with Jesus telling them and Judas of his treachery. Judas was the original party pooper. How sad for Jesus to know that one of them He had personally chosen, who had been with Him from the beginning, and who had gone out and performed miracles in His name was now going to commit the ultimate act of treason. Each of the disciples knew they were capable of the same disloyalty and this is why they begin to question each other! As sad, as this is, we cannot forget the beauty of the meal that just took place. As wonderful as the Passover had been for the Jews to remember, the new meal, the new covenant, would be so much more wonderful! One final sacrifice would finish all that God had promised and planned. Now the bread and the wine would be remembered as the Messiah’s body and blood given freely for our sins. A Passover feast would become a Passover party!
What does the Passover mean to you, what about the Lord’s Supper, or the whole moment of Jesus and His disciples celebrating this last Passover? Today we have looked at: The Passover plot! The Passover preparations! The Passover party!
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 Biblica. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
Pastor Lee Hemen has been the outspoken pastor of the same church for 27 years in Vancouver, WA. He writes regularly on spirituality and conservative causes and maintains several web blogs. This article is copyrighted © 2012 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.