by Ed Gallagher
Jesus is in Jerusalem, which means it’s the final week of his life. (You couldn’t say that about the Gospel of John, which represents Jesus in Jerusalem several times during his ministry. But the Synoptic Gospels locate the adult Jesus in Jerusalem only once, leading up to his death.) Luke had narrated Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem in 19:28–40, after the long Travel Narrative (9:51–19:27). He had apparently come for the Passover, which is now near (22:1).1 This is the festival that celebrates God’s salvation of the enslaved Israelites from their Egyptian overlords. It formed an appropriate backdrop to the salvation Jesus was about to perform, so much so that Jesus’ actions have already been compared to the “exodus” while he was speaking with none other than Moses (and Elijah) on the mount of Transfiguration (9:31). Luke had said that Moses and Elijah were speaking with Jesus about his “departure,” which in Greek is the word exodos (ἔξοδος). Other people were no doubt thinking that the Passover would provide an appropriate backdrop for the Messiah to liberate Israel in a different way—from the slavery they were then experiencing at the hands of their Roman overlords. Probably some of the disciples were also thinking along these lines. They expected Jesus to lead the armies of God in armed conflict against God’s enemies, the Romans, and to destroy the pagan empire, just as God did at the Red Sea (Exod 14). They will be disappointed.
The Last Supper
Jesus wants to eat the Passover meal with his disciples (Luke 22:15), so he sends Peter and John to make preparations (22:7–13). They assemble in an unnamed person’s guest room (v. 11), “a large room upstairs” (v. 12). (Luke’s account is very similar to Mark 14:12–16, but Matt 26:17–19 offers a compressed narrative.)
It’s Thursday evening. We know that because he dies on a Friday, and it takes all Thursday night and Friday morning to get through the trial and for him to arrive at Calvary.2 It is not completely certain which day of the month it is. The Passover lamb is supposed to be slaughtered on the 14th day of the Jewish month Nisan (Exod 12:6), and then that evening there would be the Passover meal, after the date had turned over to Nisan 15 (remember the Jewish way of reckoning time has the day begin at sundown rather than midnight). It seems like Luke (and the other Synoptic Gospels) mean to say that the Last Supper is the Passover meal, so that it is happening on Nisan 15. But the Gospel of John seems to date everything a day early. Of course, John does not include an account of the Last Supper, but he seems to have Jesus crucified on Nisan 14 (John 18:28), in which case the Last Supper would be at the beginning of Nisan 14. I’m not sure what to do with all that; there are different ways of working out this apparent discrepancy.3 It’s only a problem when comparing the Synoptic Gospels to John; Luke does not comment on the difficulty, so for now we can leave it alone.
Much more important are the words Jesus says at the meal (22:14–22). He begins by saying how eager he has been to eat this Passover with his disciples “before I suffer” (v. 15, a comment without parallel in the other Gospels). That might seem like a strange thing to say; after all, the Passover meal is the beginning of the end, it’s really the buildup to his own death, as Jesus well knew. From one angle, we might have expected that Jesus would want to put it off. But from a different angle, we can well imagine the eager anticipation of getting it over with. He had been predicting his own suffering and death for weeks or months now (9:22, 44; 13:33; 17:25; 18:31–33). His life may have seemed like one long tug of the bandaid, and he may have been eager to just rip the thing off. Even during his early adult years, Jesus may have had his eye on this moment, and perhaps sometimes it seemed to him like it would never arrive. Finally, it’s here. And from a third angle, Jesus may have been thinking that he would finally be able to go into full-fledged battle against the forces of darkness—suffer at their hands and thereby decisively defeat them and liberate his followers from the destruction power of sin.
“I will not eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” (v. 16). What would his disciples have thought about this statement. Well, his disciples were fully anticipating that Jesus the Messiah was about to start the war against the Romans in order to establish God’s kingdom based in Jerusalem. (This misunderstanding on the part of the disciples helps to explain some of the subsequent confusion leading up to the arrest.) They would probably think that the Passover meal would be “fulfilled” in the kingdom of God when God had definitively liberated his people from the foreign oppressor and established them in security in their own kingdom. This liberation would fulfill the promise of Passover. In the kingdom of God—that is, God’s kingdom based in Jerusalem (they thought)—the disciples would join with the messianic king Jesus in frequent banqueting celebrating their victories (see Luke 13:28–29; cf. Matt 8:11).
That’s not what Jesus meant, as even the first readers of Luke would know, because the history did not turn out that way. Honestly, I’m not exactly sure what Jesus meant, but I can think of a couple possibilities. One is that he expected that his followers would reenact this same meal frequently as they reminded each other of Jesus. He says “do this in remembrance of me” (v. 19).4 Perhaps Jesus was thinking that in the context of Christian worship, when his disciples eat the bread and drink the cup in remembrance of their Lord, that Jesus himself also joins them in that meal. But a second possibility is that we are still looking forward to the fulfillment of this statement by Jesus. He does sometimes talk about what appears to be a future banquet that we will enjoy with him.
And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God.Luke 13:29
I don’t guess that has happened yet. Maybe Jesus was looking forward to this banquet as the time when he will again eat the Passover meal with his disciples.
Another distinctive feature about the way that Luke presents the Last Supper is the order of the elements. Matthew, Mark, and Paul all have the order bread-cup, but Luke has an extra cup at the beginning.
Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he said, “Take this and divide it among yourselves; 18for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.”Luke 22:17–18
Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”Luke 22:19
And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.Luke 22:20
Notice how Jesus describes the two cups. Only the second cup does he say is “for you” and that it is the cup of the covenant. That makes me think that the first cup is just a cup of wine during the Passover meal, not a “Lord’s Supper cup.” Matthew and Mark represent the institution of the Lord’s Supper as taking place during a meal (though Paul does not make this point explicit; 1 Cor 11:23–25).
While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread…Matthew 26:26
While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread…Mark 14:22
They drank more wine that night than merely the one sip to which we usually give attention. At least in later times (and perhaps also in the first century), it became customary to have four cups of wine during the Passover meal. Unlike the other Gospel accounts, Luke reports the sharing of an earlier cup of wine. Just as he had said that he would not eat until he does so in the kingdom of God, so now with this first cup of wine he says that he will no longer drink except in the kingdom of God.
The Words of Institution
Let’s compare the different accounts.
Take, eat; this is my body.Matthew 26:26
Take; this is my body.Mark 14:22
This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.Luke 22:19
This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.1 Corinthians 11:23
Drink from it, all of you; 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.Matthew 26:27–29
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25Truly I tell you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.Mark 14:24–25
This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.Luke 22:20
This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.1 Corinthians 11:25
Luke has more in common with the tradition reported by Paul than with Matthew and Mark at this point. The words about the bread are expanded in the same way in Luke and Paul, and the crucial wording about the cup also corresponds in Luke and Paul and diverges from the account in Matthew and Mark.
First, let’s think about the bread. Why does Jesus pick up a loaf of bread and say, “this is my body”? Why doesn’t he pick up some lamb meat, which also should have been on the table? Such an action would have spoken powerfully to Jesus’ role as the lamb of God (cf. John 1:29). According to Paul, Jesus was understood to be “our Passover sacrifice” (1 Cor 5:7). And with the blood of the lamb providing protection to the Israelites against the death of the firstborn (Exod 12:7, 13), Jesus could have made a very obvious connection to his blood. On the other hand, the bread plays a relatively minor role in the story of Passover (Exod 12:39).
But the bread actually plays a major role in the remembrance of Passover. Immediately after the initial instructions regarding the Passover lamb and what to do with its blood (Exod 12:1–13), God institutes an annual celebration: “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread” (Exod 12:15). Passover is just one day, but the festival of Unleavened Bread lasts a whole week. After the exodus, God comes back to instructions about this festival.
Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen in your possession, and no leaven shall be seen among you in all your territory. 8You shall tell your child on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9It shall serve for you as a sign on your hand and as a reminder on your forehead, so that the teaching of the LORD may be on your lips; for with a strong hand the LORD brought you out of Egypt. 10You shall keep this ordinance at its proper time from year to year.Exodus 13:7–10
The child (v. 8) I suppose is going to ask why the family is eating unleavened bread, and it will offer an opportunity to teach about God and what he did for Israel. The bread is a reminder of God’s goodness.
So, yes, the Passover lamb would have been—and is!—an appropriate way of thinking about the body of Jesus, but so also the bread. And the bread is also reminiscent of manna, a connection that Jesus makes in another context (his body = manna; cf. John 6:31–58). But there is at least one way in which bread is a better symbol of Jesus’ body than the Passover lamb would have been. It is common. Especially in the ancient world, people did not eat meat everyday, and the Passover lamb itself was sacrificed only once a year. The Passover lamb made for a good annual memorial, but it wasn’t going to be any more frequent than annual. Jesus wanted his disciples to have a more frequent memorial, and so the bread worked better than the lamb.
There is a lot to say about the significance of this memorial meal instituted by Jesus with his “do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19), but here I’ll only give a few, brief pointers toward what might be more useful reflections on the Lord’s Supper. This common, everyday bread represents the body of Jesus, which is just like all of our bodies. The bread reminds us that Jesus was human just like all of us. It is a reminder of the Incarnation. The fact that we eat the bread—we eat Jesus’ body—suggests that we are granted the life that Jesus had within himself (that is the exact point Jesus makes in John 6:53–57) and it is a symbol that our bodies are transformed so that we become more and more little “Christs” walking around on earth. Taking bread from Jesus makes us think of the other times that Jesus fed people (e.g., the feeding of the 5000; the road to Emmaus), and we remember that all of our provisions are from God. We cannot provide for ourselves. So also we think about the manna in the wilderness, and we know that this bread represents God’s daily, loving provision for his people. We need God’s grace daily. And of course we think about what would become of Jesus’ body, hanging on the cross, and we recall why he did that, because of our sins. And eating this bread that represents his crucified body reminds us that we too are called to take up our cross.
Now let’s get to the cup. In Matthew (and Mark is similar), the words are: “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” We’ve got two very clear Old Testament echoes here. First, “blood of the covenant” alludes to the ceremony in Exodus 24, when Moses ratified the Sinai covenant with Israel by making a sacrifice (Exod 24:5) and sprinkling some of the blood on the people (24:8) and saying, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with these words.” Second, the phrase “for many for the forgiveness of sins” probably alludes to Isaiah 53:12, where the Servant of the Lord is described with these words: “he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Both of those allusions could provide the basis for an extensive discussion about the meaning of Jesus’ death. But, we’re studying Luke.
In Luke (and Paul is similar), the words over the cup go: “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” The words “poured out” (which appear in all three Synoptic Gospels but not Paul) may allude to Old Testament sacrifice in general, in which the blood would be “poured out” (Exod 29:12; Lev 4:7, 18, 25; etc.).5 But the main element that separates Luke’s and Paul’s version from the others is the presence of the word “new” attached to covenant. The idea of a “new covenant” certainly hearkens back to Jeremiah’s prophecy:
The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the LORD. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the LORD,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the LORD; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.Jeremiah 31:31–34
This passage in Jeremiah does not use the word “blood,” but it does explicitly mention the previous covenant “that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt” (v. 32), which is of course the Sinai covenant. We have already seen that at Sinai, Moses sprinkled blood on the people and explained that it was the blood of the covenant. So Jesus, in Luke’s version, is apparently alluding to both passages, Exodus 24:8 and Jeremiah 31:31–34, when he says “new covenant in my blood.” The prophecy of Jeremiah that God would make a new covenant with his people is coming to fulfillment in Jesus through his blood. The writer of Hebrews understood these echoes (Heb 8:8–12).
Other Events in the Upper Room
In Matthew (26:30) and Mark (14:26), Jesus and the disciples head out to the Mount of Olives as soon as the Lord’s Supper is over, but in Luke they stay a little while in the upper room and talk about other things. First of all, Jesus talks about his betrayal and tells his disciples yet again that he is about to die (Luke 22:21–22). He has already told his disciples several times about his impending death (9:22, 44; 13:33; 17:25; 18:31–33), and of course the words by which he has just now instituted the Lord’s Supper include “my body, which is given for you” (22:19) and “new covenant in my blood” (22:20). For us, looking back, it is obvious that these words once again point to his death, but the disciples still don’t understand. They certainly don’t know what he means about being betrayed (22:23)—well, one of them does (22:3–6). This scene of the shock of the disciples at Jesus’ announcement of betrayal—which comes up before the Lord’s Supper institution in Matthew (26:20–25) and Mark (14:17–21)—forms the basis of Leonardo’s famous painting.
What should occasion shock for us in this moment is that the disciples turn immediately from hearing about the betrayal and death of their Master to disputing about which one of them is the greatest (22:24). Or, maybe that shouldn’t shock us. The disciples like to have this argument, just as much as sports radio hosts like to argue about LeBron vs. MJ. In fact, they have had this argument before as the immediate response to another one of the times Jesus announces his death (9:44–46). According to Matthew (20:17–21) and Mark (10:32–37), another time that Jesus announces his death elicits the response from James and John that they would like to get the chief seats in the kingdom. With such precedents, it probably shouldn’t surprise us at all that when Jesus is talking about his sacrifice for our sins, the disciples are talking about their own greatness.
Jesus responds to this ridiculous argument among his disciples with some teaching very similar to teaching we encounter earlier within the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, both of which situate this teaching as a response to James and John’s request for the best seats in the kingdom (a request, you remember, that immediately followed one of Jesus’ Passion announcements).
|Luke 22:25–30||Mark 10:42–45||Matthew 20:25–28|
|25 But he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors.||42 So Jesus called them and said to them, “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.||25 But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.|
|26 But not so with you; rather the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like one who serves.||43 But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant,||26 It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant,|
|44 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all.||27 and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave;|
|27 For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one at the table? But I am among you as one who serves.|
|45 For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”||28 just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”|
Those comments from Jesus seem to me to be rather straightforward: if you’re arguing about who is the greatest, you’ve got the wrong idea of what you’ve signed up for. Jesus has already taught his disciples to say about their own greatness: “We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done” (Luke 17:10). Their discussion about greatness sounds a little too much like the prayer of the Pharisee (18:11–12). They need to strive for servanthood rather than greatness.
Twelve Thrones (vv. 28–30)
Jesus then tells them that they will receive a kingdom “so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (22:28–30). Matthew records a similar saying in the conclusion to his account of the Rich Young Ruler: “at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (19:28).
What is Jesus talking about? Clearly, this is not something that happens in the context of Luke’s Gospel. Jesus says that it will happen “in my kingdom” (Luke 19:30) and “at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man is seated on the throne of his glory” (Matt 19:28). I can think of two applications that might work: perhaps he’s talking about the events narrated in the book of Acts (i.e., the beginnings of the church) or perhaps he’s talking about the period following his Second Coming. Or perhaps both? I think the “my kingdom” description could apply to both. And the New Testament affirms that the Son of Man is now reigning in heaven, presumably on his own throne, but the New Testament usually represents him now as “at the right hand” of God.6 So the idea that the Son of Man is sitting on a throne could apply to the church or to the future. What about the phrase, “at the renewal of all things”? Hmm, can the church fit that description? Well, “if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation” (2 Cor 5:17). So, maybe. Or it might work better to apply that “renewal” language to the time when all things are recreated (2 Pet 3:10–13). The bottom line is that I could imagine the apostles sitting on thrones around Jesus now judging Israel (with the understanding that the followers of Jesus constitute Israel; cf. Rom 9:6; Gal 3:7; Rev 7:1–10) in some sort of heavenly sense, and I can imagine it as a future activity. Part of the ambiguity here is what exactly is meant by the word “judging”? If it means something like “rendering a verdict,” then probably we’re talking about the final judgment, and it probably bears some connection to 1 Corinthians 6:2–3. But if “judging” means more like what we see in the Book of Judges (essentially, leadership), then maybe the apostles are now seated on thrones “judging” Israel.7
The importance of this discussion for us is in our figuring out exactly what Jesus was up to. The fact that he chose precisely twelve apostles and here promises that they will judge the twelve tribes of Israel means that he sees his ministry as fulfilling the ancient promises of a reconstituted Israel (see esp. Ezek 37:15–28). Jesus’ followers are the revitalized twelve tribes of Israel led by twelve new patriarchs.
Satan Sifting the Disciples (vv. 31–34)
Next, Jesus warns his disciples, and especially Peter, that Satan is at work. “Satan has demanded to sift you like wheat” (22:31). Here it is important to realize that the word “you” here is plural; Satan has demanded to sift all of the disciples. The NRSV is able to express this nuance by translating, “Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat.” The image is similar to the first couple chapters of the book of Job, in which Satan (the heavenly accuser) is granted permission to afflict God’s servant. Jesus says Satan has “demanded,” and it must be from God that Satan has made this demand. We might think it presumptuous for Satan to make such a demand, but it also shows that Satan has no power in this relationship other than what God allows him. We remember from the book of Job that God actually allows Satan quite a bit of power over his servant, and here in Luke also apparently God granted Satan’s demand; he would indeed be able to sift the disciples. “But I have prayed for you” (v. 32), Jesus says, speaking directly to Peter. Here the “you” is singular. Jesus has no doubt prayed for all his disciples, but in this context he is thinking specifically about his prayers for Peter, “that your own faith may not fail.” Of course, Peter’s faith will fail, momentarily, as Jesus is about to predict (v. 34). That’s not what Jesus is talking about. Rather, Jesus has prayed that Peter’s faith, once he has been sifted along with the rest of the disciples, will be strong again so that he might turn back and strengthen his brothers (v. 32).
Final Instructions (vv. 35–38)
Jesus now counsels his disciples to acquire a purse and a bag and a sword, even at the expense of their cloak. This is in explicit contrast to his earlier instructions to carry none of these items on their journeys (9:3–5). I am not sure why Jesus is making these suggestions. Obviously, he doesn’t want his disciples to use the swords to defend him, since he later forbids that very thing (22:50–51). In Matthew’s account of the arrest, Jesus says, “Whoever lives by the sword will die by the sword” (26:52). We never see Paul carrying a sword in Acts to defend himself against persecution. So why does Jesus want his disciples to have swords here if he’s not going to let them use them? I don’t know, but let me make a suggestion.8
Notice that Jesus quotes the very end of Isaiah 53, “And he was counted among the lawless,” and he says that this verse “must be fulfilled in me.” Jesus needs to be counted among the lawless. Now, some scholars think that was accomplished at the Crucifixion when Jesus hung between two criminals (23:32).9 But perhaps the “lawless ones” are actually the disciples themselves, who look like thugs walking around with purses and bags and swords. I’m not saying that the disciples were robbers, but I’m saying that they might look like robbers if they carry purses and bags and swords. They might be reckoned as lawless people, and if Jesus is with them, he will be “counted among the lawless.” In other words, on this interpretation, Jesus is telling his disciples to acquire such items in order that people will think they’re a band of criminals, and thereby Isaiah 53:12 will be fulfilled. Why else would he tell them that two swords are enough (22:38)? Two swords are not enough for a battle, but they are enough to make you look like a lawless person.
When the arrest finally happens (22:47–53), Jesus says that they have come out against him as if he is a bandit (v. 52). Of course, he’s completely innocent of that charge, but he does look the part. His disciples looking like thugs helped to ensure that he would be arrested and charged with sedition and crucified.
Mount of Olives
Finally Jesus arrives at the Mount of Olives (v. 39), where he has been accustomed to spend the nights during the past week that he has been based in Jerusalem (21:37). This time, he doesn’t go to his sleeping quarters but he seeks out a place to pray. Luke does not name the place Gethsemane; that place name is in Matthew (26:36) and Mark (14:32), and they both locate Gethsemane somewhere on the Mount of Olives (Matt 26:30; Mark 14:26). John is apparently talking about Gethsemane when he says that Jesus entered with his disciples into a garden, where he was arrested (John 18:1–2). So we put all these things together and we talk about the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives. Luke just says that Jesus is on the Mount of Olives.
Luke’s account of Jesus’ prayers is abbreviated in comparison with Matthew and Mark (whereas John completely omits the story). Luke doesn’t inform his readers that Jesus separated Peter, James, and John from the others, as Matthew and Mark do; Luke does not tell us that Jesus prayed three times. If we just had Luke, we would think that Jesus prayed a single, simple prayer: “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me; yet, not my will but yours be done” (22:42).
Unfortunately, the most famous part about Luke’s account probably was not written by Luke. In my NRSV, these words appear as verses 43–44.
Then an angel from heaven appeared to him and gave him strength. 44In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down on the ground.Luke 22:43–44
But my NRSV puts brackets around these words, meaning that there is a problem with them. The common scholarly opinion is that Luke did not write these words, but they were added to certain manuscripts of his Gospel later than the first century. Our earliest manuscripts of Luke’s Gospel do not contain these words, though they are present in the majority of later manuscripts, even in the fourth-century manuscript Codex Sinaiticus.10
At any rate, this episode on the Mount of Olives shows two main things, it seems to me. (1) Jesus did not want to die. (2) The disciples couldn’t stay awake. Jesus rebukes them for falling asleep, but it’s hard for us to blame them. It was late at night, and they hadn’t yet understood what was about to happen. They still have no idea that Jesus is about to die. Jesus knows it, and that’s why he’s praying.
Luke’s account of the Lord’s Supper (22:14–23) is a bit different from that of Matthew (26:26–30) and Mark (14:22–25). What differences do you notice? Why do you think Luke writes it up the way he does?
Jesus tells his disciples that they’re going to “eat and drink at my table in my kingdom” and “sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Luke 22:30). What is he talking about? What do you think is going through the minds of the disciples?
What does Satan “demand” (Luke 22:31)? From whom does he demand it? Is Satan granted his demand?
Why does Jesus want the disciples to have swords (Luke 22:36)?
Luke’s account of Gethsemane (22:39–46) is a bit different from that of Matthew (26:36–46) and Mark (14:32–42). What differences do you notice? Why do you think Luke writes it up this way?
(1) On Passover in the first century, see E. P. Sanders, Judaism, Practice and Belief, 63 BCE–66 CE (Philadelphia: TPI, 1992), 132–38.
(2) Calvary or Golgotha? Golgotha was the Hebrew name for the place, as John 19:17 tells us, and it is used also at Matt 27:33; Mark 15:22. These same passages also provide the translation for the Hebrew word, “skull.” Luke does not use the word Golgotha; he merely provides the translation, “skull” (23:33). The Latin word for skull is Calvary, which appears in the KJV Luke 23:33 (and only here in the KJV).
(3) See Ed Gallagher, The Book of Exodus: Explorations in Christian Theology (Florence, AL: HCU Press, 2020), 96n15.
(4) Note that in Luke Jesus makes this statement about repeated observance only in respect of the bread, and in Matthew and Mark he does not say these words at all. But Paul’s account of the Lord’s Supper, in a letter probably written before any of our Gospels, attached this statement to both the bread and the cup (1 Cor 11:23–25), and in respect of the cup Paul reports an expanded version of the statement: “Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
(5) The words are similar but not the same. The LXX uses the word ἐκχέω (ekcheō) in these passages, whereas the Gospel accounts of the words of Institution have ἐκχύννω (ekchunnō), which does not appear in the LXX.
(6) He is explicitly sitting at Col 3:1; Heb 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2. He is standing at Acts 7:55–56. He is at God’s right hand also at Acts 2:33; Rom 8:34; 1 Pet 3:22.
(7) See David H. Wenkel, “When the Apostles Became Kings: Ruling and Judging the Twelve Tribes of Israel in the Book of Acts,” Biblical Theology Bulletin 42 (2012): 119–28.
(8) I first read this suggestion in Christopher R. Hutson, “Enough for What? Playacting Isaiah 53 in Luke 22:35–38,” Restoration Quarterly 55 (2013): 36–43. For a critique of Hutson’s article, see David Lertis Matson, “Double-Edged: The Meaning of the Two Swords in Luke 22:35–38,” Journal of Biblical Literature 137 (2018): 463–80.
(9) This interpretation is favored by Matson, “Double-Edged.”
(10) The issue is quite complex. See Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, 2d ed. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1994), 151. Already in the mid-second century, Justin was talking about the “memoirs of the apostles” recording that Jesus sweated great drops of blood while praying before his arrest (Dialogue 103). A few decades later, Irenaeus records something similar (Against Heresies 3.22.2). But our two papyrus manuscripts of Luke’s Gospel that contain this section both omit the passage (P69vid, P75), as do Codex Vaticanus and Codex Alexandrinus and several others. The verse was an object of discussion in patristic times due to its problematic textual attestation, and some authors wanted to use the passage to affirm the humanity of Jesus; see the dissertation by Amy M. Donaldson, “Explicit References to New Testament Variant Readings among Greek and Latin Church Fathers” (2 vols., PhD diss., University of Notre Dame, 2009), 2.420–23 (available here).