As Jesus and his disciples reclined at table to eat the Passover, he told them how much he had looked forward to having this opportunity- his truly last until “it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God” – after his resurrection. He took the cup of the fruit of the vine and the bread, and He had them divide it between them. Note that He gave thanks for the bread and the fruit of the vine separately before doing so, just as is our custom in observing this Lord’s supper which he instituted here.
After he explained to them the meaning that these elements now had – his body and his blood, they ate. It was then that he broke the news to them that one of those who were present would betray him. He said that the fact that he was going to go was already determined. But He told them that it would not go well for the one who betrayed him. This got their attention, and they questioned each other, trying to determine who it was.
Then an odd dispute came up – odd in light of the news that Jesus had just given them. The dispute was over which one of them would be the greatest in Jesus’ kingdom. This goes to show that it still just wasn’t sinking in. It reminds us of the third time that Jesus foretold His death to them in Luke 18:34. The scripture said “this saying was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.“ It seems clear that they still were not “grasping” it. They were still imagining that Jesus was to become the earthly king of the Jews, and that they were wondering just how high on the “totem pole” each of them was going to be.
So then Jesus turned upside down their notions of greatness and leadership completely. He pointed out that He is one among them who serves. Luke does not recount here the lesson that Jesus taught them about serving when He washed their feet, as John detailed in John 13:12-15. But it is clear that at this point He had given it to them. He also told them that those who would be the “greatest” must become as the youngest – that is, those who were more often traditionally called to serve others. Yet he said that He assigns to them – those who were with Him thru His trials – a place at his table in his kingdom. They just still do not know what “the kingdom” really will mean at this point.
Then Jesus’ conversation turns to Peter, and that deserves some attention. Note verses 31-32:
31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”
It is significant that the word translated as you twice in verse 31 is plural. So the verse is emphasizing Satan’s determination to shake the faith of all of the apostles. In verse 32, the word is plural, as Jesus is addressing Peter. Jesus knew by now that Judas was lost, and he knew that Peter was Satan’s next target. But He says, that He has prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail. He knew that the Holy Spirit would fill Peter at the proper time, and that he would strengthen the others. Peter, of course, said he was ready to go to prison or die, but Jesus told him of his coming denial.
He then reminds them of when he sent them out without a moneybag or knapsack (Luke 9:1-6), and asks if they lacked for anything. They answered that they had not. Then he told them:
“But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.
This passage generates much debate. Some see the sword as having a figurative meaning – as in arming themselves for spreading the gospel. But if that were the case, wouldn’t the moneybag and knapsack also be figurative? But how else to explain it? Jesus obviously did not want them to use these swords against the authorities when they came to arrest him. But note that when Peter does cut the ear from one of them when they come to arrest Jesus, Jesus rebukes him – but he does not have him get rid of the sword either.
The most reasonable explanation is that Jesus knows that their lives are about to change. They were safe as long as they were all together with him. But many would scatter and become separated. They would need their moneybags, their knapsacks, and they would need their swords for protection against robbers, and maybe even wild animals. Remember, they weren’t checking into La Quinta on their travels, and seldom were lucky enough to be taken into someone’s home.
(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.