Message Notes: A New Covenant Jan 14
Spend time with your group members talking about their understanding of Lord’s Supper. What is the majority opinion of this sacrament? Why do they think it is so important? How is it connected to the Passover meal? In today’s passage, we see Luke’s account of Christ’s last and most intimate moments with his disciples before being betrayed.
BIG PICTURE/MAIN IDEA:
Synopsis: The Lord’s Supper marks Jesus’ preparation of the disciples for life in the coming kingdom, but it teaches them the lesson of humility and true greatness.
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 everything in order to follow Him. They had been called to a radical form of discipleship. Jesus announced that this was the last Passover He would eat with them until all that it means would find fulfillment in the kingdom of God. Many events in the Old Testament, including the Passover, pointed toward the ministry of Jesus and the kingdom He was to inaugurate. When His kingdom would arrive, the Passover would be fulfilled for God would have brought His people safely into their rest.
KEY POINTS IN THE PASSAGE:
- Jesus made careful preparations for his last Passover meal with his disciples.
- Jesus knows this will be his last meal before his death, but this end points to a new beginning, the fulfillment of the kingdom of God.
- The broken bread and poured-out win represent Jesus’s saving death for his people.
- By sharing the bread and wine, Jesus’s follower will continue to participate in that sacrifice.
- Jesus knows who is going to betray him.
WHAT DOES IT SAY?
READ Luke 22:14-23 and answer the questions below:
What did Jesus do “when the hour came”? Who was with him?
Which did Jesus say he wanted to do with them before he “suffered”?
What two things did Jesus say he would not do again until the kingdom of God comes?
What did Jesus tell the apostles to take and eat? What did it represent?
What did Jesus tell the apostles to take and drink? What did it represent?
Who did Jesus say was with him at the table?
How did the disciples respond to what Jesus said to them?
The bread and the wine were common, not only at Passover meals but also at every meal in that culture. Those elements symbolized His “body,” the sacrifice for the entire nation, and His “blood.” He was the sacrificial Lamb who was to take away the sin of Israel and of the entire world (John 1:29). The New Covenant (spoken of many times in the OT but highlighted in Jer. 31:31–34), which was a prerequisite for the Kingdom Age, was instituted by Jesus’ sacrifice (Luke 22:20). The New Covenant provided for the regeneration of the Israelite nation and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling individuals in the nation. Believers in the Church Age also participate in those spiritual blessings of regeneration and the indwelling Spirit (1 Cor. 11:25–26; 2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 8:6–7).
Jesus also revealed that the betrayer was one of the gathered disciples who was eating the Passover meal. Judas’ accountability and God’s sovereign plan for Jesus’ death are seen together (v. 22). Jesus had to die, for His death was the basis of salvation for all mankind and the only means for lifting the curse of sin. But the betrayer was accountable for his actions. Apparently, the disciples had trusted Judas completely, for they had no idea who would do such a thing (v. 23).
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Use the information from the text and the commentary notes below to help discern responses to the following questions.
- Why do you think wanted to have this meal with the apostles?
- Why do you think Jesus pointed out that one of them would betray him that night?
- How do you think they apostles felt about one another after Jesus told them of the betrayer?
Jesus would die because God had given him over to death. Thus his death was not a surprise or tragedy but the fulfillment of God’s purpose and plan. Luke, by repeating this tradition, may also have been seeking to assure his readers that their practice of celebrating the Lord’s Supper stemmed from Jesus himself. Thus they could know the “certainty” of this practice that they had been taught (1:4).
Within this account, we also have a strong eschatological emphasis concerning the future consummation of God’s kingdom. Jesus will not return and share the messianic banquet until the final consummation when the events of 21:25–36 take place. Of all the Synoptic writers, Luke most clearly portrayed the arrival of God’s kingdom in Jesus’ ministry. Although Satan already had fallen from heaven (10:18), the promised Spirit was present among them (Acts 2:1f.), and a new covenant had been established (Luke 22:20), Luke reminded his readers that their celebration of the Lord’s Supper revealed that the final consummation was still in the future. Even as among their Jewish contemporaries the Passover awakened hopes and longings for the coming of the messianic banquet, so, even more, should the Lord’s Supper cause Luke’s readers to look not only back to their Lord’s death but forward to his return.
Historical and Cultural Background:
On the afternoon of the fourteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan (Apr-May), the Passover lambs were killed in the temple courtyards, after which people at the Passover meal in the family groups during the night that began Nisan 15 (the Jewish day began at sunset). Scholars debate whether Jesus’s last meal with the disciples was at the time of the regular Passover meal or on the previous night (the beginning of Nisan 14).
Probably already by the first century, the Passover meal had developed into a set sequence of questions and answers drawing out the symbolism of the different parts of the meal in recalling the events of the exodus. Four cups of wine were prescribed to be shared among the diners before, during, and after the meal, each also with its appropriate form of words. Jesus’s words over the bread and wine at the Last Supper take up this pattern to speak symbolically not of the past but rather of what is about to happen.
HOW DOES IT APPLY?
What can we learn from this passage about the importance of partaking in the Lord’s Supper? What does it signify and how does it remind us of the New Covenant?
What all should you do when participating in the Lord’s Supper? In other words, how is this sacrament more than just eating and drinking?
Individual churches and denominations all have different ways of doing the Lord’s Supper. Moreover, the frequency in which they do it will vary. In what way, and how often, do you prefer to observe the Lord’s Supper?
22:14 There is a question about whether this verse is best understood as concluding 22:7–13 or as introducing 22:15–20. The issue is of no great importance, however, and following the NIV it is treated here as an introduction to the following material. When the hour came. Compare John 13:1; 17:1. In Jesus’ setting this referred to the hour to celebrate the Passover, but for Luke’s readers, this could mean the “hour” in which Jesus would bring his mission to completion. Compare Luke 22:53. Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. The last supper, as all celebrations of the Lord’s Supper, was meant for those who professed to be Jesus’ followers (cf. 1 Cor 11:26–34). “Jesus and his apostles reclined” is literally he reclined, and his disciples with him. The wording emphasizes Jesus’ initiative. The Passover was eaten in a reclining position, i.e., lying on the side facing a short table with cushions under the arm. Compare Pesaḥim 99b, “Even the poorest man in Israel must not eat [on the night of Passover] until he reclines.” Other festive meals also were eaten in a reclining position (cf. Luke 11:37; 14:10; 17:7). The famous painting of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci in which Jesus and the disciples are portrayed as sitting at a table is a beautiful sixteenth-century rendition of the event. It is not true, however, to the biblical account, in which the meal was eaten reclining.
22:15 I have eagerly desired. The construction found here (with desire I have desired) is also found in Acts. It can be understood in several ways: (1) as an unfulfilled wish, i.e., I have desired but unfortunately will not be able to eat this Passover. This interpretation frequently is due to an attempt to harmonize this account with John 18:28, where the Passover is still future. In Luke, Jesus clearly eats the Passover (Luke 22:11, 15), so that this interpretation must be rejected. (2) I have looked forward to sharing the joy of eating the Passover with you, to teach you about the new covenant in my blood and to bring my work to a conclusion. (3) I have desired to participate in this (or possibly a future) Passover with you but will not. The third interpretation, that Jesus could not or intentionally refrained from participating in the Passover, is unlikely in light of 22:11, 15, so that the second interpretation is to be preferred. This Passover. This can mean the Passover lamb or the Passover meal. If it refers to the former, this is an example of synecdoche, in which a part of the meal is being used to describe the whole meal so that there is little difference. Before I suffer. For Luke the whole scene of the Lord’s Supper centered around Jesus’ suffering (cf. 9:22; 24:46; Acts 1:3; 3:18).
22:16 I will not eat it again. This is the strongest negation possible in Greek (the subjunctive of emphatic negation) and refers not to abstinence from the present Passover but to the fact that his forthcoming death would prohibit him from sharing future Passovers with the disciples. Until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God. This refers to the time of the messianic banquet at the end of history, i.e., when the kingdom is consummated (cf. Mark 14:25; Matt 26:29; 1 Cor 11:26). This same thought is repeated in Luke 22:18. What the “it” refers to is unclear. It cannot be the “kingdom of God” because the “it” is distinguished from the kingdom. Probably “it” is best understood as referring to the Passover as a type of the messianic banquet. Jesus would not share again in such a banquet meal with the disciples until God’s kingdom has been consummated. Since a Passover meal is specifically referred to here, the references to Jesus’ eating with the disciples in 24:30, 41–43; Acts 10:41 do not contradict this saying. The divine passive found in this phrase should be noted.
22:17 After taking a cup. The cup is one of the earlier cups associated with the Passover meal (cf. Exod 6:6–7a). Take this and divide it among you. A single cup probably was shared by the disciples. Whether Jesus himself partook of this cup is unclear.
22:18 For I tell you. Compare Luke 22:16. I will not drink again … until the kingdom of God comes. Once again we have a subjunctive of emphatic negation. See comments on 22:16. No distinction should be made between the drinking mentioned here and the eating mentioned in 22:16. They simply are descriptive of eating a meal and in particular the messianic banquet. It is reading too much into the present text to see it as demonstrating an established practice of fasting in the early church.
22:19 And he took bread. “Bread” (arton) refers to a “loaf” of bread whether leavened or unleavened. It is used of unleavened bread in Exod 29:2; Lev 2:4; 8:26; Num 6:19. Gave thanks. Like 1 Cor 11:24, Luke used “thanks” (eucharistēsas), from which we get Eucharist, rather than “thanks” (eulogēsas) or “bless” as in Mark 14:22 and Matt 26:26. There is little difference in meaning between these two Greek terms. This is my body. As Jesus earlier interpreted the unleavened bread in the Passover ritual (see “Context”), so in the Lord’s Supper he also interpreted the bread. “This” refers to the bread just mentioned. The fact that “this” is neuter whereas “bread” is masculine does not refute this, for the change in gender is due to the assimilation of “this” to the predicate “body.” Thus the change is due to literary reasons (to have the pronoun agree in gender with the noun in this sentence with which it goes), not theological ones (to show that the bread had been transformed into the body of Christ). The “bread” represents the “body of Jesus” in the sense that it represents Jesus. The bread thus represents, using Johannine terminology, the “Word [which] became flesh,” not the “flesh” alone but the person who tabernacled in flesh (John 1:14). At this point, we encounter an important textual problem. An important manuscript D (Codex Beza) and the Old Latin omit the rest of this verse and all of the next. This results in the following: a word about a cup (Luke 22:17–18) concluded by a short word about the bread (22:19a). In favor of this textual reading are both the age of these textual witnesses and the difficulty of the reading. (It is more difficult to understand why a scribe might willingly omit the concluding word about the cup than to understand why one might want to add the final word about the cup in order to make it conform to the parallel accounts.) Yet the textual support in favor of including 22:19b–20 is overwhelming: 𝔓75, א, A, B, W, Vg, Cop. Given. “Given” is literally being given, a present participle used for a future event. It is unclear whether the “Giver” is understood as Jesus or God. Probably the latter is meant, but there would be little difference in Luke’s understanding, for Jesus is God’s Son. The verb “given” is used of sacrifice in 2:24; Mark 10:45: Gal 1:4. This is. “This is” is best understood metaphorically in the Zwinglian sense of “symbolizes/represents” rather than “this has now become/been transformed into” in the Roman Catholic sense of transubstantiation or “In, with, and around the bread there is actually present my body” in the Lutheran sense of consubstantiation. (It is interesting to note that even after the supposed transformation of the bread and cup, the elements are still called the bread and cup [cf. 1 Cor 11:26].) John Calvin’s position, emphasizing the spiritual presence of the Lord (see 1 Cor 10:16), also has been an important perspective for many in the Puritan and Free Church tradition.
For you. Compare 1 Cor 11:24. This preposition often has a vicarious sense. “Given for you” explains how the bread, i.e., the self-giving of Jesus, relates to the believer. Do this in remembrance of me. Compare 1 Cor 11:24. The authenticity of these words is frequently questioned because they are not found in the parallel accounts in Mark and Matthew. Yet the parallels between the Lord’s Supper and the Passover make such a statement quite understandable since the Passover was to be continually celebrated (Deut 16:1–3) and its meaning remembered. Another argument against their authenticity is that “since” Jesus expected the immediate end of the age during his lifetime, he could not have instituted any rite or ordinance to be continually remembered in the future. It has been argued elsewhere that Jesus in fact did expect and teach that there would be a period of time requiring stewardship and faithfulness. “Do” is frequently used for the repeating of rites. This is not to be interpreted Do this in order that God might remember me25 but rather Do this, i.e., share the bread and the cup, in your celebration of the Lord’s Supper remembering me, my work, and my presence among you.
22:20 After the supper. The Lord’s Supper comes at the end of the Passover and builds on its imagery. This cup is. As in the case of the bread, it is better to understand “is” metaphorically in the sense of symbolizes/represents. The fact that drinking blood was forbidden by the law (Lev 3:17; 7:26–27; 17:14) makes it most difficult to think the disciples and early Jewish Christians thought that in drinking the cup they were actually drinking real blood. (One need only remember Peter’s hesitation in Acts 10:6–16 to eating unkosher meat to see how difficult it would have been for the disciples to have drunk the cup if they believed that in so doing they were in fact drinking the blood of Jesus.) The new covenant in my blood. Compare Jer 31:31 and how the Qumran community thought of itself as the community of the new covenant. For the expression “blood of the covenant,” cf. Exod 24:8; Lev 17:11–14. The cup is understood as representing sacrificial blood that inaugurates and seals a new covenant (cf. Gen 15:8–21). In Tg. Onq. and Tg. Ps.-J on Exod 24:8 the expression “blood of the covenant” is clearly seen as atoning for sins because they add “to atone [kopher] for the people.” Matthew 26:28 indicates a similar understanding and adds “for the forgiveness of sins” (cf. Heb 9:25–28). Which is poured out. This clause “is as vicarious and soteriological in its thrust as is v. 19c. Indeed, ‘poured out’ is even more connotative of death than ‘given.’ ” Compare Gen 9:6; Ezek 18:10; Isa 59:7; cf. Luke 11:50; Acts 22:20. This clause balances liturgically “given for you” in Luke 22:19. For you. This makes more explicit the “for many” of Mark 14:24 and parallels the “for you” in Luke 22:19.
22:21 But. Literally But behold. The foretelling of the Judas’s betrayal is closely tied to the Lord’s Supper. The hand of him. This expression is a synecdoche, a figure of speech in which a part (the hand) is used to represent the whole (Judas). Who is going to betray me. Literally who is in the process of betraying [a present participle] me. The betrayal had already begun (22:3–6). With mine on the table. This is better translated “with me at the table.” Compare 22:30, where the expression is translated “at the table.” By referring to Judas’s betrayal after the Lord’s Supper rather than before (cf. Mark 14:18–21; Matt 26:21–25), Luke revealed that participation in the Lord’s Supper does not guarantee membership in God’s kingdom. Compare John 13:26 and 13:27–30. Luke presented similar teachings elsewhere (see comments on 8:4–15; 13:22–30, “The Lukan Message”).
22:22 The Son of Man will go. Literally proceeds. The certainty of this future event is so great it can be spoken of in the present tense. What Jesus had begun in 9:51 (cf. also 13:33) was about to be accomplished. As it has been decreed. The divine passive should be noted. What was about to happen would occur because God had ordained it. This will be affirmed again in 24:25–27. In Acts 2:23 this same verb (“set purpose”) is used with respect to the passion and in Acts 10:42; 17:26, 31 describes God’s providential rule in and over history. The use of “decreed” instead of “written” (Mark 14:21; Matt 26:24) reveals Luke’s interest in emphasizing that Jesus’ death fulfills the divine plan and purpose. But woe to that man who betrays him. Any attempt to romanticize Judas’s role in fulfilling the divine plan is shipwrecked on this statement. Compare Mark 14:21 and Matt 26:24, which add, “It would be better for him if he had not been born.” The Evangelists understood Judas as damning himself by his action (cf. Acts 1:18–20). The present verse is a good example of how divine sovereignty and human responsibility exist alongside each other.
22:23 They began to question among themselves. The horror of betrayal by a friend was far greater in biblical times than today. One catches a glimpse of this in Ps 41:9. Compare in 1 Cor 11:29–30 how Christians’ sitting at the table with the risen Lord and “betraying him” is also seen as resulting in judgment and even death. Which of them it might be who would do this. Judas was still present with the disciples (Luke 22:21).