Luke 22 Part 4

47. And while He was still speaking, behold, a multitude; and he who was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them and drew near to Jesus to kiss Him.

Before the Lord has finished speaking, a multitude arrives. In most plays and movies that are made depicting this, there is a group of soldiers that arrive, but nothing like a multitude. Indeed, I have never seen pictured even close to the number that is actually described here by this word “multitude.” This was a very large crowd indeed of His enemies, come out to try to capture Him once and for all.

Most depictions of this make these men to be largely Roman soldiers. Yet none of the four gospels actually says that there were even any Roman soldiers present. What we do see in all four gospels is rather a crowd of followers of the chief priests and Pharisees. Although Israel was not allowed an army, there was a strong and able temple guard, and it was no doubt these men whom the enemies of our Lord sent after Him en masse to arrest Him in the garden.

The closest we get to a statement that there were Roman soldiers there is a Roman military word used to describe the crowd in John. Even then we cannot prove that the temple soldiers might not have taken up Roman words to describe the divisions of their troops. It is quite possible that the Romans were not in on this yet at all, but that so far the conspiracy was all on the part of the religious leaders and their cronies.

Now at the head of this crowd comes Judas, one of the Lord’s own disciples, there to betray Him with a kiss. This was the sign Judas had worked out with the soldiers to identify the Man they sought, for probably not all of them knew Him by face. What a foul use of so intimate and tender a gesture!

48. But Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

The Lord calmly questions Judas. Is this really what he is doing? And of course it was. By saying this the Lord makes a last appeal to the one who had been His disciple all these long years, though of course his appeal falls on deaf ears. Perhaps there is also some sorrow in His words here, for doubtless the Lord loved Judas, traitor or not, as He did all the rest.

49. When those around Him saw what was going to happen, they said to Him, “Lord, shall we strike with the sword?”

The disciples see that the moment of showdown has come. It seems they still maintained hope that this would be the conflict that would result in Christ taking to Himself His great power and beginning His rule on earth then and there. Thus they excitedly ask if this is the time to strike with the sword? No doubt these were the excited words of Peter, who apparently was one of those carrying the two swords they picked up back in verse 38.

50. And one of them struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his right ear.

Now one of them (whom in John 18:10 we learn was Peter) does not even wait to see how the Lord will respond to this. He assumes that the word will be to attack, and so he eagerly draws his sword and attacks the man nearest him, who is the servant of the high priest. He is called “the servant,” and apparently was his well-known servant. We know from John 18:10 that his name was Malchus. So Peter attacks this man, but we can see that Peter was indeed a fisherman, and not a soldier. He probably meant to cleave the man’s head, but, swinging wildly, he only manages to cut off his right ear.

51  But Jesus answered and said, “Permit even this.” And He touched his ear and healed him.

Peter did not give time for the Lord to respond to his question, but now the Lord does, and His orders are much different than Peter had anticipated. Instead of telling them to kill His enemies, He orders the disciples to permit even these unjust acts against Him. How true Christ remains to His mission and purpose! Even this small bit of violence He will not allow, but rather graciously mends the ear of the guilty man who has come against Him.  He is remaining true to the prophecy of Isaiah quoted in Matthew 12:20, “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench, till He sends forth justice to victory.

Yet how His attitude must have stunned poor Peter. He was ready to stand next to the Lord, to fight bravely for Him, to go down under a sea of foes, to be dragged off fighting to his death. Yet he never anticipated standing calmly by and letting himself be arrested. Peter thought he was ready to stand by the Lord no matter what. Yet his readiness ended up being far narrower than he had thought. He was not ready for what actually took place, and he was not so brave nor so loyal as he thought he was.

52. Then Jesus said to the chief priests, captains of the temple, and the elders who had come to Him, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs?

Notice who it was who had come out against the Lord. We have listed the chief priests, the captains of the temple (these would be of the temple guard,) and the elders. No Romans are listed. Yet in spite of this, movies and plays of this event almost always show the Lord being arrested by Romans! The truth is that if there were Romans on the scene, they were not in charge, and we cannot really even prove that any were there. It was very much the religious leaders of Israel, the Lord’s enemies, who were in charge at His arrest as we read it in the Scriptures.

The Lord had never shown the least bit of tendency towards violence. (His casting out of the money changers in the temple only included driving the animals out with a whip and overturning the tables, but did not actually harm any of the people present.) Yet His enemies come to arrest Him armed to the teeth, as if against a dangerous robber. Even in the midst of His arrest, Christ points out their hypocrisy to these men. They knew that they were not arresting a dangerous man, or even One guilty of any crime. They may have thought they were serving God’s temple, but really they were serving the corrupt and wicked high priests. Yet even for these men Christ has words to instruct and help them, if only they would hear. What would we expect from the One Who would soon even while He hung on the cross forgive all those who conspired in His death?

53. “When I was with you daily in the temple, you did not try to seize Me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.”

The Lord had been daily in the temple, even on the very day this occurred. During this time, the leaders knew right where He was, and did nothing against Him. Why, then, did they come out against Him with a mob of soldiers after dark? They were treating Him like a criminal, but they were really the ones who were hiding their actions by darkness.

The Lord speaks almost resignedly now, noting that this is the hour of these men, and the power of darkness. The word “power” here in Greek is exousia, or authority. This was indeed an hour for the authority of darkness. How often it seems that darkness has all the authority in our day as well! Yet the darkness that is upon men now will be swallowed up in light just as the death of Christ planned by these evil men was swallowed up in resurrection.

54. Having arrested Him, they led Him and brought Him into the high priest’s house. But Peter followed at a distance.

Now that they have arrested Him, they bring Him to the high priest’s house. We will read no more of His trial there, though some of the details are recorded for us in other gospels. Notice that this shows us who was in charge of the Lord’s arrest. It was not the Romans, or they would have brought Him to their own officials. It was the high priest who had sent this armed rabble to arrest Him. As far as we can tell, the Romans had nothing to do with this as of yet.

Now Peter follows the Lord, yet at a distance. Many are quick to criticize Peter for his actions of that day, yet I cannot help but notice that Peter was there, following the Lord. He may have been doing it at a distance rather than going with Him bravely, but at least he was following, which is more than can be said for most of the other disciples! Only John was with Peter, as we read in John 18:15. We tend to ignore this, and notice only the denials that came afterward. Yet Peter was at least trying to stay close to the Lord. This much we can say for him.

55. Now when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat among them.

Peter could not follow the Lord in to where His trial was taking place, so he waits outside. It seems that it was cold that night, and when the servants of the high priest kindle a fire to warm themselves, Peter cannot help but wander over to it. He is lured by the heat, and probably hopes not to be recognized.

Doubtless the Lord Jesus’ arrest was the main topic of conversation among the household servants of the high priest. Though most in Israel were sympathetic to the Lord, servants understandably tend to side with their masters, who feed and cloth them. Thus these servants are the Lord’s enemies. Yet Peter is seeking warmth at their fire. Often a very dangerous and unwise place to be, at the enemy’s fire!

56. And a certain servant girl, seeing him as he sat by the fire, looked intently at him and said, “This man was also with Him.”

We see that they were indeed talking about the Lord, for one of the servant girls notices Peter, and recognizes him as one of those who was with the Lord. She speaks up and points him out to the rest. This was exactly what Peter did not want to happen! He was hoping to go unnoticed until he could find out the outcome of the Lord’s trial.

This girl is quoted as saying many different things at this denial.

1.  “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” in Matthew 26:69.  Peter answered, “I do not know what you are saying.”

2.  “You also were with Jesus of Nazareth,” in Mark 14:67.  Peter answered, “I neither know nor understand what you are saying.”

3.  “This man also was with Him,” here in Luke 22:56.  Peter answered, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

4.  It seems that Peter argued with the girl and stayed at the fire as long as he could, but finally the others at the fire started to take interest, and started asking him as well.  “You are not also one of His disciples, are you?” in John 18:25.  Once others started taking notice Peter realized that attention was being drawn to him, so he answered quickly, “I am not.”

Thus we see that this denial is the only one listed in all four gospels, yet, interestingly, each of the four lists a different part of the conversation. It would seem likely that the servant girl noticed Peter, and kept badgering him, until finally the others joined in. Peter felt he had to defend himself by denying his association with the Lord, and he did so several times. Although this only counts as one denial, we see that the Holy Spirit does not waste time repeating Himself in each gospel, but rather takes different parts of the same event and records them for us. Yet some would take this and twist it into a “contradiction” that denies the accuracy of Scripture!

57. But he denied Him, saying, “Woman, I do not know Him.”

Peter flatly denies knowing the Lord Jesus. Alas, the Lord’s words to him earlier in the night are now coming true. Peter had long since forgotten the Lord’s prediction and his own insistence on his faithfulness. Now, his mind was filled with melting into the crowd, and being recognized as a friend of the Lord was not what he wanted. He practices his deception, no doubt with the best of intentions. He just wants to stay near and see what will happen to the Lord Jesus. Why can’t this nosey girl just leave him alone?

58. And after a little while another saw him and said, “You also are of them.” But Peter said, “Man, I am not!”

A little while later another sees him and accuses him of being one of the disciples. Peter again denies that he is at all connected with the Lord.

This denial is probably the same as that listed in John 18:26-27. There, we read that the man who accused him was actually one of the servants of the high priest, and a relative of the man whose ear Peter cut off. This is the third denial by Peter of the Lord in John, yet it is only the second in Luke. Yet Mark gives us the key to explain this all to us. In Mark, we learn that not only did Peter deny the Lord three times before the rooster crowed (Luke 22:34,) but that he also denied Him three times before the rooster crowed a second time (Mark 14:30.) In total, then, he denied him six times. This gospel of Luke gives the second, third, and sixth of these denials. I explain this more thoroughly in my message on “Contradictions in Scripture: Peter’s Denials.”

59. Then after about an hour had passed, another confidently affirmed, saying, “Surely this fellow also was with Him, for he is a Galilean.”

In Mark 14:68, we learn that Peter left the fire, maybe figuring that it was getting too “hot” there for his own good. He went out into the “porch,” where this final denial took place an hour after the others. No doubt all this time Peter had been waiting in the temple courtyard, quietly observing where the Lord was being kept. At this time it seems the Lord is between trials, and is actually visible to Peter, though of course still kept in bonds. Perhaps Peter was watching Him in despair, hoping even now that He will do something to save Himself, and to justify the faith Peter had placed in Him.

Now this man approaches him. The man seems to think he has identified Peter beyond the shadow of a doubt because of his Galilean accent. The Galileans were from the far northern part of Israel. They were generally poor and unlearned, and thus would not be of the rich class that would have access to the temple courts. Someone with a Galilean accent there would be somewhat unfamiliar. Remember, Peter only got into the temple because John, who was probably educated and a member of the rich class, let him in.

60. But Peter said, “Man, I do not know what you are saying!” Immediately, while he was still speaking, the rooster crowed.

Peter denies knowing the Lord once again, and the Lord’s prediction is fulfilled. Now, the latter part of His word comes true immediately, and the rooster crows even as Peter is speaking his last denial.

61. And the Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

Though Peter had in some ways shown his love and care for the Lord by getting as close to Him as he could get, yet now through his fear he had been led to deny Him. Though He was probably out of earshot of this conversation, Christ knew right where Peter was and what he had just said and done. So He turns and looks at Peter. That is all He did, and as a prisoner to speak to Peter was probably out of the question. Yet His look was enough to make the fading sound of the crowing rooster, something Peter had been hearing all of his life and was used to ignoring, suddenly ring clearly in his ears. With the Lord’s eyes upon him, Peter instantly remembers the words He had said only a few hours earlier, and his own vehement denial of them. Peter had never dreamed that he would be capable of such a thing. Even now, in his mind he had been trying to remain loyal to His Lord. Along with John he was no doubt the only disciple so close to the Lord Jesus at this time, the others having run away and hid when He was arrested. Yet now at the look of the Lord he realizes that in spite of all his strong words and insistent protestations, he too had forsaken the Lord by vehemently denying Him, and that even in His very presence at His darkest hour.

62. So Peter went out and wept bitterly.

We can only imagine the agony of sorrow and shame that went through Peter at this point as he realized what he had done. The knowledge of his failure is too much for Peter, and he flees the temple, weeping bitterly.

63. Now the men who held Jesus mocked Him and beat Him.

Although the Lord Jesus’ trial had not yet taken place, it seems that His sentence was already decided in the minds of the men who held Him. Therefore they mocked Him and beat Him. These men were lackeys of the religious leaders, who hated the Lord and viewed Him as a rival. They had picked up this attitude, no doubt because the religious leaders were the ones who were responsible for their livelihood.

The Lord allowed this unfair treatment of Him to go on. He could have stopped this unjust mockery at any time, and yet He did not. He could have rightly punished these men for their mistreatment of Him, but He held back. We could refer to this as passive grace, for that is what it was. He was not giving these men the punishment they deserved.

64. And having blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face and asked Him, saying, “Prophesy! Who is the one who struck You?”

They invent this way to mock Him. First they blindfold Him. Then, one strikes Him, and they ask Him to use His power to prophecy and tell them which of them it was who struck Him. The Lord doubtless did not participate in this little game.

65. And many other things they blasphemously spoke against Him.

When they tired of this game, they performed other blasphemous activities against Him. Luke sees no reason to go into the details of these, and indeed that is unnecessary. All we need to know is that they spoke blasphemies against Him.

66. As soon as it was day, the elders of the people, both chief priests and scribes, came together and led Him into their council, saying,

It was illegal to hold a nighttime trial. Thus it seems that the chief priests and scribes waited until the crack of dawn to hold the trial of the Lord Jesus. Yet this empty formality did little to hide the ridiculous miscarriage of justice that took place at this trial. Remember that they wanted to get this thing over with so that Christ would already be convicted and on His way to the cross before His many followers could realize what was happening.

Notice that the word “council” here is the word “Sanhedrin.” This was the ruling religious body in Israel. It was made up of seventy members, with the high priest residing over it as the seventy-first. This was supposed to copy Moses’ seventy in Numbers 11:16-17, with the members of the Sanhedrin for the seventy and the high priest for Moses. These men were the leaders who were supposed to recognize the Messiah, Israel’s promised King and Savior, and acknowledge Him when He came, but instead they held this trial to condemn Him!

67. “If You are the Christ, tell us.” But He said to them, “If I tell you, you will by no means believe.

They ask Him to tell them if He is the Christ, that is, the Messiah, for Christ in Greek is the same as Messiah in Hebrew. Yet the Lord Jesus knows well that they would not believe His answer, and He points this out to them. Of course, by saying this, He is implying that the answer would be “Yes,” for they certainly would have believed Him if He said, “No.”

68. “And if I also ask you, you will by no means answer Me or let Me go.

He adds that if He were to ask them if He is the Christ, they would not answer Him, nor would they let Him go. They should have known that He was the Messiah, for He had certainly proven it to them by the miracles that He did. Remember, recognizing the Messiah was their job. The problem was not that they could not recognize Him, but that they did not want to, for He was not the kind of Man they had hoped the Messiah would be.

In verses 67 and 68, the words “by no means” are the two Greek words for no, ou and me, which could be translated as “no not.” When used together like this, they form the strongest possible “no.” It is translated “by no means” here, which is a pretty good translation, if we remember that this means the strongest possible “no.” By using these words, the Lord is pointing out that there is nothing He can say or do that would satisfy these men. He is revealing that He knows the rather obvious fact that this is really a show trial. The outcome is already determined, and the Sanhedrin is just going through the motions. If the Lord made a stirring defense, or none at all, it would not affect the outcome of His trial in the slightest.

69. “Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”

Having revealed that He knows His answer cannot affect His release, the Lord answers anyway. He informs them that after this, He will sit on the right hand of God’s power. The word for “power” here in Greek is dunamis, or inherent power. The right hand was the position of authority, and what Christ was suggesting here is that He would be exalted to the very rights of God Himself. Here His power would not be delegated authority, but the very inherent power of God. That, of course, was the highest seat possible, a seat which no man could achieve or deserve, and thus one reserved for God’s Messiah and Him alone, because He is God. By saying this, then, He is answering their question in the affirmative. He is indeed the Messiah, and also much more.

70. Then they all said, “Are You then the Son of God?” So He said to them, “You rightly say that I am.”

The Sanhedrin acknowledged that there would be a Messiah, of course, but they would not have acknowledged that He would have anything like the authority of God Himself, not to mention sitting on God’s throne. This then is what they question Him about. Does He mean that He is the Son of God? By this, they meant far more than asking if He was God’s little boy. A son was one who represented and stood in the place of his father. They were asking if He was the One Who had the right to take the place of God.

Again Christ answers their question, admitting that they are right to say that He is the Son of God. Of course, He knew that this too would do Him no good, and that they would not accept it no matter how plainly He spoke. These men, after all the evidence they had seen Christ give as to the accuracy of His claims, had plenty of evidence to tell them that what He spoke was true. Yet they rejected it.

71. And they said, “What further testimony do we need? For we have heard it ourselves from His own mouth.”

They proclaim that there is no need of further testimony. They assume that He cannot be the Son of God, and since they have all heard Him claim to be the Son of God, He must be a blasphemer. Yet notice that no proof is given that what He said was not true. Indeed, He had through His miracles supplied much evidence that His claims were true, and the Sanhedrin in this trial had given no evidence that they were not. They made their decision based not on fact but on their own prejudice. This was a sham trial if ever there was one!