Chapter 123

 

Preparations for the Last Passover

 

“Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude. Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the Passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples? And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover.” (Luke 22:1-13)

 

Luke 22 begins Luke’s inspired narrative of our adorable Savior’s sufferings and death as our Substitute. We now begin to consider the most holy, most profound, and most wondrous things revealed in the Book of God. Nothing is so sublime, so solemn, and so sweet to the regenerate soul as the sacrifice of Christ. No portion of Holy Scripture is more important than the things God the Holy Spirit inspired Luke to describe in these last chapters of his Gospel narrative. And no part of our Lord’s earthly history is so fully given by all the Gospel writers as this. Only Matthew and Luke describe the circumstances of our Redeemer’s birth. But all four gospel writers describe our Savior’s death minutely. And, of the four, Luke’s account is the most detailed.

 

             In these first thirteen verses Luke sets before us the preparations made by our Lord Jesus for the last observance of the Passover and for the first observance of the Lord’s Supper. It is important that we recognize this fact. Our Savior here forever abolished the legal, Jewish Passover and established as a perpetual ordinance in His church the observance of the Lord’s Supper. That which He prepared to keep with His disciples was the last Passover ever to be observed by believing men and women. Christ the true Passover was now about to be sacrificed for us. At the same time, our Lord was preparing to observe the Lord’s Supper with his disciples for the first time.

 

Christ our Passover

 

Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover” (v. 1). — First, I want to remind you that the Old Testament Passover was merely a temporary type and picture of our Lord Jesus Christ. God the Holy Spirit declares in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” The Passover was the first legal ordinance established by God in the Old Testament (Exodus 12). It was established as a memorial of Israel’s redemption out of Egypt by the blood of the paschal lamb and the power of God. That first Passover and all the Passover sacrifices that followed it (as well as all the other requirements, ceremonies, services, and sacrifices of the law) were given for only one purpose: — to hold forth in type the Lord Jesus Christ. To Him the whole law pointed; and by Him the whole law was fulfilled. All those things were, as we are plainly told, shadows of good things to come (Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 10:1).

 

      Believers in the Old Testament era observed the Passover looking upon the paschal lamb as a type of the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8), just as we now observe the Lord’s Supper in remembrance of the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” The lamb appointed in the Jewish Passover was to be a male of the first year without blemish and without spot. Such was Christ. The lamb was set apart four days before the Passover. So Christ was set apart eternally in the purpose, council, and foreknowledge of God (4000 years — four days earlier) and by entering into Jerusalem four days before His death upon the cursed tree. The Jewish paschal lamb was roasted whole with fire, and not a bone of it broken. So our Lord Jesus, in the accomplishment of our eternal redemption, sustained all the fire of Divine wrath against sin in His sacrifice; and we are expressly told that not one of His bones were broken, that the Scripture might be fulfilled (John 19:36.)

 

            The Scriptures tell us that our Savior observed the feast Passover four times (every year) during the course of His earthly ministry. The first public Passover Christ observed is related to us in John 2:13-25. The second Passover, which our Lord graced with His presence, is recorded in John 5, when He healed the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. The third public Passover where we find the Lord Jesus present is recorded in John 6, at which time our Lord gave instructions about himself as the Bread of Life. The fourth and last Passover the Lord Jesus kept is recorded here in Luke 22 and by Matthew, Mark, and John.

 

            Robert Hawker made the following tremendous observation.

 

“If the Lord Jesus never once during His ministry omitted His attendance on the Passover, how hath He thereby endeared to His redeemed His holy Supper, instituted and appointed as it was by himself to take place in His church in the room of the Jewish Passover! Surely by this Jesus might be supposed to intimate His holy pleasure, that His people should be always present at the celebration of it. Methinks by this constant attendance of the Lord, He meant to say that not one of his little ones should be absent at His Supper. And His servant, the Apostle, seems to have had the same views of His Master’s gracious design in this particular when He saith, ‘For as often as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come’ (1 Corinthians 11:26).”

 

Overruling Providence

 

And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people” (v. 2). — Second, I cannot avoid again calling your attention to the display here given of the overruling providence of our God, as we read here of the chief priests and scribes plotting to murder our Savior. Though they had no awareness of it, they were but instruments in the Lord’s hands for the accomplishment of His holy will and eternal decrees, by their wicked hands, doing all that they did by the “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 13:27-28).

 

            How sweet! How comforting! How delightful this is! To behold the chief priests and scribes as God’s instruments, for the purpose of bringing Christ into the very situation where our sins must have brought us, but for His intervention! Though they utterly hated Him, they brought Him forward on the mission for which He came into the world, to “save Hs people from their sins,” being made both sin and a curse for us. There was no other means whereby we could have been redeemed; and God sovereignly overruled and used the most wicked deeds of the most wicked men to accomplish it!

 

            I say this is sweet, comforting, and delightful to behold. Just as it was here, so it is now. Our God overrules and uses the most malicious devices of the most wicked men to bring his purposed blessings to His chosen.

 

Blind Guides

 

Third, when we read that “the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill Him,” I am reminded that the most prominent, highly respected, and well-trained religious leaders are often blind guides. High office in the church does not indicate grace in the heart.

 

            The first step in putting our Savior to death was taken by the religious teachers of the Jewish nation. The very men who ought to have welcomed the Messiah were the men who conspired to murder Him. The very pastors who ought to have rejoiced at the appearing of the Lamb of God plotted His slaughter. They sat in Moses’ seat. They claimed to be “guides of the blind” and “lights of them that were in darkness” (Romans 2:19). They belonged to the tribe of Levi. They were, most of them, direct descendants of Aaron. Yet, they were the very men who crucified the Lord of glory!

 

            Beware of attaching importance, significance, and spiritual knowledge to preachers and religious leaders. Ordination papers do not make men faithful. The greatest of heresies have been started by preachers.

 

            By all means, honor faithful men. Hear them and obey them. Faithful pastors are the angels of God to His church. They speak to you the Word of God; and they are to be followed (Hebrews 13:7, 17). But we must never allow blind men to lead us into the ditch. We must never allow modern chief priests and scribes to make us crucify Christ afresh. We must test all teachers by the unerring rule of the Word of God. — “To the law and to the testimony, if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20).

 

Judas’ Apostasy

 

“Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude” (vv. 3-6)

 

Fourth, Judas’ apostasy sets before us a glaring example of the fact that men and women who appear to have a good profession of faith often prove reprobates in the end, teaching us the necessity of perseverance. The treachery here described was the treachery of one of the twelve Apostles of Christ. — “Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.” Those words are peculiarly dreadful. Judas Iscariot ought to be a standing beacon to us all. Judas was one of our Lord’s chosen apostles. He followed our Lord during the whole course of His ministry. He forsook all for Christ’s sake. He heard Christ preach and saw Christ’s miracles. He preached the same doctrine Christ preached. He spoke like all the other Apostles. There was nothing about Judas to distinguish him from Peter, James, and John. He was never suspected of being unsound, let alone the betrayer. Yet, Judas was a reprobate man, “the son of perdition” (John 17:12).

 

            At best we have but a faint conception of the horrid deceitfulness of our hearts. The lengths to which men may go in religion without grace in their hearts is far greater than we think (Psalm 139:23-24; Matthew 10:22; 1 Corinthians 9:26-27; Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:38-39; 1 John 2:19-20).

 

Beware of Covetousness

 

Fifth, the fact that Judas’ betrayal was the result of his love of money reinforces our Lord’s warning in Luke 12:15. — “Take heed and beware of covetousness.” What enormous power the love of money has over men! When Judas went to the chief priests and offered to betray his Master, “they were glad, and covenanted to give him money” (v. 5). That tells us the hidden secret of Judas’ heart and the motive behind his behavior. He loved money. He loved the world. He was fond of riches. He had heard our Lord’s solemn warning. — “Take heed and beware of covetousness.” But he gave it no heed. Covetousness was the rock upon which he made shipwreck of his soul. Covetousness drug him headlong into hell!

 

            Beware of the love of this world, particularly as it involves the love of money, which the Holy Spirit tells us is “the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). Gehazi, Ananias and Sapphira, and Judas were brought to ruin because of their love of money. And the money they sought, for which they sold their souls, was terribly insignificant! For a mere thirty pieces of silver Judas Iscariot betrayed the Son of God! — Thirty pieces of silver (roughly $30.00!) was the legal price of a slave. No doubt, these religious hypocrites soothed their consciences by telling themselves that by purchasing Jesus like any other slave, it was perfectly legal for them to hand him over to the Roman authorities. — Thirty pieces of silver (roughly $30.00!). What did Judas buy with his hellish craftiness? He did not gain acceptance with the powerful, elite priests and scribes, as he probably hoped he would; but was now looked upon as nothing but a contemptible slave trader, a hireling, and a betrayer. — Thirty pieces of silver (roughly $30.00!), the price of a slave to a greedy man, proved at last to be the price he put upon his own immortal soul. — Thirty pieces of silver (roughly $30.00!) was taken out of the temple treasury, silver that was marked for the purchase of sacrifices. The Lamb of God was purchased with money from the temple treasury for the price of a slave!

 

            Beware, I repeat, of the love of money! It is a subtle thing, and far nearer than we might imagine. A poor man is just as susceptible to it as a rich man. Some have much who do not love it; and many have very little who yet love it. Let us be “content with such things as we have” (Hebrews 13:5), be it little or much. We never know what we might do if we became suddenly rich. I find it striking that in the Book of Wisdom (Proverbs) we find only one prayer (Proverbs 30:8-9).

 

“Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the LORD? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”

 

Made Ready

 

“Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the Passover must be killed. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the Passover, that we may eat. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare? And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the Passover with my disciples? And he shall show you a large upper room furnished: there make ready. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the Passover” (vv. 7-13).

 

Sixth, we learn that when the time came for the Passover to be kept, everything was made ready. Even so, when chosen sinners are called by the Spirit of God to eat the true Passover, to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, they find everything made ready for them.

 

            All things were made ready by Divine arrangement. What a marvelous display we have in these verses of our Savior’s absolute dominion over all things and all men! The disciples found a man by Divine direction, who by Divine command provided everything that was needed.

 

            All things were made ready for the keeping of the feast. A lamb was provided. The lamb was slain and burnt upon the altar for the Lord God and for these disciples. Its blood was sprinkled at the foot of the altar. The lamb was brought into the house, where it was to be eaten. The lamb was roasted and eaten with bitter herbs.

 

            In all these things we see a close parallel with Christ our Passover who was sacrificed for us, and of our faith in Him. Four times we are reminded in these thirteen verses that the evening before our Savior’s crucifixion was the appointed “day when the Passover must be killed.” — “Then came the day!” How thankful I am that that day came! Aren’t you! — “In due time Christ died for the ungodly!

 

            By divine arrangement, the Lamb of God died at the very time when the Passover-lamb was being slain. The death of Christ was the fulfillment of the Passover. He was the true sacrifice to which every Passover-lamb had been pointing for 1500 years. What the death of the lamb had been to Israel in Egypt, His death is to us in reality. The safety which the blood of the Passover-lamb had provided for Israel, His blood provides in infinite abundance for believing sinners. Blessed be God forever — “Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don Fortner

 

 

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