Luke 21:37- 22:23

Chapter 21

37 Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet. 38 And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him.

Chapter 22

1 Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. 2 The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people.

3 And Satan entered into Judas who was called Iscariot, belonging to the number of the twelve. 4And he went away and discussed with the chief priests and officers how he might betray Him to them. 5 They were glad and agreed to give him money. 6 So he consented, and began seeking a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the crowd.

7 Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.” 9 They said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare it?” 10 And He said to them, “When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters. 11 And you shall say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 12 And he will show you a large, furnished upper room; prepare it there.” 13 And they left and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.

14 When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16 for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And when He had taken some bread and 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.” 20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. 21 But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. 22 For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” 23 And they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing.

Observation – What does it say?

  • Jesus went to the same place every evening, Mount Olivet
  • People would get up early just to hear Jesus teach
  • Jesus would teach in the Temple
  • Chief priests and scribes wanted to kill Jesus. This is a repeated theme
  • The chief priest and scribes were afraid of the people. This is a repeated theme
  • Satan entered Judas
  • Judas was one of the twelve.
  • Judas went to the chief priests and officers.
  • There was a discussion regarding how best to betray Jesus
  • The chief priests and officers were glad to have Judas betray Jesus.
  • The chief priest agreed to give Judas money
  • It appears Judas asked for money to betray Jesus
  • Judas was looking for the best time to turn Jesus over to the chief priests and scribes
  • Judas was looking for a time which would be away from a crowd.
  • The first day of the Passover is the day the lamb was to be sacrificed.
  • On the first day of Passover Jesus told Peter and John to prepare the passover meal
  • Jesus did not have a residence to prepare the passover meal
  • Peter and John asked where they should prepare the meal
  • Jesus told Peter and John to follow a man carrying a pitcher of water.
  • The story of finding the place to have the passover meal seems to have similarities to the story of finding the colt.
  • Jesus foreknew what Peter and John would see as they entered Jerusalem
  • Peter and John were to follow into the house
  • Peter and John were to talk to the owner of the house
  • Peter and John were to say “The Teacher says” rather than “Jesus says”
  • The owner would show Peter and John a large room
  • The room would be a furnished room.
  • Peter and John were to prepare the meal in the room the owner shows them.
  • Peter and John found everything just as Jesus told them
  • Peter and John prepared the passover meal
  • Jesus and the apostles rather than Jesus and his disciples reclined at the table.
  • Jesus said he really wanted to eat this meal with them and had looked forward to it.
  • Jesus knew he was about to suffer
  • Jesus wanted to eat the passover meal with the apostles before he suffered
  • Jesus would not eat it the passover meal again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
  • After Jesus took the cup and had given thanks, he told the apostles to share it
  • Jesus said he would not drink wine until the the kingdom of God comes
  • Jesus took some bread and gave thanks
  • Jesus broke the bread
  • Jesus said the bread was his body
  • Jesus said “do this” in remembrance of him. What is the “this”
  • Jesus said his body was give for the apostles
  • Jesus took the cup after they had eaten. Eaten what? The meal? the bread?
  • The cup was poured out for the apostles.
  • The cup which was poured out was a new covenant
  • The new covenant was in Jesus blood.
  • There is a new covenant
  • The hand of Judas was Jesus on the table with Jesus hand
  • Jesus knew he was going to be betrayed
  • Jesus knew who was going to betray him.
  • It had been predetermined how Jesus would go.
  • The apostles did not know who would betray Jesus
  • The apostles appear to not be aware that any of them were capable of betraying Jesus.

Interpretation – What does it mean?

In relatively recent times this section of scripture has invoked controversy as to what it means? Specifically I am referring to the part where Our Lord breaks the bread and pours the cups proclaiming “This is my body” and “This is my blood”

During the reformation Luther and Zwingli disagreed on the meaning of this scripture and as a result failed to unify the reformation. It is the understanding of the meaning and use of the word “is” in the Jesus’ phrase, “This is my body.” That was the most disputed during the Reformation period. The irreconcilable differences among them led to the eventual fragmentation of the Reformation. The last chance of a united Reformation died on October 1st, 1529. That was when Luther and Zwingli came together in Marburg to discuss their differences and try to come to an agreement.

What is interesting is that among the many issues they came with, they agreed on almost all. It was only the interpretation of “is” in Jesus words where they came to an impasse. Reformed, Lutheran and Catholic traditions all agreed that Christ’s body was present in the sacrament. The disagreement was in how it was present. Zwingli on the other hand denied that Christ’s body was present in anyway.

Martin Luther understood Jesus’ words literally. When Jesus said: “This is my body,” Luther believed it meant that the bodily presence of Christ was there alongside the elements. Zwingli, on the other hand, saw those words figuratively. The physical body of Christ could not be everywhere at the same time, therefore he could not be physically present at the table. He understood Jesus’ words to mean: “This signifies my body.”

I am convinced that there are sincere men of God on both sides of this debate. But the sad truth is that since the sides are contradictory, they can not all be right. While we all have the legal right to our opinion and beliefs. We do not have the moral right to misrepresent God’s word. Even if that misrepresentation is unintentional.

How then can we understand this scripture. I believe the best way to resolve questions of this nature is by asking 4 basic questions

  1. What do the scriptures clearly say?
  2. What did the early church and church father believe?
  3. Where and when did the teaching originate?
  4. What is the plainest reading of the scripture.

Well the answer to the first question is exactly what this particular debate is all about. But the scripture does address this else where. “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” I Cor. 10:16-17

Again in I Cor 11:23-27 “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.”

What did the early church fathers believe about this issue? As it turns out they were all in general agreement on this point. They all believed and taught the the physical body and blood of Jesus the Christ was present in the Eucharist. This was reaffirmed in several church councils. None of the these are infallible individually. They are not even infallible collectively. However, the fact that they all agree certainly gets my attention.

Next the idea the Eucharist is only a representation of the body of Christ is a relatively new and novel teaching in the church. Any theological idea newly discover is probably a heresy. This statement does not deny the concept of progressive revelation. Progressive revelation is a revealing of something that was previously hidden. The teaching of the bread and blood representing Christ would be a correction to an incorrect understanding. That is correcting a heresy taught by the church for thousands of years. I would have to wonder why God would allow His church to teach a heresy for so long. The newest of this idea speaks against it. Zwingli’s argument sounds reasonable on the surface. It is impossible for Christ’s physical body to be everywhere at the same time. I would agree with Zwingli based on my understanding of physics. While this my violate my understanding. I do understand logic well enough to know it is not a contraction. Therefore, to say I do not see how it can be does not mean it cannot be. With God all things are possible.

Finally, what is the clearest of reading of the scripture? Unless we are pulling a Bill Clinton what does “is” mean? The clearest reading is that it “is” Christ physical body are present in the Eucharist.

While grammatically the statement can be understood as either Christ’s physical body or a representation of Christ’s body I believe the preponderance of evidence supports Christ was talking about his physical body.

Application – How does it work?

Honest men can disagree. But while we disagree. Two contradictory statements can not both be true. Learn from the those who have gone before us. And have wrestled with many of the same issues we face today. As Timothy was admonished by the apostle Paul be diligent to present yourself approved to God.

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