33. The Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane
Dr. Doug Bookman
A. Preparation for the Passover Meal
Notes: Jesus and the 12 remained in Bethany until departing for the feast late in the afternoon. But in anticipation of that feast, Jesus dispatched Peter and John to take the lamb to the temple for slaughter, then to go to a pre-arranged place to make preparation for the feast. All of this was according to the specific prescriptions of the Torah.
Questions/Observations: Why did Jesus use the cryptic reference to "a man carrying a pitcher of water" to direct Peter and John to the house? What would have happened had Jesus been open about the place where they were to make ready for the Feast? (Compare Jesus's statements to the disciples at the beginning of the feast - Luke 22:15.)
B. The Last Supper in the Upper Room
Notes: Notice the spirit of the disciples as they gather in the upper room, doubtless anticipating that kingdom assignments were about to be made (Luke 22:24). Jesus is anxious to have this time to prepare them for the awful events soon to occur, events for which they are entirely unprepared.
After the Passover meal, (during which Jesus washed the feet of the disciples) Jesus announced that the betrayer was with Him at the table, the twelve began to question who it might be, John asks Jesus who it is and Jesus responds (privately) that it is the one to whom He will give a morsel of the meal, Jesus does that and Judas - whose guilty soul was smitten by the act of kindness, and who was looking for an excuse to leave to fetch the Sanhedrinists - leaves to do that. Paul states that Jesus took the bread and cup "while He was being betrayed" (imperfect passive verb tense) gave them to His disciples. That is, as Judas was scurrying off to fetch the arresting force, Jesus remained for a time in the upper room and introduced the "Lord's supper." After Judas left, then Jesus instituted the "Lord's Supper" as the seal of the New Covenant and began to address the eleven concerning the coming of the Spirit. Then, suddenly - to everyone's surprise - led the eleven out into the night (John 14:31).
- Judas left to fetch the Sanhedrinists and soldiers so they could arrest Jesus. Where do you think Judas took those soldiers?
- Notice that Luke's narrative includes Jesus's prediction of Peter's denial in the upper room. Compare this to the next section in Mark.
- Notice John 18:2 and Luke 22:39. Given those verses, how is it that Judas finally arrived at Gethsemane with the arresting force?
C. Jesus Leads the Disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane
Notes: In contrast to John, the Synoptics simply state that Jesus took the 11 to Gethsemane. Mark is clear that it was after Jesus and the 11 departed the upper room (Mark 14:26-27) that He warned His disciples about desertion, and, in response to Peter's protestations concerning his special loyalty, the Lord warned Peter (again) of his three-fold denial. Because Luke has a similar incident in the upper room (i.e., before the departure, Luke 22:31-34), some have insisted there is a discrepancy in the record. However, it makes perfect sense - given what we know of Peter - that Jesus spoke this warning first of all in the upper room and then again - in response to Peter's renewed insistence upon his own dependability - on the road to Gethsemane just a little later.
John records extensive teaching along the way - the "vine and branches" discourse, the warning concerning coming rejection (which must have sounded unlikely in light of the city's reception of the Lord over the last several days), the promise of the coming Spirit (understood by the disciples in terms of the "new covenant" promises of Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36). Then, as they descended the side of the Kidron Valley on the road to Gethsemane, Jesus paused and, in the hearing of the eleven, prayed the "High Priestly prayer" of John 17. All of this was in preparation of the believing disciples for the events soon to come.
Questions/Observations: Thousands of lambs had been slain in the temple earlier that day, and the drainage ditch for the blood was the stream in the Kidron valley. That stream would have been running red as Jesus crossed it (John 18:1). What significance is to be found in John's mention that Jesus stepped over that brook on His way to Gethsemane?
D. Jesus Prays in the Garden of Gethsemane
Notes: There is much mystery in the reality that the God-Man could be genuinely tempted, but there is no question as to whether He was thus genuinely tempted - the Bible is explicit that He was and that it is because He has endured such temptation that He is a High Priest who can be touched with the feelings of our limitations (Hebrews 4:15). The greatest temptation Jesus faced was to turn back from the cross (cf. Matthew 4:8-10; Matthew 16:21-23). As the cross drew nearer, the prospect of the spiritual death that He would suffer there filled Jesus with terror. This is nowhere seen more dramatically than in the scene in Gethsemane. This garden was not a public place; it was privately owned, and the owner made it available for Jesus when He was in the regions of Jerusalem (John 18:2). Notice that Dr. Luke provides us two remarkable notes that give us insight into the trauma Jesus endured in this experience - the reference to His sweating "great drops of blood" (Luke 22:44) and to His need for angelic assistance (Luke 22:43).
- Compare Jesus's prayer to the Father in John 12:27-28 with His thrice repeated prayer in Gethsemane. What do these two suggest concerning the depth of Jesus's despair in Gethsemane?
- There are only two times in Jesus's ministry when the Father dispatched angels to attend to His needs. What was the other event? What was Jesus's need at that time? Again, what does this suggest concerning the depth of Jesus's need and trauma in the Garden of Gethsemane?
E. Jesus Arrested (Very Late Thursday Night or Very Early Friday Morning)
Notes: Judas, having doubtless gone first to the upper room, now finally arrives with the arresting force. Using a signal (intended for the soldiers whom the Sanhedrinists were required to use for an arrest), Judas identified Jesus. The disciples - after Peter's brief bravado - all flee, and Jesus is led back to the Western Hill, to the priestly residence of Caiaphas, where He will be "tried" in an illegal nocturnal tribunal intended only to find some charge that could be taken to Pilate.
- Compare Jesus's words to Peter at the arrest (John 18:11) with His prayers in the Garden (specifically the reference to a "cup"). What does this suggest concerning Jesus's struggle with the temptation to turn back from the cross?
- As Jesus faced temptation, what spiritual resources did He employ? How do those compare to the spiritual resources available to believers today?
Adapted from the Life of Christ study notes of Dr. Doug Bookman, professor of New Testament Exposition at Shepherds Theological Seminary (used by permission).
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