The book of Luke is one of the synoptic Gospels which account for the life of Jesus. The ability to refer to the writings of others allows a reader to narrow the range of meaning and establish context of the text. The author of the Gospel was Luke himself, who was recording the life of Jesus for Theophilus. There is not a clear definition as to who Theophilus is, but some suggest that he is a Roman Official and others suggest that Theophilus is used as a generic term as it translates to “friend or beloved of God” and addresses the broader audience of the Gentiles.
According to the Nelson Study Bible (Ed.
Radmacher 1682) the author Luke was noted as being a physician in Colossians 4:14. He also travelled with Paul as a missionary companion as noted in 2 Timothy 4:11 (New American Standard Bible). He was a highly educated Gentile and wrote in scholar Kione’ Greek (Utley 14). Luke wrote this book after conducting extensive research and interviewing eyewitnesses.
Because the timeline is not directly noted, scholars have come to two different conclusions; some argue that Luke references the work of Mark and therefore could not have been written until after 70 AD during a period when the gospel was spreading throughout the Roman Empire.
Others argue that Luke was probably written as early as 62 AD in Caesarea by the Sea, Palestine, or Achaia, after the release of the Gospel of Mark (Ed. Radmacher 1682) and during Paul’s imprisonment (Utley 14). The setting of Luke begins with introducing John the Baptist in Judea, who spreads awareness of the pending arrival of Jesus, then introduces and follows Jesus from birth in Bethlehem, through his life in Nazareth and teachings throughout Galilee, Samaria and Judea, and then to his death and resurrection.
At the time of John the Baptist and later Jesus, priesthood in Israel was split into 24 divisions.
King Herod had been appointed by the Roman Empire to reign over Judea, Samaria, Galilee and portions of Perea and Syria. After Herod died, the kingdom was split among his three sons. Phillip ruled the northeast, Herod Antipas ruled in Perea and Galilee, and Archalaus ruled Judea, Samaria and Idumea (Ed. Radmacher 1687). Caesar Augustus was the Roman Emperor and called for a census that required every man to register in his birth city. This led Joseph and Mary to leave their home in Nazareth and travel to Bethlehem.
Throughout the book of Luke, detailed accounts are written that continue to mphasize the common message that Jesus is the Messiah that the Old Testament prophesized and he can save everyone; regardless of who they are or what they have done. This book contains more detailed information than the other Gospels including more parables, teachings and details of Jesus’ miracles. During this time of ministry, Jesus faced increasing resistance from the Jewish leadership. At the same time, the faith of his followers and disciples grew strong. He reached out to the poor, the sick and the weary; those who had been cast away from society.
Downtrodden by the cruelty of the Roman government, they looked to Jesus for hope of a better life and a righteous Messiah. He had predicted his death and forewarned His disciples about his final days and, upon returning to Jerusalem, instituted the Lord’s Supper. Ultimately, the book describes Jesus’ trials and crucifixion, and then His Resurrection and Ascension. After his Resurrection, he appeared to his disciples to remind them that he had forewarned them of this occurring and instructed them to bear witness to everyone, beginning in Jerusalem.
Then he led them out to Bethany, blessed them and ascended. This study assesses the evening of Jesus’ Last Supper, found in Luke 22:14-23. This occurs at the end of Jesus’ ministry when Jesus and the Apostles travelled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover festivities (Ed. Radmacher 1743). His pilgrimage from Galilee to Jerusalem had taken him and his disciples over a great distance where He had the opportunity to teach many people along the way. The stronger His ministry and his followers grew, the more angered the Jewish leaders became.
The Feast of Unleavened Bread was a very significant event and the streets of Jerusalem were crowded with visitors. Upon entering the city, Jesus was overcome with the state he found the temple in and drove out those who profited off of religion. This angered the chief priests and scribes who began planning a way to get rid of Jesus in a manner that would not draw attention from His followers. Their solution came to them in the form of Judas Iscariot, who made a deal with the chief priests and scribes to betray Jesus in exchange for money.
Jesus, already knowing what was to come, made plans to have Passover with the twelve Apostles. The setting for this passage occurs in the Upper Room, with Jesus and the twelve Apostles. Luke described the events of the Passover in Luke 22: 14-29 (Ed. Radmacher 1744-1745), in which Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper. Jesus wanted to prepare the disciples for what would be happening and give them promise for a glorious future with Him in the kingdom of God.
The fourteenth verse introduced the passage by stating that “the hour has come” (King James Version Luke 22:14) and that Jesus sat down with his apostles. The text does not clarify that the Passover feast had already been eaten and these events followed or if these events replaced the Passover feast. One particular commentary suggests that this evening consisted of both, the final Passover ceremony as issued by God to Moses in the Old Testament and the new ceremony signifying the new covenant (Deffinbaugh).
Nevertheless, Jesus went on to share how important this occasion is to Him by using the phrase “with desire I have desired (King James Version Luke 22:15)” to emphasize how important this was to Him. The use of the word desire twice is not common the English language and calls for further study. The first use of the word, “With desire…” comes from the Greek word epithymia (Strong 1628), to have a longing for, and implies the depth of the forethought. The second use, “…I have desired…” comes from the Greek word epithymeo (Strong 1628), to have a strong intention or aim.
Jesus could have simply said he desired to eat Passover with the Apostles, which would have suggested more of an immediate thought, but Jesus uses the phrase, With desire I have desired” to express how important is was to Him. Then Jesus continued, saying that he will not eat with them again until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God. Here he referred to the future when the disciples and all followers will join and dine together in the kingdom of God. He then proceeded Jesus took the cup, gave thanks to God then passed it, instructing the disciples to share it.
Just as He refused the food, He also refused drink but again gave promise of the future in the kingdom of God, when they will drink together. The word “kingdom” is derived from the Greek word basileia (Strong 1613) and refers to eternal life fulfilling God’s will. Next Jesus passed the bread amongst the group using it as a symbol of His body. In doing so, He instructed the disciples to remember Him as the sacrifice for them. He then offered the after cup, referring to it as the new testament “in my blood, which is shed for you (King James Version Luke 22:20).
The word testament is derived from the Greek word diatheke (Strong 1617) and refers to the covenant between God and the Human Race. The blood Jesus sheds for our sins seals the New Covenant and in turn fulfills the prophecy of the Old Covenant God made in which the lamb was sacrificed. Jesus then prepares them for what is yet to come; he warns that one of them will betray him and explains that when he dies, He will be gone, but the person who betrayed him will be left behind to deal with the consequences of his actions.
Woe” is from the Greek ouai (Strong 1654) which is an expression of unhappiness, pity or concern. This statement caused a stir amongst the disciples, leaving them to regard who would turn on Jesus. The disciples had already been having heated discussions about which of them was the best and most deserving to be in charge. They knew of Jesus’ pending fate, and had been told of a wonderful future in God’s kingdom. Considering the miracles they had seen of Jesus, they were more than likely considering grandiose acts looked forward to the possibilities of what might come.
Jesus corrected them by explaining that determining who was the greatest did no more than offer an empty title. He then added that the greatest should act the same as the youngest, or lowest and still willing to grow, and the one who takes title of chief should act the same as a servant. To make His point, He asked which is better, the person being served, or the person doing the serving, and if it is the one being served, then why is Jesus serving them.
Jesus then acknowledged the disciples for staying with Him throughout His trials: difficult times and promised each of them a place in His kingdom where they will sit with Jesus and rule over God’s people, Israel. The message Jesus shared with his disciples that evening remain the same today. Christians should remember the sacrifice that Jesus made for the salvation of mankind. A true Christian will work just as hard as new Christians and serve others as Jesus lived and served His life for all.