Luke 22:66-23:25

The cry of the ignorant

Discussion Question

Reflect on how the world treats Jesus today. What have you noticed about his popularity, his following, his reputation?


After Jesus ate the Passover meal with his disciples and declared that one of the Twelve will betray him and one of the Twelve will deny him three times, Jesus lead his disciples to the Mount of Olives to pray that they be delivered from temptation. It was that same night that a crowd came with clubs and swords, lead by Judas, one of the Twelve, to betray Jesus with a kiss. It was that same night that Simon denied knowing Jesus three times. It was that same night that Jesus began to be beaten and mocked just as he said that he would (Luke 18:32). All the while, Jesus says very little but to disperse any ideas that he is leading a rebellion. It was a very eventful night, but now that the rooster has crowed, the nightmare for Jesus is just beginning. The plans of the teachers of the law to kill Jesus will go ahead, despite the innocence of Jesus.

Read Luke 22:66-23:25

66 At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”

Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

He replied, “You say that I am.”

71 Then they said, “Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.”

23 Then the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate. 2 And they began to accuse him, saying, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Messiah, a king.”

3 So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

4 Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.”

5 But they insisted, “He stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here.”

6 On hearing this, Pilate asked if the man was a Galilean. 7 When he learned that Jesus was under Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time.

8 When Herod saw Jesus, he was greatly pleased, because for a long time he had been wanting to see him. From what he had heard about him, he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort. 9 He plied him with many questions, but Jesus gave him no answer. 10 The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. 11 Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him. Dressing him in an elegant robe, they sent him back to Pilate. 12 That day Herod and Pilate became friends—before this they had been enemies.

13 Pilate called together the chief priests, the rulers and the people, 14 and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was inciting the people to rebellion. I have examined him in your presence and have found no basis for your charges against him. 15 Neither has Herod, for he sent him back to us; as you can see, he has done nothing to deserve death. 16 Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” [17]

18 But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” 19 (Barabbas had been thrown into prison for an insurrection in the city, and for murder.)

20 Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again. 21 But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

22 For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed? I have found in him no grounds for the death penalty. Therefore I will have him punished and then release him.”

23 But with loud shouts they insistently demanded that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 So Pilate decided to grant their demand. 25 He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.

What did you see?


  • The ‘kangaroo court’ of the Jewish council (22:66-71)
  • Pilate sees no need to worry about Jesus (23:1-7)
  • Herod doesn’t see what all the fuss is about (8-12)
  • Pilate and Jesus and the crowd (13-55)
    • Pilate’s first decision – Crowd cried “Barabbas!”(13-19)
    • Pilate’s second appeal – Crowd cried “Crucify!”(20-21)
    • Pilate’s final attempt to release Jesus – the cries prevail (22-25)

The ‘kangaroo court’ of the Jewish council (22:66-71)

“At daybreak the council…met together…” Luke did not inform us of the discussions of the night at the High Priest’s house. Mark 14 and Matthew 26 provide a conversations similar to the conversation that follows in Luke’s gospel. It appears that much was discussed during the night and in the day, they met again and bound Jesus to take him to Pilate. The council consisted of the chief priests and the teachers of the law. It was probably the Sanhedrin (Mark 15:1a; Matthew 27:1). These are the very breed of people who had grown in their hatred toward Jesus. They wanted to kill Jesus but were afraid of the people (Luke 20:19 and 22:2). Both Josephus and Mishnah (historians) place such meetings outside the temple or in the outer court.

“If you are the Messiah…tell us.” Their question is weird. Is this the evidence of a crime or are they simply wanting Jesus to stop speaking in parables and tell them clearly. What if he said plainly, YES! Would they then examine the evidence that Jesus has already brought to support his claim: healing sick and demon possessed, raising Lazarus from the dead, teaching wisely and truthfully from the scriptures? Well, it seems that if Jesus has been vague about his identity as the Messiah, it was clearly at the heart of their questioning. That is, people were talking about him like he is the Messiah.

The title ‘Messiah’ is Hebrew for Christ. The NIV has chosen to use the word Messiah so that the reader can enjoy the synergy between the Old and New Testaments. The word describes God’s chosen king, that is, an undisputed ruler because it is God who appoints him. It is a regal title and to call Jesus the Christ is to confess his rule. The question of who the Messiah is has been spread across Luke’s gospel (see 2:11, 26; 3:15; 4:41; 9:20; 20:41).

“Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, and if I asked you, you would not answer.” This reminds me of Jesus’ previous conversation with the teachers of the law in 20:1-8. The question was asked, quite likely, by many of the same people on the Sanhedrin. Jesus refused to answer their question then because they were not prepared to answer truthfully and fairly. Their question was vagur then: who gives you this authority? They now get straight to the point: are you the Messiah? But they are still not prepared to listen and judge based on the truth. Are they willing to say and conclude for themselves that he is NOT the Messiah? As we read through the courtroom conversations with Jesus we grow increasingly aware of how these leaders hate Jesus – Messiah or not.

“But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.” This is the information Jesus chooses to reveal to them. Speaking in riddles. It declares that a time has come right now for something significant and eternal. From now on! The Son of Man refers to a righteous man who speaks God’s words in truth. That is, it is a rightful title of someone who has filled the purpose of mankind perfectly. This definition comes from the way it is used in the book of Ezekiel who is called son of man and directed to speak God’s words with complete obedience. It also comes from the brief but vivid description in Daniel 7 of one like the son of man who ascends and sits at the right hand of God. Jesus uses this title rather than Son of God as he seeks to be the perfect man and only one worthy to sit at the right hand of God. Jesus, therefore, in this only statement before the Sanhedrin, declares that the Old Testament promises of God are now ready to be fulfilled. While he does not answer ‘yes’ to the question of being the Messiah, his riddle certainly paints that picture. You just need to know your Old Testament to hear it. 2 Samuel 7:12-16 and Daniel 7:13-14 provide key background verses to Jesus’ statement.

“Are you then the Son of God?” They appear to have understood something significant from Jesus. Is what you are saying, to be understood by us, that you are the Son of God? Perhaps the question springs from their theology of the Messiah. Perhaps 2 Samuel 7 gives them the formula that the Messiah will be the Son of God. Perhaps even Jesus gave them information to flesh out their theology back in 20:41-44? He stretches their ideas of the Messiah from being merely a son of David to being someone who even David worshipped.

“He replied, “You say that I am.” This is cryptic too. In our understanding it can seem like neither a denial nor a confirmation. He is certainly not meaning: Yes, I am! Nor is he meaning: If you say so. He could be saying, “That’s exactly what you are going to judge me on.” As in, that is the conclusion to make, but it’s for you to make it and then decide what to do with me. His lack of denial is enough for the court to convict him of blasphemy. Jesus doesn’t need to trip up in order to go to the cross. He knows where this will end. It is interesting that his answer includes the words “I AM” in it but I’m not sure if we can do too much with it. Perhaps Jesus is quietly mocking them.

“Why do we need any more testimony? We have heard it from his own lips.” They are very quick to convict. Their evidence is so flimsy and even if Jesus was clearly stating that he is the eternal Son of God (which is certainly implied), why is it a full gone conclusion that this is evil? It is only worth convicting if it were untrue. Our world has heard the testimony from Jesus and his disciples for thousands of years and continues to discredit him without a fair trial.

Pilate sees no need to worry about Jesus (23:1-7)

“…the whole assembly rose and led him off to Pilate.” This was their aim from the beginning of the trial. What they need, though, is not a conviction of blasphemy but a conviction of uprising against Caesar. They need the Romans to see why he needs to die. Pilate was the governor in Jerusalem at that time.

“We have found this man subverting our nation.” Their claim to care about the nation under Roman rule is just buttering up to Pilate. They appear to be on the same side as Pilate.

“He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar…” That’s wrong. See Luke 20:22-26.

“…and he claims to be Messiah, a king.” What is really on trial here is the Jewish teachers who are rejecting Jesus as their king. Jesus has shown all the right reasons for concluding that he is the Messiah without having to travel around with a banner declaring him as Messiah. The evidence is there but Jesus’ ministry has not been defined by his declaration of himself to be Messiah. The closest he came, perhaps, is when he did not deny being the Messiah only three verses earlier. It’s not his Messiahship on trial here but the rejection of the people of the Messiah that will characterise his execution. But the Jews put before Pilate the two things that he can be tried for in the Roman court: opposing taxes to Caesar and challenging the kingship of Caesar.

“So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the king of the Jews?” This is the claim that interested Pilate the most. Not so much the money question.

“You have said so,” Jesus replied. Then Pilate announced to the chief priests and the crowd, “I find no basis for a charge against this man.” The accusation is not sticking nor making an impact on Pilate. The best shot of the chief priests was to show Jesus as a subversion to the Romans but Pilate can’t see it. Pilate is not feeling threatened. The reply from Jesus resembles his response back in Verse 70. Jesus is simply affirming what people are saying around him.

“But they insisted…’He stirs up the people…He started in Galilee…” The accusers are desperate for Pilate to see the danger that Jesus represents. Can’t he see how dangerous Jesus is? This man who was taken by night in a quiet place while praying? He healed the cut ear of the temple guard and taught to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s. What a dangerous rebel he was! Why can’t Pilate see this! It is because the threat that Jesus holds is not to governments but to the hearts of people. These leaders did not want to concede that Jesus was sent from God. The news that he was a Galilean gives Pilate a way to be done with Jesus without releasing him. Verses 6 and 7 provide that detail with no need to expand on it.

Herod doesn’t see what all the fuss is about (8-12)

“…Herod…was greatly pleased, because…he had been wanting to see him…he hoped to see him perform a sign of some sort.” Reports of the comotion Jesus had been making in his ministry had reached the ear of Herod. Luke 9:9. To some, Jesus will remain an amusement and someone to sit in judgement over – is he entertaining?

“But Jesus gave him no answer.” Jesus is not a show pony. It is we who respond to his invitation to come and find mercy. It is not his duty to do what we ask of him. This is one of the key failures of the human race. God has created, sustained, shown his character and invited us to relate with him like a Father, he has sent the Son to save. All this, God has done! Yet mankind will continue to ask God to show us more and then we’ll believe.

“The chief priests and the teachers of the law were standing there, vehemently accusing him. Then Herod and his soldiers ridiculed and mocked him.” Jesus did not perform for Herod. He did not even entertain by responding to his accusers and so Herod joined in on the mocking. Herod’s long awaited encounter with Jesus did not satisfy him. Note that the chief priests and teachers of the law were sticking with this vendetor to make sure the death penalty would be applied and stick.

“…they sent him back to Pilate. That day Herod and Pilate became friends – before this they had been enemies.” Going with the biblical principle that nothing is put in the bible for trivial purposes, why does Luke include this little detail? Perhaps it works as a fulfillment to Psalm 2:1-2 as Acts 4:24-28 describes it. Since Luke wrote both Luke and Acts, it is possible. The depiction of how that fulfillment takes place is not as great nations furiously rising up against the Almighty but as two officials taking very little notice of Jesus but using this event to build bridges. Luke conveys a moment where the salvation story intertwines with political history. The rejection of the Messiah was at the centre of repairing differences between Pilate and Herod. This trial took place on the pages of history. This is why we include Pilate in our creed – the cross took place in real time and space.

Pilate and Jesus and the crowd (13-55)

This section now involves Jesus before Pilate but it is no longer an interaction between them but between Pilate and the people. The crowd includes no less than the chief priests and teachers of the law, but may include all those who came behind Judas the previous night and because the day is getting on and the story of how Jesus has been arrested must have travelled around the city, who knows how big the crowd is now. But the voices of those who love Jesus will be silent before the many who want to see him gone.

Pilate’s first decision – Crowd cried “Barabbas!”(13-19)

“You brought me this man…I have examined him…and found no basis for your charges…neither has Herod…Therefore, I will punish him and then release him.” The decision to punish Jesus before releasing him was surely an attempt by Pilate to appease the crowd. If he is innocent, then a lashing will help the crowd see that a warning has been sent to Jesus. This ought to be enough discipline dealt out. But Pilate clearly sees no weight to the accusations of Jesus. Both Pilate and Herod are not threatened by Jesus. In John 18:36, Jesus declares that his kingdom is not of this world. He is not interested in Rome or Jerusalem. He has come to lay down his life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45).

“But the whole crowd shouted, “Away with this man! Release Barabbas to us!” Luke does not explain why Barabbas is suddenly asked for but did you notice that Verse 17 is missing? Some manuscripts include a sentence similar to Matthew 27:15 or Mark 15:6 which described the custom of releasing a prisoner as requested by the crowd – a kind of good-will gesture. Perhaps a minor offender could be pardoned. But the crowd here ask for a known rebel and murderer to be released. If Pilate is not a stupid man, do you think he’d notice the hypocrisy of the people asking for an innocent man to be sentenced for causing an uprising and for the release of a guilty man who had murdered and caused an uprising? About Verse 17, some copiers may have felt the need to explain the crowd’s request and so included that info from the other gospels. So the placeholder for Verse 17 is kept but the more trustworthy manuscripts do not include this info.

Pilate’s second appeal – Crowd cried “Crucify!”(20-21)

“Wanting to release Jesus, Pilate appealed to them again.” Each of the gospels portray Pilate in this light. The emphasis is not on Pilate’s decision but on the outright, unjust betrayal of the Messiah from the leaders of Jerusalem. The parable of Luke 20:9-15 is being played out.

“But they kept shouting, “Crucify him! Crucify him!” Crucifixion was the execution style of the day. It was not pleasant. It was in plain sight of the people. And it was kept for the shameful criminals. The crowd are requesting more than death, they want Jesus humiliated. What has become the standard logo for Christianity was a cry of hatred toward our Saviour.

Pilate’s final attempt to release Jesus – the cries prevail (22-25)

“For the third time he spoke to them: “Why? What crime has this man committed?…” Pilate cannot justify their request. The people had brought Jesus to Pilate with some shallow accusations and demanded that Pilate do the ‘right thing’ by them. Now it is Pilate’s turn to ask the crowd: what do you have against this guy?! And Jesus remains on trial like that to this day. What has he spoken against our world that we would not stop and pay attention to him? Have you noticed how easy it is to quote Buddha or Confucius or Ghandi or Mark Twain without getting any flack. But quote Jesus and the reaction from people is not as neutral. Jesus marks the great divide between humanity and God. He did not simply stand for truth and love. He stood for the kingdom of God. That, according to Jesus, is the most precious thing in the world. It is not inner peace. It is not live and let live. It is not simply love thy neighbour. It is: seek first the kingdom of God. If you don’t like that priority in life then Jesus is a great stumbling block. Other gurus seek mutual peace. Jesus did not come to bring peace but a sword. And the weapon swung by the disciples of Jesus is not made of steal but of words.

“But…their shouts prevailed.” The crowd knew what they wanted even before they entered the Mount of Olives to seize Jesus. Innocent or not, justified or not, they wanted Jesus killed by crucifixion. Though Pilate had the power to release him (after all, he was not guilty of anything), the shouts and obsession of the crowd won the day. Here is evidence that democracy is not perfect. The masses can outcry those who know better. And those who know better may need to live with the consequences of the foolish masses.

“So Pilate decided to grant their demand. He released the man who had been thrown into prison for insurrection and murder, the one they asked for, and surrendered Jesus to their will.” Jesus will go to the cross with no complicated drawn out trial. It will be plain old sin that sends him there. No mercy. No room for appeal. And no real basis for his death. Pilate’s decision is no different to a man being pushed into a corner and giving into temptation. Which is the easiest thing to do: release Jesus or let the crowd have their way? It is far easier to sin than to act righteously. That is why we needed the cross to be occupied by the Innocent One. The innocent goes to death and the murderer is set free. Nathan Tasker wrote a wonderful reflective song on this very exchange and imagines himself as Barabbas. The guilty is set free in exchange for the innocent.

What did we learn?

The chief priests, teachers of the law and the crowd gave it to Jesus like the world always has and continues to this day. Who cares about the truth and justice, just crucify Jesus and let the guilty go free. Our world treats God the same way. It’s a kangaroo court that presumes Him to be in the wrong and we deserve freedom. While God sent the Son of Man into the world to set it free. The world treated him as a nuisance to get rid of. But this trivial event that barely caught the eye of Pilate and Herod marked the beginning of the Messiah’s eternal reign by the Father’s side. The question is, do we stand by Jesus or Barabbas?

Now what?

Topic A: Learning to learn by listening. The Son of God was standing before the leaders of Israel, before Pilate and before Herod. None of them, even Pilate, had the time to learn from Jesus. Each were more concerned with their own futures than with the truth of the eternal future. Jesus is the King. Learning to stop and listen to his words, his message, will give us reward for this life and the next.

Topic B: Seeing God’s great work hidden in almost nothing. It took less than a day and a couple of conversations to decide that Jesus was to be crucified. For Herod and Pilate, this event did not register too highly. Pilate just wanted to get past it without a riot. The riot was averted and Pilate moves onto the next thing. God went to the cross for the church that day. God has not stopped working to draw in his church and grow. The true church is not magnificent or wealthy or attractive to this world. But it exists, it thrives, it grows and spreads. What we do each week in Growth Groups is small and often underwhelming but it is the work of the Spirit transforming us through his word. God is doing great work in this day. People just won’t notice.

Topic C: The great exchange. An innocent man went to the cross while a murder went free. The murderer was able to go free because an innocent man went to the cross. It isn’t fair or logical. But it is grace. Perhaps listen to the Nathan Tasker song and reflect how Barabbas is a metaphor for sinners being freed because of Jesus’ injustice.

Luke 22:47-65

The Heart of Darkness

Discussion Question

Which of these best describe you?

  • Day person or night person.
  • Words or action.
  • Follower or leader.


Jesus and his disciples have been in Jerusalem for the better half of a week, preaching every day at the temple and retiring in the evening to the Mount of Olives. Jesus shared the Passover meal with them where he spoke about greatness in the kingdom of God is about serving. He told them that one of them would betray him and that all of them would be put to the test as Satan sifts them as wheat. Jesus had instructed them to expect less handouts from people from now on but to equip themselves with money, clothing and swords. When the disciples took his instructions literally, he terminated the conversation.

After the meal, they followed Jesus to the Mount of Olives where Jesus instructed them all to pray that they would not fall into temptation. He prayed earnestly through anguish to the Father who did not decide to take the cup away from Jesus but sent an angel to strengthen him. While Jesus was praying this, the disciples, in their sorrow, fell asleep. He woke them to tell them again, “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

Read Luke 22:47-65

47 While he was still speaking a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him, 48 but Jesus asked him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”

49 When Jesus’ followers saw what was going to happen, they said, “Lord, should we strike with our swords?” 50 And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear.

51 But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And he touched the man’s ear and healed him.

52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him, “Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come with swords and clubs? 53 Every day I was with you in the temple courts, and you did not lay a hand on me. But this is your hour—when darkness reigns.”

54 Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 55 And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 56 A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”

57 But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.

58 A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”

“Man, I am not!” Peter replied.

59 About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”

60 Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 61 The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 62 And he went outside and wept bitterly.

63 The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him. 64 They blindfolded him and demanded, “Prophesy! Who hit you?” 65 And they said many other insulting things to him.

What did you see?


  • Leaders and followers (47-53)
  • Peter tested (54-62)
  • The torment begins (63-65)

Leaders and followers (47-53)

“While he was still speaking…” The final words were of Jesus to the disciples, “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” The story that unfolds now takes us through the beginnings of the temptation for all especially of Peter. The reason for their prayer was right at the door.

“…a crowd came up, and the man who was called Judas, one of the Twelve, was leading them.” The theme of leading and following is strong in this section (Verses 47-53 especially) as we’ll see as we move through the passage. Luke establishes clearly that Judas was one of the twelve but is now leading a crowd. Greater than twelve perhaps? The crowd contained chief priests and officers of the temple guard and elders (Verse 52) and they were all following Judas. Who else was in the crowd? They would probably make up some of the folk who sat around the fire in the next section who challenged Peter.

“He approached Jesus to kiss him…betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” Note the physical closeness to this betrayal. The way that Jesus is betrayed is emphasised. Is this just trivial or poetic that the betrayer appears to be friends with Jesus? One who is close to him will lead the rebellion? The hypocrisy of this act is perhaps what we ought to note. Although Judas was one of the Twelve, his kiss is nothing like the emotional weeping of the woman who dried Jesus’ feet with her hair. He was physically close to Jesus but he was not really connected to him. Jesus was not his Lord. Although Judas was stabbing Jesus in the back, he did it from the front and with the intimacy of a kiss. Luke does not actually tell us that the kiss happened but Matthew 26:49 and Mark 14:45 tell us that he did.

“When Jesus’ followers saw…” Please note again the theme of leading and following in this passage. The disciples who had followed Jesus to the Mount of Olives  (22:39), saw the crowd with Judas at the front. We now have a face off. Jesus and the Twelve-minus-one facing up against Judas and a crowd of Temple leaders. In one corner is the carpenter’s son who has been preaching about the kingdom of God for 3 years all over Israel. In the opposite corner is the established leaders of Israel.

“…Lord, should we strike with our swords?” The game is on and the disciples’ are still backing Jesus. They had their two swords that they showed him back at the table of the Passover and the sight of the crowd was not enough to set them running. They were ready to follow Jesus into battle.

“But Jesus answered, “No more of this!” And touched the man’s ear and healed him.” This response fits neatly with his earlier exclamation, “That’s enough!” in Verse 38. His disciples were not selected and called to be his army but they were chosen to be his messengers who would testify to the world about Him. He is not leading a rebellion (Verse 52). Judas came and touched Jesus gently with a kiss – a loving gesture with evil intent. Jesus touches his enemy with a healing hand.

“Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple guard, and the elders, who had come for him…” Luke lists the types of people who made up the crowd that was lead by Judas and their mission was to come for Jesus. These leaders had been afraid of “the people” so that they needed to capture Jesus secretly by night (Luke 20:19; 21:38; 22:6). Their secret and evil actions are highlighted by what Jesus says next.

“…Am I leading a rebellion…? Everyday I was with you in the temple courts….But this is your hour – when darkness reigns.” Jesus’ whole response is like a parent telling a child how wrong they are by simply pointing out the facts. Jesus’ ministry has been all about speaking the truth. Not about uprisings or back stabbing. Not about weapons or pushes for power. His ministry has been all about words full of truth about the kingdom of God. Even now, as he confronts this mob, his response is not physical but to speak the truth. Jesus has not been hiding in caves but has been operating in plain sight. This mob has waited for the very hour when all the peaceful folk are asleep in their beds to come to Jesus with evil intent. They want him dead.

“…when darkness reigns.” The imagery of light and dark in the bible is a common tool to distinguish secret work with sinister intent versus truth and righteousness. This whole section of Verses 47-53 has contrasted two opposing groups. One, a small band of men following Jesus who is and has been teaching truth in the daylight, without weapons except for the words that he uses and the wonders that attest to his words being from God. The other side a crowd of distinguished men bent on ruining their opponent. They came by night, organised and lead by a traitor. Their apparent acts of kindness, a kiss, are really betrayal. Jesus approach is truth and healing.

The theme of leading and following continues in the next section as we watch who Peter chooses to stand beside.

Peter tested (54-62)

“Then seizing him, they led him…” The brutal treatment of Jesus begins. The One who can calm storms and raise the dead to life allows his enemies to take him away. Would we ever be so humble as Jesus?

“…to the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance.” Luke mentions the location of this scene but the focus is not yet on Jesus and the high priest. Luke does not record any future interactions between Jesus and the high priest. It might be worth that the following event takes place with our Great High Priest, Jesus, standing in the courtyard of the Jewish high priest and Peter being grilled over whether he is with Jesus or not. The focus of this story is now on Peter. As Jesus is lead away, the camera looks beyond Jesus’ shoulder and we see Peter lurking behind. He is not following Jesus as such but the whole crowd. The question is, what will Peter do? What is he following for? Perhaps he doesn’t even know.

“And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them.” These people who had kindled the fire consisted of the very crowd members who had come by night to seize Jesus. They are not friendlies. But Peter sat down with them. By his physical position, he has put himself on the fence. We empathise with him because this event is brand new to him. He and the other disciples have had this event veiled from their understanding (Luke 9:45). Where else should he stand on a cold night? He is physically “with them” and we want to know is he still “with” Jesus.

“A servant girl saw him…and said, “This man was with him.” In the darkness, the spotlight is shone onto Peter. The questions and answers that follow progress like a slow motion train wreck. “I don’t know him”… “I am not [one of them]!”… “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” These questions and answers were delivered over the course of the night and not consecutively like machine gun fire. His questioning came from servants and others who were not permitted or required to come to the high priests house. I’m reminded of my old “peer group pressure” seminars in high school and wish Peter could have brought those to mind too. Let’s remember though, that this is the beginning of Satan’s plans to sift Peter and the others like wheat. The attacks we receive from the enemy often come in small scale moments when we do not feel brave enough to say, “I am with Jesus.”

“Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. The Peter remembered…and he went outside and wept bitterly.” See Luke 22:34. That moment when you feel like the worst disciple Jesus has ever known. Peter’s response to his own sin is a right one. It is easy to place ourselves in Peter’s place. But all disciples of Jesus have a great and merciful Saviour! Can you put yourself in Jesus’ shoes? To know that this event would happen, to have warned Peter that it will happen and to instruct him to pray that he can not fall into temptation and to watch Peter fail just as He know that Peter would. This is an image of our relationship with Jesus. He knows our temptations. He instructs us to pray. He teaches us to be children of the light, not of the darkness and yet we fail him. Jesus is indeed THE Righteous One. There is no other than Him. We can only say that we have been saved through grace alone and no merit of our own. We should weep over our unfaithfulness. We should remember the grace of God and His Son who knows us and sees us and is praying for us (Luke 22:32; John 17:20-26). Note, when he went “outside” this must refer to outside the courtyard.

We have just witnessed a quick turnaround prophecy about Peter. Jesus foreknew that Peter would deny knowing Jesus three times on that very night and this unfolds before us just as Jesus predicted. As Peter looks into the eyes of Jesus in Verse 61 he is seeing a great prophet who has proven himself.

The torment begins (63-65)

“The men who were guarding Jesus began mocking and beating him…” These verses come as an abrupt end to the episode about Peter. Verse 52 comes to mind again as we see the way Jesus is treated. There is nothing difficult about the words and their meaning but we need to note the significance of fulfilled prophecy.

Now, as Luke describes ever so briefly the mocking and the beating and “many other insulting things”, the one mocking phrase described is his ability to prophesy. See Luke 18:32-33; 9:22. See also Isaiah 50:6 and 53:3). What Jesus had foretold, what the prophets had written about, was now beginning to be dealt out on Jesus.

In this whole passage of following and leading, it is the One who foreknew the outcome of that night and humbly submitted to the treachery around him who is really in control and far ahead of all of them. Disciples of Jesus will do well to trust the long term plans of our Lord and not be swayed or tempted by the short term view of the evils of this world.

What did we learn?

The Lord Jesus Christ leads a kingdom that speaks the truth in the daylight. He is a public figure with so much information about him accessible to all. Yet this world would rather mock him and those who side with him than repent and stand with him. This is a passage about choosing who we stand with. The kingdom of God is not about strength as this world knows it. It is about truth and trusting in the One who will go to the cross for you.

Now what?

Topic A: Children of the light. The contrast in this passage between those who think and do evil versus those (or just Jesus) who pursue righteousness. If we speak the truth in love then we have nothing to hide. We are called to live as children of the light and not of the darkness. When we are tempted to do things in secret, that is our conscience telling us that we are working against the Lord and his desire for us to mature. Read how Paul uses the contrast of dark and light, night and day to instruct us to live as children of the light in Romans 13:11-14. See also, Ephesians 5:8, 1 Thessalonians 5:5 and Colossians 3:5-14.

Topic B: “I am with Jesus.” It is such an easy sentence to speak but can be so difficult when the time is right to say it. “I am with Jesus” can be said in other ways too. “I am a Christian… I go to church because… What do you think about Jesus?… I can pray for you about that, would that be ok with you?” What other ways can you think of to align yourself publically with Jesus?

Topic C: Weeping like Peter. It is the nature of the proud person to attempt to justify their behaviour. It is the nature of a disciple to weep and repent over their sin. Jesus is Lord because he just is, but he is also worthy to be Lord because he is righteous. He calls people because he is merciful and kind, not because we are worthy. It is by grace that you have been saved through faith and not by works so that none of us can or should boast. Let’s embrace the opportunity to repent and grieve over our failure to follow him.

Luke 22:39-46

The Father’s Will

Discussion Question

Prayer is __________.


Prayer is faith speaking. Discuss.


Previously, Jesus had shared the Passover meal with his disciples. At that table sat Judas who had already consented to betraying Jesus, being tempted by Satan to do so, and Simon Peter whom Jesus declared would be attacked by Satan and will betray Jesus before dawn. The time of pleasant ministry and small verbal attacks are over. It is time for Jesus to be betrayed and it will happen this very night. Despite Jesus’ warnings to the disciples and his teachings to them about the kingdom of God, they have been dull in their understanding.

Read Luke 22:39-46

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.

45 When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow. 46 “Why are you sleeping?” he asked them. “Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”

What did you see?


  • The plan to pray (39-40)
  • The crying Son (41-44)
  • The exhausted disciples (45-46)

The Plan to Pray (39-40)

“Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives…” See Luke 21:37. At the end of his day in Jerusalem, Jesus would retire to the same location at the Mount of Olives. This is the hillside he travelled along when he arrived at the city. See John 18:2.

“…and his disciples followed him.” The way this sentence is constructed shows Jesus knowing where he is going next while the disciples are simply following. That is, they are not a band of brothers, like-minded and driven together – but a party with one leader, the one with the plan and the mission and the twelve men who followed behind. The previous episode illustrated how their minds were on a different path to Jesus’.

“On reaching the place…” Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32 note that the exact place is Gethsemane.

“Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He tells them to use this time to pray and gives them the specific direction of praying to stand firm in the midst of temptation (not that temptation will be avoided but that they will not fall on account of it). Jesus had told them at the Lord’s Supper that Satan had asked to sift Simon and the others like wheat (22:31). Jesus told Simon that he was going to betray him that very night. They are instructed to pray to God to ‘deliver them from evil.’ This is the theme of this small passage. Praying to God to protect us and to surrender our wills to the will of the Father.

The Crying Son (41-44)

“He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them…” The withdrawing suggests an emotional ‘pulling away’ (see Acts 21:1 which uses the same Greek word for ‘tearing oneself away’). The distance of a stone’s throw adds to the emotion picture of the passage.

“…knelt down and prayed…” Jesus had instructed them to do the same and immediately proceeded to do it himself. If prayer was what was needed then pray is what he did. It’s hard to know what to make of the detail that he knelt rather than stood or even just to note that he prayed without describing his position. Common practice was apparently to stand while praying. I’m not sure about that. Perhaps it is best to stick to the narrative and have our minds picturing the scene of Jesus pulling himself away from his friends to spend time with his Father; to position himself a few metres away; and to kneel down in humility. The Son of God is on his own, in the quiet of the night, knelt down and ready to speak to the Father.

“Father, if you are willing…” The Lord’s prayer contained the your will be done element as well as the deliver us from evil. It is a grand prayer that, when meditated on, provides all the ingredients of a faithful mind and life – aligning our wills with the Father’s will. Jesus called the God whom he prayed to Father. We pick up our language of the Trinity from verses like this. Who did Jesus pray to? God of course! This God whom he prayed to, he called Father. Jesus is also in submission to the Father. He demonstrates through his prayer that the will of the Father is paramount. If the Father is willing… When we pray, we discuss what we desire and ask if the Father is willing to allow or fulfill our request. We also surrender our expectations in order to grow in our understanding of what He wills.

“…take this cup from me…” This is a profound prayer from Jesus! The Father and the Son had a plan for salvation from the beginning and the Son entered the world knowing what this plan was. He had described on a number of occasions to the disciples what the plan was (Luke 18:33; 24:6-7). He knew the Father’s will and yet spoke honestly to the Father about it. Now, what is the cup? The closest imagery to flesh this out is what Jesus demonstrated at the last supper only a few verses earlier. Luke 22:17-20. This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you. Jeremiah 25:15-38 (esp. 15-29) uses the cup filled with wine as an image of God’s wrath that must be drunk. It is His wrath raged against the nations of the world, on all who live on the earth to receive punishment (see also Psalm 75:8; Isaiah 51:17-22; . The two images of the cup of wrath and the poured out blood combine to provide for us a cup of mercy because the Son was willing to drink of it on our behalf. Note also that Jesus does not have a death wish as if this is going to be fun for him.

“…yet not my will but yours be done.” As alluded to before, what an amazing model of prayer for us. A rebellious heart may choose to run away from responsibility or consequences and hide until the storm dies down. A godly person will talk to God about what is weighing them down, ask for help and conclude to do what must be done. Tired of having not enough money? Talk to God about that but conclude that His will be done. Is there a health issue that you are facing. God can remove that for you but it may not be his will. Let His will be done. Is there a dilemma that you have – a decision that needs to be made – ask God for the answer! Know that His answer may be clear or it may be that you need to continue in prayer over the matter. Perhaps you already know what you need to do but just wish that there was another way? The examples of prayer can go on. The point though is that it is God’s will that is excellent and we ought to be growing toward loving it always.

“An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” Clearly the will of the Father was not to take the cup from him – but He was willing to send help to get Jesus through the night.

“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Note the relationship between his physical, spiritual and emotional being. We have noticed briefly the relationship between the Son and the Father – the Son being submissive to the Father. Now we note the physical realm that Jesus existed in during his ministry here on earth. He was in physical pain, not from the sword or something else, but through the torture of having to face the outcomes of tomorrow. This was obviously more than any human has ever had to face. More than facing the wrath of God – he knew it was coming! His response? To pray even more earnestly than before! The strength of his faith ensured that he would not give up on prayer the minute things got hard. Prayer is a powerful resource that we have to centre our minds on the things of God and to speak with him about them. Our weaknesses and our hurts are shared with God. Our struggle to walk the path is shared with him. We keep talking especially in the thick of temptation. Hebrews 5:7ff alludes to prayers such as this one of Jesus that helped him to stay the path for the sake of those who would trust in him.

“…and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Luke has used very few words in this entire passage to paint the picture of Jesus’ struggle. Here he uses a simile to describe the anguish (and anxiety?) that produced sweat for Jesus. It is remarkable enough that his prayer session produced sweat.  We need not believe that the sweat was actually mixed with blood but had the weight and consistency of blood. Trust a physician to use an analogy like that (Colossians 4:14). Some manuscripts do not include verses 43 and 44, most likely because it is unique to Luke’s description of events and so scribes may have omitted this.

The Exhausted Disciples (45-46)

“When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples…” The passage has a clear focus on prayer as it begins and ends with Jesus speaking to the disciples on their need to pray and centres with Jesus’ prayer in the middle. Verse 45 is the reverse of Verse 41.

“…he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.” We are not told weather they prayed at all or not but that they did not have the endurance like Jesus – perhaps they did not last long at all! But we are told that their sleep was more than laziness, it was brought on by emotional fatigue! Was it sorrow brought on by their knowledge of temptation at hand (similar to Jesus) or was it brought on by distress of looking and watching Jesus in distress? Either way, the garden that night was filled with very intense emotion.

“Why are you sleeping?… Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” The story returns to where it began – the call to pray for protection from sin.

What did we learn?

Prayer is the right response to distress and sorrow. The weapon to overcome temptation is not will power, but prayer. It is an act of faith as we speak honestly about our desires and wants and bring them submissively before the Father who is able to do anything He wills. Jesus carried such anguish leading up to the cross which was exercised with prayer and was responded to with care from the Father. The disciples demonstrate humanities weakness.

Now what?

Topic A: Bringing it all to the Father in prayer. It is rare to find a real prayer warrior. Someone whose instinct is to take things to God in prayer and to wrestle with him in the things that need talking about. Jesus demonstrated, in his perfect example of being human, that prayer is essential. He prayed regularly and he instructed his disciples here that when things are getting ugly, the best thing to do is to pray. Notice that when he found them exhausted, he didn’t say, “oh good on you for taking care of yourselves.” He said, “wake up and pray!” Prayer is the right and loving thing to do when joy is in our hearts. Prayer is the faithful response to stress and trouble. It is the greatest tool that we have in response to temptation.

Topic B: Making prayer a habit. Given Jesus’ own dependance on the Father active in praying, how can we foster a genuine habit of praying? It would be foolish to leave all of our praying up to spontaneity. It would be foolish to assume that making something a habit equates to making it a duty. If dependance on God is what we need, then we need a daily dose of conversing with him. The Lord’s prayer has a daily flavour to it. Prayer is not about tickling God’s ear but about expressing our faith in him through habitually meeting with Him. Discuss what has been some wins or failures with your group on trying to make prayer a daily love. Have lists helped? Has routine been good? Some people associate a time of day or an activity with prayer. Perhaps abstaining from something (like TV or Facebook) until time with God has occurred.

Topic C: The cup that we do not have to drink. Jesus was in anguish over the looming event of the cross. It has been the will of the Father and of the obedient Son to propitiate (expend God’s wrath) on Jesus. We can meditate on what the cup of God’s wrath may be like but we will never ever have to experience it ourselves if we put our trust in Christ and his blood poured out on our behalf. Of course, if we ignore this momentous gift of grace, then where else can we go to avoid drinking this cup ourselves? Perhaps as we consider the topic of prayer, we can equate a praying life with a faithful life lived in response to the price that has been paid for you and me. Not willing to drink the cup yourself? Let’s run to God in prayer of thankfulness and ask Him for all wisdom to live humble and faithful lives.