My church finished its Bible study on Luke last night. We were going through Luke: Gospel of Reassurance With Michael Card. Because my pastor and his wife will be away next week, we went through two lessons last night. In this post, I’ll have three items: two about Lesson 7, and one about Lesson 8.
1. One verse that stood out to me was Luke 22:15-16, which states (in the NIV): “And he said to them, “I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God.”
How will the Passover be fulfilled in the kingdom of God? What does that mean?
John MacArthur states: “fulfilled. Christ’s death on the following day fulfilled the symbolism of the Passover meal. Passover was both a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt, and a prophetic type of the sacrifice of Christ.”
According to MacArthur, if I am understanding him correctly, the Passover found fulfillment in the Kingdom of God when Jesus died on the cross. I thought for a long time, however, that its fulfillment in the Kingdom of God would relate to Christ’s second coming. John Gill’s interpretation is similar to that of MacArthur, but he also believes that there is eschatological significance: “it will also be fulfilled in the kingdom of heaven, or eternal glory, when there will be a perfect deliverance of the saints from sin, Satan, and the world; which the deliverance of the Israelites out of Egypt was typical of, commemorated in the passover; and therefore then will be sung the song of Moses, and the Lamb; and then will Christ, and his true followers, eat and drink together in his Father’s kingdom, and spend an endless eternity in never fading joys and pleasures.”
In a sense, while the deliverance of the world from sin and Satan commenced with Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, it will be completed, or fulfilled, after Christ’s second coming. Within early Christian thought, the Passover is relevant to this eschatological occurrence, for the Book of Revelation mentions the Song of Moses in reference to it.
2. What stood out to me in Lesson 7 was a question about Luke 22:45. I think that the curriculum was using the NIV, so I’ll quote Luke 22:45 in that version. The context is Jesus’ anguished prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before his arrest, trial, and crucifixion. Luke 22:45 states, “When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them asleep, exhausted from sorrow.” The question about this passage in the workbook was: “What do you think Luke meant in regard to the disciples being asleep, ‘exhausted from sorrow’ (verse 45)?”
I have to admit that this biblical passage puzzled me somewhat. Why were the disciples sorrowful? Did they know that Jesus was about to die? Did they feel heavy around Jesus because they could sense that Jesus was feeling heavy?
I had problems with the idea that the disciples at that moment were aware that Jesus would die. I didn’t think that they had that kind of understanding of God’s plan at that point. Obviously, they knew that Jesus was about to encounter trials, since Peter affirmed in Luke 22:32 that he would not deny Jesus but would go to prison and death for him, so Peter was aware that troubling times were ahead. Could that be why the disciples were sorrowful when they were praying? I had long assumed that they were clueless about what was about to happen to Jesus when they fell asleep.
I looked at commentaries, and the only explanations I found were that the disciples were sad because Jesus was sad, or because Jesus had told them about his imminent trials and death. Why would they stick with Jesus, if they knew that he was about to die? Was it out of loyalty, love, and admiration for Jesus? Did they expect for God to deliver Jesus and usher in the Messianic era at the last minute? If that was their expectation, why were they so sad?
3. The Gospel of Luke makes a big deal about Jesus’ innocence. That was noted when I was taking New Testament classes as an undergraduate. The curriculum my church was using last night highlighted this point. Michael Card said that Jesus’ innocence in Luke’s Gospel foreshadowed Paul’s innocence in Acts. But what is the big deal about Jesus being innocent. Innocent of what? The charge that he was a blasphemer, or an insurrectionist Messianic wannabee? The impression that I got from the group, and that I get from many Christians, is that Jesus’ innocence in Luke’s Gospel means he was sinless. But one doesn’t follow from the other, in my opinion. One can be innocent of charges, yet still fall short of sinless perfection.
Perhaps Luke is simply trying to convince the Romans that Jesus was innocent of being an insurrectionist. At the same time, I have the feeling that his innocence has a deeper meaning than that in Luke’s Gospel.