Harmony of the Gospels

Author: Tom Lowe

Date: 11/25/2007


Point in Time: Thursday of Jesus’ Final Week
Location: Upper Room

(18)Passover Eaten, Jealousy Rebuked
Scripture: Matthew 26:20; Mark 14:17; Luke 22:14-16, 24-30


Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples, but immediately after that His disciples argued over which of them is the greatest. Jesus stops them and lets them know who will truly be the greatest in the kingdom. He also tells them of the reward they will get for their faithfulness to Him.

And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him. (Luke 22:14)
Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. (Matthew 26:20)
And in the evening he cometh with the twelve. (Mark 14:17)

For centuries, the Jews had celebrated the Passover feast, commemorating their glorious deliverance from Egypt and from death through the blood of the spotless lamb. How vividly this must all have come before the mind of the Savior as He sat down with His apostles to keep the feast for the last time. "Sat down" should be interpreted “reclined.”

And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer: (Luke 22:15)

Jesus welcomed this Passover, even though He knew it would be a prologue to his sufferings; he desired it, because it was a step that must be taken before he attained his Father’s glory and man’s redemption. He was happy to do even this part of the will of God.

It meant a great deal to Jesus to spend those hours with His disciples. He loved them ([1]John 13:1), and their presence encouraged Him.  He desired to eat it with them, so that he could spend a little time with them in private conversation, which was not possible in Jerusalem except on this occasion. He was now about to leave them, but eating this Passover with them before he suffered, would be comforting and help to carry him through his sufferings, and make them easier for him.

He was the true Passover Lamb whose blood would soon be shed for the salvation of all who would trust in Him.

For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God. (Luke 22:16)

With this statement, Christ takes his leave of all Passovers, and in so doing indicates that He has done away with all the ordinances of the ceremonial law, of which the Passover was one of the earliest and one of the most prominent. Essentially, He is saying "I will not eat of the Passover, and it will not be celebrated by my disciples, until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’’ It is there that the deliverance of His people, not from Egypt, but from all sin and evil, will have been fully accomplished.  It is there that they will at last have been fully redeemed.  It is there also that the fellowship between himself and all the redeemed will have been perfected ([2]Revelations 3:21). How and when was the Passover fulfilled? There were three ways:
1. Christ 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. It was fulfilled when Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us ([3]1 Cor. 5:7), redeeming mankind. At this point the Passover was laid aside, because now in the kingdom of God the substance had arrived, and He superseded everything that happened before.
2. It was fulfilled in the Lord’s Supper, an ordinance of the gospel kingdom, in which the Passover had its realization, and which the disciples, after the pouring out of the Spirit on Pentecost, frequently celebrated ([4]Acts 2:42, 46). They ate of it, and He is said to sup with them and they with him ([5]Rev. 3:20).
3. The complete and final accomplishment of that memorial to liberty will be present in the kingdom of glory, when all God’s spiritual Israel will be released from the bondage of death and sin, and be put in possession of the land of promise.

Norval Geldenhuys comments that “On the eve of His crucifixion Jesus knows that the whole course of His life of self-sacrifice and humiliation on earth is now drawing to an end. But He also knows that the day will come when He as the Triumphant One will lead His followers to the beautiful heritage of complete redemption and blessedness. This full blessedness which will commence with the end of the age has often been represented by the symbol of the celebration of a Messianic banquet. For this reason the Savior here refers to the celebration of the feast on that coming day when the sovereign dominion of God has come to full revelation and the redemption wrought by the grace of God, as symbolized in the Passover celebrations, has become a blessed and perfect reality.”

The next feast to involve Christ and His redeemed will be the great “kingdom feast” when he returns to establish rule on earth (Luke 22:28-30).

And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. (Luke 22:24)
When it was the right time to eat the Passover meal the Lord sat down (Reclined), probably at the head-end of the table, and the twelve apostles, including Judas, were with him. Though Judas has already been guilty of a blatant act of treason, it is not yet publicly known. But Christ knows, and yet He permits him to sit down with the rest.

Then after the meal, he got up, girded Himself with a towel, and washed the disciple’s feet, including Judas.  Later that evening, the twelve argue over which of them was the greatest so this lesson on humility and service did not penetrate their hearts.

Immediately after the Lord’s Supper strife developed between the twelve over who was the greatest? This was not the first time the subject had come up, and it would not be the last. But in the light of what their Lord had said and done that evening, this latest exhibition was inexcusable. And what was it that kicked off this argument? The Apostle does not say, but we can hazard a guess. Perhaps it was over just how the 13 would be arranged around the table; who will occupy the positions of honor, and in what order of rank? Or perhaps it started over which disciple should wash the feet of the other disciples and of the Master?”

And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest. (Luke 22:24)

They argued the subject many times prior to the coming of the Spirit. It was a sad foreshadowing of the strife that Satan would come to sow in the churches. How inconsistent it is that such an instance of pride and vanity can be found in men, who lived so close together and who loved their Master so much.

And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. (Luke 22:25)

It is a terrible indictment of the human heart that immediately after the Lord’s Supper, the disciples argued among themselves about which of them was the greatest! Perhaps with an eye to the succession when their leader is gone.

The Lord Jesus was nearby, so He could hear them arguing. When He entered the dispute He was not sharp with them, as might have been expected since He often scolded them for this very thing, but mildly showed them the sin and foolishness of it. He reminded them: 
1. That in His view greatness was the very opposite of man’s idea. The kings who ruled over the Gentiles were commonly thought of as great persons; in fact they were called “benefactors.” But it was only a title; actually they were cruel tyrants. They had the name of goodness, but their actions did not match the name.
2. That to do good is much more admirable than to look great. He wanted His disciples to believe that their greatest honor would be to do all the good they could in the world. They would indeed be benefactors to the world, by bringing the gospel to it.
3. That to do good is the surest way to be great. If they have the great honor of being benefactors, they should not look down on what is less, even the lesser honor of being rulers. There was no need for them to strive to be the greatest, because they would all be called great for bringing the world its greatest blessing—the Gospel message. That would be a greater blessing to mankind than anything the kings of the earth, that exercise lordship over them, were capable of doing.

But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. (Luke 22:26)

This is not what God intended for the followers of Christ.
1. What is the rule Christ gave to his disciples: The one that is considered the greatest among you on account of his age, should not look down on the younger men, because of the lowness of their position and the seeming insignificance of their work. It would be good if he would humble himself and sit with the younger men and get to know them better.

The expression “the least,” would seem to be more appropriate than the word ‘younger’ in this instance and more inline with the fact that under normal conditions the Bible, as these men knew it (our Old Testament), regarded old age as honorable and to be held in respect.
2. What was the example which he himself gave to this rule: “Whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat or he that serveth? he that attendeth or he that is attended on?” Now Christ treated his disciples just like the waiter treats the customer he serves. He was so far from assuming a high position, or living in luxury, and forcing them to serve and honor Him that He was ready to do them any kindness and service; such as washing their feet.

Those who desire to be great should take the place of the younger and less-important. And those who desire to be the most important should stoop to serving others. These revolutionary pronouncements by our Lord completely reversed the accepted traditions of the time, that younger men were inferior to their elders, and that leaders find greatness by mastering others.

For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth. (Luke 22:27)

The Lord is telling them that He has taken the lower position.  That is what He did when He took my place on the cross.  It is like a person getting up from the table and telling his waiter, “you sit down and eat, I will serve you.” When Jesus Christ came to earth, all mankind should have been His servant!  Instead, He served mankind.  He set a table of salvation and has invited us to this great feast of salvation.

In men’s estimation, it was greater to be a guest at a meal than to serve the meal. But the Lord Jesus came as a servant to men, and all who would follow Him must imitate Him in this.

True greatness means to be like Jesus and that means being a servant to others.  A servant does not argue over who is the greatest, because he knows that he is the least, and he accepts this from the hand of God.  Since Christians are to be servants, there is no reason for us to compete with one another for honors and recognition.  It is true that the competitive spirit is very strong in the church today as people promote themselves and their ministries as “the greatest.”

We should not mind being servants today, for we shall sit on thrones in the future kingdom!

Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations. (Luke 22:28)
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; (Luke 22:29)
That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:30)

My temptations. Christ’s entire life and ministry were filled with temptations, hardships, sorrows, and trials--not to mention the suffering of the cross which he knew was to come.

It was gracious of the Lord to commend the disciples for having stuck with Him through all His trials. They were guilty of many mistakes and weaknesses, they were dull and very forgetful, and often blundered, and yet their Master forgives and forgets that, because they were faithful.

They had just been quarreling among themselves. Very soon they would all forsake Him and flee. And yet He knew that in their hearts, they loved Him and had endured being hauled over the coals for His name’s sake.
They should not struggle for worldly honor and greatness, because He had better things in mind for them; another nature, a kingdom, a feast, a throne, for each of them. Their reward would be to sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel, a promise given earlier ([6]Matthew 19:28), when Christ returns to take the throne of David and rule over the earth. Just as surely as the Father had promised this kingdom to Christ, so they would definitely reign with Him over a renewed Israel, that finally accepted Him as the Messiah. During the millennial (one thousand years) reign of Christ, the twelve apostles (Matthias probably replaces Judas Iscariot, Acts 1:15–26) will have governmental authority over the regathered twelve tribes of Israel ([7]Jer 23:3–8). These will be literal Jews who live through the Great Tribulation, and perhaps resurrected Old Testament saints as well ([8]Mt 8:11).

Eating and drinking. Such expressions as “eating and drinking in my kingdom” are part of the symbolism of the joys which God’s children will experience in the new heavens and earth.


_______________________Scripture Reference___________________________

[1](John 13:1) Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end (or to the uttermost).

[2](Revelations 3:21) To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

[3](1 Corinthians 5:7) Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 

[4](Acts 2:42, 46) And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers…And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, 

[5](Revelations 3:20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

[6](Matthew 19:28) And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

([7]Jer 23:3–8And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the LORD. Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land. 

[8](Matthew 8:11) And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.


ClDo you have any questions and comments?

 A study by the Barna Research Group revealed that 90 percent of Americans know the Bible teaches “Jesus was crucified, died, rose from the dead, and is spiritually alive today; that Jesus was born to a virgin; and that eventually all people will be judged by God.” Easter brings large numbers of people who already know the facts, they just haven’t embraced the faith.

Baptist Standard, Dec. 4, 1996, p. 1

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