In our last essay we studied Luke 22:21-38. In this essay we are studying Luke 22:39-65. In verses 39-46 Luke tells us about an anguishing prayer by Jesus. Luke describes Jesus’ place of prayer as the Mount of Olives, whereas Mark and Matthew are more specific. They name the place as Gethsemane (Mk. 14:32), which was a garden located on the Mount of Olives. Also Luke does not mention the fact that Jesus took Peter, James, and John a little further into the garden than the other disciples, as Mark and Matthew do (Mk. 14:33-34; Mt. 26:36-37).
However in verse 40 Luke records something said by Jesus that Matthew and Mark omit, “Pray that you may not come into the time of trial.” Luke obviously thought this was important, because he reports in verse 46 that Jesus repeated the command at the end of the Gethsemane experience.
The word translated “trial” also can be translated “temptation.” Thus Jesus was ordering the disciples to pray that they would not have to face the kind of trial or temptation that he was facing that night. Jesus said that because he was facing humiliation, torture, and death; and even though he was God in the flesh, he was having a difficult time dealing with it. Therefore he didn’t want the disciples to have to face such a difficult test. We all know the outcome for Jesus. He wanted to avoid the cup of suffering that the Father had appointed for him, but he yielded to the Father’s will in the matter. The lesson here for us is that we must learn to yield to the Father’s will in all things, no matter how distasteful or difficult it may seem.
Mark and Matthew provide a more detailed account than Luke. They tell us that Jesus prayed three times, rather than once; and each time afterwards he found the disciples sleeping rather than praying. The appearance of an angel (v. 43) seems to have helped Jesus to pray more earnestly, and he overcame the temptation by even more intense prayer in which “his sweat became like great drops of blood falling down.” Luke did not say that Jesus sweat actual drops of blood. Rather his sweat drops either resembled drops of blood, or they fell like drops of blood. Many people testify that angels have helped them in times of great temptation or test? And I would not discount those testimonies.
Notice that Luke attributes the disciples’ sleeping to their grief. I don’t know what that is supposed to mean. The events that would make them deeply grieve had not yet happened. At any rate, Jesus has no sympathy for that. He tells them to get up and pray. Then the account abruptly ends with the arrival of a crowd led by Judas.
Verses 47-53 tell us what happened once the crowd arrived. Judas had arranged with the Jewish authorities to betray Jesus with a kiss of greeting. Therefore the kiss would have appeared perfectly natural. Mark relates that when Judas approached Jesus, he addressed him as Rabbi and then kissed him. Luke simply says that Judas drew near to Jesus and kissed him. Jesus immediately recognized that the kiss was the sign of betrayal and rebuked Judas for using the sign of friendship for that purpose.
Seeing the intent of Judas and the crowd, the disciples asked if they should defend him with their swords; but then, one of them, without permission, struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. Jesus immediately rebuked the violent act and quickly healed the man’s ear.
As you can see, Luke does not name the disciple who drew the sword or the servant whose ear was cut off. But John, in his Gospel, does. Peter swung the sword, and the name of the high priest’s servant was Malchus (Jn. 18:10-11).
Now then, we saw Jesus rebuke Judas for betraying him with a kiss. And we saw him rebuke Peter for using violence. Next in verses 52-53 we see him rebuking those who have come to arrest him for treating him like a criminal. He reminds them that he taught openly in the temple day after day, and they did nothing to him. But now, they were acting according to their sinful natures. They came to arrest him under cover of darkness, and it was because they were under the power of darkness.
At the end of the story, Mark and Matthew tell us something that Luke does not. They tell us that the disciples all deserted Jesus and fled into the night.
Next, in verses 54-62, we see the three-fold denial of Jesus by Peter. In order to get the full story here, we must take information from all four Gospels. First of all, we learn from John 18:13 that immediately after his arrest, Jesus was taken to the house of Annas. Annas who had been high priest before Caiaphas was the father-in-law of Caiaphas. John goes on to tell us that Annas questioned Jesus (Jn. 18:19-23)
Then second, the authorities took Jesus to the house of Caiaphas (Jn. 18:24). It was at this point that Peter’s denials took place. As you can see here in Luke, Peter denied Jesus three times, just as Jesus had predicted (Lk. 22:55-60a). At the moment of the third denial, the cock crowed, again as Jesus had predicted. Jesus, who was on his way from the house of Annas to that of Caiaphas, looked at Peter and caught his eye. Then Luke tells us that Peter went out and wept bitterly (60b-62).
In order for these accounts to fit together, it appears that the houses of Annas and Caiaphas were in a single complex, separated by a large courtyard. Peter, who had followed after Jesus and the arresting party, came into the courtyard and found a place near a fire that had been built there (vv. 54-55).
According to Luke’s account, a servant girl saw Peter sitting by the fire and accused him of being with Jesus in the garden, but Peter denied knowing Jesus (vv. 56-57). A little later a man accused Peter of being one of them, meaning one of Jesus’ disciples. But Peter denied it (v. 58). Then an hour later, another man accused Peter of being with Jesus, and again Peter denied it, saying, “Man I do not know what you are talking about” (vv. 59-60).
At that very moment the cock crowed. Also at that very moment Jesus was being taken across the courtyard from the house of Annas to the house of Caiaphas. That enabled Jesus to catch the eye of Peter. Of course Peter immediately was filled with remorse for having fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy that Peter would deny him three times before the cock crowed. Luke tells us that Peter left the courtyard and wept bitterly.
In verses 63-65 Luke records the abuse and mocking by the men who were holding Jesus. They beat him and mocked him by blindfolding him and demanding that he tell them which of them was striking him. Luke also says that they heaped many other insults on Jesus. Mark and Matthew both mention that they spit on Jesus, though Matthew is more specific, saying that they spit in Jesus’ face.
Interestingly, these verses about the mocking and abuse are in a different place in Mark and Matthew from their place in Luke. Mark and Matthew tell about this abuse after Jesus’ hearing before the council (Mk. 14:66-67; Mt. 26:67-68). Luke records it here before Jesus’ met with the council. This is simply one of many differences of order of events in the Gospels.