Interchanges Between and With the Apostles (Matthew 26:31-35; Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:24-38; John 13:31-38)

Submitted by admin on Tue, 2008-11-04 16:43.

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After Judas had left, Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man when speaking of his glorification and that of his Father “in him.” In the Greek text, the verb for “glorified” is in the aorist tense, which is commonly used to denote something that happened in the past. By willingly submitting to his Father’s purpose for him and what this would ultimately accomplish, Jesus was glorified as the unique and beloved Son of God. “In him,” or by means of everything Jesus had done and would do as one fully submissive to his Father’s will for him, the Father was glorified or honored. Jesus’ willing surrender of his life would climax an earthly ministry devoted to glorifying his Father. At the same time, his Father had glorified him through the works he had empowered him to perform. Seemingly, because his ultimate glorification (his resurrection and ascension to heaven) was an imminent reality that would complete the glorification process, Jesus introduced his reference to the past glorification with the word “now” (nyn), “Now the Son of Man has been [or, was] glorified, and God has been [or, was] glorified in him.” (John 13:31)

Numerous Greek manuscripts represent Jesus as saying, “If God has been glorified in him [the Son of Man], also God will glorify him in himself, and he will immediately glorify him.” (John 13:32) The omission in many other manuscripts of the introductory phrase (“If God has been glorified in him”) does not materially affect the meaning of the words that follow. The action of God’s Son in glorifying his Father, especially in the surrender of his life in full submission to his will, would lead to his Father’s glorifying him and doing so immediately. On the third day after Jesus’ death, his Father did glorify him, raising him from the dead and granting him unparalleled authority in heaven and on earth. (Matthew 28:18) When Jesus returned to his Father, he did so as the exalted Son who had the right to be universally acknowledged as Lord. (Philippians 2:9-11)

As the night passed, Jesus did not do all the talking. There appear to have been interchanges among the apostles. During the course of conversations in which Jesus was not personally involved, they got into an argument about who among them seemed to be the greatest. In response to their dispute, Jesus admonished them that they should not be like rulers of the nations who are called benefactors but dominate over their subjects. The greatest among the disciples should be as the youngest, not one who sought to exercise control over others but assumed the role of the least among them. As for a disciple who took the lead, he should be the one serving among them. Focusing on the example he had set for them, Jesus raised the questions, “Who is greater, the one reclining [at the table] or the one serving? [Is it] not the one reclining?” These questions were designed to cause the disciples to reflect on their role in relation to him, and he then told them, “In your midst, however, I am as one who is serving.” (Luke 22:24-27)

That very night Jesus had washed the feet of the apostles, acting as one who served in their midst. They, however, had not yet learned to conduct themselves in harmony with this object lesson and Jesus’ earlier teaching and personal example that true greatness requires a willingness to serve others. (Matthew 20:25-28; 23:11; Mark 9:33-37; 10:41-45; John 13:3-10)

Although the apostles needed to be corrected about their attitude, Jesus commended them for their faithfulness. They had stayed by him in his trials, not fearfully abandoning him when he faced intense hostility and murderous intent. As the one to whom his Father had entrusted kingly authority, Jesus conferred a kingdom on his loyal disciples. Portraying their future close association with him as persons honored to be eating at the king’s table, he told them that they would eat and drink at his table and “sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:28-30)

Jesus chose expressions that were adapted to their understanding of the kingdom, enabling them to discern how intimate their association would be with him as king. Because they viewed the kingdom as one that would be restored to Israel, Jesus spoke of their role as including the judging of the twelve tribes of Israel. His accommodating his words to their understanding made it possible for him to convey the message he wanted them to grasp about their future role. (Acts 1:6) After Jesus’ death and resurrection, they would come to recognize that the realm where he rules by his Father’s appointment is universal and not limited to Israel. Accordingly, the judging of Israel would be representative of a far greater role toward all nations.

Jesus made known to the apostles that, in their relationship to him, they would all be “stumbled” in that very night. This indicated that they would fearfully abandon him, fulfilling the prophetic word (Zechariah 13:7), “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” This scattering would be temporary, for Jesus added, “After I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.” (Matthew 26:31, 32; Mark 14:26-28 [In Zechariah 13:7, the striking of the shepherd is portrayed as taking place by God’s permission, and the words, “I will strike,” are evidently to be understood in this sense. The extant text of the Septuagint reads “shepherds.”]) It seems that Jesus’ meeting with the disciples in Galilee after his resurrection occurred when he appeared to upward of 500 believers. (1 Corinthians 15:6)

Affectionately referring to his disciples as “children,” Jesus told them that he would be with them only a little while longer. “You will seek me,” he continued. As he had said on an earlier occasion to the unbelieving Jews (John 7:33, 34), he now told his disciples, “Where I am going you cannot come.” (John 13:33) In the case of the disciples, their “seeking” would be indicative of a strong inner desire to be with Jesus. (Compare 2 Corinthians 5:1-6; Philippians 1:23.) He, however, would be absent from them, and they, in their earthly state of existence, would not be able to join him.

While Jesus had been with his disciples, he had shown them the kind of love that surpassed everything they had formerly experienced. Now when he was about to make the superlative expression of his love by surrendering his life for them, he gave them a new commandment, one that required their loving one another as he had loved them. All observers would be able to recognize them as his disciples by the love they had for one another. (John 13:34, 35) What made this commandment new is that it went beyond the law’s requirement of loving one’s neighbor as oneself. In imitation of God’s Son, the new commandment called for a love that put the interests and well-being of others ahead of one’s own. This love was a self-sacrificing love that found its fulfillment in selfless giving and serving.

It may have been after Peter insisted that he would not be stumbled even though all the others might be that Jesus said to him, “Simon, Simon, see! Satan has demanded to sift you [plural, meaning all of the apostles] as wheat. I, however, have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” Then, once he had “returned” or recovered from his temporary “stumbling,” Peter was to strengthen his “brothers” or his fellow disciples. (Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29; Luke 22:31, 32)

Possibly on account of the weakness (instead of rocklike strength) Peter would shortly manifest, Jesus may have chosen not to call him by the name he had personally given him (Peter, meaning “rock”) but addressed him as “Simon, Simon.” With reference to Satan, the verb meaning “demand” (exaitéo) seems to express his aim or desire. He wanted to submit the disciples to a severe test. The intensity of that test would be comparable to the sifting process that separates wheat from chaff, the implication being that Satan would have wanted to expose the disciples as worthless chaff, persons with a wrecked faith. Jesus’ prayer for Peter and the assurance that he would be in a position afterward to strengthen his fellow disciples, infusing them with courage, indicated that the satanic assault would not succeed.

In response to Jesus’ words that the disciples would not be able to come to the place where he would be heading, Peter asked, “Lord, where are you going?” “Where I am going,” Jesus replied, “you cannot follow me now, but you will follow later.” (John 13:36) Jesus would surrender his life, be resurrected, and return to his Father. Later, Peter would also die and, upon being raised from the dead, would again be with Jesus.

As one who deeply loved God’s Son, Peter felt that he was prepared to go anywhere with him regardless of what the circumstances might be. Even if it were to mean imprisonment or death for him, he would not hesitate to go. (Luke 22:33) Though all the other disciples might stumble, he would not. Firmly convinced about his loyalty to Jesus, Peter said, “Lord, why can I not follow you now? I will give up my soul [life] for you.” (Matthew 26:33; Mark 14:29; John 13:37)

“Will you give up your soul for me?” Jesus replied. Then, with a solemn introductory “amen, amen” (truly, truly), he declared that Peter would disown him three times that night before a cock crowed, probably just before dawn. (Matthew 26:34; Luke 22:34; John 13:38) According to Mark 14:30, Jesus said “before a cock crows twice,” indicating that Peter’s denial of association with him would take place before a cock crowed the second time.

Peter could not imagine that he would deny his Lord and protested, “Even if I must die with you, I will never disown you.” The other disciples also expressed their loyalty to Jesus in the same manner. (Matthew 26:35; Mark 13:31) He, though, knew what effect his arrest would have on them, but they overestimated their strength to remain resolute.

Alerting them to the changed circumstances in which they would find themselves, Jesus drew a sharp contrast. He had earlier sent them out without their having to take a pouch containing money for making purchases, a bag with supplies, or an extra pair of sandals. When Jesus asked them whether they had lacked anything at that time, the apostles acknowledged that they had not. Now, however, he told them to equip themselves differently. If they had a pouch for money and a bag for supplies, they should take such with them. He even advised them that the one without a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. His words indicated that they would find themselves in a perilous situation and would have to rely on their own resources. This was because what would happen to him in fulfillment of the prophetic word (Isaiah 53:12) about his being “counted with lawless ones.” (Luke 22:35-37) He would be treated and condemned as a vile criminal.

In response to Jesus’ words about obtaining a sword, the disciples told him that they had two swords. (Luke 22:38) These weapons may primarily have been used for utilitarian purposes. Additionally, the disciples may have had these swords for defense, particularly in view of the life-threatening dangers travelers could face from encounters with wild animals or robbers along the way.

From Jesus’ standpoint, the availability of two swords was enough. He said to the disciples, “It is sufficient.” (Luke 22:38)