The Passion of Christ

Discovery for Teachers

The Passion of Christ

OVERVIEW
DAYBREAK

SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Luke 19:28 through 24:53

KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.”  (Luke 22:42)

BACKGROUND

This final portion of the Gospel of Luke covers Jesus’ last days on earth. Our text begins with His triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His second cleansing of the Temple. Luke goes on to describe several instances in which the religious leaders challenged Jesus’ authority (chapter 20), and then records Jesus’ closing teachings regarding future events (chapter 21). Chapter 22 gives a description of Christ’s last supper with His disciples, His agony in the Garden, His betrayal by Judas Iscariot, and Peter’s denial. In chapter 23, Luke tells of Jesus’ trial before Herod, His sentencing by Pilate, and His crucifixion and burial. Chapter 24 concludes the Gospel, recounting Jesus’ resurrection, His post-resurrection appearances to His followers, and finally, His ascension into Heaven.

Luke’s main purpose in writing his Gospel — to present Jesus as the Savior for all people everywhere — is clearly revealed in this text. By chronicling the details of the price paid for man’s salvation, Luke highlighted the importance and relevance of the Good News for all mankind. Jesus’ life on earth gave the perfect pattern for a life lived in obedience and accordance with the will of God. Through His death, He paid the price for salvation for all people everywhere. Through His resurrection, He provided overcoming power over sin, death, and Hell. And at His ascension into Heaven, He gave His followers not only a great commission but also a glorious commitment — the promise of the fulfillment of all things that had been written by Moses and the prophets, and the enduement of power from on high.

SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS

  1. In Luke 19:29-38, we read that as Jesus approached Jerusalem, crowds began to acclaim Him as King and to give Him glory and praise. The account of His triumphal entry into the city is one of the few incidents in the life of Jesus which appears in all four Gospels. Clearly, this was a significant event, not only to the people of Jesus’ day, but also to Christians throughout history who celebrate Palm Sunday to commemorate that occasion. Why do you think the Triumphal Entry was so significant?

    Your group should conclude that this event was significant because Jesus was making public His claim to be the Messiah and King of Israel in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. The way He came into the city was important: the King coming on the foal of a donkey was an exact fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 (see also Matthew 21:5). The time and place were also significant: since the Passover was less than a week away, there were large numbers of travelers coming into the city to join the residents of Jerusalem.

    Based on this fulfillment of a prophecy made hundreds of years earlier, the point could be made that God is a God of details. What people may overlook or regard as inconsequential happenings are fore-ordained by God. This could be a time to ask your group to share examples from their own knowledge or experience of times when God worked in the details of a situation.
  2. Bible historians note that the view of Jerusalem from the point near the Mount of Olives where Jesus rode into the city would have been one of beauty and splendor, with glimpses of the magnificent Temple, the gardens and elaborate dwellings of wealthy Jews, and the great wall encircling the city. According to Luke 19:41-44, what did Jesus do as He looked out over Jerusalem, and why?

    Jesus wept because He knew the terrible judgment that would befall the city in a very short time. He also wept because the people of Jerusalem were oblivious to the conditions by which peace could be obtained — conditions that were hid from their eyes because of the condition of their hearts.

    Remind your group that in Leviticus 26:31, God had warned Israel what would happen if they failed to obey Him: “And I will make your cities waste, and bring your sanctuaries unto desolation.” Though this prophecy already had been fulfilled when the Northern and Southern Kingdoms went into captivity, it began to be fulfilled again in A.D. 66 when the Jews revolted against the Roman yoke. The Romans responded by plundering Jerusalem and executing six thousand Jews, prompting a full-scale rebellion. After a lull in military operations because of turmoil in Rome, in A.D. 70 the Roman general, Titus, moved against the rebels in Jerusalem. After a seven-month siege, the armies of Rome prevailed, Jerusalem fell, and the Temple was destroyed. Once again, Israel’s cities were laid waste and her sanctuaries brought into desolation, fulfilling Christ’s sorrowful prediction in our text.

    You may wish to discuss with your class Jesus’ assertion that Israel “knewest not the time of thy visitation” (verse 44). The Jewish people for the most part had rejected God’s offer of salvation through Jesus Christ and as a result, they would endure the penalty. What was true of the Jewish nation also applies to every individual who rejects Christ. Ultimately, the penalty for rejection will be poured out. What a warning to individuals who are neglecting their own salvation!
  3. In Luke 20:9-19, Jesus gave the parable of the vineyard, in which the husbandmen who had the responsibility of caring for the vineyard failed to provide the owner with a return on his investment. The husbandmen had rejected the owner’s authority and viewed the vineyard as their own. Why were the chief priests and scribes so furious when they heard this parable?

    The priests and scribes were angry because they understood that they were the husbandmen in Jesus’ parable. They knew Jesus was pointing to their failure to care properly for the spiritual welfare of Israel, and to their rejection of His authority as the long-awaited Messiah.

    In verses 17-19, Jesus was quoting from Psalm 118:22-23, pointing out to the chief priests and scribes that their rejection of the Messiah had been prophesied in the Scriptures. In a veiled manner, He was warning them that destruction would come upon those who rejected Christ the cornerstone.

    As a follow-up to this question, point out to your class that the chief priests and scribes of Jesus’ day are not the only ones to whom this parable relates. In society today, many challenge the deity of Christ and the authority of His teachings. However, widespread opposition does not change the facts. Ask your group to summarize why the deity of Christ is so foundational to our faith. They should conclude that rejection of the deity and authority of Jesus Christ also means a rejection of the reality that all mankind is born into sin, that sin causes a separation from God that cannot be bridged by man’s own efforts, that there is an eternal penalty for sin, and that we have a moral responsibility toward God. In fact, every Biblical foundation crumbles if Jesus is not God’s Son, come to earth to give His life for the salvation of mankind.
  4. In chapter 21, Jesus told His followers of the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, of His return, and of several distinct signs that would precede these events. In verse 36, He instructed His disciples to watch for these signs and to pray continually; otherwise, they could be caught off guard and suffer destruction. We are in the closing days before the return of Christ to this earth, so the warning to “watch . . . and pray” has special significance for our generation. What does the word “watch” mean in this context, and what are some ways we can watch for our Lord’s return?

    Class discussion will bring out that to “watch” means to be vigilant and on guard, fully awake, aware, alert, and intently focused. You may wish to point out that when the New Testament commands us to “watch,” it is usually the translation of one of two Greek words (gregoreuo and agrupneo), which have similar meanings — to “stay awake” and to “be sleepless.” They are typically used in a metaphorical sense. The exhortation to spiritual watching is often coupled with the command to pray, for it is prayer that gives one the strength to survive temptations and triumph in difficult situations.

    The point should be made that watching is not a passive state. Jesus was emphatic that His followers should hope for His return, expect His return, and pray for His return! Our joyful anticipation and excitement regarding that great event should intensify as we see world events fulfilling Bible prophecies — especially those that point to the increasing nearness of Christ’s return.

    Conclude your discussion by pointing to Jesus’ promise in verse 36 that if we keep alert to our personal spiritual condition and world events, and keep praying, we will be accounted worthy to escape the end-time tribulation and to be with Christ in His Kingdom. That is a powerful incentive to vigilance!
  5. On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, He expressed His desire to celebrate a final Passover meal with His disciples, who were His closest earthly companions. In addition to sharing a precious time of communion with them, Jesus knew the religious significance that evening would have for His followers in the coming centuries. What ordinance did Jesus institute that night at this final meal with His disciples, and how? Luke 22:17-20

    Jesus instituted the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper at the Passover meal with His disciples. At the conclusion of supper, Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to the disciples. This deliberate, ceremonial distribution (referred to in some religious circles as “Communion”) has become one of the greatest expressions of faith and adherence to the doctrines of Christianity.

    Explain that the word
    ordinance means “A direction or command of an authoritative nature; something ordained or decreed by God; an established religious rite.” This was not just a suggestion or an optional activity; it was a direct command. We want to be careful to obey God’s directive, and never neglect our privilege to participate in these ordinances.

    You may wish to mention briefly that Jesus also instituted the ordinance of foot washing after the conclusion of the Passover meal, since the two ordinances are typically observed together in our organization. That ordinance is described in the Gospel of John, chapter 13.
  6. In a grove of olive trees near the Mount of Olives, Jesus spent His final hours before His arrest in prayer to the Father. His petition culminated in these words, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42). What did the “cup” Jesus referred to represent?

    The “cup” referred to Christ’s coming death and the terrible anguish that He would soon go through. While the physical suffering He was facing would be excruciating and no doubt His human nature recoiled, the deepest agony was the total separation from His Father which He would have to endure in order to make atonement for the sins of the world. The One who knew no sin would be “made sin” or a sin offering, for us (see 2 Corinthians 5:21). Pondering the depth and breadth of the perfect oneness between God the Father and God the Son helps us get a glimpse of just how dreadful that separation was.
  7. Peter denied Jesus (Luke 22:56-62), and yet later became a leader in the Early Church. Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss (Luke 22:47) and later suffered a tragic end. Why do you think these two men, both of whom had been among the closest associates of Christ, had such different endings?

    Though Peter denied Christ three times, he repented quickly and wholeheartedly; he went out and wept bitterly in true godly sorrow for failing his Lord. There is no indication that Judas ever repented of his treachery. Matthew’s Gospel does state that Judas “repented himself” and attempted to return the payment of thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders (see Matthew 27:4). However, the word translated “repented” in that instance is not the Greek word that indicates a change of heart, but rather a word which simply alludes to regret over the consequences.

    Some Bible scholars suggest that Judas was trying to force the issue of Jesus taking the throne and throwing off the yoke of Roman bondage. Whether or not that was the case, when Judas realized that the events he had set in motion by his betrayal were irreversible, he went out and took his own life. This would be a good time to emphasize to your group that Jesus gladly will forgive the worst of sinners, but unless a sinner repents, he will die in his sins and be judged. God will restore those who own up to their sin and turn from it.

    You may wish to bring out that even for those who are saved, there may be times when we see the error of a particular action. In such cases, it is important to admit our fault and come to God quickly to express regret and ask for His forgiveness. We should search our hearts often and right any offenses as soon as possible. God honors the efforts of one who will be honest and will judge himself. In the end he will not be judged.
  8. God permitted false accusations and injustice to prevail in the trial of Jesus Christ. The most infamous legal proceeding in history, described in our text, occurred so that God’s plan for the salvation of mankind could be fulfilled. The Innocent One was declared guilty not just in one court, but in three. Before whom did those three trials take place? Luke 22:66-71; 23:1-25

    The first of Jesus’ three trials took place when He was charged with blasphemy before the Sanhedrin, or leaders of Jewish religious law (Luke 22:66-71). The second trial occurred in the court of Jewish secular law represented by Herod (Luke 23:6-12), where He was charged with insurrection or sedition. Finally, He was tried in two appearances before the Roman ruler Pilate (Luke 23:1-5 and 13-25). In each case, the charges brought against Jesus were false and in each case, He was condemned in spite of His innocence.

    You may wish to expand the answer to this question by pointing out that Pilate wanted to release Jesus; he felt the accusations against Him were false. However, the crowd clamored for Jesus’ death and threatened to report Pilate to Caesar (see John 19:12). History tells us that tensions in the region already had been reported to Rome, and Pilate had been warned that he must keep the situation under control. So to save his own reputation and position, and to appease the mob crying for Jesus to be crucified, he conceded and turned Jesus over to the people. Discuss with your class how often people today will resort to doing something they know is not right based upon self-preservation or the pressure of those around them. Ask, How can we best prepare ourselves to stand for what is right, even when we face rejection, ridicule, or societal pressure to conform?
  9. Luke’s account of the life of Jesus Christ on earth does not end with the grief and darkness of Calvary. In chapter 24, we find the thrilling account of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His post-resurrection appearances. The Resurrection is the cornerstone of the Gospel and the central fact of Christian history. What are some of the ways the Resurrection is fundamental to our Christian faith?

    Your class will identify a variety of ways that the Resurrection is fundamental to Christianity. Following are some thoughts that could be brought out.

    •   Because of the Resurrection we have proof that God is personally involved in human history.

    •   Because of the Resurrection we know that we serve a God who is alive — One who has power over death and the grave.

    •   Because of the Resurrection we know that we too will one day be raised from the dead to live forever with Christ.

    •   Because of the Resurrection we have power and authority to preach Christ. Like the Apostles in the Book of Acts, our most important message and proof of the veracity of our beliefs is the fact that Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

    •   Because of the Resurrection we have the assurance that there is a purpose and a provision for ultimate good behind even the most heartbreaking tragedy.

    •   Because of the Resurrection we have hope. Not only has death been conquered, but Satan and all his evil power will one day be eternally vanquished. We know that ultimate victory will be the Lord’s and that His Kingdom will be triumphant and eternal.

CONCLUSION

Jesus paid a high price for our redemption, and was victorious over sin, death, and Hell. As Christians, we have every reason to glorify the King of kings and the Lord of Lords for He is worthy!