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1. Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.
2. And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.
3. Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.
4. And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.
5. And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.
6. And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.
7. Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.
8. And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.
9. And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare?
10. And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.
11. And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?
12. And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.
13. And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
14. And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.
15. And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:
16. For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.
17. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:
18. For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
Jesus was preparing His disciples for one of the most decisive events that would take place and that would be what would happen in Jerusalem. We’ve talked earlier about when Jesus, on the Mount of Transfiguration, met with Elijah and Moses and Luke says that they literally discussed, they spake of His decease and what it would accomplish at Jerusalem. That word that is translated ‘decease’ is really the word where we get the word ‘exodus’. They were talking about His exodus when He would, as in the first exodus when there was great deliverance for the people of Israel out of Egyptian bondage, then in the exodus of Christ as He left, He would also bring great deliverance and triumph and victory through His death and the shedding of the blood. This would mean a new era would begin in many ways and we’re going to talk about one facet of the new era that begins as we talk tonight from chapter 22 about preparation for the Passover. Jesus is making plans for Him and His disciples to eat the Passover feast. This would be their last. This would be the last Passover, in a sense, that God would put His approval upon because after that Supper, Jesus would institute what we call the Lord’s Supper, and that’s the one that we are to commemorate and show forth the Lord’s death until He come.
I want to talk to you about the preparations for the Passover Supper. What we will see in the reading is that there are three particular powers and forces in the world that are converging upon this particular special holiday; a) the preparations of earth, of earth’s people, b) the preparation of hell itself, what Satan is trying to devise as he faces the Passover, and then c) the preparation of heaven in regard to what is about to take place. Look for those three things in the Scripture passage.
In this special holiday, perhaps the most prominent in the Jewish religion and especially at that time, there would be 100,000 + people, pilgrims coming into Jerusalem to observe the Passover and prepare the meal and meet this sacred meal. They would be doing all kinds of things to get a lamb ready for the meal and the unleavened bread and all that went along with the Passover Supper. But these were surface, obvious preparations that were going on. There were some sinister plots, some conspiracy and intrigue being played out undercover. In the background, very deadly, much more serious than we could ever imagine preparations that were being made.
First of all, let’s look at the preparation of the earth, earth’s people. Luke tells us that the religious leaders, those in charge of the temple and leading in the Jewish religion at that moment were making preparations, outwardly, openly, preparations for the Passover. Oh yes, organizing and planning everything so it would be carried out in a very traditional way so that nobody would suspect anything other than true religion and true worship of God. But they were preparing to kill Jesus. It’s strange that people under the guise of something sacred will be attempting to perform something that is murderous and evil and wicked. For example, in our world we have seen in years past all kinds of atrocious acts carried out against different peoples in the name of holy war or in the name of some particular great cause, so that if you are working for a particular cause, it should give you the license to perform any particular crime you wish, especially if it is against your enemies. It is amazing that throughout this earth how many people hide behind the garb of religion in order to carry out the most devastating cruelties and wickednesses in this world.
So here are the people who should be most concerned about the spirituality of the people of Israel, who should be embracing a new word from God, who should be leading the people to enter into this holy week and holiday and special time with great ceremony. There should surely be great preparations made that would cause people to humble themselves before God and look back upon His salvation, healing history and recite all the marvelous acts of the past that God had done and much attention would be focused upon God. But that may appear on the surface, but it’s not in their hearts, because in their hearts they are plotting the death of Jesus Christ. Jesus of Nazareth, this One who had been called prophet and teacher by so many and this One who had upset everything that they were trying to do, especially when He came in to purge the temple. When He attacked the very foundations of Jewish religion, that was like an empty fig tree and it had the curse of God upon it. It was like a temple that had been turned into a house of merchandise rather than a house of prayer for all nations. Jesus was bucking up against the tide of those religious leaders and here they are preparing to kill Jesus.
At the same time, there is also the preparation of hell itself. Getting ready for the Passover and again the focus is aimed toward Jesus Christ. Satan didn’t have much to worry about concerning the Jewish religious practice of commemorating the Passover and the deliverance. He didn’t have much to be concerned or worried about. The coming of Jesus Christ and the gospel of the kingdom and the real true Christianity, this was then and ever is a tremendous threat to the power of Satan. So, Satan begins to make plans. He does this by searching in the very inner circle around Jesus, the twelve apostles, to see if he could find an opening, a weak point, a spot where he could enter in with his influence and power. I don’t need to remind you, but Satan is constantly examining the Church and constantly examining individual lives and seeing where he can get an opening and gain entrance to do damage and do hurt to the body of Christ as he did on this occasion. The Bible literally says that Satan entered in to Judas Iscariot. He found an open door and I don’t know how in the world we can explain the circumstances that led up to this condition of Judas that would cause him to open his life to the influence of Satan. We have had all kinds of theologians, liberal, conservative, whatever discuss it. Someone has tried to be a little kind to Judas and say well, he was so interested in seeing Jesus take charge and take command and throw off the Roman government and show Himself to be the king until he just did this to force the issue and force Jesus out in the open so that the world would see that Jesus was indeed the Christ. This doesn’t really harmonize with that; the idea that Satan entered into the heart of Judas Iscariot to cause him to go astray and betray the Lord and deny the Lord.
Let me just say this to you that anything that Satan can do to attempt to drive a wedge between you and your Lord, he will do it. He constantly looks for a weakness. He constantly looks for a besetting sin. He constantly looks for some door that can be pried open that he can enter in and cause that kind of problem as he did with Judas.
When this happened, when Judas seemed to open up his life to the evil influence of Satan, and you know comedians have made jokes saying ‘The devil made me do it,’ and that kind of attitude in these days, but there are some things that happen, crimes and whatever that can only be explained by the fact that Satan has entered into somebody to do some dreadful and terrible kind of thing. It is so dastardly that only a person who was controlled with a demonic kind of mind and spirit and heart could perform some of the crimes that we hear about. One crime recently right here in Chattanooga demonstrates that. It wasn’t enough just to kill a young man, but to drag him on the street until he was beyond recognition behind the automobile.
Satan entered into his heart. Now Luke is going to tell later in the book of Acts, he is going to explain it that Judas by transgression fell. I know there are a lot of people who would argue that Judas never was a real Christian, never was a real believer, never was a follower of Christ, but he was with that group when they returned and Jesus said rejoice not that the devils are subject unto you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven. That sounds to me like he was a disciple and at one time his heart must have been right. We are given other clues that he got to desiring money and he was the treasurer. You remember when Mary offered a very expensive ointment in sacrifice to Jesus to honor Him, it was extravagant. But you know, love in its worship in often extravagant. Jesus had to protect Mary and said ‘Let her alone,’ when Judas raised a fuss about how much she had spent on offering this special ointment upon the body of Jesus Christ.
John always writes us little notes on the side to bring us in and this he said ‘Not that he cared for the poor because he suggested it should be given to the poor, but because he was a thief and he carried the bag.’ So that gives us a little insight into his personality and the kind of thing that began to lead him when he became a thief at heart and wanted more and more money and it looks as if he saw here an opportunity to make money, and indeed he did make 30 pieces of silver.
So hell is pulling off its greatest scheme right now, entering into the heart of a man and causing him to do such a dastardly deed. He went in and communed with the Chief Priests and Captains that he might betray Christ into their hands. What an unholy communion! Jesus is getting ready to eat the Passover and then He is going to establish the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper that we still observe to this very day in Christianity. Judas is not interested in Holy Communion with Jesus Christ. He goes and communes with people who have murder in their hearts how he might deliver Jesus to them. He has to be careful because he has to bide his time and wait, because he cannot do this when the crowds are around. He has to choose a precise time and moment to do this.
Oh, what an application. What a message. It comes pounding in my heart as I have mentioned these words, if you don’t have time, if you don’t have opportunity to commune with the Son of God and stay close to Him when He is teaching and establishing the Lord’s Supper and the Holy Communion, then you could wind up in unholy communion somewhere. What a word that strikes into my own heart.
Then, not only was it a hell-inspired communion, but it is also a hell-inspired covenant. He made a covenant. What about other covenants he had made? What about following Jesus? What about leaving all to follow Him? What about the covenant relationship between him and his Lord and Master? This is set aside. There are times when covenants can be so easily set aside and unholy covenants can take their place. A person starts on this road like this man went and the first thing you know he is making alliances with the very enemies of God. The covenant was for 30 pieces of silver. I’m not sure how much that is in money, but we’re told it was something like the price of a slave. This must have been what he really thought of Jesus Christ, his Lord and Master at that time; looking upon Him as nothing more than somebody who needed to be in bondage to someone else, whose life was of very little value according to his plans and expectations. Judas is not by himself with these unfulfilled Messianic expectations that are so premature. The other disciples, we will see next time, that even when they come into that sacred supper, they are arguing over who would be greatest in the kingdom. They, too, would like for Him to show Himself in a hurry and come on and be the super strong man, the king, and set things in order for them and for the Jewish people. So here is a hell-inspired communion that leads to a hell-inspired covenant that puts Jesus up as the price of a slave and takes away the honor and the glory that is due him as Savior and Lord and Son of God.
But heaven has a hand in this, too. Thank God! I’m glad that in our world, heaven is concerned and makes plans and carries them out and God’s will is performed and God Almighty, in His sovereign, divine purpose and will can move regardless of the preparations or the schemings of people of this earth or even hell itself. Jesus Himself said it like this: Upon this rock I will build My Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Hallelujah! I’m glad our God is able to perform His will even in our own lives.
So Jesus sends His disciples to make ready. They asked where they were to go and He told them to go into the village and you will see a man at a certain place and you follow this man, and wherever he goes in, you go in and ask ‘Where is your guest room?’ because our Lord wants to prepare for the Passover Supper in that guest room. Don’t tell me that God can’t go before you and me to open up the way. Sometimes we didn’t know it. It wasn’t plain that Jesus said you go and you’ll see a man and you follow him and that’s the place. Sometimes it’s not that plain, but nevertheless, we can come to the place where we see that we have been in the will of God and God’s hand was working before time.
I’m glad God knows how to work out His divine will and I’m glad that He knows how to go before us and open up the way. God knows how to work. Jesus said you go and prepare it, and they did. They sat down to eat the Passover and He said I have really had a desire to eat this with you before I suffer. Then He went through it. The usual ritual and ceremony and style go something like this. First of all, there is a prayer and a blessing over the meal and then they drink the first glass of wine. Then there is the eating of the lamb with the bitter herbs to remind them of where they have come from. Then there is the second glass of wine. Then the recital of the salvation history of the Jewish people how God delivered them out of Egypt, and later that turned into a prayer after what happened in Jerusalem later in the destruction of Jerusalem and the people were scattered. That turned into a prayer of Lord, bring us back to our homeland. Bring us back to Jerusalem. Then they had a third glass of wine which was called the cup of joy. It was this cup of joy that Jesus handed to the disciples and said ‘Here, take this and divide it among yourselves, because I won’t drink it anymore with you until we come into the kingdom.’ Here he is facing the darkest hour of His life, facing Calvary and it is not time for Him to drink the cup of joy. Later in the garden He will be drinking a different cup and He will be saying ‘Oh Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.’ But He will turn that cup of bitterness and drink it to its bitter dregs, the suffering and the sorrow. But for them, it was going to be a new beginning. They wouldn’t be eating the Passover necessarily anymore. What they would be doing later is taking the Lord’s Supper and in it would be a time of celebration for all that God has done and rejoicing. He said you will be happy to do this and you will have joy when you do this. In these days, the earth and hell itself and heaven itself still has tremendous influence and pressures upon the Church and upon us as disciples of Jesus Christ. We are still caught in a battleground where we are called upon sometimes to take our stand and to suffer. Sometimes we wish for the cup of joy, but we might have to have the cup of suffering and sorrow.
Nevertheless, in it all, God works out His will and His plan. Now the Holy Spirit is saying to my heart right now that there is someone here tonight that you are not so certain about God’s will for your life and maybe you are weary and maybe you are impatient and maybe you wish that God would hurry up and open the door and make it clear and plain. I’m here to tell you that there are forces that work, some against you, hell itself does, there may be people that work against you, but God Almighty knows about our lives and He knows what is right for us and His perfect will for us. You can know it and you can have it even tonight.
Will you stand please?
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