Luke said that he wanted to write for Theophilus an orderly sequence of the events that had taken place in the life and ministry of Jesus and His followers (Luke 1:1-3). Throughout his Gospel, Luke labored to help his readers celebrate the arrival of the kingdom of God and the salvation Messiah offered to even the outcasts of Jewish society. The events of the last week of Jesus’ life showed His unique place in the unfolding of redemptive history.
(1) In Luke 21:20, Jesus prophesied of the desolation that would come upon Jerusalem using language consistent with Dan 9:26-27. The angel Gabriel appeared to Daniel in answer to Daniel’s prayer of repentance and forgiveness. Gabriel told Daniel that a nation would oppose God’s people, bringing destruction upon Jerusalem and the temple (Dan 9:27). In the midst of describing many instances of persecution that would come upon the disciples, Jesus placed special attention upon the destruction of Jerusalem (Matt 24:15-22//Mark 13:14-20//Luke 21:20-24). Jesus said, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that its desolation has come near” (Luke 21:20). Jesus’ prophecy came true, at least in part, when the Romans laid siege to Jerusalem in A.D. 68-70. On the whole, Jesus’ message for the disciples was clear: “Be on your guard, so that your minds are not dulled from carousing, drunkenness, and worries of life, or that day will come on you unexpectedly like a trap…But be alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:34-35a, 36).
(2) In Luke 22:14-23, Jesus fulfilled Israel’s Passover celebration and instituted a new meal commemorating His death and resurrection. The Lord established the Passover as an annual reminder of God’s redemptive power in rescuing the nation of Israel from the clutches of the Egypt. In Exodus 12-13, Moses emphasized that as Israel remembered what God had done for them they would be less susceptible to idolatry, have the courage necessary to stand against their enemies, and have the means to provide successive generations with a visual representation of God’s work in history. Jesus established a new covenant in His own blood (Matt 26:26-29//Mark 14:22-25//Luke 22:17-20), telling the twelve, “It is shed for you” (Luke 22:20). Jesus instituted a new situation and a new meal, shifting the focus of God’s people from the Passover to the supper that would commemorate His death and resurrection. In the Lord’s Supper, followers of Christ remember the gift of forgiveness, the demand for obedience to His commands, and the corresponding responsibility to care for one another. Paul chastised the Corinthians because when they came together to partake of the Lord’s Supper, they were actually a divided community; the wealthy separated themselves from the impoverished with the result that factions had arisen among the people. Paul wrote, “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way will be guilty of sin against the body and blood of the Lord. So a man should examine himself; in this way he should eat of the bread and drink of the cup” (1 Cor 11:27-28).
(3) In Luke 22:37, Jesus cited Isa 53:12 to portray the danger that was coming upon Himself and the disciples. In Isaiah 53, the prophet outlined the suffering Servant of the Lord. Isaiah concluded the chapter with a messianic prophecy: “I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels” (Isa 53:12). Jesus was identified as Isaiah’s suffering Servant, the One who would take on Himself the punishment for the sins of the people, being counted among the criminals. Jesus’ point with Isa 53:12 was that since He would in fact have to suffer as a criminal, being treated like an enemy of the public, the eleven should be concerned that the Jewish leadership and Rome would come against them as well.