Luke is now dealing with the end of Jesus’ life as thoroughly as he did Jesus’ birth. This long chapter takes us to death’s doorstep. I was struck by many things — how afraid of the crowd the Pharisees were but by the end of the chapter they are somehow able to turn them against Jesus, how much Jesus wanted to be with and supported by his disciples at this point, how confusing his instructions are in this chapter — but it was the strange juxtaposition of two verses that come side by side that really caught my attention today:
They began to ask each other which of them was going to do this [betray Jesus]. (22:23)
Followed immediately by:
A quarrel began among them: which of them was to be seen as the most important? (22:24)
As he sits at the Last Supper with his beloved group, Jesus announces that one of them is going to betray him. In Luke’s account he does nothing to hint toward Judas. The disciples are indignant: “Surely not me! I would never do a thing like that! I will be loyal to the end!”
Then . . . one verse later . . . those very same disciples begin to argue over who is the most important disciples amongst the group. Peter asserts it must be him because he walked on the water to meet Jesus and Jesus did say the keys of the kingdom would be given to him. Andrew reminds Peter that he wouldn’t have even been there if he hadn’t introduced Peter to Jesus. James argues it would have to be him because he was always there in the inner group of three to see special things like the Transfiguration, and he didn’t have the tendency to make the same stupid gaffes Peter often did. John reminds the group he is the “disciple whom Jesus loves.” Philip makes his claim: wasn’t he the one who boldly declared he would gladly go with Jesus and die? Bartholomew is sure it will be him because he is so humble he is never even mentioned in the Gospels!
They are shocked that Jesus would think any of them would betray him. That any of them would work against the very things Jesus came to do. That they would disappoint their rabbi. Then moments later they are asserting their own power, reputations, and egos. They have quickly turned to the trespass that may be most contrary to the way of Christ: self-assertion.
Man, I am so glad we don’t ever do things like that.