Feast upon the Word Blog

A blog focused on LDS scriptures and teaching

Sunday School Lesson #23

Posted by Jim F. on June 20, 2007

Lesson 23: Luke 22:1-38; John 13-15

With this lesson we begin to read about the part of Christ’s life that is traditionally called “the Passion,” the time between the Last Supper and his death on the cross. The word “passion” and the word “passive” are related terms. Why is this part of Jesus’ life called the Passion? The longest part of each of the New Testament gospels is the part describing the Passion. As Latter-day Saints, our tendency is to focus on the resurrection rather than the Passion. Why do you think the gospels give so much attention to the Passion? Does 1 Corinthians 1:17-2:16 explain that attention? Why might the Book of Mormon focus its attention, instead, on the resurrection? What should our focus be today?

The Jerome Bible Commentary, a Catholic commentary, says that in the Passion stories of Matthew and John we are invited to worship Jesus as we see him completing his mission as the Son of God, that Mark’s way of telling the story invites us to sorrow at the events that conclude his earthly ministry, and that Luke’s gospel asks us to accompany Jesus as he suffers and to see ourselves in people like Simon of Cyrene, Peter, and the “good thief.” Do you think that characterization of these accounts is accurate? How might each way of reading the story be important to us? Are there other ways of reading it? If you had been a witness of these events, how would you have written about them? What would have been your focus? Why?

Luke 22

Verses 1-6: Why does Luke introduce the story of the Last Supper by telling us of the plot to kill Jesus? What does this contrast show us?

Verses 7-13: The Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Feast of the Passover are two different, but back-to-back feasts. However, some writers, such as Josephus, conflate the two, presumably because they are writing for a nonJewish audience to whom the difference is irrelevant. Luke seems to be doing this in verse 7. Is it significant that Luke says that the Passover (in other words, the lamb for the Passover meal) must be killed? (Compare Luke 9:22.)

Verses 14-20: In verse 15, the phrase “with desire I have desired” is a Hebrew colloquialism. It means “I have greatly desired.” What does verse 16 mean? When will Christ once again partake of the Sacrament? What is the significance of that delay? How is our taking of the Sacrament related to his? In verse 19 the Greek word for “remembrance” is a word for forgetfulness with a negative prefix (anamn─ôsis: “unforgetfulness”). It suggests that to remember is to no longer forget. What are we to stop forgetting? How do we forget the body and blood of Christ? How do we stop forgetting them? The Old Testament often speaks of the Lord remembering his people. What does that have to do with the Sacrament? How is our memory of him linked to his memory of us?

How are the various parts of the Sacrament ordinance significant? For example, what might the cloth covering the bread and water represent? How is Christ’s body symbolically significant in the ordinance? his blood? Why are eating and drinking important to the ordinance? What kinds of symbolic significance does eating have? A nonChristian reading this for the first time could not escape seeing cannabilistic symbolism in verses 19-20. What does that symbolism teach us? On the other hand, what does the symbol of nourishment teach us? We use the word “testament”: when we speak of a “last will and testament.” What does the word mean in that case? How is that relevant to the use of the word in verse 20? The word translated “testament” could also have been translated “covenant.” How is the ordinance of the Sacrament a covenant?

Verses 21-23: If it was necessary for Jesus to die on the cross, why does he condemn Judas for bringing that event to pass? What do we learn about our own lives from the fact that Judas was one of the Twelve?

Verses 24-27: If we assume that the disciples are people like ourselves, what do we learn about ourselves from verses 23-24? Is it significant that the verses about Judas and about the argument over who will be greatest come immediately after the introduction of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? (Mark and Matthew put it before.) What might that juxtaposition suggest about the ordinance? about us? The word “benefactors” translates a title that the Syrian kings gave to themselves. What does it mean for the greatest to “be as the younger” (verse 26)? The word translated “servant” indicates one who waits on another and provides his or her necessities. What does it mean to say that Christ has come among us as one who serves? How does he wait on us? How does he provide our necessities? In verse 27 Jesus specifically compares himself to a table waiter. Take the analogy between Christ and the waiter as literally as you can. Does that show you anything about what Christ-like service means?

In John 13:4-5, do we see Jesus demonstrate the kind of service he means? Did the disciples understand what he was talking about then? (See John 13:6-10.) Does their inability to understand suggest anything about us and our understanding? What safeguards against misunderstanding do we have?

Verses 28-30: The word translated “temptations” in verse 28 can also be translated “trials” or “adversities.” How is the fact that the disciples have stayed with him through his adversities relevant to what follows in verse 29? The Greek word translated “appoint” has the same root as the word “covenant,” so we could translate the beginning of verse 29 as “And I covenant unto you a kingdom.” How has the Father covenanted a kingdom to the Son? How is our covenant with him like his covenant with the Father? What is the difference between being covenanted a kingdom and being promised one? between being covenanted one and being contracted to receive one?

John 13-17 are a long sermon in which Jesus gives his disciples the last teachings of his mortal ministry. This week we will look at a few passages in the first three of those chapters.

John 13

Verses 31-35: When Jesus says “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him,” to what time does “now” refer? to that very moment immediately after the departure of Judas? To the events that are just beginning? What does it mean to be glorified? What does it mean for God to be glorified in the Son? Neither the Jews nor the disciples can follow Jesus, but what is the difference between them? Why does Jesus give the new commandment in the context in which he gives it? Specifically, why does he give it immediately after telling them that he is going to leave them? How is this commandment new? New compared to what? Compare Leviticus 19:18. Is this new commandment different than that commandment? How has Christ loved us? The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) teaches about neighborly love. Is Christ’s love for us the same as the love for the neighbor that we see in that parable? Compare verse 34 with John 15:12-13. Do those verses shed any light on the new commandment? How does verse 13 of John 15 add to the meaning of verse 12?

John 14

Verses 1-3: It is important to remember that these verses follow immediately after Jesus’ prophecy to Peter that he will deny him three times. The break we perceive when we read the scriptures is an artificial one. It wasn’t there when John wrote his gospel. Read John 13:36-38 and John 14:1-3, without making a break between them. Does that make a difference in your understanding of the interaction between Christ and Peter?

Verses 15-24: Is verse 15 a commandment or is it a statement of fact: those who love me keep my commandments? Could we love Christ and not

John 15

Verse 1: Are there connections between the Tree of Life imagery of the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon (Jacob 5), and the analogy that Christ makes here? Are there connections with what we learn from the story of the Garden of Eden?

Verses 2-3: What literal fruit does Jesus have in mind when he gives this analogy? Does that suggest any connection to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper? What else might the fruit of the vine stand for symbolically? What does it mean for a branch of the vine to be taken away? What does it mean for a branch to be purged? The word we would use today is “prune,” but the word translated “purge” in verse 2 is the same word translated “clean” in verse 3. When you prune branches on a vine, what do you do to them? When were the disciples made clean or purged? Is this related to the foot washing of chapter 13? (See John 13:5.) How has Christ’s word made them clean? What does the word “word” mean in this context?

Verse 4: The word translated “abide” means “to remain with” or “to wait for.” Which of those meanings do you think best fits here? Does the analogy of vines and branches suggest one of those over the other? What happens to a branch that is taken from the vine? How do vines and branches abide in each other, and what has that to do with producing fruit? What fruit does Jesus expect from those to whom he is speaking when he gives analogy?

Verses 5-6: The Greek word translated “without” at the end of verse 5 means literally “separated from.” We could probably translate this clause as “severed from me you can do nothing.” How is that true of the branch? How is it true of us? Why do we burn the branches that have been cut from the tree?

Verses 7-8: What is the promise of verse 7? Is it a promise that can be fulfilled in this life? (See Helaman 10:5.) How do we abide in Jesus’ words? What does John mean by the word “word”? How has he used it in other places (e.g., John 1:1 and 5:24.) Compare this promise to John 14:13. Are the promises the same or different? How do the disciples fruits glorify the Father (verse 8)? How does Christ doing what we ask in his name glorify the Father?

Verses 9-10: The word “continue” in verse 9 represents the same Greek word that is translated “abide” in verse 4 and in verse 10. How has the Father loved Christ? What information does scripture give us about how the Father loves the Son? What do passages like John 3:16, which tell how the Father loves us, suggest about how he loves the Son? Does the Father’s love for Christ allow him to escape suffering? Why or why not? What does that mean about the Savior’s love for us? Why do we remain in Christ’s love if we keep the commandments? Is it because he withdraws his love from us if we don’t keep them? Or is it because we withdraw ourselves from that love? When Jesus says he has kept his Father’s commandments, is he speaking of anything in particular or of the commandments in general? Did he have commandments that we do not have?

Verse 11: Jesus says that he has spoken “these things” so that the disciples’ joy might be full. To what does “these things” refer? How does this verse help us understand 2 Nephi 2:25: “Men are, that they might have joy”?

Verses 12-14: How is this commandment related to the commandments he mentioned in verse 10? Is it an additional commandment or the summary of them? How is the discussion that we see in verses 10-13 related to Jesus’ discussion with the lawyer in Luke 10:25-28? How has Christ loved them? What does this have to do with the parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25:31-46? Does verse 14 mean that Christ has laid down his life only for those who keep his commandments? If not, what does it mean? If so, how can that be since no one has kept all of the commandments except Christ?

Verse 15: How are we to understand what Jesus says here in light of what he said about servants in Luke 22:24-27? “I have called you friends” is a reasonable translation, but “I have called you beloved” might be more accurate. Why does Christ tell them that he now will speak of them differently than he has? What explanation of that change does he give? Why is important to them to know that he has made known to them everything that he has heard from the Father? If he has taught them everything that the Father has told him, what does that suggest about the things we learn in the New Testament?

Verse 16: As used here, the phrase “I have chosen you” means “I have chosen you for a purpose.” The primary meaning of the word translated “ordain” is “to place.” How is to be ordained to be placed or put somewhere? For what purpose does this verse say that the disciples have been chosen? Where have they been placed? Why is important for him to remind them that they have not chosen him, but he has chosen them? What does that mean to us? How does Jesus’ discussion of election (choice) here fit with the discussion of Doctrine and Covenants 121:34-40? Here is one way of understanding what this verse says: “I have chosen you and given you authority so that you can bear fruit and so that your fruit can remain (this is the same Greek word translated “abide” and “continue” earlier). And I want your fruit to remain so that the Father can give you whatever you ask for.” Is that what it means? If not, what does it mean? In either case, explain what Jesus is teaching in this verse. How does our election and ordination make it possible for us to bear fruit? How does it make it possible for that fruit to remain? Why do we have to have fruit that remains for the Father to give us what we ask?

Verse 17: Does this verse mean “I command you to love one another” or does it mean” I command you these things so that you will love one another?” If the former, why is he repeating this one more time, seemingly out of context. If the latter, how does bearing fruit that lasts make it possible for us to love one another?

Verses 18-25: What does “the world” mean in these verses? (Compare, for example, John 8:12 and 23, 4:42, 12:25, and 17:6; and 1 John 2:15-16.) How did the world show its hate for the disciples in the early Church? Does it hate Christians today? How so, if it does? What point is Jesus making in verse 20? Why do those who follow Jesus need to know what these verses teach?

Verses 26-27: How are these verses promising the Comforter related to verses 18-25?

11 Responses to “Sunday School Lesson #23”

  1. Karl D. said

    Jim F. said,

    Verses 1-6: Why does Luke introduce the story of the Last Supper by telling us of the plot to kill Jesus? What does this contrast show us?

    I was struck by this contrast when I prepared my lesson. Additionaly, I was particularly struck by how “betrayal” pericopes sandwich important events of chapter 22:

    1. The plot to betray (1-6)
    2. The last supper (7-38)
    3. The atonement (39-46)
    4. Betrayal (47-53)

    My initial thoughts about the contrast were the following: Jesus is faithful to his disciples and serves them to the very end. He is faithful to his Father. His obedience to the Father is highlighted. I think the contrast from the betrayal pericopes helps emphasize the faithfulness of Jesus. Additionally, the events (including the last supper) point to the triumph of Jesus over the devil and sin, but that they are sandwiched in between what appears to be the triumph of evil and those that oppose Jesus.

  2. Jim F. said

    Karl D., very nice observation. Thank you.

  3. mjberkey88 said

    Thanks Jim. I didn’t look at this page before I started posting in the wiki. I’m teaching this lesson tomorrow, so thanks for the thoughts.

  4. Terry H. said

    For John 13: As far as the washing of the feet goes–Jesus says that the Apostles will understand it “not now, but hereafter”. He uses the language in the JST that unless he washes their feet, they will not be with Him. He mentions that the head and hands also have to be washed, but that feet washing is essential. I see here temple imagery (both modern and ancient). Didn’t Heber C. Kimball teach that the ordinance of the washing of the feet in the Kirtland Temple had something to do with the resurrection?

  5. mjberkey said

    The Old Testament often speaks of the Lord remembering his people… How is our memory of him linked to his memory of us?

    When I think of God remembering his people, I think of how he is constantly watching us and calling us. Perhaps to remember Christ is to watch his works and maybe even to constantly call on his name (whatever that means).

  6. Robert C. said

    I’m very interested in Jim’s question about the “now” in John 13:31, esp. because of the curious “I am no more in the world” phrase in John 17:11 (which is before the Garden of Gethsemane experience related in John 18…). Is Mary’s anointing of Jesus in John 12:1-8 too “textually distant” to consider that the pivotal moment, when Jesus is considered “no more in the world” (17:11) or “now . . . glorified” (13:31)?

  7. RuthS said

    Your question about the significance of the elements of the sacrament is a most interesting one, especially the part about eating and drinking. The early Christians were regarded as canaballistic by some in the greater society in which they lived. According to Aden Steinsaltz in a book titled The Essential Talmud the law of sacrafice is the oldest of laws. It consists of three parts. The offering, the subtitution and the oneness. The offering can be anything. The subtitution means the offering is subtituted for the person bringing the offering with the conciousness that what happens to the offering should rightfully happen to him. The oneness involves eating and drinking what has been sacraficed. I think Moses grinding up the golden calf and forcing the people to drink it is part of completing the worship of the calf that he imposes on them. So the way I see it the sacrament represents the completion of the fullfillment of the atoning sacrafice. When we take the bread and water as symbols of Christ’s flesh and blood we are becoming one with him. Being worthy becomes rather imprtant in that context.

  8. Laura said

    Do you have any thoughts on Luke 22:18 which reads “…I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.”

  9. Jim F. said

    Off the top of my head, I wonder whether the prohibition on wine in the Word of Wisdom has something to do with this. Jesus says that he will not drink wine until the kingdom comes. Perhaps we refrain from drinking wine as a sign that the kingdom has not yet come. We anticipate drinking it with Christ when his kingdom is established on earth, so we refrain from drinking it now.

  10. Timmy said

    The prohibition on wine in the Word of Wisdom has nothing to do with Luke 22:18. Although some people might long to drink alcohol, I can’t imagine that Christ’s return will feature the Saints getting drunk. It’s the Second Coming, not a kegger.

  11. brianj said

    Timmy, #10: I hardly think that is what Jim F meant to imply with his statement in #9.

    Jim F, #9: If the WoW prohibition on wine has to do with what Jesus said in Luke 22, it would seem contrary to Jesus’ desire; namely, they he wished for his disciples to continue drinking the fruit of the vine as a way of looking forward to the day when they would drink it with Jesus again.

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