According to the gospels of Mark and Matthew, Jesus foretells his betrayal immediately before the institution of the Lord’s Supper (Mk 14: 18-21; Mt 26: 21-25). In the gospel of Luke, however, Jesus’ prediction of his betrayal takes place after the supper (Lk 22: 21-23). Perhaps Luke may have transposed this tradition in order to present it as part of Jesus’ final discourse to his disciples after the Last Supper. In act, Luke alone, among the synoptics, reports such a discourse. In the gospel of John too we find Jesus giving a long farewell discourse to his disciples after the supper (Jn 14: 17). But the discourse of Jesus in Luke (Lk 22: 21-38) has nothing in common with that in John. In John too Jesus announces his betrayal (cf. Jn 13: 2, 10-11, 18-19, 21-26) but this does not form part of the farewell discourse. Jesus’ discourse in Luke (Lk 22: 21-38), as also that in John, is highly composite in nature and it consists of different traditions which are loosely connected to each other. That is:
- Jesus foretells his betrayal (Lk 22: 21-23).
- The disciples and their place in the Kingdom (Lk 22: 24-30).
- Jesus foretells Peter’s denial (Lk 22: 31-34).
- The saying about the swords (Lk 22: 35-38).
Luke’s account of the betrayal (Lk 22: 21-23) is similar to gospel of Mark 14: 18-21, but gospel of Luke has worded it differently. Jesus’ announcement of his betrayal indicates his foreknowledge of what id going to happen. He says that the hand of the betrayer is with him on the table (Lk 22: 21). Jesus is aware that he would be betrayed by one of his own disciples who shared in the Last Supper. Perhaps a distant echo of Psalms 41: 9 is audible: “Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted, who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel against me.” In the saying that follows (Lk 22: 22) Jesus relates his betrayal (and his death) to the will of the Father. The events of the Passion are already determined by God, and the Son of Man journeys towards his destiny as determined for him by God. Thus Judas’ betrayal is also seen as part of the divine plan for Jesus. And yet the betrayer is not excused. Jesus does not, however, pass a judgment on the betrayer as in gospel of Mark 14: 21, nevertheless he says emphatically: “woe to that man whom the Son of Man is betrayed” (Lk 22: 22).
The emphasis in the Lukan account is on Jesus’ fore-knowledge about his betrayal that leads to death, and on his acceptance of his suffering destiny as willed by God. Jesus’ prediction of his betrayal is also a warning to the reader who should recognize that even sharing in the Lord’s Supper is no guarantee that he will not betray his Lord.