Mat 26: There are a number of sections in this record that
contrast one with the other. For example, vv 1-5 could be entitled "The
conspiracy of hatred", while the next section (vv 6-13), could be entitled "The
aroma of love". And again, vv 14-16 describe "A covenant of hatred", while vv
17-29 describe Christ's great "The covenant of love" -- remembered regularly by
His disciples in the Breaking of Bread.
The rejection of Jesus begins with the leaders of Israel...
but ends with the betrayal by his own disciples (Mar 14:18...).
WILL BE HANDED OVER: "Is being handed over": it was
happening even as he spoke!
CAIAPHAS: High priest c AD 18-36. He was son-in-law and
successor of Annas. Appointed by the Roman procurator Valerius Gratus (Pilate's
immediate predecessor), he was deposed by Vitellius, "president of Syria " (Jos
Ant 18:2:2; 4:3).
The earliest mention of him is in Luk 3:2: "Annas and Caiaphas
being the high priests." This odd expression evidently reflects the fact that
whereas the latter legally held the position of high priest, Annas continued to
wield the power of the office. The next notice is in Joh 11:49-53, where
Caiaphas advised that Jesus' life should be sacrificed to save the nation. He
feared that the prophet from Nazareth would precipitate a political revolution,
which might result in the whole nation being destroyed by Rome. John comments
that, as high priest, Caiaphas uttered a prophecy that Jesus would die on behalf
of the Jews and all mankind (cp also Joh 18:13,14).
At a later period his hostility to the gospel is still
manifest (Acts 4:6). This high handed (false) high priest committed suicide when
he was deposed by Rome several years after the death and resurrection of
IN SOME SLY WAY: "Now the serpent was more crafty than
any of the wild animals the LORD God had made" (Gen 3:1; cp Mat 3:7; 12:34;
BUT NOT DURING THE FEAST: Irony: when they tried to
kill him, they failed; when they resolved not to do so, they were forced into
AN ALABASTER JAR OF VERY EXPENSIVE PERFUME: The Greek
word so translated denotes, according to LS, "a globular vase without handles
for holding perfumes, often made of alabaster." Such a container was itself
costly whether made of alabaster or not, and thus it was only in use for holding
perfumes that were of value. Evidently it was sealed, for Mark tells us that she
broke the box or jar in order to pour its contents over the Master's head. The
gift was costly, but it was given freely, with nothing held back. The broken
vase is symbolic of many things: of the wholeheartedness of the gift and its
irrevocability, and of the fact that suffering even to the point of breaking is
sometimes the way in which the purest fragrance is released in life.
In Luke 7, Jesus is anointed by a sinner, in prospect of
mercy. In Mat 26, he is anointed by a saint, in prospect of glory.
THE DISCIPLES... THEY: Including Judas (Joh
"As Jesus sat at the table in the house of Simon the Leper, a
woman came to him with a very expensive jar of perfume, which she poured on his
head. Jesus described this action by saying, 'She has done a beautiful thing to
me.' None of his disciples had done anything like that for him -- in fact, they
complained about the waste of money in that it could have been given to the
poor. But Jesus meant more to her than all the poor in the world, and so she
expressed her love in the best way she could and anointed him in preparation for
"Jesus' reply to his disciples did not excuse them (or us)
from looking after the poor, but what he said put our priorities into
perspective. Jesus must come first in our lives above all else. He must be the
centre of our affection as he was to the woman with the ointment. And even
though Jesus is in heaven and not physically with us, we can still anoint him
ourselves. We anoint him by pouring out our love on him, by praying to him, by
serving him the best we can, by praising him and by bringing others to him. Take
a moment to feel her passion as she anointed her Lord. Now we must anoint him
ourselves with all the love we can. May we too do beautiful things for him"
POURED: "Ballo", to throw, not "murizo", as in Mar
FOR MY BURIAL: Cp Joh 12:7. It was in fact the only
true anointing, except for the dry spices used later. It was also an anointing
in anticipation of his resurrection (Psa 45:6-8,11). Cp also the high priest's
anointing of Psa 133. This psalm also suggests the anointing of the high priest
preparatory to his entering the most holy place on the Day of
I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, WHEREVER THIS GOSPEL IS PREACHED
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD, WHAT SHE HAS DONE WILL ALSO BE TOLD, IN MEMORY OF HER:
Why? Cp Luke 7:44-50, which, although in a different time period in its
recording, appears to be a parallel account. Here is the way we may obtain
forgiveness and peace -- through faith and devotion to God and the Lord Jesus
Christ. Jesus warns his disciples "not to trouble her"; we have the same
protection, and there is strong punishment for those who trouble the believers
A handful of coins -- and the prospect of more -- was enough
to settle forever the conflict between good and evil. For what price do we sell
SO THEY COUNTED OUT: "Covenanted" (AV); "weighed" (RV).
See Zec 11:12.
THIRTY SILVER COINS: Cp Mar 14:11; Luk 22:5: "they
promised, or agreed, to give him money": The 30 pieces of silver was a mere
"down payment" -- perhaps 10%? (WGos 629).
WHERE DO YOU WANT US TO MAKE PREPARATIONS...?: To have
named a precise location would have played into the hands of the betrayer. And
so Jesus gives general directions only.
A CERTAIN MAN: Who will be carrying a jar of water (Mar
14;13; Luk 22:10).
MY APPOINTED TIME IS NEAR: The disciples thought Jesus
was about to set up his kingdom, and declare himself as king; they arrived
wondering what places they might have. They went into the room seeing themselves
as lords, not as servants but as lords! They even argued with each other during
the meal about who would be the greatest amongst them (Luk 22:24).
TO CELEBRATE THE PASSOVER: Note sig of the Passover:
Deliverance from "Egypt" on the night when the firstborn was slain. Crossing of
Red Sea, where enemies perish in the water = baptism. A journey, in which the
believers are strengthened by food and water, divinely provided.
Citing Psa 41:9: "My close friend, whom I trusted." Cp also
Psa 55:12-14. Note: Jesus broke bread with Judas! Cp Joh 13:26.
"A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread
and drinks of the cup" (1Co 11:28). There is no hint that any of the disciples
suspected Judas. "An indication of how completely the traitor lived his own life
in his own world even while continuing to be an intimate member of the apostles'
"Judas was a thief and Jesus knew it, but tolerated him until
he manifested himself. Was Jesus responsible while he fellowshiped him?
Certainly not" (RR, Xd 92:417).
SURELY NOT I, RABBI?: Judas uses the most exalted
address for Jesus -- as though to hide his intentions behind a profusion of
Judas now leaves, going on an errand, but also to visit
Caiaphas and the council. Caiaphas also visits Pilate, to make arrangements for
Vv 26,27: The Lord's Supper: a memorial of Christ (Mat
26:26,27); a feast of remembrance (1Co 11:24); a banquet of victory (Act 20:7);
a token of fellowship (1Co 10:16); and a confession of hope (1Co 11:26).
A commemoration, and not a repetition of sacrifice: Heb 10:10;
7:27. Why? Because Christ, the sacrifice, is ALIVE!
GAVE THANKS: KJV has "blessed it". The "it", however,
is not in the Greek, and to understand what is meant we must remind ourselves of
the prayer habits of the first century. It was customary then to begin prayer
with the formula "Blessed art Thou, O Lord," and for example one of the oldest
Jewish prayer forms known to us is that called the 18 Benedictions. This is a
series of 18 prayers each of which begins with "Blessed art Thou, O Lord." The
form of thanksgiving before a meal, as set forth in the Mishnah, runs, "Blessed
art Thou, who bringest forth bread from the earth."
THIS IS MY BODY: "Is" = symbolizes: John 10:7; 15:1;
1Co 10:14; Rev 17:9; etc.
Does the nature, or type, of bread make a difference? JT
writes, in 1856: "If a Christian drink of the Lord's cup, not discerning the
Lord's body, or with malice and wickedness, he eats and drinks condemnation to
himself; and does not fulfil the 'righteousness of the law;' but on the
contrary, 'offers the blood of Jehovah's sacrifice with leaven,' which is death.
To eat bread and drink wine at the table of the Lord is to 'offer up spiritual
sacrifice.' This offering is 'acceptable to God through Jesus Christ' (1Pe 2:5),
when offered, not in the letter, but in the spirit of the law... We conclude,
therefore, that the quality of the bread matters not, so that we [as long as we]
eat it in purity and truth, discerning the Lord's body. To strain at the quality
of the bread and wine, is to Judaize; and to eat unleavened bread and drink
unadulterated wine with the old leaven, or the leaven of malice and wickedness,
is to swallow a camel. We walk by faith, not by the five senses. The quality of
our meat or drink commendeth us not to God (1Co 8:8); but the fulfilling of all
righteousness witnessed by the law and the prophets (Mat 3:15; Rom 3:21). In
doing thus, 'we worship in spirit and in truth' (Joh 4:24)."
DRINK FROM IT, ALL OF YOU: KJV has "Drink ye all of
it", but this does not mean: "Drink all of the wine"; instead, "All of YOU must
BLOOD OF THE COVENANT: See 1Co 11:25: "This cup IS the
new covenant in my blood."
"Covenant" is not often referred to in the OT, but Exo 24
tells of how the nation solemnly entered into covenant relationship with God:
"Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, behold the
blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you" (Exo 24:8). There are
only two other places in the OT where men are sprinkled with blood, namely in
the consecration of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood (Lev 8), and in the
purification of the leper who has been healed (Lev 14). In these incidents the
sprinkling with blood seems to mark two things: cleansing from previous
defilements and consecration to a new state wherein God might be served more
fully. These are the ideas associated with the "blood of the covenant" in Exo
24. The people were then being cleansed from the defilements and the sins of
their previous existence, and were being set apart for a glorious destiny --
they were to be the people of God.
THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS: Cp Isa 53:11,12; Jer 31:31-34;
I WILL NOT DRINK... UNTIL...: See Isa 24:23;
A HYMN: By tradition at Passover, this was Psa 113; 114
at beginning, and Psa 115-118 at end.
// Psa 44:22.
I WILL GO AHEAD OF YOU: As a shepherd leading his
Peter (1) questioned Christ, (2) put himself above others, and
(3) was confident in his own abilities.
Cp Peter's boasts to the empty bluster of the rooster (Mar
Peter thinks he will lay down (sw Joh 10:11,15) his life for
Jesus. Instead, Jesus will lay down his life for Peter. A great irony: cp
David/God/build house: 2Sa 7.
AND ALL THE OTHER DISCIPLES SAID THE SAME: It was SO
easy to say! How pathetic might some of our promises sound in
Jesus knew Judas would be coming here (a familiar spot for the
group to rest: Joh 18:2,3). So here he waits, placing himself in Judas'
GETHSEMANE: Lit "a wine press for oil". Poss its olive
trees provided oil for the anointing of priests and kings.
Some disciples are closer to their Lord than others. "Members
one of another."
THE TWO SONS OF ZEBEDEE: James and John. The two who
promised to drink of his cup.
SORROWFUL AND TROUBLED: The mark of a man, not a god! A
sign of weakness, trial, but also of compassion and sympathy (Heb 4:15,16;
MY SOUL IS OVERWHELMED WITH SORROW TO THE POINT OF
DEATH: David -- in his great trial -- left Jerusalem and passed over Kedron
(and Jordan: 2Sa 17:22), fleeing from Absalom (Psa 42; 43). Fulfilling this
pattern, we see Jesus passing over Kedron to Gethsemane (cp Psa 42:5,11; 43:5
with Mat 26:38.
A number of other psalms seem to be based on the "Absalom"
experiences of David, and thus point to the same New Testament scenario: Psalms
3; 4; 11; 23; 28; 31; 35; 38; 39; 41; 55; 61; 64; 69; 71; 84; 88; 94; 109; 140;
Consider especially Psa 55:2-7,13,14,21; Psa 88 (all!); Psa
KEEP WATCH WITH ME: Were his disciples already failing
GOING A LITTLE FARTHER: He separates himself even from
the closest three: seeking the utmost privacy to communicate with his Father. Cp
picture of tabernacle/temple: Jesus // Most holy; the 3 // Holy place; the other
8 // outer court; and Judas and crowd // world outside!
THIS CUP: The hours of waiting, or the cross itself? If
the cross itself, he would realize quickly that this could not be avoided --
thus "not as I will..."
Various possibilities: (1) a natural human revulsion to
suffering and death. (2) Loss of fellowship with God (Psa 6:4,5; Isa 38:18,19).
(3) The shame of crucifixion (Psa 69:6,7,10,19,20; Isa 50:6; Heb 6:6; 12:2; Psa
13:3,4). (4) The burden of guilt pertaining to others (Psa 40:12; 69:5; 41:4;
31:10; cp Dan 9:3-25; Neh 1:6,7; Psa 106:6; Josh 7:1; Ezr 9:6; 2Sa 21:1). (5)
"Forsake by Father" (Psa 22:1; 31:22). (6) Exhaustion, spiritual and physical
(Psa 55:5-8). (7) A sense of failure (Isa 49:4; Psa 116:10,11; 118:3,4; cp 1Ki
NOT AS I WILL: Christ has a will of his own: Rom 15:3.
"With gentle resignation still, he yielded to the Father's
will..." But WAS it GENTLE?
Three times the disciples wake, and fall asleep again. Why did
they fall asleep? (1) Long days of activity preceding Passover; (2) wine at
dinner; (3) lateness of hour; (4) long wait in dark garden.
"There are those who point out the increased sensitiveness of
Christ to physical suffering; but have we realized his sensitiveness to sin? He
lived in the presence of his Father, in an atmosphere of holiness and light. He
went down to the shame and ignominy of a criminal's death. His pure mind had to
face all the degradation of mockery, exposure and crucifixion. He was made sin
for us, who knew no sin. And because he was bearing the sin of the world and
accepting the curse of the tree, he must be alone... He knew that the terrible
cry of Psa 22 would be wrung from his lonely, aching heart. Already the horror
of great darkness was upon him. The Lord was laying upon him the iniquity of us
all. Bearing iniquity was a desolating experience. It was here (in Gethsemane),
not on the morrow in Jerusalem, that our Saviour was undergoing the ordeal of
his trial. All that happened to him afterwards would be physical. This was his
hour. This was his victory, 'Nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done' " (MP
"I looked for sympathy, but there was none, for comforters,
but I found none" (Psa 69:20).
Three times he prayed: as the High Priest went into "Most
Holy" 3 times on day of atonement.
He sits with the sleeping disciples, as a shepherd keeping
watch over his flock, quietly awaiting the coming of the band of men to arrest
him. (Suggestion: a long period, an hour or two, while they sleep... before
Jesus' "Look!") During the last part of this waiting, Jesus would see the
approach of the arresting party, a good way off: (a) they came late at night,
(b) with torches, (c) descending into valley from city, (d) climbing mount on
opposite side, toward the garden.
RISE! LET US GO!: Not only does he await his
persecutors and murderers, but he rises to go and meet them!
"Weeping relieves feeling and betokens inner emotions, but it
does not solve problems. The prostrate figure in Gethsemane, weeping it would
seem his very life's blood from brow to cheek, reached the moment of ultimate
resolution, of final commitment and said: 'Arise; and let us be going.' Out of
our tears finally, if they are to be of value to us, there must emerge a resolve
of spirit. Perpetual and inconsolable grief is defeat and self-destruction.
However great the burden, however irreplaceable the loss, however terrible the
desolation which brings about our sorrow, for the follower of Jesus the moment
must come when, having poured all his tears into God's bottle, he lifts up the
head and says: 'Arise, and let us be going' " (TMD 45).
HERE COMES MY BETRAYER!: Christ could see the approach
of the party to arrest him: they came late at night, carrying torches,
traversing the Kidron Valley and climbing the mountain. (If Christ had not
awakened the disciples, they might never have seen him go.)
JUDAS: "Judas, who served as guide for those who
arrested Jesus" (Acts 1:16).
SWORDS: Regular weapons of Roman soldiers.
CLUBS: Regular weapons of Jewish temple
THE ONE I KISS IS THE MAN: Why was it necessary that
the Son of Man be betrayed with a kiss? There is, of course, the obvious
symbolism: the deceitful treachery of a familiar friend. But, on close
examination, there would appear to be a practical reason for Judas to suggest a
kiss: the time set for Jesus' arrest was night, and the place a rather secluded
garden. The Jews bent on taking Jesus have realized that, in the confusion of an
arrest, he could slip out of their hands quite easily. The trick would be to
single him out from his followers while they were still at some distance, so
that -- when they fled, as it was supposed they would do -- the soldiers would
know which of the shadowy figures to pursue and lay hands on. (Under normal
visibility there would have been no problem identifying Jesus.) And thus the
stratagem of having Judas precede the multitude, for only a member of the inner
circle (so they would suppose) could get close enough to single out the leader
from his followers.
HOLD HIM FAST: Judas would remember previous futile
attempts to arrest Jesus: Luk 4:30; John 7:30; 8:20,59; 10:39.
AND KISSED HIM: "If an enemy were insulting me, I could
endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. But
it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once
enjoyed sweet fellowship as we walked with the throng at the house of God... His
speech is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart; his words are more soothing
than oil, yet they are drawn swords" (Psa 55:12-14,21).
FRIEND: "Comrade", "associate", not ordinary word for
DO WHAT YOU CAME FOR: Or, as mg, "WHY have you come?"
One final appeal to Judas to examine his ways and repent.
ONE OF JESUS' COMPANIONS: Peter (Joh 18:10). Was he
aiming for Judas (cp Joh 13:24)?
THE SERVANT OF THE HIGH PRIEST: Malchus (Joh
CUTTING OFF HIS EAR: See the contrast: some (like
Jesus) wait, watch, pray, prepare, weigh alternatives, and (only then) act.
Others (like Peter) doze off, sleep, wake suddenly, and then "cut off an ear".
(Jesus heals the ear: Luk 22:51.)
DO YOU THINK I CANNOT CALL ON MY FATHER?: In John 18:6,
they went backward and fell to the ground! Demonstrating that he had a great
TWELVE LEGIONS OF ANGELS: One legion for each angel. At
the first passover, the protecting angels who turned aside the angel of death
from the faithful ones of each tribe. This is the last passover, and Christ now
commands all the legions, for he is the embodiment and hope of all the 12 tribes
-- and the Gentiles as well. (Of course, he is also the Passover "lamb", and
that is why he must die: v 54.)
THEN ALL THE DISCIPLES DESERTED HIM AND FLED: They thus
fled from their only true safety!
Darkness closes down upon the scene. The garden, with its
gnarled old olive trees, is dark and quiet again. The silence is broken only by
the rustling of the leaves.
Annas was no longer the official High Priest, but the title
(and power and wealth) remained in family: 5 different sons, and finally his
son-in-law Caiaphas became High Priest(from 18 to 36 AD: OP 23:262). They were a
ruthless and ambitious family, who would do almost anything to maintain power
Two injustices here: (1) a private meeting, and (2) late at
night. A night trial was illegal: Act 4:3; 5:17-19.
AT A DISTANCE: Luk 23:49.
WERE LOOKING FOR FALSE EVIDENCE AGAINST JESUS: To
fulfill Psa 27:12; 35:11.
Where was Judas? Had it been expected that he would be the
"star witness"? But instead, he defected and hid himself, thus throwing their
carefully-laid plans into disarray.
MANY FALSE WITNESSES CAME FORWARD: The false witnesses,
by law, were liable to the same punishment they sought to inflict on another
(Deu 19:15-21). Cp trial of Naboth (1Ki 21:1-19).
FINALLY TWO CAME FORWARD: Were these two members of the
Sanhedrin? (WGos 740).
This (an obvious misapplication) was the best they could do!
But, ironically, the death of Jesus would also mark the "end" of the Temple!
AND REBUILD IT: An obvious misapplication: In effect
Christ says, "Destroy me, and in 3 days I will rise again." Jesus himself =
temple (Joh 1:14; 2:19-21; Mat 12:6).
IN THREE DAYS: Always ref resurrection (cp Mar 8:31;
THE HIGH PRIEST: Now Caiaphas (cp Psa
BUT JESUS REMAINED SILENT: "They have spoken against me
with a lying tongue... but I give myself unto prayer" (Psa 109:2,4). Cp 1Pe
2:23. Jesus' silence is more eloquent than any words!
"What was the single most amazing thing that Jesus did? Was it
the overcoming of the tempter in the wilderness? Was it acts of healing? Of
raising the dead to life? Was it even hanging on the cross?
"I submit that the single most amazing thing that our Lord
did, was to be silent.
"Jesus was on trial. He was set upon by a band of
none-too-gentle soldiers, under orders to whisk him away to a night-time court.
False witnesses accused him. Malicious council members conspired against him.
Falsely pious leaders plotted with evil intent against him. And all the while,
Jesus knew that he was right, and they were wrong.
"Before them was a loved Son. The accused was the only one who
was truly blameless. The only one who really cared in his heart for the nation
that these brutish elders thought they were saving from the Romans. Before them
was someone who had only and always given of himself for others. The only one
who had the power to truly do good. The only one who had the power to throw off
the true yoke. Jesus was silent.
"Jesus was not powerless. He could have confuted the lies. He
could have shouted down the insinuations as well as the blunt accusations. He
could have put them in their place. He could have annihilated their arguments.
He could have used his power to hurt them, or destroy them, and escape. He was
right, and they were all wrong. Jesus was silent.
"How do we react, I wonder, to words spoken against us? Do we
consider that they may be justified? Most times they probably are, and we are
blind to our own failings.
"More often, perhaps, we are blinded by our sense of justice.
We are quick to excuse ourselves, and even quicker to attack supposed injustice
against ourselves. We may lash out most often against those closest to us. When
we are tempted to react in such a way, let us think on the mind of Christ. "Let
this mind be in you..." (Mike Bull).
I CHARGE YOU UNDER OATH BY THE LIVING GOD: The oath of
Mishna, called also the "oath of the testimony", binding the defendant to answer
(Lev 5:1). In Jewish law, the oath is taken by the judge and not by the witness
IT IS AS YOU SAY: Not, as KJV, "Thou hast said." Not
evasive, but a direct and definite answer ("Why Moved the Stone?" 26; cp Mar
IN THE FUTURE YOU WILL SEE THE SON OF MAN SITTING...:
Only for the moment could they pretend to be "judges". In the future HE would be
the true and eternal Judge... of them all!
THE HIGH PRIEST TORE HIS CLOTHES: According to the
Mishna, when the accused actually utters the name of Yahweh -- as Jesus does
when he answers, "I am" (v 64) -- then he is now clearly guilty of blasphemy,
"and the priests may rend their garments and pronounce him guilty".
The prescribed method for dissociating oneself from blasphemy
(SMk 193). But illegal for a High Priest(Lev 21:10), prejudicial as a judge, and
symbolizing, unknowingly, the end of his own priesthood (cp Isa 50:9). (High
Priest's garment and veil of temple, of same material: cp Mar 15:38.) Thus,
inadvertently, the High Priest was treating his special garments like the veil
and curtains of the Temple, "waxed old and ready to vanish away"; he was
declaring an end to his own priesthood!
Also, the High Priest rending his garment contrasts sharply
with the priestly-type garment of Jesus, which was seamless and was not torn
HE HAS SPOKEN BLASPHEMY: Not a blasphemy against God or
Jewish Law, but against Caesar: "We have no king but Caesar" (Joh 19:12,15).
Caiaphas was looking for something specifically to arouse the Roman authorities,
and in Jesus' intimation of future kingship he thinks he may have found
Cp Isa 50:6. A complete loss of all judicial restraint and
dignity. Even Sanhedrin members participate (cp Psa 22:16: the whole
PROPHESY: He was blindfolded (Luk 22:64). 'Tell us who
is striking you.' One day he will!
The only instance in the Gospels where a woman is not on
Jesus' side! Or is she?
YOU ALSO WERE WITH JESUS OF GALILEE: The "also"
suggests the presence of someone else: John (who was also there: John 18:15-17)
was not afraid to admit to being a companion of Jesus.
Was Peter afraid especially because of his violent action
against the High Priest's servant? Cp John 18:26.