Matthew 26 – Jesus’ Betrayal and Arrest
A. The stage is set for the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus.
1. (1-2) Jesus reminds His disciples of His coming suffering and crucifixion.
Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
a. When Jesus had finished all these sayings: In Matthew’s Gospel, the teaching of Jesus is finished here. In these last days leading up to His betrayal and crucifixion, He warned the multitudes about the corrupt religious leadership and He spoke to His disciples about things to come. Now, it was time for Jesus to fulfill His work on the cross.
i. “Having instructed his disciples and the Jews by his discourses, edified them by his example, convinced them by his miracles, he now prepares to redeem them by his blood!” (Clarke)
b. You know that after two days…the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified: Perhaps after the triumphal descriptions of the coming kingdom, the disciples were strengthened in their idea that it was impossible that the Messiah should suffer. Jesus reminded them that this was not the case.
2. (3-5) The plot against Jesus.
Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
a. Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders… plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him: The long controversy between Jesus and the religious leaders had finally come to this.
i. According to Carson, the use of both assembled and plotted is deliberately suggestive of Psalm 31:13: For I am the slander of many; fear is on every side; while they take counsel together against me, they scheme to take away my life.
ii. The high priest, who was called Caiaphas: “Annas was deposed by the secular authorities in A.D. 15 and replaced by Caiaphas, who lived and ruled till his death in A.D. 36. But since according to the Old Testament the high priest was not to be replaced till after his death, the transfer of power was illegal. Doubtless some continued to call either man ‘high priest.’” (Carson)
iii. “Between 37 B.C. and A.D. 67… there were no fewer than twenty-eight High Priests. The suggestive thing is that Caiaphas was High Priest from A.D. 18 to A.D. 36. This was an extraordinarily long time for a High Priest to last, and Caiaphas must have brought the technique of co-operating with the Romans to a fine art.” (Barclay)
iv. “About two years after our Lord’s crucifixion, Caiaphas and Pilate were both deposed by Vitellius, then governor of Syria, and afterwards emperor. Caiaphas, unable to bear this disgrace, and the stings of his conscience for the murder of Christ, killed himself about A.D. 35. See Joseph. Antiquities b. xviii. c. 2-4.” (Clarke)
b. Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar: They didn’t want to put Jesus to death during Passover, but that is exactly how it happened. This is another subtle indication that Jesus was in control of events, as they in fact killed Him on the very day that they didn’t want to.
i. “The leaders were right in fearing the people. Jerusalem’s population swelled perhaps fivefold during the feast; and with religious fervor and national messianism at a high pitch, a spark might set off an explosion.” (Carson)
3. (6-13) A woman anoints Jesus before His death.
And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
a. A woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil: We know from John 12 that this woman was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. Mary, who sat at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39), made this extravagant display of love and devotion to Jesus.
i. There is some measure of debate, and sometimes confusion, about this anointing of Jesus and those mentioned in Mark, Luke, and John. The best solution seems to be that Matthew, Mark, and John record one occasion of anointing in Bethany and Luke records a separate event in Galilee.
ii. “Simon the leper is otherwise unknown to us. He was presumably a well-known local figure, perhaps one whom Jesus had cured (as one who was still a leper could not entertain guests to dinner) but whose nickname remained as a reminder of his former disease.” (France)
iii. Morris on the alabaster flask: “It had no handles and was furnished with a long neck which was broken off when the contents were needed…We may fairly deduce that this perfume was costly. Jewish ladies commonly wore a perfume flask suspended from a cord round the neck, and it was so much a part of them that they were allowed to wear it on the sabbath.” (Commentary on Luke)
b. Why this waste? The disciples criticized this display of love and honor for Jesus. Specifically, the critic was Judas (John 12:4-6). But Jesus defended Mary as an example of someone who simply did a good work for Him. Her extravagant – reckless really – giving for Jesus would be remembered as long as the gospel was preached (as a memorial to her).
i. “What they call waste, Jesus calls ‘a beautiful thing.’” (Carson)
ii. “Is anything wasted which is all for Jesus? It might rather seem as if all would be wasted which was not given to him.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Judas could not breathe freely amid the odours of the ointment and all it emblemed.” (Bruce)
c. You have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always: Jesus did not say this to discourage generosity and kind treatment of the poor. In fact, His recent words about the judgment of the nations had just radically encouraged kindness to those in need (Matthew 25:31-46). Jesus pointed to the appropriate nature of that moment to honor Him in an extravagant way.
i. “The beauty of this woman’s act consisted in this, that it was all for Christ. All who were in the house could perceive and enjoy the perfume of the precious ointment; but the anointing was for Jesus only.” (Spurgeon)
d. She did it for My burial: Even if she did not understand the full significance of what she did, Mary’s act said something that the disciples didn’t say or do. She gave Jesus the love and attention He deserved before His great suffering. She understood more because she was in the place of greatest understanding – being at the feet of Jesus.
i. Kings were anointed. Priests were anointed. Each of these would have been true in the case of Jesus, yet He claimed that she anointed Him for His burial.
ii. “She probably did not know all that her action meant when she anointed her Lord for his burial. The consequences of the simplest action done for Christ may be much greater than we think…She thus showed that there was, at least, one heart in the world that thought nothing was too good for her Lord, and that the best of the very best ought to be given to him.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “Mary’s name now smells as sweet in all God’s house as ever her ointment did; when Judas’ name rots, and shall do to all posterity.” (Trapp)
e. What this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her: What Mary did was remarkable for its motive – a pure, loving heart. It was remarkable in that it was done for Jesus alone. And it was remarkable in that it was unusual and extraordinary.
i. “All those who have done wonders for Christ have always been called eccentric and fanatical. Why, when Whitfield first went on Bennington Common to preach, because he could not find a building large enough, it was quite an unheard of thing, to preach in the open air. How could you expect God to hear prayer, if there was not a roof over the top of the people’s heads? How could souls be blessed, if the people had not seats, and regular high-backed pews to sit in! Whitfield was thought to be doing something outrageous, but he went and did it; he went and broke the alabaster box on the head of his Master, and in the midst of scoffs and jeers, he preached in the open air. And what came of it? A revival of godliness, and a mighty spread of religion. I wish we were all of us ready to do some extraordinary thing for Christ – willing to be laughed at, to be called fanatics, to be hooted and scandallized because we went out of the common way, and were not content with doing what everybody else could do or approve to be done.” (Spurgeon)
4. (14-16) Judas makes a sinister agreement with the religious leaders.
Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.
a. Then one of the twelve: The sense from Matthew is that the matter with Mary was the final insult to Judas, even though it may have happened some days before. After that, he was determined to betray Jesus to the religious leaders who wanted to kill Him.
b. What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you? Through the centuries, many suggestions have been offered regarding the motive of Judas in betraying Jesus.
i. Matthew 10:4 calls him Judas Iscariot; it may be that he was from Kerioth, a city in southern Judea. This would make Judas the only Judean among the other disciples, who were all Galileans. Some wonder if Judas resented the leadership of the Galilean fishermen among the disciples, and finally had enough of it.
ii. Perhaps Judas was disillusioned with the type of Messiah Jesus revealed Himself to be; wanting a more political, conquering Messiah.
iii. Perhaps Judas watched the ongoing conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders and concluded that they were winning and Jesus was losing; therefore, he decided to cut his losses and join the winning side.
iv. Perhaps he came to the conclusion that Jesus simply was not the Messiah or a true Prophet, even as Saul of Tarsus had believed.
v. Some even suggest that Judas did this from a noble motive; that he was impatient for Jesus to reveal Himself as a powerful Messiah, and he thought that this would force Him to do this.
vi. Whatever the specific reason, the Scriptures present no sense of reluctance in Judas, and only one motivation: greed. The words stand: “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?”
c. And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver: According to the Bible, there was no noble intention in Judas’ heart. His motive was simply money, and his price wasn’t too high: thirty pieces of silver was worth perhaps $25.
i. The exact value of thirty pieces of silver is somewhat difficult to determine, but it was undeniably a small amount, not a great amount. “It was a known set price for the basest slave, Exodus 21:31; Joel 3:3, 6. For so small a sum sold this traitor so sweet a Master.” (Trapp)
ii. “Though therefore Judas was covetous enough to have asked more, and it is like the malice of these councilors would have edged them to have given more, yet it was thus ordered by the Divine council. Christ must be sold cheap, that he might be the more dear to the souls of the redeemed ones.” (Poole)
iii. “Yet many have sold Jesus for a less price than Judas received; a smile or a sneer has been sufficient to induce them to betray their Lord.” (Spurgeon)
B. A Last Supper with the disciples.
1. (17-20) Preparations for the Passover: remembering redemption.
Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?” And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover. When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve.
a. Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread: This must have been a very moving commemoration for Jesus. Passover remembers the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, which was the central act of redemption in the Old Testament. Jesus now provided a new center of redemption to be remembered by a new ceremonial meal.
i. This mention of the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread brings up complicated issues of the precise calendar chronology of these events. The main complicating issue is that Matthew, Mark, and Luke present this meal Jesus will have with His disciples as the Passover meal – normally eaten with lamb which was sacrificed on the day of Passover with a great ceremony at the temple. Yet John seems to indicate that the meal took place before the Passover (John 13:1), and that Jesus was actually crucified on the Passover (John 18:28).
ii. Another solution is suggested by Adam Clarke: “It is a common opinion that our Lord ate the Passover some hours before the Jews ate it; for the Jews, according to custom, ate theirs at the end of the fourteenth day, but Christ ate his the preceding even, which was the beginning of the same sixth day, or Friday; the Jews begin their day at sunsetting, we at midnight. Thus Christ ate the Passover on the same day with the Jews, but not on the same hour.”
iii. “The simplest solution…is that Jesus, knowing that he would be dead before the regular time for the meal, deliberately held it in secret one day early. Luke 22:15-16 indicates Jesus’ strong desire for such a meal with his disciples before his death, and his awareness that the time was short.” (France)
iv. One is inclined to agree with Bruce regarding precise chronological analysis: “The discussions are irksome, and their results uncertain; and they are apt to take the attention off far more important matters.”
b. When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve: Since the Jewish day began at sundown, Jesus ate the Passover and was killed on the same day according to the Jewish calendar.
i. If it is true that Jesus ate this at the beginning of the Jewish day (evening), when most Jews would normally eat the Passover at the end of the day (following the night and the morning), it explains why there is no mention of Jesus eating lamb with His disciples at this meal. They ate it before the Passover lambs were sacrificed at the temple. This would correspond with John’s chronology that indicates Jesus was crucified at the same approximate time the Passover lambs were being sacrificed.
ii. However, it would be wrong to say that there was no Passover lamb at this last supper Jesus had with His disciples; He was the Passover lamb. Paul would later refer to Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7).
iii. He sat down with the twelve: “With Judas among the rest; though Hilary hold otherwise, for what reason I know not.” (Trapp)
2. (21-25) Jesus gives Judas a last opportunity to repent.
Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.” And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?” He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me. The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.”
a. Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me: In the midst of their Passover meal, Jesus made a startling announcement. He told His disciples that one of their own – these twelve who had lived and heard and learned from Jesus for three years – would betray Him.
i. If we are familiar with this story it is easy not to appreciate its impact. It’s easy to lose appreciation for how terrible it was for one of Jesus’ own to betray Him. For good reason Dante’s great poem about heaven and hell places Judas in the lowest place of hell.
ii. “This was a most unpleasant thought to bring to a feast, yet it was most appropriate to the Passover, for God’s commandment to Moses concerning the first paschal lamb was, ‘With bitter herbs they shall eat it.’” (Spurgeon)
b. He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me: Jesus said this not to point out a specific disciple, because they all dipped with Him. Instead, Jesus identified the betrayer as a friend, someone who ate at the same table with Him.
i. This idea is drawn from Psalm 41:9: Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. “My fellow-commoner, my familiar friend, Psalm 41:9. This greatly aggravateth the indignity of the matter.” (Trapp)
c. Rabbi, is it I? It was noble for the 11 other disciples to ask this question (Lord, is it I?); it was terrible hypocrisy for Judas to ask it. For Judas to ask, “Rabbi, is it I?” while knowing he had already arranged the arrest of Jesus was the height of treachery.
i. “It is a beautiful trait in the character of the disciples that they did not suspect one another, but every one of them inquired, almost incredulously, as the form of the question implies, ‘Lord, is it I?’ No one said, ‘Lord is it Judas?’” (Spurgeon)
d. You have said it: Jesus did not say this to condemn Judas, but to call him to repentance. It is fair to assume that He said it with love in His eyes, and Jesus showed Judas that He loved him, even knowing his treachery.
3. (26-29) Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper.
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”
a. As they were eating: Sometime during or after this dinner, Jesus washed the disciples’ feet (John 13:1-11). Following this, Judas left (John 13:30). Then Jesus gave the extended discourse with His disciples and prayer to God the Father described in John 13:31-17:26.
i. Was Judas present for the first celebration of the Lord’s Supper? The debate centers on the manuscript of John 13:2. Some textual traditions say, And supper being ended, which would imply that Jesus washed their feet and that Judas left after the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Other textual traditions read, And during supper at John 13:2. This would indicate that Jesus washed feet and Judas left sometime during the meal, and therefore may have left before the institution of the Lord’s Supper.
ii. Since John did not describe the institution of the Lord’s Supper in his gospel account, there is debate as to if Judas was present when the Lord’s Supper was first given, as described in the following passage. Most confidently believe Judas was not part of this part of the Lord’s Supper (such as Morgan: “Before the new feast was instituted, Judas had gone out (John 13:30).”). The issue is very difficult to determine with certainty.
b. Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it: When the bread was lifted up at Passover, the head of the meal said: “This is the bread of affliction which our fathers ate in the land of Egypt. Let everyone who hungers come and eat; let everyone who is needy come and eat the Passover meal.” Everything eaten at the Passover meal had symbolic meaning. The bitter herbs recalled the bitterness of slavery; the salt water remembered the tears shed under Egypt’s oppression. The main course of the meal – a lamb freshly sacrificed for that particular household – did not symbolize anything connected to the agonies of Egypt. It was the sin-bearing sacrifice that allowed the judgment of God to pass over the household that believed.
i. The Passover created a nation; a mob of slaves were freed from Egypt and became a nation. This new Passover also creates a people; those united in Jesus Christ, remembering and trusting His sacrifice.
c. Take, eat; this is My body… This is My blood of the new covenant: Jesus didn’t give the normal explanation of the meaning of each of the foods. He reinterpreted them in Himself, and the focus was no longer on the suffering of Israel in Egypt, but on the sin-bearing suffering of Jesus on their behalf.
i. “The words ‘this is my body’ had no place in the Passover ritual; and as an innovation, they must have had a stunning effect, an effect that would grow with the increased understanding gained after Easter.” (Carson)
ii. This is how we remember what Jesus did for us. As we eat the bread, we should remember how Jesus was broken, pierced, and beaten with stripes for our redemption. As we drink the cup, we should remember that His blood, His life was poured out on Calvary for us.
iii. This is how we fellowship with Jesus. Because His redemption has reconciled us to God, we can now sit down to a meal with Jesus, and enjoy each other’s company.
d. This is My blood of the new covenant: Remarkably, Jesus announced the institution of a new covenant. No mere man could ever institute a new covenant between God and man, but Jesus is the God-man. He has the authority to establish a new covenant, sealed with blood, even as the old covenant was sealed with blood (Exodus 24:8).
i. The new covenant concerns an inner transformation that cleanses us from all sin: For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jeremiah 31:34). This transformation puts God’s Word and will in us: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). This covenant is all about a new, close relationship with God: I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jeremiah 31:33).
ii. We can say that the blood of Jesus made the new covenant possible, and it also made it sure and reliable. It is confirmed with the life of God Himself.
iii. Because of what Jesus did on the cross, we have can have a new covenant relationship with God. Sadly, many followers of Jesus live as if it never happened.
· As if there is no inner transformation
· As if there is no true cleansing from sin.
· As if there is no Word and will of God in our hearts.
· As if there is no new and close relationship with God.
iv. Which is shed for many: “In that large word ‘many’ let us exceedingly rejoice. Christ’s blood was not shed for the handful of apostles alone. There were but eleven of them who really partook of the blood symbolized by the cup. The Savior does not say, ‘This is my blood which is shed for you, the favored eleven;’ but ‘shed for many.’” (Spurgeon)
e. This is My body… this is My blood: The precise understanding of these words from Jesus have been the source of great theological controversy among Christians.
i. The Roman Catholic Church holds the idea of transubstantiation, which teaches that the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.
ii. Martin Luther held the idea of consubstantiation, which teaches the bread remains bread and the wine remains wine, but by faith they are the same as Jesus’ actual body. Luther did not believe in the Roman Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation, but he did not go far from it.
iii. John Calvin taught that Jesus’ presence in the bread and wine is real, but only spiritual, not physical. Zwingli taught that the bread and wine are significant symbols that represent the body and blood of Jesus. When the Swiss Reformers debated the issue with Martin Luther at Marburg, there was a huge contention. Luther insisted on some kind of physical presence because Jesus said, “this is My body.” He insisted over and over again, writing it on the velvet of the table, Hoc est corpus meum – “this is My body” in Latin. Zwingli replied, “Jesus also said I am the vine,” and “I am the door,” but we understand what He was saying. Luther replied, “I don’t know, but if Christ told me to eat dung I would do it knowing that it was good for me.” Luther was so strong on this because he saw it as an issue of believing Christ’s words; and because he thought Zwingli was compromising, he said he was of another spirit (andere geist). Ironically, Luther later read Calvin’s writings on the Lord’s Supper (which were essentially the same as Zwingli’s) and seemed to agree with, or at least accept Calvin’s views.
iv. Scripturally, we can understand that the bread and the cup are not mere symbols, but they are powerful pictures to partake of, to enter into, as we see the Lord’s Table as the new Passover.
v. “Let the papists and Lutherans say what they can, here must be two figures acknowledged in these words. The cup here is put for the wine in the cup; and the meaning of these words, this is my blood of the new testament, must be, this wine is the sign of the new covenant. Why they should not as readily acknowledge a figure in these words, This is my body, I cannot understand.” (Poole)
vi. “What is certain is that Jesus bids us commemorate, not his birth, nor his life, nor his miracles, but his death.” (Carson)
f. Take, eat: Beyond the debate over what the bread and the cup mean, we must remember what Jesus said to do with them. We must take and eat.
i. Take means that it won’t be forced upon anyone. One must actually receive it. “I anticipate that someone will say, ‘Am I then to have Jesus Christ by only taking him?’ Just so. Dost thou need a Savior? There he is; take him…Take him in; take him in; that is all that thou hast to do.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Eat means that this is absolutely vital for everyone. Without food and drink, no one can live. Without Jesus, we perish. It also means that we must take Jesus into our innermost being. Everyone must also eat for themselves; no one else can do it for them.
iii. “If you have any question as to whether you have drunk, I will tell you how to solve it — drink again! If you have been eating, and you have really forgotten whether you have eaten or not — such things do occur to busy men, who eat but little; if, I say, you would be sure that you have eaten, eat again! If thou wilt be assured that thou hast believed in Jesus, believe again!” (Spurgeon)
g. He gave thanks: In the ancient Greek language, thanks is the word eucharist. This is why the commemoration of the Lord’s Table is sometimes called the Eucharist.
i. This tells us something of Jesus’ own attitude and heart at this moment: “Observe, Jesus was in the mood, and able, at that hour, to thank and praise, confident that good would come out of evil. In Gethsemane He was able only to submit.” (Bruce)
ii. This tells us something of our own receiving of the Lord’s Supper: “What, then, do we mean when at the Supper we lift that sacred cup to our lips? Are we not saying by that significant act, Remember thy covenant? Are we not reminding Jesus that we are relying upon Him to do His part? Are we not pledging ourselves to Him as his own, bound to Him by indissoluble ties, and satisfied with his most blessed service?” (Meyer)
iii. This tells us something of the sometimes declined condition of the people of God and their leaders: “Once there were wooden cups, golden priests; now there are golden cups, but wooden priests.” (Trapp)
h. Until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom: Jesus looked forward to a future celebration of the Passover in heaven, one that He has not yet celebrated with His people. He is waiting for all His people to be gathered to Him, and then there will be a great supper – the marriage supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9). This is the fulfillment in My Father’s kingdom that Jesus longed for.
4. (30) Jesus sings with His disciples and goes out to the Mount of Olives.
And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
a. When they had sung a hymn: We don’t often think of Jesus singing, but He did. He lifted His voice in adoration and worship to God the Father. We can endlessly wonder what His voice sounded like, but we know for certain that He sang with more than His voice, and He lifted His whole heart up in praise. This reminds us that God wants to be praised with singing.
i. “These words, interpreted by a reverent imagination, present one of the most wonderful pictures… They sing, and it is impossible to doubt that He led the singing.” (Morgan)
ii. It is remarkable that Jesus could sing on this night before His crucifixion. Could we sing in such circumstances? Jesus can truly be our worship leader. We should sing to God our Father – just as Jesus did – because this is something that pleases Him; and when we love someone, we want to do the things that please them. It really doesn’t matter if it does or doesn’t please us.
iii. “No sweeter singing, no mightier music ever sounded amid the darkness of the sad world’s night than the singing of Jesus and His first disciples, as they moved out to the Cross of His Passion, and their redemption.” (Morgan)
b. Sung a hymn: It is wonderful that Jesus sang, but what did He sing? A Passover meal always ended with singing three Psalms known as the Hallel, Psalms 116-118. Think of how the words of these Psalms would have ministered to Jesus as He sang them on the night before His crucifixion:
· The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD: “O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!” (Psalm 116:3-4)
· For You have delivered my soul from death, My eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living. (Psalm 116:8-9)
· I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints. (Psalm 116:13-15)
· Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples! (Psalm 117:1)
· You pushed me violently, that I might fall, but the LORD helped me. The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation. (Psalm 118:13-14)
· I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the LORD. The LORD has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death. Open to me the gates of righteousness; I will go through them, and I will praise the LORD. (Psalm 118:17-19)
· The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. (Psalm 118:22-23)
· God is the LORD, and He has given us light; bind the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise You; You are my God, I will exalt You. (Psalm 118:27-28)
i. “When Jesus arose to go to Gethsemane, Psalm 118 was upon his lips. It provided an appropriate description of how God would guide his Messiah through distress and suffering to glory.” (Lane)
ii. “If, beloved, you knew that at–say, ten o’clock tonight, you would be led away to be mocked, and despised, and scourged, and that tomorrow’s sun would see you falsely accused, hanging, a convicted criminal, to die upon a cross, do you think that you could sing tonight, after your last meal?” (Spurgeon)
5. (31-35) Jesus predicts the desertion of the disciples.
Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.” Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.
a. All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night: Jesus said this not to condemn His disciples, but to show them that He really was in command of the situation, and to demonstrate that the Scriptures regarding the suffering of the Messiah must be fulfilled.
b. After I have been raised: Jesus already was looking beyond the cross. His eyes were set on the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:2).
c. Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You! Peter was tragically unaware of both the spiritual reality and the spiritual battle that Jesus clearly saw. Peter felt brave at the moment and had no perception beyond the moment. Soon, Peter would be intimidated before a humble servant girl, and before her Peter would deny that he even knew Jesus.
d. Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times: Jesus knew that Peter would fail in what he thought was his strong area – courage and boldness. Through this solemn warning Jesus gave Peter an opportunity to take heed and consider his own weakness.
i. Jesus said it so clearly to Peter. “Peter, you will be made to stumble. You will forsake Me, your Master. You will do it this very night – before the rooster crows. You will deny that you have any association with Me, or even know Me. And you won’t only do it once; you will do it three times.” “Was not this warning enough to him not to trust in his own strength, but to depend on God?” (Clarke)
ii. It was an opportunity that Peter did not use. Instead he said, “If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” Jesus knew Peter far better than Peter did, and in over-estimating himself, Peter was ready for a fall.
iii. The rest of the disciples also overestimated their strength and did not rely on the Lord in the critical hour: And so said all the disciples.
iv. “Apparently it was usual for roosters in Palestine to crow about 12:30, 1:30, and 2:30 A.M.; so the Romans gave the term ‘cock-crow’ to the watch from 12:00 to 3:00 A.M.” (Carson)
C. Jesus prays and is arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane.
1. (36-39) Jesus’ prayer in deep distress.
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to the disciples, “Sit here while I go and pray over there.” And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.” He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”
a. Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane: This is just east of the temple mount area in Jerusalem, across the ravine of the Brook Kidron, and on the lower slopes of the Mount of Olives. Surrounded by ancient olive trees, Gethsemane means “olive press.” There, olives from the neighborhood were crushed for their oil. So too, the Son of God would be crushed here.
i. “And again, he chose that garden, amongst others contiguous to Jerusalem, because Judas knew the place. He wanted retirement, but he did not want a place where he could skulk and hide himself. It was not for Christ to give himself up-that were like suicide; but it was not for him to withdraw and secrete himself-that were like cowardice.” (Spurgeon)
b. He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed: Jesus was disturbed; in part from knowing the physical horror waiting for Him at the cross. As He came to Gethsemane from central Jerusalem, He crossed the Brook Kidron, and saw in the full moon of Passover the stream flowing red with sacrificial blood from the temple.
i. “The words in the Greek are expressive of the greatest sorrow imaginable.” (Poole)
c. My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death: But more so, Jesus was distressed at the spiritual horror waiting for Him on the cross. Jesus would stand in the place of guilty sinners and receive all the spiritual punishment sinners deserve; He who knew no sin would be sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21).
i. Exceedingly sorrowful “is a rather weak translation for a phrase which contains Matthew’s favourite word for violent emotion, even shock (used in 17:6, 23; 18:31; 19:25; 27:54).” (France)
ii. Jesus did not die as a martyr. “Jesus went to his death knowing that it was his Father’s will that he face death completely alone (Matthew 27:46) as the sacrificial, wrath-averting Passover Lamb. As his death was unique, so also his anguish; and our best response to it is hushed worship.” (Carson)
iii. “Hence the Greek Litany, ‘By thine unknown sufferings, good Lord, deliver us.” (Trapp)
iv. Yet in this hour of special agony, God the Father sent special help to His Son. Luke 22:43 says that angels came and ministered to Jesus in the garden.
d. If it is possible: Of course, there is a sense in which all things are possible with God (Matthew 19:26). Yet this is true only in a sense, because there are things that are morally impossible for God. It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18) and impossible to please Him without faith (Hebrews 11:6). It was not morally possible for God to atone for sin and redeem lost humanity apart from the perfect, wrath-satisfying sacrifice that Jesus prepared Himself for in Gethsemane.
e. If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me: God the Father would never deny the Son any request, because Jesus prayed according to the heart and will of the Father. Since Jesus drank the cup of judgment at the cross, we know that it is not possible for salvation to come any other way. Salvation by the work of Jesus at the cross is the only possible way; if there is any other way to be made right before God, then Jesus died an unnecessary death.
i. Repeatedly in the Old Testament, the cup is a powerful picture of the wrath and judgment of God.
· For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is fully mixed, and He pours it out; surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down. (Psalm 75:8)
· Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, you who have drunk at the hand of the LORD the cup of His fury; you have drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and drained it out. (Isaiah 51:17)
· For thus says the LORD God of Israel to me: “Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations, to whom I send you, to drink it.” (Jeremiah 25:15)
ii. Jesus became, as it were, an enemy of God, who was judged and forced to drink the cup of the Father’s fury, so we would not have to drink from that cup – this was the source of Jesus’ agony.
iii. The cup didn’t represent death, but judgment. Jesus was unafraid of death, and when He had finished His work on the cross – the work of receiving and bearing and satisfying the righteous judgment of God the Father upon our sin – when He finished that work, He simply yielded Himself to death as His choice.
f. Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will: Jesus came to a point of decision in Gethsemane. It wasn’t that He had not decided before nor had consented before, but now He had come upon a unique point of decision. He drank the cup at Calvary, but He decided once for all to drink it at Gethsemane.
i. “‘Not your will but mine’ changed Paradise to desert and brought man from Eden to Gethsemane. Now ‘Not my will but yours’ brings anguish to the man who prays it but transforms the desert into the kingdom and brings man from Gethsemane to the gates of glory.” (Carson)
ii. This struggle at Gethsemane – the place of crushing – has an important place in fulfilling God’s plan of redemption. If Jesus failed here, He would have failed at the cross. His success here made the victory at the cross possible.
iii. The struggle at the cross was first won in prayer in Gethsemane. Jesus fell on His face, and prayed.
2. (40-46) Jesus wins the battle of prayer.
Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, “What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. Then He came to His disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. “Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand.”
a. Could you not watch with Me one hour? Jesus valued and desired the help of His friends in this battle of prayer and decision. But even without their help, He endured in prayer until the battle was won.
i. “But they not only not help him, but wound him by their dullness unto duty, and instead of wiping off his bloody sweat, they draw more out of him.” (Trapp)
b. Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation: Jesus knew Peter would fail; yet He encouraged him to victory, knowing that the resources were found in watching and praying. If Peter woke up (both physically and spiritually), and drew close in dependence on God, he could have kept from denying Jesus at the critical hour.
i. “By watching, he directeth them to the use of such means as were within their power to use; by adding pray, he lets them know, that it was not in their power to stand without God’s help and assistance, which must be obtained by prayer.” (Poole)
ii. Jesus found victory at the cross by succeeding in the struggle in Gethsemane. Peter – just like us – failed in later temptation because he failed to watch and pray. The spiritual battle is often won or lost before the crisis comes.
iii. Speaking kindly about the disciples Jesus said, “The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” “Their Master might find an excuse for their neglect; but oh! How they would blame themselves afterwards for missing that last opportunity of watching with their wrestling Lord!” (Spurgeon)
iv. He went away and prayed: “Fervent prayer loves privacy, and Christ by this teaches us that secret prayer is our duty.” (Poole)
v. He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy: “That is, they could not keep them open. Was there nothing preternatural in this? Was there no influence here from the powers of darkness?” (Clarke)
c. Prayed the third time, saying the same words: This shows us that it is not unspiritual to make the same request to God several times. Some hyper-spiritual people believe that if we ask for something more than once, it proves that we don’t have faith. That may be true for some in some situations, but Jesus shows us that repeated prayer can be completely consistent with steadfast faith.
d. Rise, let us be going. See, My betrayer is at hand: Jesus knew Judas and those who would arrest Him were on the way. He could have run and escaped the agony waiting for Him at the cross, but Jesus rose to meet Judas. He was in complete control of all events.
i. “Let us be going could suggest a desire to escape, but the verb implies rather going into action, advance rather than retreat.” (France)
3. (47-50) Judas betrays Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him.” Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him.
a. With a great multitude with swords and clubs: They clearly regarded Jesus as a dangerous man and came to take Him with great force.
i. Behold, Judas: “What he received payment for was probably information as to where Jesus could be arrested in a quiet setting with little danger of mob violence.” (Carson) Perhaps he led the soldiers first to the upper room; when he found that Jesus and the disciples were not there, he could guess where they would be.
ii. “Judas knew where to find them. Jesus could easily have foiled his plan by choosing a different place for this night, but…this was not his intention.” (France)
iii. “Those skilled in the Jewish learning tell us, that the ordinary guard of the temple belonged to the priests, and such officers as they employed; but upon their great festivals, the Roman governors added a band of soliders, who yet were under the command of the priests.” (Poole)
b. Greetings, Rabbi! Judas warmly greeted Jesus, even giving Him the customary kiss. But the kiss only precisely identified Jesus to the authorities who came to arrest Jesus. There are no more hollow, hypocritical words in the Bible than “Greetings, Rabbi!” in the mouth of Judas. The loving, heartfelt words of Jesus – calling Judas “Friend” – stand in sharp contrast.
i. And kissed Him: “Kissed Him heartily…What a tremendous contrast between the woman in Simon’s house (Luke 7) and Judas! Both kissed Jesus fervently: with strong emotion; yet the one could have died for Him, the other betrays Him to death.” (Bruce)
ii. “This sign of Judas was typical of the way in which Jesus is generally betrayed. When men intend to undermine the inspiration of the Scriptures, how do they begin their books? Why, always with a declaration that they wish to promote the truth of Christ! Christ’s name is often slandered by those who make a loud profession of attachment to him, and then sin foully as the chief of transgressors.” (Spurgeon)
c. Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him: This happened only after they had all fallen to the ground when Jesus announced Himself as the “I am” (John 18:6).
i. “It is strange that, after this, they should dare to approach him; but the Scriptures must be fulfilled.” (Clarke)
4. (51-56) The arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane.
And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?” In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, “Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled.
a. One of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear: Matthew doesn’t tell us, but we know from John 18:10 that this unnamed swordsman was Peter.
i. “A wonderful work of God it was surely, that hereupon he was not hewn in an hundred pieces by the barbarous soldiers.” (Trapp)
ii. “It would have been far better if Peter’s hands had been clasped in prayer.” (Spurgeon)
iii. “But how came Peter to have a sword? Judea was at this time so infested with robbers and cut-throats that it was not deemed safe for any person to go unarmed. He probably carried one for his mere personal safety.” (Clarke)
b. He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels: Had Jesus wanted Divine help at this moment, He could have had it. There were more than twelve legions of angels ready to come to His aid.
i. “A legion is judged to be six thousand foot and seven hundred horse. And this great army of angels is by prayer despatched from heaven in an instant.” (Trapp) The number is impressive, especially considering that one angel killed up to 185,000 soldiers in one night (2 Kings 19:35).
ii. With one sword, Peter was willing to take on a small army of men, yet he couldn’t pray with Jesus for one hour. Prayer is the best work we can do, and often the most difficult.
iii. With his sword, Peter accomplished very little. He only cut off one ear, and really just made a mess that Jesus had to clean up by healing the severed ear (Luke 22:51). When Peter moved in the power of the world, he only cut off ears. But when he was filled with the Spirit, using the Word of God, Peter pierced hearts for God’s glory (Acts 2:37).
iv. “Our Lord had thus the means of self-defense; something far more powerful than a sword hung at his girdle; but he refused to employ the power within his reach. His servants could not bear this test; they had no self-restraint, the hand of Peter is on his sword at once. The failure of the Servants in this matter seems to me to illustrate the grand self-possession of their Master.” (Spurgeon)
v. At the moment when it seemed that Jesus had nothing and no advantage, He knew that He still had a Father in heaven, and access to His Father and all His resources through prayer.
c. All this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled: With all power at His disposal, Jesus was in total command. He was not the victim of circumstance, but He managed circumstances for the fulfillment of prophecy.
d. Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled: At this point, all the disciples scattered, running for their own safety. A few (Peter and John, at least) followed back to see what would happen at a distance. None of them stood beside Jesus and said, “I have given my life to this Man. What you accuse Him of, you may accuse me of also.” Instead, it was fulfilled what Jesus said: All of you will be made to stumble because of Me (Matthew 26:31).
i. “We never know our hearts upon the prospect of great trials, until we come to grapple with them, and to be engaged in them. These disciples had all said they would not forsake him; when it comes to the push, not one of them stands by him.” (Poole)
D. The trial before the Sanhedrin.
1. (57-61) Jesus is taken to the home of Caiaphas.
And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. But Peter followed Him at a distance to the high priest’s courtyard. And he went in and sat with the servants to see the end.
a. And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest: This was not the first appearance of Jesus before a judge or official on the night of His betrayal. On that night and the day of His crucifixion, Jesus actually stood in trial several times before different judges.
i. Before Jesus came to the home of Caiaphas (the official high priest), He was led to the home of Annas, who was the ex-high priest and the “power behind the throne” of the high priest (according to John 18:12-14 and John 18:19-23).
b. Where the scribes and the elders were assembled: Caiaphas had gathered a group of the Sanhedrin to pass judgment on Jesus.
i. After the break of dawn, the Sanhedrin gathered again, this time in official session, and they conducted the trial described in Luke 22:66-71.
c. Peter followed Him at a distance…to see the end: Peter was determined to prove wrong Jesus’ prediction that He would deny and forsake Him at His death.
2. (59-61) The first trial before the Sanhedrin.
Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.’”
a. Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council: This nighttime trial was illegal according to the Sanhedrin’s own laws and regulations. According to Jewish law, all criminal trials must begin and end in the daylight. Therefore, though the decision to condemn Jesus was already made, they conducted a second trial in daylight (Luke 22:66-71), because they knew the first one – the real trial – had no legal standing.
i. This was only one of many illegalities made in the trial of Jesus. According to Jewish law, only decisions made in the official meeting place were valid. The first trial was held at the home of Caiaphas, the high priest.
· According to Jewish law, criminal cases could not be tried during the Passover season.
· According to Jewish law, only an acquittal could be issued on the day of the trial. Guilty verdicts had to wait one night to allow for feelings of mercy to rise.
· According to Jewish law, all evidence had to be guaranteed by two witnesses, who were separately examined and could not have contact with each other.
· According to Jewish law, false witness was punishable by death. Nothing was done to the many false witnesses in Jesus’ trial.
· According to Jewish law, a trial always began by bringing forth evidence for the innocence of the accused, before the evidence of guilt was offered. This was not the practice here.
ii. “These were the Sanhedrin’s own rules, and it is abundantly clear that, in their eagerness to get rid of Jesus, they broke their own rules.” (Barclay)
iii. “Neither in the annals of the historian nor in the realm of fiction is there anything that can equal the degradation of the unholy trial, the base devices to find a charge to prefer against the Prisoner, the illegal tricks to secure a verdict of guilty which would ensure a death penalty.” (Morgan)
b. The council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, but found none: This is a remarkable testimony to the life and integrity of Jesus. For having lived such a public life and performed such a public ministry, it was difficult to find even false testimony against Him.
c. This fellow said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days”: After all the false witnesses had their say, Jesus was finally charged with threatening to destroy the temple (as in a modern-day bomb threat). Clearly, Jesus said “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). But this glorious prophecy of His resurrection was twisted into a terrorist threat. John 2:21 makes it clear that He was speaking of the temple of His body.
3. (62-64) Jesus testifies at His trial.
And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
a. Do You answer nothing? Jesus sat silently until He was commanded by the office of the high priest to answer the accusations against Him.
i. “The high priest expected a long defence, and so to have had matter of accusation against him out of his own mouth.” (Poole)
ii. Remarkably, Jesus kept silent and answered nothing until it was absolutely necessary in obedience for Him to speak. Jesus could have mounted a magnificent defense here, calling forth all the various witnesses to His deity, power and character. The people He taught, the people He healed, the dead risen, the blind who see, even the demons themselves testified to His deity. But Jesus opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth (Isaiah 53:7).
iii. “His was the silence of patience, not of indifference; of courage, not of cowardice.” (Spurgeon)
b. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!” Seeing the trial going badly, Caiaphas confronted Jesus, acting more as an accuser than an impartial judge.
i. “I adjure you is a rare and formal expression (cf. 1 Kings 22:16 for a similar Old Testament formula), invoking the name of God in order to compel a true answer. This is therefore the climax of the hearing.” (France)
ii. “The high priest, frustrated by Jesus’ silence, tried a bold stroke that cut to the central issue: Was Jesus the Messiah or was he not?” (Carson)
iii. “It was a tacit confession that Christ had been proved innocent up till then. The high priest would not have needed to draw something out of the accused one if there had been sufficient material against him elsewhere. The trial had been a dead failure up to that point, and he knew it, and was red with rage. Now he attempts to bully the prisoner that he may extract some declaration from him which may save all further trouble of witnesses, and end the matter.” (Spurgeon)
c. It is as you said: Instead of defending Himself, Jesus simply testified to the truth. He was indeed the Christ, the Son of God. He answered as briefly and directly as possible.
i. The high priest probably asked the question with sarcasm or irony. “The wording of Caiaphas’ question (especially in Mark) probably suggests that it did not even sound like a dispassionate enquiry: ‘Are you the Messiah?’ (you, the abandoned, helpless, prisoner!).” (France)
d. You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power: Jesus added this one word of warning. He warned them that though they sat in judgment of Him now, He would one day sit in judgment of them – and with a far more binding judgment.
i. Hereafter: “‘Hereafter!’ ‘Hereafter!’ Oh, when that hereafter comes, how overwhelming it will be to Jesus’ foes! Now where is Caiaphas? Will he now adjure the Lord to speak? Now, ye priests, lift up your haughty heads! Utter a sentence against him now! There sits, your victim upon the clouds of heaven. Say now that he blasphemes, and hold up your rent rags, and condemn him again. But where is Caiaphas? He hides his guilty head he is utterly confounded, and begs the mountains to fall upon him.” (Spurgeon)
ii. Of the Power: “Power is a typically Jewish reverential expression to avoid pronouncing the sacred name of God (which might have laid Jesus open to the charge of blasphemy, though ironically it was precisely that charge on which he was condemned, Matthew 26:65!).” (France)
4. (65-68) The Sanhedrin react with horror and brutality.
Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, “Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?”
a. He has spoken blasphemy! The accusation of blasphemy would have been correct, except that Jesus was whom He said He was. It is no crime for the Christ, the Son of God, to declare who He really is.
b. He is deserving of death: Their verdict reveals the depths of man’s depravity. God, in total perfection, came to earth, lived among men, and this was man’s reply to God.
c. They spat in His face and beat Him: They spit on Him; they hit Him with their fists; they slapped Him with their open hands. It is easy to think that they did this because they didn’t know who He was. That is true in one sense, because they would not admit to themselves that He was indeed the Messiah and the Son of God. Yet in another sense it is not true at all, because by nature man is an enemy of God (Romans 5:10, Colossians 1:21). For a long time man waited to literally hit, slap, and spit in God’s face.
i. “Be astonished, O heavens, and be horribly afraid. His face is the light of the universe, his person is the glory of heaven, and they ‘began to spit on him.’ Alas, my God, that man should be so base!” (Spurgeon)
ii. Spurgeon suggested some ways that men still spit in the face of Jesus.
· Men spit in His face by denying His deity.
· Men spit in His face by rejecting His gospel.
· Men spit in His face by preferring their own righteousness.
· Men spit in His face by turning away from Jesus.
iii. As these religious leaders vented their hatred, fear, and anger upon Jesus, spitting in His face and beating Him, it was remarkable that the immediate judgment of God did not rain down from heaven. It was remarkable that a legion of angels did not spring to the defense of Jesus. This shows the amazing forbearance towards sin that God has, and the staggering riches of His mercy.
iv. “As one reads this story one wonders more and more at the greatest miracle of all, the patient suffering of the spotless One.” (Morgan)
5. (69-75) Fearing association with Jesus, Peter denies his relationship with Jesus three times.
Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you are saying.” And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.” But again he denied with an oath, “I do not know the Man!” And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, “Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.” Then he began to curse and swear, saying, “I do not know the Man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.
a. A servant girl came to him: Peter was not questioned before a hostile court or even an angry mob. Peter’s own fear made a servant girl and another girl hostile monsters in his eyes, and he bowed in fear before them.
b. I do not know the Man! Peter’s sin of denying his association with Jesus grew worse with each denial. First, he merely lied; then he took an oath to the lie; then he began to curse and swear.
i. Those who stood by: “Loungers; seeing Peter’s confusion, and amusing themselves by tormenting him.” (Bruce)
ii. “The Galileans spoke with a burr; so ugly was their accent that no Galilean was allowed to pronounce the benediction at a synagogue service.” (Barclay)
iii. And, as if it would help distance himself from association with Jesus, Peter began to curse and swear. “To call down curses on himself, sign of irritation and desperation; has lost self-control completely.” (Bruce) When we hear that kind of language, we normally assume the person is not a follower of Jesus.
c. Peter remembered the word of Jesus…so he went out and wept bitterly: Peter finally remembered and took to heart what Jesus said, but in this case he did so too late. For now, all he could do was to weep bitterly. Yet Peter would be restored, showing a significant contrast between Judas (showing apostasy) and Peter (showing backsliding).
i. Apostasy is giving up the truth, as Judas did. Judas was sorry about his sin, but it was not a sorrow leading to repentance.
ii. Backsliding is a decline from a spiritual experience once enjoyed. Peter slipped, but he will not fall; his bitter weeping will lead to repentance and restoration.
d. And wept bitterly: This was the beginning of Peter’s repentance. Several things brought him to this place.
i. The loving look of Jesus brought Peter to repentance. Luke tells us that just after the rooster crowed, the Lord turned and looked at Peter (Luke 22:61).
ii. The gift of remembering brought Peter to repentance; Peter remembered the words of Jesus. “Our memories serve us much in the business of repentance.” (Poole)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission