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Matthew Twenty Six

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Matthew 26:1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,

Matthew 26:2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

Matthew 26:3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,

Matthew 26:4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him.

Matthew 26:5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

Matthew 26:6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,

Matthew 26:7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.

poured it on his head. Three papyrus fragments originating in southern Egypt which include parts of this verse, part of Matthew 26:10 and part of Matthew 26:14, have recently been dated at a.d. 75-100. This date, indicated by the form of script used, makes these fragments almost the earliest copies known from the New Testament. Since these had been copied from some earlier manuscript, they would seem to prove that at least this gospel was written almost as far back as the time of Christ Himself, contrary to the opinions of liberal theologians.

Matthew 26:8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?

Matthew 26:9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

Matthew 26:10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.

Matthew 26:11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

poor always with you. In every generation there will be people in a state of poverty. No socialist utopia or other governmental programs will ever be able to win the “war on poverty” until Christ returns and sets up His own kingdom on earth. Then, with war or crime banned, and with a productive environment restored, universal prosperity will finally be achieved.

Matthew 26:12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.

my body. Mary of Bethany, in accordance with custom, had first anointed Jesus' feet (John 12:3), but then decided also to pour all the expensive ointment on His head—in effect covering His whole body. She alone (who had learned deeply from His teachings—Luke 10:38-42) seems to have fully understood His words concerning His coming burial (Matthew 26:12).

Matthew 26:13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

Matthew 26:14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,

Matthew 26:15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

thirty pieces of silver. This is a remarkable fulfillment of Zechariah 11:12. A number of modern writers have tried to find some justifiable motive in Judas' action, but the fact is that he was greedy and a thief (John 12:4-6) and made this bargain on his own volition. In fact, Jesus had recognized him much earlier as a “devil,” or adversary (John 6:70-71). Later, He even called Judas “the son of perdition” (John 17:12). He was chosen as a disciple, in spite of all this, because prophecy must be fulfilled (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18).

Matthew 26:16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

Matthew 26:17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?

Matthew 26:18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.

Matthew 26:19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.

Matthew 26:20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.

Matthew 26:21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

Matthew 26:22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

every one of them. A papyrus fragment of this verse, now in Magdalen College in Oxford, England, has been dated at a.d. 66, making it the oldest New Testament manuscript yet found. It confirms the traditional textual reading, “every one of them,” indicating that in the excitement of Jesus' announcement, they all began to speak at once. Many modern translations, following a corrupt, though ancient, Greek text, render it as “each one in turn” or equivalent.

Matthew 26:23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.

Matthew 26:24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

Matthew 26:25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

and brake it. This is the first of twelve references in the New Testament to the breaking of bread, each reminding the participants of Christ's sacrificial death. The last is in Paul's exposition of the Lord's supper and its meaning (1 Corinthians 11:23-24).

Matthew 26:27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

Matthew 26:28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

my blood. The next verse makes it clear that the liquid in the cup was not actual blood but “the fruit of the vine.” Nevertheless, it became an unforgettable symbol of His shed blood, just as the bread represented His broken body. This last meal of the Lord has, therefore, been commemorated by His followers ever since (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). The regular practice of the Lord's supper, or the Holy Communion, or whatever it may be called by different churches, has thus itself become a perpetual testimony to the authenticity of the Christian faith. There is no way of accounting for the beginning of this universal and unique practice except that Christ Himself commanded it just before He died. It could have been initiated only when this account was first read by the churches, for it has been observed ever since the last supper of Christ. In fact, if it were not already being observed when the written account was first received, the written account would itself have been rejected as false.

Matthew 26:29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

fruit of the vine. It is interesting that the term “wine” is never used at the Lord's supper. Three times, “fruit of the vine” is used (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18). The word “cup” is used twelve times (Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17, 20, 20; 1 Corinthians 10:16, 21; 11:25, 25, 26, 27, 28. But it is never called “wine.”

Matthew 26:30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

sung an hymn. It is striking that the only recorded instance of Jesus singing is just as He prepared to go to the cross. However, after He comes again, He will sing joyfully in the midst of His redeemed people (Zephaniah 3:17).

Matthew 26:31 Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

it is written. This is in fulfillment of Zechariah 13:7. Despite all Jesus had done in trying to prepare His disciples for these events, His arrest seemed to take them by surprise and to discourage them so much that they all “forsook Him and fled” when it happened (Matthew 26:56).

Matthew 26:32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

Matthew 26:33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

Matthew 26:34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

Matthew 26:35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Matthew 26:36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

a place called Gethsemane. Note that: (1) Jesus was betrayed in “a place called Gethsemane;” (2) He was condemned in “a place that is called … Gabbatha” (John 19:13); (3) He was crucified in “a place called … Golgotha” (John 19:17; (4) He was buried near “the place where He was crucified … in the garden” (John 19:41). But because He was betrayed, condemned, crucified and buried in these four “places,” He has now gone to “prepare a place” for us in heaven (John 14:3).

Matthew 26:37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

Matthew 26:38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

Matthew 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

this cup. This “cup” was nothing less than the cup of God's wrath against all the sin and rebellion of all the men and women through all the ages (compare Revelation 14:10; 16:19; etc.). Note also Psalm 16:5; in fact, the entire sixteenth psalm seems to suggest the very prayer that Christ may have prayed that night in the garden of Gethsemane.

not as I will. The Lord Jesus not only has taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:9) but also has set us an example. Our prayer must always be that God's will—not ours—be done (xTerm 5:14), no matter how difficult that will may prove to be. Some have suggested that Satan was here trying to slay Jesus before He could go to the cross, and that the Lord was beseeching the Father to let that cup be removed, but this is highly speculative at best. Jesus was fully human and would suffer as a man on the cross as no man had ever suffered before, bearing the full weight of the sin of the whole world in His body, and even suffering for the first time the loss of His Father's presence and approval. In His humanity, never calling on the resources of His own deity at all (note Philippians 2:5-8), it would be inhuman not to shrink from such a prospect! It was this cup that He would have removed if He could. Nevertheless, “not as I will, but as thou wilt,” He said.

Matthew 26:40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Matthew 26:42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

Matthew 26:43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.

Matthew 26:44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

Matthew 26:45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Sleep on now. This should probably be read as a rebuking question. That is: “Sleep on now and take your rest?” Compare Luke 22:46.

Matthew 26:46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

Matthew 26:47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.

Matthew 26:48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

Matthew 26:49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.

Matthew 26:50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

Matthew 26:51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear.

Matthew 26:52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

take the sword. Jesus' message here to Peter (note John 18:10) is worth heeding. For defense and order, God has ordained the powers of government to bear “the sword” (Romans 13:1-4). His angels are well able to protect His people when it is His will. Note the following verse (also Psalm 34:7; 91:11).

Matthew 26:53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

Matthew 26:54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

Matthew 26:55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

Matthew 26:56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

Matthew 26:57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

Caiaphas the high priest. Caiaphas' father-in-law was Annas (John 18:13). Acts 4:6 and Luke 3:2 support the fact that both were high priests. This position of high priest had become a political position. Annas had been deposed by Rome, with Caiaphas appointed in his place, but Annas still managed to exercise much of the power of the position. It is sad that both were Sadducees, rejecting the supernatural, and wanting the prestigious position for political and financial reasons only. They were intensely hostile to Jesus for these reasons, rather than for their manufactured charge of blasphemy against God.

Matthew 26:58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest's palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

Matthew 26:59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

Matthew 26:60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,

Matthew 26:61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

three days. This was a distortion of Jesus' words in John 2:19, but was the best evidence the illegally assembled kangaroo court of Caiaphas could produce in this infamous travesty of a trial.

Matthew 26:62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?

Matthew 26:63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

held his peace. “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).

Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Son of man. Caiaphas had no legal right to ask this question, but Jesus answered it anyway. When asked if He were the Messiah and the Son of God, He said yes. However, He persisted in calling Himself the Son of man.

Matthew 26:65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

Matthew 26:66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.

Matthew 26:67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,

buffeted. The “buffeting” consisted of the judges all encircling Him and then striking Him with their fists, one after the other. But they were all the while fulfilling prophecy (Isaiah 50:6; 52:14; etc.).

Matthew 26:68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

Matthew 26:69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.

Matthew 26:70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

denied. Yet this same Peter, only a few hours before, had said: “If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise” (Mark 14:31). We need to be careful before boasting of what we intend to do spiritually!

Matthew 26:71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.

Matthew 26:72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

Matthew 26:73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech betrayeth thee.

Matthew 26:74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

Matthew 26:75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.