Matthew 26

1 When Jesus had finished teaching all these things, he said to his disciples,
2 "In two days, as you know, it will be the Passover Festival, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified." 1
3 Then the chief priests and the elders met together in the palace of Caiaphas, the High Priest,
4 and made plans to arrest Jesus secretly and put him to death.
5 "We must not do it during the festival," they said, "or the people will riot."
6 Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin disease.
7 While Jesus was eating, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar filled with an expensive perfume, which she poured on his head. 2
8 The disciples saw this and became angry. "Why all this waste?" they asked.
9 "This perfume could have been sold for a large amount and the money given to the poor!"
10 Jesus knew what they were saying, and so he said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? It is a fine and beautiful thing that she has done for me.
11 You will always have poor people with you, but you will not always have me. 3
12 What she did was to pour this perfume on my body to get me ready for burial.
13 Now, I assure you that wherever this gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her."
14 Then one of the twelve disciples - the one named Judas Iscariot - went to the chief priests
15 and asked, "What will you give me if I betray Jesus to you?" They counted out thirty silver coins and gave them to him. 4
16 From then on Judas was looking for a good chance to hand Jesus over to them.
17 On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked him, "Where do you want us to get the Passover meal ready for you?"
18 "Go to a certain man in the city," he said to them, "and tell him: "The Teacher says, My hour has come; my disciples and I will celebrate the Passover at your house.' "
19 The disciples did as Jesus had told them and prepared the Passover meal.
20 When it was evening, Jesus and the twelve disciples sat down to eat.
21 During the meal Jesus said, "I tell you, one of you will betray me."
22 The disciples were very upset and began to ask him, one after the other, "Surely, Lord, you don't mean me?"
23 Jesus answered, "One who dips his bread in the dish with me will betray me. 5
24 The Son of Man will die as the Scriptures say he will, but how terrible for that man who will betray the Son of Man! It would have been better for that man if he had never been born!"
25 Judas, the traitor, spoke up. "Surely, Teacher, you don't mean me?" he asked. Jesus answered, "So you say."
26 While they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread, gave a prayer of thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples. "Take and eat it," he said; "this is my body."
27 Then he took a cup, gave thanks to God, and gave it to them. "Drink it, all of you," he said;
28 "this is my blood, which seals God's covenant, my blood poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 6
29 I tell you, I will never again drink this wine until the day I drink the new wine with you in my Father's Kingdom."
30 Then they sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives.
31 Then Jesus said to them, "This very night all of you will run away and leave me, for the scripture says, "God will kill the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' 7
32 But after I am raised to life, I will go to Galilee ahead of you." 8
33 Peter spoke up and said to Jesus, "I will never leave you, even though all the rest do!"
34 Jesus said to Peter, "I tell you that before the rooster crows tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me."
35 Peter answered, "I will never say that, even if I have to die with you!" And all the other disciples said the same thing.
36 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
37 He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee. Grief and anguish came over him,
38 and he said to them, "The sorrow in my heart is so great that it almost crushes me. Stay here and keep watch with me."
39 He went a little farther on, threw himself face downward on the ground, and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want."
40 Then he returned to the three disciples and found them asleep; and he said to Peter, "How is it that you three were not able to keep watch with me for even one hour?
41 Keep watch and pray that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
42 Once more Jesus went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cup of suffering cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done."
43 He returned once more and found the disciples asleep; they could not keep their eyes open.
44 Again Jesus left them, went away, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.
45 Then he returned to the disciples and said, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the power of sinners.
46 Get up, let us go. Look, here is the man who is betraying me!"
47 Jesus was still speaking when Judas, one of the twelve disciples, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs and sent by the chief priests and the elders.
48 The traitor had given the crowd a signal: "The man I kiss is the one you want. Arrest him!"
49 Judas went straight to Jesus and said, "Peace be with you, Teacher," and kissed him.
50 Jesus answered, "Be quick about it, friend!" Then they came up, arrested Jesus, and held him tight.
51 One of those who were with Jesus drew his sword and struck at the High Priest's slave, cutting off his ear.
52 "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him. "All who take the sword will die by the sword.
53 Don't you know that I could call on my Father for help, and at once he would send me more than twelve armies of angels?
54 But in that case, how could the Scriptures come true which say that this is what must happen?"
55 Then Jesus spoke to the crowd, "Did you have to come with swords and clubs to capture me, as though I were an outlaw? Every day I sat down and taught in the Temple, and you did not arrest me. 9
56 But all this has happened in order to make come true what the prophets wrote in the Scriptures." Then all the disciples left him and ran away.
57 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to the house of Caiaphas, the High Priest, where the teachers of the Law and the elders had gathered together.
58 Peter followed from a distance, as far as the courtyard of the High Priest's house. He went into the courtyard and sat down with the guards to see how it would all come out.
59 The chief priests and the whole Council tried to find some false evidence against Jesus to put him to death;
60 but they could not find any, even though many people came forward and told lies about him. Finally two men stepped up
61 and said, "This man said, "I am able to tear down God's Temple and three days later build it back up.' " 10
62 The High Priest stood up and said to Jesus, "Have you no answer to give to this accusation against you?"
63 But Jesus kept quiet. Again the High Priest spoke to him, "In the name of the living God I now put you under oath: tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God."
64 Jesus answered him, "So you say. But I tell all of you: from this time on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right side of the Almighty and coming on the clouds of heaven!" 11
65 At this the High Priest tore his clothes and said, "Blasphemy! We don't need any more witnesses! You have just heard his blasphemy! 12
66 What do you think?" They answered, "He is guilty and must die."
67 Then they spat in his face and beat him; and those who slapped him 13
68 said, "Prophesy for us, Messiah! Guess who hit you!"
69 Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard when one of the High Priest's servant women came to him and said, "You, too, were with Jesus of Galilee."
70 But he denied it in front of them all. "I don't know what you are talking about," he answered,
71 and went on out to the entrance of the courtyard. Another servant woman saw him and said to the men there, "He was with Jesus of Nazareth."
72 Again Peter denied it and answered, "I swear that I don't know that man!"
73 After a little while the men standing there came to Peter. "Of course you are one of them," they said. "After all, the way you speak gives you away!"
74 Then Peter said, "I swear that I am telling the truth! May God punish me if I am not! I do not know that man!" Just then a rooster crowed,
75 and Peter remembered what Jesus had told him: "Before the rooster crows, you will say three times that you do not know me." He went out and wept bitterly.

Images for Matthew 26

Matthew 26 Commentary

Chapter 26

The rulers conspire against Christ. (1-5) Christ anointed at Bethany. (6-13) Judas bargains to betray Christ. (14-16) The Passover. (17-25) Christ institutes his holy supper. (26-30) He warns his disciples. (31-35) His agony in the garden. (36-46) He is betrayed. (47-56) Christ before Caiaphas. (57-68) Peter denies him. (69-75)

Verses 1-5 Our Lord had often told of his sufferings as at a distance, now he speaks of them as at hand. At the same time the Jewish council consulted how they might put him to death secretly. But it pleased God to defeat their intention. Jesus, the true paschal Lamb, was to be sacrificed for us at that very time, and his death and resurrection rendered public.

Verses 6-13 The pouring ointment upon the head of Christ was a token of the highest respect. Where there is true love in the heart to Jesus Christ, nothing will be thought too good to bestow upon him. The more Christ's servants and their services are cavilled at, the more he manifests his acceptance. This act of faith and love was so remarkable, that it would be reported, as a memorial of Mary's faith and love, to all future ages, and in all places where the gospel should be preached. This prophecy is fulfilled.

Verses 14-16 There were but twelve called apostles, and one of them was like a devil; surely we must never expect any society to be quite pure on this side heaven. The greater profession men make of religion, the greater opportunity they have of doing mischief, if their hearts be not right with God. Observe, that Christ's own disciple, who knew so well his doctrine and manner of his life, and was false to him, could not charge him with any thing criminal, though it would have served to justify his treachery. What did Judas want? Was not he welcome wherever his Master was? Did he not fare as Christ fared? It is not the lack, but the love of money, that is the root of all evil. After he had made that wicked bargain, Judas had time to repent, and to revoke it; but when lesser acts of dishonesty have hardened the conscience men do without hesitation that which is more shameful.

Verses 17-25 Observe, the place for their eating the passover was pointed out by Christ to the disciples. He knows those hidden ones who favour his cause, and will graciously visit all who are willing to receive him. The disciples did as Jesus had appointed. Those who would have Christ's presence in the gospel passover, must do what he says. It well becomes the disciples of Christ always to be jealous over themselves, especially in trying times. We know not how strongly we may be tempted, nor how far God may leave us to ourselves, therefore we have reason not to be high-minded, but to fear. Heart-searching examination and fervent prayer are especially proper before the Lord's supper, that, as Christ our Passover is now sacrificed for us, we may keep this feast, renewing our repentance, our faith in his blood, and surrendering ourselves to his service.

Verses 26-30 This ordinance of the Lord's supper is to us the passover supper, by which we commemorate a much greater deliverance than that of Israel out of Egypt. Take, eat; accept of Christ as he is offered to you; receive the atonement, approve of it, submit to his grace and his government. Meat looked upon, be the dish ever so well garnished, will not nourish; it must be fed upon: so must the doctrine of Christ. This is my body; that is, spiritually, it signifies and represents his body. We partake of the sun, not by having the sun put into our hands, but the beams of it darted down upon us; so we partake of Christ by partaking of his grace, and the blessed fruits of the breaking of his body. The blood of Christ is signified and represented by the wine. He gave thanks, to teach us to look to God in every part of the ordinance. This cup he gave to the disciples with a command, Drink ye all of it. The pardon of sin is that great blessing which is, in the Lord's supper, conferred on all true believers; it is the foundation of all other blessings. He takes leave of such communion; and assures them of a happy meeting again at last; "Until that day when I drink it new with you", may be understood of the joys and glories of the future state, which the saints shall partake with the Lord Jesus. That will be the kingdom of his Father; the wine of consolation will there be always new. While we look at the outward signs of Christ's body broken and his blood shed for the remission of our sins, let us recollect that the feast cost him as much as though he had literally given his flesh to be eaten and his blood for us to drink.

Verses 31-35 Improper self-confidence, like that of Peter, is the first step to a fall. There is a proneness in all of us to be over-confident. But those fall soonest and foulest, who are the most confident in themselves. Those are least safe, who think themselves most secure. Satan is active to lead such astray; they are most off their guard: God leaves them to themselves, to humble them.

Verses 36-46 He who made atonement for the sins of mankind, submitted himself in a garden of suffering, to the will of God, from which man had revolted in a garden of pleasure. Christ took with him into that part of the garden where he suffered his agony, only those who had witnessed his glory in his transfiguration. Those are best prepared to suffer with Christ, who have by faith beheld his glory. The words used denote the most entire dejection, amazement, anguish, and horror of mind; the state of one surrounded with sorrows, overwhelmed with miseries, and almost swallowed up with terror and dismay. He now began to be sorrowful, and never ceased to be so till he said, It is finished. He prayed that, if possible, the cup might pass from him. But he also showed his perfect readiness to bear the load of his sufferings; he was willing to submit to all for our redemption and salvation. According to this example of Christ, we must drink of the bitterest cup which God puts into our hands; though nature struggle, it must submit. It should be more our care to get troubles sanctified, and our hearts satisfied under them, than to get them taken away. It is well for us that our salvation is in the hand of One who neither slumbers nor sleeps. All are tempted, but we should be much afraid of entering into temptation. To be secured from this, we should watch and pray, and continually look unto the Lord to hold us up that we may be safe. Doubtless our Lord had a clear and full view of the sufferings he was to endure, yet he spoke with the greatest calmness till this time. Christ was a Surety, who undertook to be answerable for our sins. Accordingly he was made sin for us, and suffered for our sins, the Just for the unjust; and Scripture ascribes his heaviest sufferings to the hand of God. He had full knowledge of the infinite evil of sin, and of the immense extent of that guilt for which he was to atone; with awful views of the Divine justice and holiness, and the punishment deserved by the sins of men, such as no tongue can express, or mind conceive. At the same time, Christ suffered being tempted; probably horrible thoughts were suggested by Satan that tended to gloom and every dreadful conclusion: these would be the more hard to bear from his perfect holiness. And did the load of imputed guilt so weigh down the soul of Him of whom it is said, He upholdeth all things by the word of his power? into what misery then must those sink whose sins are left upon their own heads! How will those escape who neglect so great salvation?

Verses 47-56 No enemies are so much to be abhorred as those professed disciples that betray Christ with a kiss. God has no need of our services, much less of our sins, to bring about his purposes. Though Christ was crucified through weakness, it was voluntary weakness; he submitted to death. If he had not been willing to suffer, they could not conquer him. It was a great sin for those who had left all to follow Jesus; now to leave him for they knew not what. What folly, for fear of death to flee from Him, whom they knew and acknowledged to be the Fountain of life!

Verses 57-68 Jesus was hurried into Jerusalem. It looks ill, and bodes worse, when those who are willing to be Christ's disciples, are not willing to be known to be so. Here began Peter's denying him: for to follow Christ afar off, is to begin to go back from him. It is more our concern to prepare for the end, whatever it may be, than curiously to ask what the end will be. The event is God's, but the duty is ours. Now the Scriptures were fulfilled, which said, False witnesses are risen up against me. Christ was accused, that we might not be condemned; and if at any time we suffer thus, let us remember we cannot expect to fare better than our Master. When Christ was made sin for us, he was silent, and left it to his blood to speak. Hitherto Jesus had seldom professed expressly to be the Christ, the Son of God; the tenor of his doctrine spoke it, and his miracles proved it; but now he would not omit to make an open confession of it. It would have looked like declining his sufferings. He thus confessed, as an example and encouragement to his followers, to confess him before men, whatever hazard they ran. Disdain, cruel mocking, and abhorrence, are the sure portion of the disciple as they were of the Master, from such as would buffet and deride the Lord of glory. These things were exactly foretold in the fiftieth chapter of Isaiah. Let us confess Christ's name, and bear the reproach, and he will confess us before his Father's throne.

Verses 69-75 Peter's sin is truly related, for the Scriptures deal faithfully. Bad company leads to sin: those who needlessly thrust themselves into it, may expect to be tempted and insnared, as Peter. They scarcely can come out of such company without guilt or grief, or both. It is a great fault to be shy of Christ; and to dissemble our knowledge of him, when we are called to own him, is, in effect, to deny him. Peter's sin was aggravated; but he fell into the sin by surprise, not as Judas, with design. But conscience should be to us as the crowing of the cock, to put us in mind of the sins we had forgotten. Peter was thus left to fall, to abate his self-confidence, and render him more modest, humble, compassionate, and useful to others. The event has taught believers many things ever since, and if infidels, Pharisees, and hypocrites stumble at it or abuse it, it is at their peril. Little do we know how we should act in very difficult situations, if we were left to ourselves. Let him, therefore, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he fall; let us all distrust our own hearts, and rely wholly on the Lord. Peter wept bitterly. Sorrow for sin must not be slight, but great and deep. Peter, who wept so bitterly for denying Christ, never denied him again, but confessed him often in the face of danger. True repentance for any sin will be shown by the contrary grace and duty; that is a sign of our sorrowing not only bitterly, but sincerely.

Cross References 13

  • 1. 26.2Exodus 12.1-27.
  • 2. 26.7Luke 7.37, 38.
  • 3. 26.11Deuteronomy 15.11.
  • 4. 26.15Zechariah 11.12.
  • 5. 26.23Psalms 41.9.
  • 6. 26.28 aExodus 24.8; bJeremiah 31.31-34.
  • 7. 26.31Zechariah 13.7.
  • 8. 26.32Matthew 28.16.
  • 9. 26.55Luke 19.47; 21.37.
  • 10. 26.61John 2.19.
  • 11. 26.64Daniel 7.13.
  • 12. 26.65, 66Leviticus 24.16.
  • 13. 26.67Isaiah 50.6.

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Be quick about it, friend!; [or] Why are you here, friend?

Matthew 26 Commentaries