Matthew 26

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus finished all these words, he said to his disciples,
2 `Ye have known that after two days the passover cometh, and the Son of Man is delivered up to be crucified.'
3 Then were gathered together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, to the court of the chief priest who was called Caiaphas;
4 and they consulted together that they might take Jesus by guile, and kill [him],
5 and they said, `Not in the feast, that there may not be a tumult among the people.'
6 And Jesus having been in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
7 there came to him a woman having an alabaster box of ointment, very precious, and she poured on his head as he is reclining (at meat).
8 And having seen [it], his disciples were much displeased, saying, `To what purpose [is] this waste?
9 for this ointment could have been sold for much, and given to the poor.'
10 And Jesus having known, said to them, `Why do ye give trouble to the woman? for a good work she wrought for me;
11 for the poor always ye have with you, and me ye have not always;
12 for she having put this ointment on my body -- for my burial she did [it].
13 Verily I say to you, Wherever this good news may be proclaimed in the whole world, what this [one] did shall also be spoken of -- for a memorial of her.'
14 Then one of the twelve, who is called Judas Iscariot, having gone unto the chief priests, said,
15 `What are ye willing to give me, and I will deliver him up to you?' and they weighed out to him thirty silverlings,
16 and from that time he was seeking a convenient season to deliver him up.
17 And on the first [day] of the unleavened food came the disciples near to Jesus, saying to him, `Where wilt thou [that] we may prepare for thee to eat the passover?'
18 and he said, `Go away to the city, unto such a one, and say to him, The Teacher saith, My time is nigh; near thee I keep the passover, with my disciples;'
19 and the disciples did as Jesus appointed them, and prepared the passover.
20 And evening having come, he was reclining (at meat) with the twelve,
21 and while they are eating, he said, `Verily I say to you, that one of you shall deliver me up.'
22 And being grieved exceedingly, they began to say to him, each of them, `Is it I, Sir?'
23 And he answering said, `He who did dip with me the hand in the dish, he will deliver me up;
24 the Son of Man doth indeed go, as it hath been written concerning him, but wo to that man through whom the Son of Man is delivered up! good it were for him if that man had not been born.'
25 And Judas -- he who delivered him up -- answering said, `Is it I, Rabbi?' He saith to him, `Thou hast said.'
26 And while they were eating, Jesus having taken the bread, and having blessed, did brake, and was giving to the disciples, and said, `Take, eat, this is my body;'
27 and having taken the cup, and having given thanks, he gave to them, saying, `Drink ye of it -- all;
28 for this is my blood of the new covenant, that for many is being poured out -- to remission of sins;
29 and I say to you, that I may not drink henceforth on this produce of the vine, till that day when I may drink it with you new in the reign of my Father.'
30 And having sung a hymn, they went forth to the mount of the Olives;
31 then saith Jesus to them, `All ye shall be stumbled at me this night; for it hath been written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad;
32 but, after my having risen, I will go before you to Galilee.'
33 And Peter answering said to him, `Even if all shall be stumbled at thee, I will never be stumbled.'
34 Jesus said to him, `Verily I say to thee, that, this night, before cock-crowing, thrice thou wilt deny me.'
35 Peter saith to him, `Even if it may be necessary for me to die with thee, I will not deny thee;' in like manner also said all the disciples.
36 Then come with them doth Jesus to a place called Gethsemane, and he saith to the disciples, `Sit ye here, till having gone away, I shall pray yonder.'
37 And having taken Peter, and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful, and to be very heavy;
38 then saith he to them, `Exceedingly sorrowful is my soul -- unto death; abide ye here, and watch with me.'
39 And having gone forward a little, he fell on his face, praying, and saying, `My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou.'
40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them sleeping, and he saith to Peter, `So! ye were not able one hour to watch with me!
41 watch, and pray, that ye may not enter into temptation: the spirit indeed is forward, but the flesh weak.'
42 Again, a second time, having gone away, he prayed, saying, `My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from me except I drink it, Thy will be done;'
43 and having come, he findeth them again sleeping, for their eyes were heavy.
44 And having left them, having gone away again, he prayed a third time, saying the same word;
45 then cometh he unto his disciples, and saith to them, `Sleep on henceforth, and rest! lo, the hour hath come nigh, and the Son of Man is delivered up to the hands of sinners.
46 Rise, let us go; lo, he hath come nigh who is delivering me up.'
47 And while he is yet speaking, lo, Judas, one of the twelve did come, and with him a great multitude, with swords and sticks, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
48 And he who did deliver him up did give them a sign, saying, `Whomsoever I will kiss, it is he: lay hold on him;'
49 and immediately, having come to Jesus, he said, `Hail, Rabbi,' and kissed him;
50 and Jesus said to him, `Comrade, for what art thou present?' Then having come near, they laid hands on Jesus, and took hold on him.
51 And lo, one of those with Jesus, having stretched forth the hand, drew his sword, and having struck the servant of the chief priest, he took off his ear.
52 Then saith Jesus to him, `Turn back thy sword to its place; for all who did take the sword, by the sword shall perish;
53 dost thou think that I am not able now to call upon my Father, and He will place beside me more than twelve legions of messengers?
54 how then may the Writings be fulfilled, that thus it behoveth to happen?'
55 In that hour said Jesus to the multitudes, `As against a robber ye did come forth, with swords and sticks, to take me! daily with you I was sitting teaching in the temple, and ye did not lay hold on me;
56 but all this hath come to pass, that the Writings of the prophets may be fulfilled;' then all the disciples, having left him, fled.
57 And those laying hold on Jesus led [him] away unto Caiaphas the chief priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together,
58 and Peter was following him afar off, unto the court of the chief priest, and having gone in within, he was sitting with the officers, to see the end.
59 And the chief priests, and the elders, and all the council, were seeking false witness against Jesus, that they might put him to death,
60 and they did not find; and many false witnesses having come near, they did not find; and at last two false witnesses having come near,
61 said, `This one said, I am able to throw down the sanctuary of God, and after three days to build it.'
62 And the chief priest having stood up, said to him, `Nothing thou dost answer! what do these witness against thee?
63 and Jesus was silent. And the chief priest answering said to him, `I adjure thee, by the living God, that thou mayest say to us, if thou art the Christ -- the Son of God.'
64 Jesus saith to him, `Thou hast said; nevertheless I say to you, hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of the power, and coming upon the clouds, of the heaven.'
65 Then the chief priest rent his garments, saying, -- `He hath spoken evil; what need have we yet of witnesses? lo, now ye heard his evil speaking;
66 what think ye?' and they answering said, `He is worthy of death.'
67 Then did they spit in his face and buffet him, and others did slap,
68 saying, `Declare to us, O Christ, who he is that struck thee?'
69 And Peter without was sitting in the court, and there came near to him a certain maid, saying, `And thou wast with Jesus of Galilee!'
70 And he denied before all, saying, `I have not known what thou sayest.'
71 And he having gone forth to the porch, another female saw him, and saith to those there, `And this one was with Jesus of Nazareth;'
72 and again did he deny with an oath -- `I have not known the man.'
73 And after a little those standing near having come, said to Peter, `Truly thou also art of them, for even thy speech doth make thee manifest.'
74 Then began he to anathematise, and to swear -- `I have not known the man;' and immediately did a cock crow,
75 and Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, he having said to him -- `Before cock-crowing, thrice thou wilt deny me;' and having gone without, he did weep bitterly.

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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.

Matthew 26 Commentaries