Gospel of Matthew Chapter Twenty-Six Commentary by
Pastor Ron Beckham
We Need The Lord
Verses 1-5: "When Jesus had finished all these words, He said to His disciples, 2 'You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man is to be handed over for crucifixion.' 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people were gathered together in the court of the high priest, named Caiaphas; 4 and they plotted together to seize Jesus by stealth and kill Him. 5 But they were saying, 'Not during the festival, otherwise a riot might occur among the people.'" Notice the motives in these verses. Jesus came to earth with the specific intention of giving Himself, His life for ours, so we can be freed from sin and death. The religious leaders, on the other hand, wanted to take the life of Jesus for their own selfish purposes. While here on earth, Jesus gave up much of His power for our benefit; these religious men wanted to keep their offices, to the extent that they would kill to do it... and they were carefully avoiding committing this murder during the Feast, merely to avoid a riot that would sweep them out of power.
Verses 6-13: "Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. 8 But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, 'Why this waste? 9 For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.' 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them,'Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12 For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 13 Truly I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.'" Yes it is true that we are to wisely guard the assets God has entrusted to us, but here was a woman, as the suspicious onlookers observed, who took something quite valuable and simply poured it onto Jesus. The critics at the moment were mostly His disciples, who had given up a lot to follow Jesus, and finances concerned them. Jesus was telling them He was about to die and here was an asset being poured out for some reason they did not want to understand. God Himself created the substances in that perfume, and the woman responded to the leading of the Holy Spirit in blessing Him with it. She was chosen out of all the women in history to anoint Jesus for His impending burial. God has given us everything... if He calls us to give up something important, what will our response be? The woman sacrificed her perfume to anoint the King. We weren't there, but we can do something wonderful also, by offering up a "sacrifice of praise to God" (Hebrews 13:15).
Verses 14-16: "Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, 'What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?' And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. 16 From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus." Judas Iscariot, like others among Jesus' disciples, was fed up. He had his own expectations, his own agenda for events, and was impatient with God's timetable and ways. He saw that Jesus was determined to die a criminal's death. It was the last straw for Judas, who now would betray the Son of God for 30-pieces of silver, the price of a slave. It's a question for us all: If God acts in ways we did not expect, what will we do? In the case of Judas, he took the money and betrayed the King. These events were prophesied in Zechariah 11:12-13.
Verses 17-19: "Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, 'Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?' 18 And He said,'Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, 'My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.' 19 The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover." We are seeing, within the context of these chapters, that the disciples of Jesus were troubled (frightened actually) by these events, and one of them, Judas Iscariot, took money that would lead to the murder of our Lord. Note the importance of these verses when we are disturbed about events in our own lives. Yes, they didn't understand and were upset, but they still had the good sense to trust Jesus and do what He said. And so should we remember the words of David in Psalm 56:3—"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in Thee."
Verses 20-25: "Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. 21 As they were eating, He said,'Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.' 22 Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, 'Surely not I, Lord?' 23 And He answered,'He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. 24 The Son of Man is to go, 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.' 25 And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, 'Surely it is not I, Rabbi?' Jesus said to him,'You have said it yourself.'" Whether you like it or even believe it, God understands you at the level of your soul and spirit—better than you understand yourself. Jesus KNEW that Judas was the betrayer. All of the disciples were worried, without actually admitting it, that THEY might betray Him. As Corrie Ten Boom said, "We feel guilty because we are guilty." After Judas spoke his words in Verse 25, the response of Jesus is best translated: "You said it."
Verses 26-30: "While they were eating, Jesus took some bread, and after a blessing, He broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said,'Take, eat; this is My body.' 27 And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, saying,'Drink from it, all of you; 28 for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. 29 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.' 30 After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives." Notice that God is less apt to give us logic than He is parables, verbally or visually. Jesus was about to die. His body would be ruined and He would bleed. All of this was for your sins and mine. He would die so that we might live. The Law established by God demanded payment for wrongs that are done—"life for life" as in Exodus 21:23. He now satisfied the Law's requirement this way—His life for ours. When we take communion, drink juice or eat bread, we are to remember what He has done, and in the parable seen here, we understand more deeply than ever what He did for you and me.
Verses 31-35: "Then Jesus said to them,'You will all fall away because of Me this night, for it is written, ‘I will strike down the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.' 32 But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.' 33 But Peter said to Him, 'Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away.' 34 Jesus said to him, 'Truly I say to you that this very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.' 35 Peter said to Him, 'Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.' All the disciples said the same thing too." Jesus here quoted Zechariah 13:7. Confidence like Peter's can be positive, enhancing our courage when something needs to be done. But we don't truly know what we will do in times of major stress—only God knows. All the disciples, with the exception of Judas Iscariot, were convinced they would not deny Jesus, but they would. Peter was more certain than any of them, but he would do it, too—and just in case we might not acknowledge our own frailty, we will watch the strong and confident Peter deny the Lord three times before the night was over.
Verses 36-41: "Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to His disciples,'Sit here while I go over there and pray.' 37 And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38 Then He said to them,'My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.' 39 And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying,'My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.' 40 And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter,'So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41 Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.'" Are you depressed?—God personally knows how you feel. Have you been to the Garden of Gethsemane, by the way? It's full of olive trees, and we were told, as we touched them, that some of them are over 2,000 years old. Jesus likely touched some of those trees. The disciples, however, were not looking at trees; they were depressed to the extent that it led to exhaustion. Jesus was upset also. And yes, He was troubled about the events confronting Him, but He was also alarmed for His disciples, who were about to be—alone.
Verses 42-46: "He went away again a second time and prayed, saying,'My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.' 43 Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45 Then He came to the 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. 46 Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!'" If God the Holy Spirit revealed to you that you would die in a short time, how would you feel? If the death was to be slow and filled with agony, what would that be like? He regarded it as an unpleasant "cup" He must "drink." That cup was not just about Him, for He always was and is—innocent in all His ways. He was betrayed, He was humanly speaking, alone, and the enemy was at hand. But this was the worst of all—our sins would be upon Him.
Verses 47-50: "While He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a large crowd with swords and clubs, who came from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now he who was betraying Him gave them a sign, saying, 'Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him.' 49 Immediately Judas went to Jesus and said, 'Hail, Rabbi!' and kissed Him. 50 And Jesus said to him,'Friend, do what you have come for.'Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him." Do you know what it's like to be betrayed by someone you love? Jesus personally knows the pain of this life. He is God and knows everything, but He also became a human being and lived our pain. He knows what You are going through. He loved Judas, the man who now betrayed Him with a kiss, and He did know precisely what the man had "come for."
Verses 51-56: "And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him,'Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. 53 Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?' 55 At that time Jesus said to the crowds,'Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me as you would against a robber? Every day I used to sit in the temple teaching and you did not seize Me. 56 But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.'Then all the disciples left Him and fled." All through history, there have been men and women selected by God to experience key events. Adam and Eve were, no doubt, excellent representatives of humanity. If they fell, any one of us would have fallen. God carefully chose the participants for the moments of these verses, and each one was right for those events. We know from John 18:10-11 that Peter was the one who used his sword on the high priest's servant, whose name was Malchus. And in Luke 22:51, we find that Jesus healed the ear of Malchus. Jesus had, at that moment, and has right now, sufficient troops and weapons to destroy us all. He did not use them because He was to fulfill Scriptures like Isaiah 53, as He died for our sins.
Verses 57-62: "Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. 58 But Peter was following Him at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. 60 They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 61 and said, 'This man stated, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.' 62 The high priest stood up and said to Him, 'Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?'" People who are suspicious of those in authority, have a point. Here were the highest religious/political authorities of the people, seeking false witnesses for an illegal trial, which was designed to murder the very God they pretended to serve. Isn't it amazing? The Temple was a parable, a model of much more. Here was God's Temple, filled with the Holy Spirit, standing in front of them at that very moment. And we receive something of what He is when we place our trust in Him. As Jesus said, in John 14:6, "I am... the truth." The world is full of self-serving liars but One is true, and His Name is Jesus Christ.
Verses 63-68: "But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, 'I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.' 64 Jesus said to him,'You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.' 65 Then the high priest tore his robes and said, 'He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 66 what do you think?' They answered, 'He deserves death!' 67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him, 68 and said, 'Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?'" Notice that the unbelieving high priest was fully aware that the Messiah, the Christ, was the Son of God. The man was probably well-versed in the Old Testament Scriptures, but he was also a cold-hearted fake. Jesus was mostly silent during these terrible events, as prophesied in Isaiah 53:7—"He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth." But God does warn people, and even this priest needed to hear the truth about God's Son; so, for a moment, Jesus broke His silence and spoke. And now the violence hidden within these terrible men burst forth. Events in life are designed to reveal who we really are, and to show us our need of God.
Verses 69-75: "Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, and a servant-girl came to him and said, 'You too were with Jesus the Galilean.' 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, 'I do not know what you are talking about.' 71 When he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, 'This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.' 72 And again he denied it with an oath, 'I do not know the man.' 73 A little later the bystanders came up and said to Peter, 'Surely you too are one of them; for even the way you talk gives you away.' 74 Then he began to curse and swear, 'I do not know the man!' And immediately a rooster crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, 'Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.' And he went out and wept bitterly." Peter vowed that He would never deny Jesus (Verses 33, 35), and Jesus responded by telling the man he would deny God's Son three times before a rooster crowed in the morning. It happened just as Jesus said—Peter, with his Galilean accent, denied His Savior. Have you ever denied the Lord? I received the Lord at 16, but then denied Him and stayed away for 15-years. I am amazed and grateful He took me back, but ashamed of what I did. We are all capable of—anything—and we need the Lord desperately.
Father, I'm glad that I did not live at the time and place of these events. I might have acted just as the men of this chapter did. I am so sorry, Lord, for my own sins. Please forgive me and heal me. Thank You. In Jesus Name. Amen.