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Bible Commentaries
Matthew 26

The Bible Study New TestamentBible Study NT

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Verse 1


When Jesus had finished. The things taught in the last three chapters. The time is Tuesday night [as we count time; their new day began at 6 P.M. ],

Verse 2


In two days. After Wednesday and Thursday. The day spoken of is Friday. Feast of Passover. See Exodus 12:1-14, This day celebrated their deliverance from captivity in Egypt. It was the high point of the year. The Passover Lamb was symbolic of Christ.

Verse 3


Met together. An official meeting of the Sanhedrin. This was the “supreme court” of the Jews. There were seventy-one members, with the high priest being the president of the group. It could sentence to death, but could not kill without Roman permission. Notice it was made up of the religious leaders who were the bitter enemies of Jesus. In the trial of Jesus, they conducted it in an illegal manner, even by their own law. Caiaphas. Son-in-law of Annas who had been high priest, but had been removed from office by the Romans. Both were Sadducees.

Verse 4


To arrest Jesus secretly. Public opinion was against them, and they were afraid of the people.

Verse 5


Or the people will riot. As Passover time, Jerusalem was crowded with some millions of people. Josephus says that at Passover in 65 A.D., there were three million people there. They were afraid popular support of Jesus would cause a riot, and the Romans would take severe measures.

Verse 6


While Jesus was at the house. Matthew makes a “flashback” to the Saturday before this, in order to show clearly what Judas did, Simon the leper. Probably healed by Jesus, and a relative to Mary, Martha, and Lazarus,

Verse 7


A woman came to him. Mary, the sister of Lazarus (John 12:3). An alabaster jar. This contained a whole pint of very expensive perfume made of Nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head (Mark 14:3).

Verse 8


And became angry. It was Judas who spoke (John 12:4-5). But the other disciples were also displeased by this “waste.”

Verse 9


Given to the poor. Reasonable, yet the poor whom Judas had in mind was himself (John 12:6). But notice the next verse.

Verse 10


Why are you bothering this woman? They were actually scolding this woman for what she had done! She had honored Jesus by her act of love. Their priorities were mixed, and they had not “thought through” what they were saying.

Verse 11


You will always have poor people. The opportunity to help them is always present. But Christ [in his human form] would not be with them long.

Verse 12


To get me ready for burial. Mary did this to show her love. Jesus identifies it as an anointing for burial. [This was the custom. See John 19:40.]

Verse 13


Wherever this gospel is preached. The fame of Mary’s act would be spread all over the world. [This is also a prediction that the gospel would be preached to everybody (Compare Colossians 1:23).]

Verse 14


Went to the chief priests. His frustration about losing this chance to help himself to money, sends him to the priests. He must have thought that since Jesus was about to be killed, he would never be treasurer of the earthly kingdom he had expected, so he ought to get what he can.

Verse 15


What will you give me? He knew they wanted to seize Jesus, and he offers to lead them to him for a price. Thirty silver coins. This makes Zechariah 11:12 come true. [Silver shekels, each worth about $26 in 1974 dollars.] Joseph was sold for twenty silver coins (Genesis 37:28).

Verse 16


From then on. He watched for an opportunity. No one knows for certain what day Judas made the arrangement with the priests to do this.

Verse 17


On the first day. The Feast of Unleavened Bread normally began on the day following Passover. Yet this is the day before Passover. Josephus seems to imply that sometimes the Feast lasted longer than the usual seven days. Since it was the custom to use only unleavened bread the day before Passover, this may have been considered the beginning of the Feast. Alford (Greek Testament), and many others, believe Jesus ate the Passover on Thursday (a day early), and died on Friday about the time the Passover lambs were killed. See note on John 19:14. Where? The lamb had to be killed in the temple; and roasted. Unleavened bread, wine, bitter herbs, etc., all had to be ready, also a room where they could eat this.

Verses 18-19


Go to a certain man. A “sign” would identify the man (Mark 14:13). McGarvey thinks it was done this way so that Judas would not know the location in time to tell the Sanhedrin. This Passover was very important to Jesus and his disciples.

Verse 20


When it was evening. The lamb was killed between three and five o’clock (Exodus 12:6), and the Passover meal followed after sunset.

Verse 21


I tell you. The meal began with a giving of thanks, Now Jesus interrupts with shocking words One of you will betray me.

Verse 22


The disciples were very upset. No one questions the truth of this prophecy. No one accuses someone else. Each asks: “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?”

Verse 23


One who dips his bread. This was spoken quietly to John alone (John 13:23-29). Judas and the others did not hear. [Meals were eaten from a common bowl, each dipping in to eat.]

Verse 24


As the Scriptures say. This was God’s Plan coming true. Yet the betrayer must bear the guilt of his own action [WHICH HE DOES OF HIS OWN FREE WILL].

Verse 25


So you say. In other words, “you are the man.” John adds that Jesus said: “Hurry and do what you must!” Judas “went out at once.” It is probable that Judas left before the “Lord’s Supper” was instituted.

Verse 26


While they were eating. This is at the conclusion of the Passover meal, while they are still seated. Jesus took the bread. Some of the Passover bread. Gave a prayer of thanks. EUCHARISTOS means both a “giving of thanks” and a “blessing.” This is my body. The Jews said of the Passover Lamb: “This is the body of the lamb which our fathers ate in Egypt.”

Verse 27


Then he took the cup. One of those used in the Passover. Drink it all of you. That is, drink the “fruit of the grape” it contained.

Verse 28


This is my blood. Symbolic—since blood is forbidden to Christians (Acts 15:29). God’s covenant. Hebrews 8:8-13; 1 Corinthians 15:3 : Colossians 1:20. My blood poured out for many. An unlimited sacrifice, which must be seized through faith. See Romans 5:18.

Verse 29


Until the day. The messianic community sees in this Holy Meal [Lord’s Supper] both a memorial of the Cross and a prediction of the future. The “new wine” in the Father’s Kingdom is symbolic of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb and his church (Revelation 19:7-8). Paul received a special revelation on the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23), and the Christians ate this Holy Meal every Sunday.

Verse 30


Then they sang a hymn. It was the custom to close Passover by singing Psalms 115-118. Singing was given a new place in the messianic community. To the Mount of Olives. To the garden of Gethsemane on the mountain side. It is the darkness of night. Only two or three hours pass from the time of the Lord’s Supper until Jesus is betrayed and seized.

Verse 31


All of you will run away. Zechariah 13:7 spoke of this. This would seem to be the end of all their hope.

Verse 32


I will go to Galilee. He promises that after raising from death, he will meet with them in Galilee (see Matthew 28:16; 1 Corinthians 15:6).

Verse 33


Peter spoke up. Impulsive as usual, and overconfident of his strength.

Verse 34


Remember this! Peter would remember—after it was too late! Satan was going to test all of them (Luke 22:31). Before the rooster crows. Mark says “twice.” The first crowing would be at midnight, the second at 3 A.M.

Verse 35


Even if I have to die with you. They meant what they were saying, but they did not know their own weakness.

Verse 36


Gethsemane. The name means “oil-press,” a press for making oil from the olives that gave the Mount of Olives its name. Sit here. He speaks to the eight who would stay there. While I go. He reacted to this time of crisis by praying to his Father.

Verse 37


Grief and anguish. This is his human side (see Hebrews 5:7). He dreaded the agony of death just as we would. But, he came to do the Father’s will! Peter, James, and John were the three closest to him. They had been with him at the Transfiguration.

Verse 38


The sorrow in my heart. The weight of sorrow was literally crushing him! Perhaps the key to this is found in these words: “God made him share our sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Stay here. He must be alone with his Father.

Verse 39


If it is possible! No “make believe” here! There was no other way to make salvation possible! Take this cup away! The agony of betrayal, the trial and mockery, and the agony of death on the cross. But what you want. Perfect faith. He is willing to do whatever the Father requires of him.

Verse 40


Then he returned. Peter, James, and John are sleeping. Luke says their great grief made them sleep. It is said that condemned men usually sleep soundly the night before their execution.

Verse 41


Keep watch, and pray. Not to avoid temptation, but so they will endure the temptation that must come to them. But the flesh is weak. Romans 7:21-25.

Verse 42


Again a second time. Luke adds “more fervently,” and “his sweat was like drops of blood.

Verse 43


And found the disciples asleep. Our Savior was Man as well as God. He was “tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15). He wants human companionship in this time of crisis.

Verse 44


And prayed the third time. Praying the same prayer over again is not always ritual. Sometimes it shows intensity of feeling!

Verse 45


Are you still sleeping and resting? He scolds them. They had not watched as they should have. The time has passed and the soldiers are coming.

Verse 46


Get up, let us go. The traitor and the enemy are here. DID GOD ANSWER CHRIST’S PRAYER? Hebrews 5:7 says he did! An angel came and strengthened him (Luke 22:43). A prayer to remove a crisis may be answered in two ways: (1) the crisis is taken away, and we remain the same; (2) we are made so strong that the crisis ceases to be such a problem,

Verse 47


When Judas . . . arrived. Judas knew where to look, since Jesus came here often. A large crowd. Roman soldiers, temple guards, priests, etc. (John 18:3; John 18:12). The Sanhedrin has sent them.

Verses 48-49


Had given the crowd a signal. A kiss of friendship is the kiss of death.

Verse 50


Be quick about it, friend! They seize Jesus and tie him up (John 18:12).

Verse 51


Drew his sword. Peter (John 18:10). Cutting off his ear. John says the slaves’ name was Machus. Jesus healed the man’s ear (Luke 22:51).

Verse 52


All who take the sword will die by the sword. A general fact. The sword is not to be used to defend truth or to spread the Kingdom.

Verses 53-54


Don’t you know? The Logos needs no human defenders. Twelve armies of angels. A Roman “army” was made up of more than 6,000 men. How could the Scriptures come true? God spoke through the prophets to tell about this. God’s Plan was made before Creation.

Verses 55-56


As though I were an outlaw? Not a thief, but an outlaw like Barabbas (see Mark 15:7). This was the charge made against Christ (Luke 23:2). Then all the disciples. As soon as they capture Jesus, all the disciples run away into the darkness.

Verse 57


Took him to the house of Caiaphas. Annas, the former high priest, first questions Jesus (John 18:13). The Sanhedrin was gathered there, probably in the darkness of night.

Verse 58


Peter followed. At a distance, not wanting to be identified as a disciple.

Verse 59


Tried to find some false evidence. A charge that would “hold up” in court. No one could be condemned legally unless two witnesses testified to a charge punishable by death.

Verse 60


But they could not find any. Any charge which would pass the Roman ruler.

Verse 61


‘This man said.’ They told a distorted version of what Christ had said (John 2:19). Mark says that not even they could make their stories agree (Mark 14:59).

Verses 62-63


Have you no answer? But Jesus said not a word. I now put you on oath. This puts Jesus under a vow to tell the truth [which he did anyway]. Tell us if you are the Messiah. The high priest is asking two questions: (1) Are you the Messiah? (2) Are you the Son of God? A “yes” to the second question would be blasphemy [unless Jesus really were the Son of God—WHICH HE WAS AND IS].

Verse 64

64. So you say. That is: “You have declared the Truth in what you said.” At the greatest moment of crisis in his life, Jesus breaks his silence to declare himself the Son of God!—at the cost of his life. From this time on. What they were doing right then, would raise Jesus to glory on the Cross, bring the victory of the Resurrection, and seat him at the Right Side of God in heaven. Their places would shortly be reversed, with Jesus on the throne, and them standing to be judged by him.

Verse 65


The High Priest tore his clothes. Symbolic. Compare Acts 14:14. Blasphemy! It was, if he is not God; it was not, if he is God. Jesus could not be a “good man” and make the claims he did UNLESS

Verse 66


He is guilty, and must die. This is the formal sentence of the Sanhedrin [the Jewish Supreme Court]. Blasphemy is the charge they enter on their records. But since the Roman law did not recognize blasphemy as bringing the death sentence, Jesus was charged before Pilate as an outlaw (Luke 23:2; Mark 15:7).

Verse 67


Then they spat in his face. Symbolic. This was the greatest insult a Jew could give (Deuteronomy 25:9). Even to spit in front of anyone was thought to be a great sin by the people of the Middle-East.

Verse 68


Prophesy for us, Messiah. Mark says he was blindfolded. These Jewish leaders could not be too cruel to a condemned prisoner! There is also a taunt here: “If you really were God, you would know who hit you!”

Verse 69


Peter was sitting outside. He sat outside in the courtyard while the trial went on inside. This would be the Castle of Antonia. The courtyard was in the center, enclosed by rooms built around it. Doors and windows opened into the courtyard from the rooms [they had no “window glass”], so Peter and John could sit and witness the things which were happening inside. Came to him and said. John says she was the girl at the gate. Luke gives the most complete account (Luke 22:54-62). You, too. His “accent” identified him as a Galilean.

Verse 70


But he denied it. Just a few hours earlier, he had been ready to die with Jesus! His faith fails, as he sees his Lord seemingly helpless in the hands of his enemies. [But notice Luke 22:31-32!]

Verse 71


And went on out to. Fear drives him out. Another servant girl saw him. Accuses Peter of being a disciple (compare Matthew 26:69).

Verse 72


Again Peter denied it. This time with stronger language. “Swear” means with a vow [oath]. See Matthew 26:74.

Verse 73


After a little while. Luke says about an hour. John says it was a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off who spoke. Each language has dialects, and Peter’s clearly identified him as a Galilean. The man says this is proof that Peter is one of them [eleven of the Twelve were Galileans].

Verse 74


Then Peter made a vow. This time he makes it as strong as he can! [The TEV reconstructs the language of his “cursing and swearing.”] “May God punish me if I am not telling the truth!” I do not know that man! Peter knew he was telling a lie as he said this. Just then a rooster crowed. And the words of Jesus come flooding back!

Verse 75


And Peter remembered. Luke says the Lord turned around and looked straight at Peter. He went out and wept bitterly. He had sinned greatly! His heart is broken! [Notice the difference between Peter and Judas. Peter’s sorrow makes him turn from sin and turn back to Christ. Judas’ sorrow makes him kill himself, Read 2 Corinthians 7:10.]

THE OREER OF EVENTS. After the arrest: (1) Jesus is taken before Annas, ex-high priest (see note on Luke 3:2), for a preliminary hearing (John 18:13). (2) Next to Caiaphas, Peter and John following along (John 18:15; John 18:24). [Alford (Greek Testament) says both Annas and Caiaphas lived in the same great building (which must have been the Castle of Antonia—which was a city within a city).] (3) First stage of Jewish Trial before Caiaphas (John 18:19-24). (4) Alford (Greek Testament) thinks a second stage of Jewish Trial is implied (John 18:24). It is possible that Jesus was shuffled from room to room, since both Annas and Caiaphas lived in the same castle. The Jewish Trial was illegal by their own law, since it took place at night. (5) Peter’s three denials during the Jewish Trial (Matthew 26:69-75), (6) After condemning Jesus to death, The Sanhedrin recesses until dawn, (7) It is implied that Jesus was cruelly treated during the recess (Mark 14:65). (8) The Sanhedrin reconvenes at dawn (Matthew 27:1), This would be the third stage of the Jewish Trial—to make it legal. (9) Jesus is again questioned and officially condemned to death (Luke 22:66-71). (10) Jesus is tied with chains and taken to Pilate (Mark 15:1).

THE ILLEGAL CONVICTION. Lawyers and Judges have studied this. During the entire trial, the rules of Jewish Law were flagrantly violated! The accused was deprived of his rights, and treated worse than a criminal. His arrest was at night [illegal]; he was tied-up as an outlaw; he was beaten before his arraignment before the court; and he was abused in open court during the trial. His trial was on a “feast-day” [illegal] and before sunrise [illegal]. He was forced to incriminate himself [illegal] and this under the solemn oath [charge] of the court. He was convicted, sentenced, and executed on the same day. All this was contrary to Jewish Law.

Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Matthew 26". "The Bible Study New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ice/matthew-26.html. College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.
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