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Bible Commentaries

Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible
Matthew 26

 

 

Verses 6-30

6, 7. Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 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.

This is not the woman who anointed Christ’s feet with ointment, but another of the holy women who ministered to him. I believe this was Mary, the sister of Lazarus, who came to Jesus, “having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.”

8, 9. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

When you do the best you can do, from the purest motives, and your Lord accepts your service, do not expect that your brethren will approve all your actions. If you do, you will be greatly disappointed. There was never a more beautiful proof of love to Christ than this anointing at Bethany, yet the disciples found fault with it. As they could not object to the thing itself, they objected that there might have been another thing done that would have been better. There is a great deal of that kind of wisdom in the world which can always teach you how you might have done a thing better, but if you wait until you learn that wisdom, you will never do anything for your Lord. If this devoted and enthusiastic woman had waited for the advice of these prudent people, she would neither have sold the ointment, nor poured it out. She did well to take council with her own loving heart, and then to pour the precious oil upon that dear head which was so soon to be crowned with thorns. She thus showed that there was at least one heart in the world that thought nothing was too good for her Lord, and that the best of the best ought to be given to him. May she have many imitators in every age until Jesus comes again!

10. When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman?

She had been very happy in the act, probably it was the happiest hour in all her life when she gave this costly gift to the Lord she loved so well. But a cloud passed over her bright face as the whispered complaints reached her ear. She was evidently a tender-hearted soul, so the Saviour said to the disciples, “Why trouble ye the woman?”

10. For she hath wrought a good work upon me.

We cannot do what this woman did; but we can perform good works upon others for Christ’s sake; and he will accept them as though they were done unto himself.

11-13. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. 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.

She probably did not know all that her action meant when she anointed her Lord for his burial. We often do much more than we think we do. The consequences of the simplest action done for Christ may be much greater than we suppose. This woman is preparing Christ’s body for his approaching burial. Little dreams she that it is so, but so it is. Go thou my sister, and do what God bids thee; and it shall be seen that thou hast done far more than thou knowest. Obey the holy impulse within thy spirit, my brother; and thou mayest do ten thousand times more than thou hast ever imagined to be possible. This woman’s outburst of affection, this simple-hearted act of love to Christ himself, is one of those things which are to live as long as the gospel lives. The aroma of this loving deed is to abide as long as the world itself endures.

14, 15. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?

Out of twelve apostles, one was a Judas Iscariot. Marvel not, therefore, if, among thy friends and kinsfolk, thou hast one who turns against thee, and betrays thee to thine enemies.

15. And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

The price of a slave, thus they were fulfilling the ancient prophecy: “So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.”

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

The traitor sold his Master for thirty pieces of dirty silver; yet many have sold Jesus for a less price than Judas received: a smile or a sneer has been sufficient to induce them to betray their Lord.

17, 18. 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? 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.

How truly royal was Jesus of Nazareth even in his humility! He had only to send two of his disciples “into the city to such a man,” and the guest chamber, furnished and prepared, was at once placed at his disposal. He did not take the room by arbitrary force, as an earthly monarch might have done; but he obtained it by the diviner compulsion of almighty love. Jesus knew something about this man that you and I do not know, so he said to his disciples: Just go and say to him, ‘The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.’” Was he not himself a disciple? I cannot say but this I do know, that the Lord Jesus has a certain number who are willing to help his cause, even though as yet they hardly call themselves his disciples. I should think, however, that after this man had once had the Master and his disciples in his house, there must have been a blessing left behind, and he would want to become one of that goodly company. It is well, dear friend, that thou art willing to have the prayer-meeting in thy house, it is well that thou wilt stand up on the side of truth, even if thou hast no share in it as yet, for maybe, — and I hope the “maybe” will become a certainty, — thou wilt yet be one of Christ’s disciples.

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

They went to this man, delivered Christ’s message, and he showed them a large upper room, furnished and prepared. If Christ’s disciples always loyally did as Jesus appointed them, they would always speed well on his errands. There are many more people in the world ready to yield to Christ than some of us think. The person sitting or standing by your side is quite unknown to you, but, if you will speak to him about the Saviour, he will probably respond to your word. At any rate, try him, and see if it be not so. Whether standing or sitting, there must be someone here not yet a disciple, who only needs for you to speak a kind word, and the deciding work will be done.

20, 21. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

“One of you” — and his eyes would glance round the table as he said it, — “one of you shall betray me.”

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

No one said, “Lord, is it Judas?” Perhaps no one of the eleven thought that Judas was base enough to betray the Lord who had given him an honourable place among his apostles. It is certainly a mark of grace that “every one” of the apostles put to their Lord the question, “Is it I?”

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

We learn from our Lord’s words that divine decrees do not deprive a sinful action of its guilt: “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! “The criminality of Judas was just as great as though there had been no “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” even as it was with those to whom Peter spoke so boldly on the day of Pentecost, when he charged them with the murder of Jesus.

20. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

What a chill that answer must have cast over the little band around the table, especially when Judas rose, and started off, to carry out his dreadful purpose of staining his soul with the blood of his Lord!

26-29. 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 he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 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.

Thus Jesus took the great Nazarite vow never to drink of the fruit of the vine till he should drink it new with His disciples in His Father’s kingdom. O Lord, thou hast pledged us in this cup, and thou wilt return before long, and then what festivals we will hold with thee, what joy we shall have in thee for ever and ever!

30. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out unto the mount of Olives.

Was it not truly brave of our dear Lord to sing under such circumstances? He was going forth to his last dread conflict, to Gethsemane, and Gabbatha, and Golgotha; yet he went with a song on His lips. The door opens, they go downstairs, they are in the open-air, that night of the full moon, and they wend their way to the Mount of Olives. Then came that desperate struggle in which the great Captain of our salvation wrestled even to a bloody sweat, and prevailed.

This exposition consisted of readings from Psalms 147, And Matthew 26:6-30.


Verses 14-35

Matthew 26:14-16. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 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. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

It was one of the twelve, who went unto the chief priests, to bargain for the price of his Lord’s betrayal. He did not even mention Christ’s name in his infamous question, “What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” The amount agreed upon, thirty pieces of silver, was the price of a slave; and showed how little value the chief priests set upon Jesus, and also revealed the greed of Judas in selling his Master for so small a sum. Yet many have sold Jesus for a less price than Judas received; a smile or a sneer has been sufficient to induce them to betray their Lord. Let us, who have been redeemed with Christ’s precious blood, set high store by him, think much of him, and praise him much. As we remember with shame and sorrow, these thirty pieces of silver, let us never undervalue him, or forget the priceless preciousness of him who was reckoned as worth no more than a slave.

Matthew 26:17-18. 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? 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.

How truly royal was Jesus of Nazareth even in his humiliation! He had no home of his own therein he could “keep the Passover” with his disciples; he was soon to be put to a public and shameful death; yet he had only to send two of his disciples “into the city to such a man,” and the guest-chamber, furnished and prepared, was at once placed at his disposal. He did not take the room by arbitrary force, as an earthly monarch might have done; but he obtained it by the diviner compulsion of almighty love. Even in his lowest estate, our Lord Jesus had the hearts of all men beneath his control. What power he has now that he reigns in glory!

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

If Christ’s disciples always loyally did a Jesus appointed them, they would always speed well on his errands. There are many more people in the world ready to yield to Christ than some of us think. If we would only go to them as Peter and John went to this man in Jerusalem, and say to them what “the Master saith”, we should find that their hearts would be opened to receive Christ even as this man’s house was willingly yielded up at our Lord’s request.

Matthew 26:20-21. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

Our Lord remained in seclusion until the evening, and then went to the appointed place, and sat down, or rather, reclined at the paschal table, with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, “Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” This was a most unpleasant thought to bring to a feast, yet it vas most appropriate to the Passover, for God’s commandment to Moses concerning the first paschal lamb was, “ With bitter herbs they shalt eat it.” This was a painful reflection for our Lord, and also for his twelve chosen companions: “One of you”, and his eyes would glance round the table so he said it, “ 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?

That short sentence fell like a bomb-shell among the Saviour’s bodyguard. It startled them; they had all made great professions of affection for him, and, for the most part, those professions were true. And they were exceeding sorrowful: and well they might be. Such a revelation was enough to produce the deepest emotions of sorrow and sadness. It is a beautiful trait in the character of the disciples that they did not suspect one another, but every one of them enquired, almost incredulously, as the form of the question implies “ Lord, is it I? “ No one said, “ Lord, is it Judas? “ Perhaps no one of the eleven thought that Judas was base enough to betray the Lord who had given him an honourable place among his apostles. We cannot do any good by suspecting our brethren; but we may do great services by suspecting ourselves. Self-suspicion is near akin to humility.

Matthew 26:23-24. And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 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.

A man may get very near to Christ, ay, may dippeth his hand in the same dish with the Saviour, and yet betray him. We may be high in office, and may apparently be very useful, as Judas was; yet we may betray Christ. We learn from our Lord’s words that divine decrees do not deprive a sinful action of its guilt: “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed.” His criminality is just as great as though there had been no “ determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” “It had been good for that man if he had not been born.” The doom of Judas is worse than non-existence. To have consorted with Christ as he had done, and then to deliver him into the hands of his enemies, sealed the traitor’s eternal destiny.

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

Judas appears to have been the last of the twelve to ask the question, “Is it I?” Those who are the last to suspect themselves are usually those who ought to be the first to exercise self-suspicion. Judas did not address Christ as “Lord,” as the other disciples had done; but called him Rabbi, “Master.” Otherwise his question was like that of his eleven companions; but he received from Christ an answer that was given to no one else: He said unto him, “Thou hast said.” Probably the reply reached his ear alone, and if he had not been a hopeless reprobate, this unmasking of his traitorous design might have driven him to repentance, but there was nothing in his heart to respond to Christ’s voice. He had sold himself to Satan before be sold his Lord.

Matthew 26:26-28. 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 he took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

The Jewish Passover was made to melt into the Lord’s supper, as the stars of the morning dissolve into the light of the sun. As they were eating, while the paschal supper was proceeding, Jesus instituted the new memorial which is to be observed until he comes again. How simple was the whole ceremony! Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Christ could not have meant that the bread was his body, for his body was reclining by the table; but he intended that broken bread to represent his body which was about to be broken on the cross. Then followed the second memorial, the cup, filled with “the fruit of the vine”, of which Christ said, “Drink ye all of it.” There is no trace here of any altar or priest; there is nothing about the elevation or adoration of the host; there is no resemblance between the Lord’s supper and the Romish mass. Let us keep strictly to the letter and spirit of God’s Word in everything; for, if one adds a little, another will add more, and if one alters one point, and another alters another point, there is no telling how far we shall get from the truth. The disciples had been reminded of their own liability to sin; now their Saviour gives them a personal pledge of the pardon of sin, according to Luke’s record of his words, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”

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.

Thus Jesus took the great Nazarite vow never to drink of the fruit of the vine till he should drink it new with his disciples in his Father’s kingdom.

He will keep his tryst with all his followers, and they with him shall hold high festival for ever.

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

Was it not truly brave of our dear Lord to sing under such circumstances? He was going forth to his last dread conflict, to Gethsemane, and Gabbatha and Golgotha; yet he went with a song on his lips. He must have led the singing, for the disciples were too sad to start the hallel with which the paschal feast closed: And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Then came that desperate struggle in which the great Captain of our salvation wrestled even to a bloody sweat, and prevailed.

Matthew 26:31-32. Then said 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. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

Observe our Lord’s habit of quoting Scripture. He was able to speak words of infallible truth, yet he fell back upon the Inspired Record in the Old Testament. His quotation from Zechariah does not seem to have been really necessary, but it was most appropriate to his prophecy to his disciples: “ 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.” Jesus was the Shepherd who was about to be smitten, but he foretold the scattering of the sheep. Even those leaders of the flock that had been first chosen by Christ, and had been most with him, would stumble and fall awe from him on that dread night, but the Shepherd would not loose them, there would be a re-union between him and his sheep: “ After I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” Once again he would resume, for a little while, the character of their Shepherd-King, and with them he would revisit some of their old haunts in Galilee, ere he ascended to his heavenly home. “ I will go before you,” suggests the idea of the food Shepherd leading his flock after the Eastern manner. Happy are his sheep in having such a Leader, and blessed are they in following him whithersoever he goeth.

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

This was a very presumptuous speech, not only because of the self-confidence it betrayed, but also because it was a flat contradiction of the Master’s declaration. Jesus said, “ All ye shall be offended because of me this night, “ but Peter thought he knew better than Christ, so he answered, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” No doubt these words were spoken from his heart; but “ the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Peter must have been amazed, the next morning, as he discovered the deceitfulness and wickedness of his own heart, as manifested in his triple denial of his Lord. He who thinks himself so much stronger than his brethren, is the very man who will prove to be weaker than many of them, as did Peter, not many hours after his boast was uttered.

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

Jesus now tells his boastful disciple that, before the next morning’s cock-crowing, he will thrice deny his Lord. Not only would he stumble and fall with his fellow-disciples, but he would go beyond them all in his repeated denials of that dear Master whom he professed to love with intense affection than even John possessed. Peter declared that he would remain true to Christ if he were the only; faithful friend left, Jesus foretold that, of all the twelve, only Judas would exceed the boaster in wickedness.

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

Here again Peter contradicts his Master straight to his face. It was a pity that he should have boasted once after his Lord’s plain prophecy that all the disciples would that night be offended; but it was shameful that Peter should repeat his self-confident declaration in the teeth of Christ’s express prediction concerning him. He was not alone in his utterance, for likewise also said all the disciples. They all felt that under no circumstances could they deny their Lord. We have no record of the denial of Christ by the other ten apostles, although they all forsook him and fled, and thus practically disowned him. Remembering all that they had seen and heard of him, and especially bearing in mind his most recent discourse, the communion in the upper room, and his wondrous intercessory prayer on their behalf, we are not surprised that they felt themselves bound to him for ever. But, alas, notwithstanding their protests, the King’s prophesy was completely fulfilled, for that night they were all “offended.”


Verses 14-45

Matthew 26:14-15. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 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.

At what a price did the traitor sell our blessed Master! O ye who have been redeemed with his precious blood, set a high value upon him, think much of him, say much in praise of him! Remember these thirty pieces of silver, and never be guilty of despising the Lord of glory, as these chief priests did when they paid for him the price of a slave.

Matthew 26:16-19. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him. 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? 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. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.

See the absolute control which Jesus has over the minds of men. He can have any man’s house that we wants, and he knows who will be glad to welcome him. Yet this same Jesus was about to die, and this shows how perfectly voluntary was his sacrifice. He was not forced to stand in our stead, nor was he compelled to suffer except by the constraint of his own great love. All was free, as became the freedom of his grace. Then, shall not our heart’s love flow out freely to him? Shall we need to be scourged to obedience? Oh, no, beloved! So let us think what we can voluntarily do in honour of our Divine Lord, who gave his all for us.

Matthew 26:20-22. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful,

And well might they be sad.

Matthew 26:22. And began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

What anguish does that question always stir within the heart and mind of every true believer! “Shall I ever betray my Lord and Master? Shall I every deny or forsake him?” God grant that none of us may ever do as Judas did!

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

He who had been entrusted with the charge of the finances of the little band of Christ’s immediate disciples, he who carried the bag, was the one who was about to betray his Lord. Since then, Christ has often been betrayed by those who have been in positions of trust, those who have led the way among the disciples of Christ, those who have, as it were, been so familiar with Christ as to dip their hand with him in the dish.

Matthew 26:24-25. 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. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

Judas seems to have been the last to ask the question, “Master, is it I?” yet he was the guilty one, —the one who had already covenanted with the chief priests to sell his Lord.

Matthew 26:26-31. 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 he took the cup, and gave thanks, and give it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 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. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Then said 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.

Observe our blessed Lord’s habit of quoting Scripture. He was able to utter words of infallible truth which had never before been used, ye he constantly quoted from the inspired Scriptures. Those who nowadays cavil at the Word of God, and yet profess to be followers of Christ, find no excuse for their conduct in the example that he has left us, for he even quoted Scripture sometimes when it might not have seemed to be necessary to do so. Brethren and sisters in Christ, have your Bible first in you hearts, then at your tongue’s end, I was going to say at your fingers’ end, so that you may always be able to give a good reason, a solid and divinely-authoritative reason, for any statement that you may make.

Matthew 26:32-33. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

No doubt Peter said this from his heart, but “the heart is deceitful above all things.” Peter may have thought that he was stronger than his brethren, yet he was the very one who proved to be the weakest of the whole apostolic band. “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, —

That is to say, before that period of time which was called the cock-crowing, —

Matthew 26:34. Thou shalt deny me thrice.

According to Mark’s record, the cock was to crow once before Peter had denied his Lord thrice, and this it did; and when he had give his third denial, it crowed a second time, and then his slumbering conscience was awakened, and “he went out, and wept bitterly.” Some persons, who are well acquainted with the religious ceremonies of the Jews, say that the period called the cock-crowing was the time for the sacrifice of the morning lamb, and that it was about that time that Peter denied his lord.

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

It is a great pity that peter said this after he had received so plain a warning from his Master, yet he was not alone in his boasting.

Matthew 26:35. Likewise also said all the disciples.

They all felt quite sure that, under no circumstances, could they be so base as to forsake their Lord; and if you think of the washing of their feet by their Lord and Master, the wonderful words of Christ to which they had listened, and that solemn communion service in the large upper room, you may not be surprised that they felt themselves bound to Christ forever, —felt that they could never leave him, nor forsake him; yet they all did so.

Matthew 26:36-39. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death; tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, 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.

Christ had to tread the winepress alone, yet he showed how complete was his humanity by wishing to have a few choice friends near at hand. Yet even the chosen three failed him in his hour of greatest need.

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?

Peter had constituted himself the spokesman of the apostolic company, so the Master addressed the question to him, though it also applied to his companions: “What, could ye not watch with me one hour?” They had all declared their devotion to him, yet they had fallen asleep while he had bidden them watch.

Matthew 26:41-45. Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 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. And he came and found them asleep again; for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words. 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.


Verses 17-30

Matthew 26:17-26. 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? 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. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I? And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 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. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it.

So the Jewish Passover melted away into the Lord’s Supper. Indeed, so gently did the one dissolve into the other that we scarcely know whether this incident, relating to Judas Iscariot, occurred during the Passover or the Supper. According to one account, it would seem to be one; and according to another account, the other, but, indeed, the one ordinance was almost imperceptibly merged into the other. I want you carefully to notice, as we read this narrative through, whether you can see here any trace of an altar. Look with both your eyes, and see whether you can find any trace of a priest offering a sacrifice. Watch diligently to see whether you can perceive anything about kneeling down, or about the elevation or the adoration of “the host.” Why, even the Romish church knows better than to believe in what it practices. Most of you have seen copies of the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, himself a Catholic of the old school. How does he picture those who were at the institution of the Lord’s Supper? Why, they are all sitting around a table, with the Lord Jesus in their midst. I wonder that they exhibit, and still allow to be in their churches, a picture like that, which, painted by one of their own artists, most effectually condemns their base idolatry, in which a wafer-god is lifted up, to be adored by men, who must be besotted indeed before they can prostitute their intellects so grossly as to commit such an act of sin. What a rebuke to that idolatry is conveyed by this simple statement: “As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it,” —

Matthew 26:26. And brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said. Take, eat; this is my body.

The Romanists do not even break the bread. They have a wafer so as to avoid anything like an imitation of the example set by our blessed Lord and Master. He took a piece of the bread which was provided for the paschal feast, — the ordinary unleavened bread, and he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said to them, “Take, eat, this is my body.” Not, of course, the literal body, which was there at the table; but this was the emblem of his body about to be broken on the cross on the behalf of all his people.

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

“Every one of you, take your own personal share.” This also the Papists have perverted by denying the cup to the laity.

Matthew 26:28-30. For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. 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. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives.

It was a social feast, somewhat funereal, and tinctured with sadness, for Jesus was about to go from them, to die, still, it was a joyous celebration, closing with a hymn. At the paschal feast, the Jews always sang Psalms 113-118. Probably our Lord sang all these through. At any rate, Christ and his apostles sang a hymn; and I always like to think of him as leading the little company, — going to his death with a song upon his lips, his voice full of melody, and made more sweet than ever by the near approach of Gethsemane and Calvary. I would like always to sing, whenever we come to the communion table, after the fashion in which they sang that night: “When they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.” Now let us read what the apostle Paul writes concerning the Lord’s Supper.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 26:17-30; and 1 Corinthians 11:18-34.


Verses 20-30

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

Why so many people celebrate the Lord’s supper in the morning, I cannot imagine, unless it be that they desire to do everything contrary to their Lord’s command and example: “When the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.” I do not think there is any binding ordinance making the evening the only time for the observance of this ordinance; but to make the morning the only time is certainly not according to the Word of God.

Matthew 26:21-22. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, —

There was enough to make them sorrowful in the fact that their Lord had just told them that one of the twelve who were his body-guard, his closest companions, his nearest and dearest friends, would betray him. “They were exceeding sorrowful,” —

Matthew 26:22. And began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

It shows a beautiful trait in their character that they did not suspect one another, and least of all, I suppose, did they suspect Judas; but each one asked, “Lord, is it I?” It is an admirable way of hearing a sermon to take it home to yourself, especially if there be a rebuke or a caution in it.

Matthew 26:23-24. And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 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.

The doom of the wicked is something far worse than non-existence, or Christ would not have said, concerning Judas Iscariot, “It had been good for that man if he had never been born.” This is especially true of all those who, having for a while consorted with Christ, afterwards deny it and betray him. O brothers and sisters, may all of us be kept from this terrible sin! May none of us ever betray our Master after all the fellowship we have had with him! It would be better to die for him than to deny him; and it would be better never to have been born than to have been in intimate association with him, and then to have betrayed him.

Matthew 26:23. Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

“It is even so,” With a sorrowful gesture, he made it plain to his sad little circle of friends and followers that he knew all that was going to happen, and that Judas was the man who was going to turn traitor.

Matthew 26:26. And as they were eating, —

As they were eating the Passover. The one ordinance gradually melted into the other: “As they were eating,” —

Matthew 26:26-27. Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

“Each one of you, my disciples, take a draught of this cup.”

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

They had had gross sin brought prominently to their minds; they had had a personal reminder of their own liability to sin; and now they were to have a personal pledge concerning the pardon of sin: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sin.”

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.

Taking, as it were, the great Nazarite vow never to taste of the fruit of the vine “until that day.” He will keep his tryst with us, my brethren; and we shall drink the new vine of his Father’s kingdom with him by-and by; but, until then, he waits.

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

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 26:20-30; And 1 Corinthians 11:20-26.


Verses 26-30

We will read, first, Matthew’s account of the institution of the Lord’s supper.

Matthew 26:26. And as they were eating,

In the middle of the Paschal Feast our Lord instituted the sacred festival which was ever afterwards to be known as “the Lord’s supper.” The one ordinance was made to melt gradually into the other: “as they were eating.”

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

“This represents my body.” He could not possibly have meant that the bread was his body; for there was his body sitting at the table, whole and entire. They would have been astonished beyond measure if they had understood him literally; but they did not do so, any more than when Christ said, “I am the door,” or “I am the Good Shepherd.”

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

“Every one of you.” Was this the Lord’s supper? Yes. What say the Romanists about it? Why, that the people may not drink the cup! Yet our Saviour says to his disciples, “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.

They had had sin brought to their minds; they had had a personal reminder of their own liability to sin; now they were to have a perpetual pledge of the pardon of sin, in the cup, which was the emblem of Christ’s blood, “shed for many for the remission of sins.”

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

Jesus took the Nazarite vow to drink no more, to partake no more of the fruit of the vine, till he should meet us again in his Father’s kingdom. He has pledged us once for all in that cup, and now he abstains until he meets us again. Thus he looks forward to a glorious meeting; but he bids us take the cup, and thus remember him until he come.

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

To his last great battle the Champion goes singing, attended by feeble followers, who could not protect him; but who could sing with him. I think he must have led the tune; his disciples were too sorrowful to sing until his clear voice started the Hallelujah Psalms; but they joined him in the holy exercise, for “they” as well as their Lord sang the hymn. When you are about to face a trial, offer a prayer; but, if you can, also sing a hymn. It will show great faith if, before you enter into the burning fiery furnace, you can sing psalms unto the Lord who redeemeth his people. Now let us read Paul’s version of this same matter.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 26:26-30; 1 Corinthians 11:20-34


Verses 31-75

The story of Peter’s denial of his Master is recorded in all four of the Gospels. There are some differences of expression in each version, so it will not be tautology if we read all four of them; and if we read them attentively, we shall get a clear view of the whole incident.

Matthew 26:31-33. 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. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

This was a very presumptuous speech, not only because of the self-confidence which it displayed, but also because it was a flat contradiction of what the Master had just said “All ye shall be offended because of me this night.” Peter thought he knew better than Christ did, so he said, “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,-

The cock-crowing was a recognized mark of time; it was just before the rising of the sun “This night, before the cock crow,”-

Matthew 26:34-35. Thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee.

Here, again, he contradicts his Master straight to his face.

Matthew 26:35. Likewise also said all the disciples.

Matthew 26:57-58. And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 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 26:69-75. Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 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. And again he denied with an oath I do not know the man. 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. Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. 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.

Now let us read Mark’s account, which will specially interest you if you remember that, probably, Mark wrote under the direction of Peter, and, no doubt, received many of his facts from Peter. You will notice how severe is this description of the whole scene; it is just snob an one as the chief actor in it would be sure to give as he recalled his fall and restoration.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 26:31-35; Matthew 26:57-58; Matthew 26:69-75 Mark 14:53-54; Mark 14:66-72 Luke 1:54-62; and John 18:15-18; John 18:25-27.


Verses 36-46

Matthew 26:36-40. Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. And he went a little farther, 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. And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

He felt the need of human sympathy in that awful hour; yet he trod the winepress alone.

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

Admire the tenderness of Jesus in making this apology for his disciples. What he said about them was true: but it is not everybody who would have uttered that gentle truth at such a trying time. Dear friends, make excuses for one another whenever you can; never make them for yourselves, but often make them for others, and especially, when some treat you as you think very untenderly, be the more tender towards them.

Matthew 26:42-44. 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. And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

You cannot use much variety of language when your heart is very heavy; you will usually dwell upon just a few words at such a time. Do not blame yourself for doing so; it is natural, and it is right. Even your Lord, the Master of language, “prayed the third time, saying the same words.”

Matthew 26:45-46. 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. Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

May the Master never have to say this concerning any one of us, for his dear name’s sake! Amen.

This exposition consisted of readings from John 17:15-26; And Matthew 26:36-46.


Verses 57-68

We shall read two or three short portions of God’s Word in order to bring before you the wonderful contrast to which I am about to direct your thoughts.

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.

It was night, but these wicked men could sit up for this gruel deed, to judge the Lord of glory, and to put the innocent One to shame. They “led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.”

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.

I have heard Peter represented as if he did wrong to follow Christ “afar off.” I think he was the bravest of all the apostles, for scarcely one of them followed Christ at all at that time. Afterwards, John bethought himself, and came into the judgment hall. Peter kept at a distance from his Lord, but he did follow him, and he did go into the high priest’s palace. He “went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.” Peter was right enough in following Christ; it was afterward, when the temptation came, that he fell so grievously.

Matthew 26:59-60. Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; but found none:

Because they did not agree, they would not hold together. This is the weakness of falsehood, that it contradicts itself. These men felt that they must have some show of truth-likeness even in condemning Christ, and this they could not get at first even from their false witnesses.

Matthew 26:60-61. Yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses, and said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

Brethren, observe, that this was a little twisting of Christ’s words, but that slight wresting made them as different as possible from what Christ had really said. I suppose that, if you want to know how this twisting or wresting is done, any one of our general elections will give you the most wonderful examples of how everything that any man may say can be twisted to mean the very reverse of what he said. If there is one thing in which English people are expert beyond all others, it is in the art of misquoting, misstating, and misrepresenting. As our Lord was wronged in this fashion, nobody need be surprised if the like should happen unto him. “This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.”

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

What was the good of answering? What is ever the good of answering when the only evidence brought against one is palpable and willful misrepresentation? So the Saviour was silent; and thus, he not only proved his wisdom, but he also fulfilled that marvellous prophecy of Isaiah, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.”

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.

Now came the answer, the good confession that our Lord witnessed before his cruel adversaries.

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.

How that sentence must have come with the vividness of a lightning flash before their faces! What a declaration of power from One who stood there bound before his enemies, apparently helpless, and about to die!

Matthew 26:65-68. 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. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

Our Lord had told these mockers that they should one day see him coming in the clouds of heaven. Let us read in the Book of the Revelation concerning that great event.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 26:57-68. Revelation 6:12-17; Revelation 19:11-16; Revelation 20:11-15; Revelation 21:1.


Verses 59-68

Matthew 26:59-60. Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; but found none:

Neither for love nor money.

Matthew 26:60. Yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none.

That is, none that agree; the lie that one man spoke was refuted by the next.

Matthew 26:61. At last came two false witness, and said this —

They did not say any other word, as if they did not know any word in any language vile enough for him. “This”; our translators have very properly put in the word fellow.

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

He never said anything of the kind; it was a most wicked misrepresents of what he had said. If men wish to find an accusation against us, they can do it without any materials.

Matthew 26:62-64. And the high priest arose and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. 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.

He binds them over to make their appearance before him when he becomes the judge, and they shall take the ,place of the criminal.

Matthew 26:65-66, 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, What think ye?

He looks round upon the seventy elders of the people who were sitting there in the great council, and “They answered and said, He is guilty of death:.” Probably Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus were not there;: they were the only two friends the Lord had in the Sanhedrim.

Matthew 26:66-68. They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands, Saying, prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

This ended the regular ecclesiastical trial of Christ. A little time was spent, before Pilate, the judicial ruler, was ready to see Christ, but soon as the dawn was come, they dragged him before another tribunal. We shall now turn to Luke 23.

This exposition consisted of readings from Matthew 26:59-68; Luke 23.

 


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Bibliography Information
Spurgeon, Charle Haddon. "Commentary on Matthew 26:4". "Spurgeon's Verse Expositions of the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/spe/matthew-26.html. 2011.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, December 11th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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