Matthew 26:2 "Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified."
After two days is - the feast of the Passover.
See the notes at Matthew 12:1-8. The festival of the Passover was designed to preserve among the Jews the memory of their liberation from Egyptian servitude, and of the safety of their first-born in that night when the firstborn of the Egyptians perished, Exo. 12. The name "Passover" was given to the feast because the Lord "passed over" the houses of the Israelites without slaying their first-born, while the Egyptians were cut off, (Exodus 12:13). It was celebrated seven days, namely, from the 15th to the 21st of the month Abib or Nisan (April), (Exodus 12:15-20; Exodus 23:15). During all this period the people ate unleavened bread, and hence the festival was sometimes called the "feast of unleavened bread," (Exodus 12:18; Leviticus 23:6). On the evening of the fourteenth day, all the leaven or yeast in the family was removed with great care, as it is to the present time - a circumstance to which the apostle alludes in 1 Corinthians 5:7.
On the tenth day of the month the master of a family separated a lamb or a goat of a year old from the flock (Exodus 12:1-6), which he killed on the 14th day before the altar, (Deuteronomy 16:2, Deuteronomy 16:5-6). The lamb was commonly slain at about 3 o'clock p. m.. The blood of the paschal lamb was, in Egypt, sprinkled on the door-posts of the houses; afterward it was poured by the priests at the foot of the altar, (Exodus 12:7). The lamb thus slain was roasted whole, with two spits thrust through it - one lengthwise and one transversely - crossing each other near the forelegs, so that the animal was in a manner, crucified. Not a bone of it might be broken - a circumstance strongly representing the sufferings of our Lord Jesus, the Passover slain for us, (John 19:36; 1 Corinthians 5:7). Thus roasted, the lamb was served up with wild and bitter herbs, Not fewer than ten, nor more than twenty persons, were admitted to these sacred feasts. At first it was observed with their loins girt about, with sandals on their feet, and with all the preparations for an immediate journey. This, in Egypt, was significant of the haste with which they were about to depart from the land of bondage. The custom was afterward retained.
The order of the celebration of this feast was as follows: The ceremony commenced with drinking a cup of wine mingled with water, after having given thanks to God for it. This was the "first cup." Then followed the "washing of hands," with another short form of thanksgiving to God. The table was then supplied with the provisions, namely, the bitter salad, the unleavened bread, the lamb, and a thick sauce composed of dates, figs, raisins, vinegar, etc. They then took a small quantity of salad, with another thanksgiving, and ate it; after which, all the dishes were removed from the table, and a second cup of wine was set before each guest, as at first. The dishes were removed, it is said, to excite the curiosity of children, and to lead them to make inquiry into the cause of this observance. See Exodus 12:26-27. The leading person at the feast then began and rehearsed the history of the servitude of the Jews in Egypt, the manner of their deliverance, and the reason of instituting the Passover. The dishes were then returned to the table, and he said, "This is the Passover which we eat, because that the Lord passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt;" and then, holding up the salad and the unleavened bread, he stated the design, namely, that the one represented the bitterness of the Egyptian bondage, and the other the suddenness of their deliverance.
This done, he repeated (Psalm 113:1-9; Psalm 114:1-8), offered a short prayer, and all the company drank the wine that had been standing some time before them. This was the "second cup." The hands were then again washed, and the meal then eaten with the usual forms and solemnities; after which they washed the hands again, and then drank another cup of wine, called "the cup of blessing," because the leader was accustomed in a particular manner, over that cup, to offer thanks to God for his goodness. This is the cup which our Saviour is supposed to have taken when he instituted the Lord's Supper, called by Paul "the cup of blessing," (1 Corinthians 10:16). There was still another cup, which was drunk when they were about to separate, called the "Hallel," because in connection with it they were accustomed to repeat the lesser Hallel, or Psalm 115; 116; (Psalm 117:1-2; 118). In accordance with this, our Saviour and his disciples sang a hymn as they were about to go to the Mount of Olives, (Matthew 26:30). It is probable that our Saviour complied with these rites according to the custom of the Jews. While doing it, he signified that the typical reference of the Passover was about to be accomplished, and he instituted in place of it "the supper" - the communion - and, of course, the obligation to keep the Passover then ceased.
The Son of man is betrayed - Will be betrayed. He did not mean to say that they then knew that he would be betrayed, for it does not appear that they had been informed of the precise time; but they knew that the Passover was at hand, and he then informed them that he would be betrayed.
To be crucified - To be put to death on the cross. See the notes at Matthew 27:35.
Matthew 26:3 "Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,"
Then assembled ... - This was a meeting of the great council or Sanhedrin.
See the notes at Matthew 5:22.
The palace - The original word properly denotes the Hall or large area in the center of the dwelling, called the court. See the notes at Matthew 9:1-8. It may be understood, however, as referring to the palace itself.
The high priest - Holding the office that was first conferred on Aaron, (Exodus 28). The office was at first hereditary, descending on the oldest son, (Numbers 3:10). Antiochus Epiphanes (160 BC), when he had possession of Judea, sold the office to the highest bidder. In the year 152 BC, Alexander, King of Syria, conferred the office on Jonathan (1 Macc. 10:18-20), whose brother Simon was, afterward created by the Jews both prince and high priest, 1 Macc. 14:35-47. His posterity, who at the same time sustained the office of kings, occupied the station of high priest until the time of Herod, who changed the incumbents of the office at pleasure - a liberty which the Romans ever afterward exercised without any restraint. The office was never more fluctuating than in the time of our Saviour. Hence, it is said that Caiaphas was high priest "for that year," (John 11:51). Persons who had been high priests, and had been removed from office, still retained the name. Hence, more than one high priest is sometimes mentioned, though strictly there was but one who held the office.
Matthew 26:4 "And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him."
By subtlety - By guile, deceit, or in some secret manner, so that the people would not know it.
Jesus was regarded by the people as a distinguished prophet, and by most of them, probably, as the Messiah; and the Sanhedrin did not dare to take him away openly, lest the people should rise and rescue him. They were probably aware that he had gone out to Bethany, or to some place adjacent to the city; and as he passed his nights there and not in the city, there was need of guile to ascertain the place to which he had retired, and to take him.
Matthew 26:5 "But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people."
Not on the feast-day - Not during the feast.
The feast lasted for seven days. A vast multitude attended from all parts of Judea. Jerusalem is said to have contained at such times "three million people." Amid such a multitude there were frequent tumults and seditions, and the Sanhedrin was justly apprehensive there "would" be now, if, in open day and in the temple, they took away a teacher so popular as Jesus, and put him to death. They therefore sought how they might do it secretly and by guile.
Matthew 26:6 "Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,"
In Bethany - See the notes at Matthew 21:1.
Simon the leper - Simon, who had been a leper.
Leper - See the notes at Matthew 8:1. It was unlawful to eat with persons that had the leprosy, and it is more than probable, therefore, that this Simon had been healed - perhaps by our Lord himself. John (John 12:1) says that this was the house where Lazarus was, who had been raised from the dead. Probably Lazarus was a relative of Simon's, and was living with him. Further, he says that they made a supper for Jesus, and that Martha served. He says that this was six days before the Passover. From the order in which Matthew and Mark mention it, it would have been supposed that it was but two days before the Passover, and after the cleansing of the temple; but it is to be observed,
1. that Matthew and Mark often neglect the exact order of the events that they record.
2. that they do not "affirm" at what time this was. They leave it indefinite, saying that "while" Jesus was in Bethany he was anointed by Mary.
3. that Matthew introduced it here for the purpose of giving a "connected" account of the conduct of "Judas." "Judas" complained at the waste of the ointment John 12:4, and one of the effects of his indignation, it seems, was to betray his Lord.
Matthew 26:7 "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."
There came to him a woman - This woman was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha, (John 12:3).
Having an alabaster box - The "alabaster" is a species of marble, distinguished for being light, and of a beautiful white color, almost transparent.
It was much used by the ancients for the purpose of preserving various kinds of ointment in.
Of very precious ointment - That is, of ointment of "great value;" that was rare and difficult to be obtained. Mark (Mark 14:3) and John (John 12:3) say that it was ointment of spikenard. In the original it is "nard." It was procured from an herb growing in the Indies, chiefly obtained from the root, though sometimes also from the bark. It was liquid, so as easily to flow when the box or vial was open, and was distinguished particularly for an agreeable smell. See Song of Solomon 1:12. The ancients were much in the habit of "anointing or perfuming" their bodies, and the nard was esteemed one of the most precious perfumes. John says there was a "pound" of this, (John 12:3). The "pound" in use among the Jews was the Roman, of twelve ounces, answering to our troy weight. That there was a large quantity is further evident from the fact that Judas says it might have been sold for 300 pence (about 9 British pounds), and that the "house" was filled with the odor of the ointment (John).
And poured it on his head - They were accustomed chiefly to anoint the head or hair. John says (John 12:3) that she poured it on the "feet" of Jesus, and wiped them with her hair. There is, however, no contradiction. She probably poured it "both" on his head and his feet. Matthew and Mark having recorded the former, John, who wrote his gospel in part to record events omitted by them, completes the account by saying that the ointment was also poured on the feet of the Saviour. To pour ointment on the "head" was common. To pour it on the "feet" was an act of distinguished "humility" and of attachment to the Saviour, and therefore deserved to be particularly recorded.
As he sat at meat - That is, at supper. In the original, as he "reclined" at supper. The ancients did not sit at their meals, but "reclined" at length on couches. See the notes at Matthew 23:6. She came up, therefore, "behind him" as he lay reclined at the table, and, bending down over the couch, poured the ointment on his head and his feet, and, probably kneeling at his feet, wiped them with her hair.
Matthew 26:8 "But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?"
They had indignation - John says that "Judas expressed" indignation.
Probably some of the others felt indignation, but Judas only gave vent to his feelings. The reason why Judas was indignant was, that he had the "bag" (John 12:6) - that is, the "purse," or repository of articles "given" to the disciples and to the Saviour. He was a thief, and was in the habit, it seems, of taking out and appropriating to his own use what was put in for them in common The leading trait of Judas's character was avarice, and no opportunity was suffered to pass without attempting by base and wicked means to make money. In his example an avaricious man may learn the true nature and the effect of that groveling and wicked passion. It led him to commit the enormous crime of betraying his Lord to death, and it will always lead its possessor to guilt. No small part of the sins of the world can be traced to avarice, and many, and many a time since the days of Judas has the Lord Jesus been betrayed among his professed friends by the same base propensity.
Is this waste - This "loss" or "destruction" of property. They could see no use in it, and they therefore supposed it was lost.
Matthew 26:9 "For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor."
Sold for much - Mark and John say for three hundred pence - that is, for about 9 British pounds.
This, to them, was a large sum. Mark says they complained against her. There was also an "implied" murmuring against the Saviour for suffering it to be done. The grumbling was, however, without cause. It was the "property" of Mary. She had a right to dispose of it as she pleased, answerable not to them, but to God. "They" had no right over it, and no cause of complaint if it had been wasted. So Christians now are at liberty to dispose of their property as they please, either in distributing the Bible, in supporting the gospel, in sending it to pagan nations, or in aiding the poor. The people of the world, like Judas, regard it as "wasted." Like Judas, they are indignant. They say it might be disposed of in a better way. Yet, like Judas, they are interfering in that which concerns them not. Like other people, Christians have a right to dispose of their property as they please, answerable only to God. And though an avaricious world esteems it to be "wasted," yet, if their Lord commands it, it will be found to be the "only way" in which it was right for them to dispose of that property, and will be found not to have been in vain.
Matthew 26:10 "When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me."
Trouble ye the woman - That is, disturb her mind by insinuations, as if she had done wrong.
A good work on me - She has done it with a mind grateful, and full of love to me.
The work was good, also, as it was preparative for his death, (Matthew 26:12).
Matthew 26:11 "For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always."
For ye have the poor ... - Mark adds, "Whensoever ye will, ye may do them good." It was right that they should regard the poor.
It was a plain precept of religion (see Psalm 41:1; Proverbs 14:21; Proverbs 29:7; Galatians 2:10), and our Saviour would not prohibit it, but do all that was possible to excite his followers to the duty. But every duty should be done in its place, and the duty "then" incumbent was that which Mary had performed. They would afterward have abundant occasion to show their regard for the poor.
Me ye have not always - He alludes here to his dying, and his going away to heaven. He would still be their friend and their Saviour, but would not be physically always present with them, so that they could show kindness "in this way" to him.
Matthew 26:12 "For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial."
She did it for my burial - It is not to be supposed that Mary understood clearly that he was then about to die - for the apostles, it seems, did not fully comprehend it, or that she intended it for his burial; but she had done it as an act of kindness and love, to show her regard for her Lord.
He said that it was a proper preparation for his burial. In ancient times, bodies were anointed and embalmed for the purpose of the sepulchre. Jesus said that this was "really" a preparation for that burial; a fitting him in a proper manner for the tomb.
Matthew 26:13 "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."
A memorial - Anything to produce "remembrance." This would be told to her honor and credit, as a memorial of her piety and self-denial; and it is right that the good deeds of the pious should be recorded and had in recollection.
Matthew 26:14 "Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,"
Then one of the twelve ... - Luke says that Satan entered into Judas.
That is, Satan tempted (instigated) him to do it. Probably he tempted Judas by appealing to his avarice, his ruling passion, and by suggesting that now was a favorable opportunity to make money rapidly by selling his Lord.
Judas Iscariot - See the notes at Matthew 10:4.
Unto the chief priests - The high priest, and those who had been high priests. The ruling men of the Sanhedrin. Luke adds that he went also "to the captains" (Luke 22:4). It was necessary, on account of the great wealth deposited there, and its great sacredness, to guard the temple by night. Accordingly, men were stationed around it, whose leaders or commanders were called "captains," (Acts 4:1). These men were commonly of the tribe of Levi, were closely connected with the priests, were men of influence, and Judas went to them, therefore, as well as to the priests, to offer his services in accomplishing what they so much desired to secure. Probably his object was to get as much money as possible, and he might therefore have attempted to make a bargain with several of them apart from each other.
Matthew 26:15 "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 they covenanted with him - Made a bargain with him.
Agreed to give him. Mark says they "promised" to give him money. They did not pay it to him "then," lest he should deceive them. When the deed was done, and before he was made sensible of its guilt, they paid him. See Matthew 27:3; Acts 1:18.
Thirty pieces of silver - Mark and Luke do not mention the sum. They say that they promised him "money" - in the original, "silver." In Matthew, in the original, it is thirty "silvers, or silverlings." This was the price "of a slave" (see Exodus 21:32), and it is not unlikely that this sum was fixed on by them to show their "contempt" of Jesus, and that they regarded him as of little value. There is no doubt, also, that they understood that such was the anxiety of Judas to obtain money, that he would betray his Lord for any sum. The money usually denoted by "pieces" of silver, when the precise sum is not mentioned, is a shekel - a silver Jewish coin amounting to about 50 cents, or 2 shillings, 3d. The whole sum, therefore, for which Judas committed this crime was 15, or 3 pounds, 7 shillings, 6d (circa 1880's).
Matthew 26:16 "And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him."
Sought opportunity to betray him - Luke adds, "in the absence of the multitude." This was the chief difficulty - to deliver him into the hands of the priests so as not to have it known by the people, or so as not to excite tumult.
The "opportunity" which he sought, therefore, was one in which the multitude would not see him, or could not rescue the Saviour.
To betray him - The word "betray" commonly means to deliver into the hands of an enemy by treachery or breach of trust; to do it while friendship or faithfulness is "professed." All this took place in the case of Judas. But the word in the original does not necessarily imply this. It means simply to "deliver up," or to give into their hands. He sought opportunity "how he might deliver him up to them," agreeably to the contract.
See also Mark 14:12-16; Luke 22:7-13.
Matthew 26:17 "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?"
The first day ... - The feast continued "eight" days, including the day on which the paschal lamb was killed and eaten, (Exodus 12:15). That was the fourteenth day of the month Abib, answering to parts of our March and April.
Of unleavened bread - Called so because during those eight days no bread made with yeast or leaven was allowed to be eaten. Luke says, "in which the passover must be killed" - that is, in which the "paschal lamb," or the lamb eaten on the occasion, was killed. The word in the original, translated "Passover," commonly means, not the "feast" itself, but the "lamb" that was killed on the occasion, (Exodus 12:43; Numbers 9:11; John 18:28). See also 1 Corinthians 5:7, where Christ, "our Passover," is said to be slain for us; that is, our paschal lamb, so called on account of his innocence, and his being offered as a victim or "sacrifice" for our sins.
Matthew 26:18 "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."
Go into the city to such a man - That is, Jerusalem, called the city by way of eminence.
Luke says that the disciples whom he sent were Peter and John. The man to whom they were to go he did not mention by name, but he told them that when they came into the city, a man would meet them bearing a pitcher of water. See Mark and Luke. Him they were to follow, and in the house which he entered they would find a room prepared. The name of the man was not mentioned. The "house" in which they were to keep the Passover was not mentioned. The reason of this probably was, that Christ was desirous of concealing from "Judas" the place where they would keep the Passover. He was acquainted with the design of Judas to betray him. He knew that if Judas was acquainted with the place "beforehand," he could easily give information to the chief priests, and it would give them a favorable opportunity to surprise them, and apprehend "him" without making a tumult. Though it was certain that he would not be delivered up before the time appointed by the Father, yet it was proper "to use the means" to prevent it. There can be little doubt that Jesus was acquainted with this man, and that he was a disciple. The direction which he gave his disciples most clearly proves that he was omniscient. Amid so great a multitude going at that time into the city, it was impossible to know that "a particular man would be met" - a man bearing a pitcher of water - unless Jesus had all knowledge, and was therefore divine.
The Master saith - This was the name by which Jesus was probably known among the disciples, and one which he directed them to give him. See Matthew 23:8, Matthew 23:10. It means, literally, "the teacher," as opposed to "the disciple," or learner; not the "master," as opposed to the "servant or slave." The fact that they used this name as if the man would know whom they meant, and the fact that the man understood them and made no further inquiries, shows that he was acquainted with Jesus, and was probably himself a disciple.
My time is at hand - That is, "is near." By "his time," here, may be meant either his time to eat the Passover, or the time of his death. It has been supposed by many that Jesus, in accordance with a part of the Jews who rejected traditions, anticipated the usual observance of the Passover, or kept it one day sooner. The Pharisees had devised many forms of ascertaining when the month commenced. They placed witnesses around the heights of the temple to observe the first appearance of the new moon; they examined the witnesses with much formality, and endeavored also to obtain the exact time by astronomical calculations. Others held that the month properly commenced when the moon was visible. Thus, it is said a difference arose between them about the time of the Passover, and that Jesus kept it one day sooner than most of the people. The foundation of the opinion that he anticipated the usual time of keeping the Passover is the following:
1. In John 18:28, it is said that on the day on which our Lord was crucified, and of course the day after he had eaten the Passover, the chief priests would not go into the judgment-hall lest they should be defiled, "but that they might eat the passover," evidently meaning that it was to be eaten that day.
2. In John 19:14, the day on which he was crucified is called "the preparation of the passover" - that is, the day on which it was prepared to be eaten in the evening.
3. In John 19:31, the day in which our Lord lay in the grave was called the great day of the Sabbath - "a high day;" that is, the day after the Passover was killed, the Sabbath occurring on the first day of the feast properly, and therefore a day of special solemnity; yet our Saviour had partaken of it two days before, and therefore the day before the body of the people. If this opinion be true, then the phrase "my time is at hand means my time for keeping the Passover is near. Whether this opinion be true or not, there may be a reference also to his death. The man with whom they were to go was probably a disciple of his, though perhaps a secret one. Jesus might purpose to keep the Passover at his house, that he might inform him more particularly respecting his death, and prepare him for it. He sent, therefore, to him and said, "I will keep the passover 'at thy house.'"
Mark and Luke add that he would show them "a large upper room, furnished and prepared." Ancient writers remark that, at the time of the great feasts, the houses in Jerusalem were all open to receive guests - that they were in a manner common to the people of Judea; and there is no doubt, therefore, that the master of a house would have it ready on such occasions for company. It is possible, also, that there might have been an agreement between this man and our Lord that he would prepare his house for him, though this was unknown to the disciples. The word rendered "furnished" means, literally, "spread;" that is, "spread" with carpets, and with "couches" on which to recline at the table, after the manner of the East. See the notes at Matthew 23:6.
Matthew 26:19 "And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover."
They made ready the passover - That is, they procured a lamb, multitudes of which were kept for sale in the temple; they had it killed and flayed by the priests, and the blood poured by the altar; they roasted the lamb, and prepared the bitter herbs, the sauce, and the unleavened bread.
This was done, it seems, while our Lord was absent, by the two disciples.
Matthew 26:20 "Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve."
When the even was come - The lamb was killed "between the evenings," (Exodus 12:6) (Hebrew) - that is between three o'clock, p. m., and nine in the evening. The Jews reckoned two evenings - one from three o'clock p. m. to sunset, the other from sunset to the close of the first watch in the night, or nine o'clock p. m. The paschal supper was commonly eaten after the setting of the sun, and often in the night, (Exodus 12:8).
He sat down - At first the supper was eaten standing, with their loins girded and their staff in their hand, denoting the haste with which they were about to flee from Egypt. Afterward, however, they introduced the practice, it seems, of partaking of this as they did of their ordinary meals. The original word is, "he reclined" - that is, he placed himself on the couch in a reclining posture, in the usual manner in which they partook of their meals. See the notes at Matthew 23:6. While reclining there at the supper, the disciples had a dispute which should be the greatest. See the notes at Luke 22:24-30. At this time, also, before the institution of the Lord's supper, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, to teach them humility. See the notes at John 13:1-20.
Matthew 26:21-24 "21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that 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? 23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 24 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."
As they did eat ... - The account contained in these verses is also recorded in Mark 14:18-21; Luke 22:21-23; John 13:21-22. John says that before Jesus declared that one of them should betray him, "he was troubled in spirit, and testified;" that is, he "felt deeply" in view of the greatness of the crime that Judas was about to commit, and the sufferings that he was to endure, and "testified," or gave utterance to his inward feelings of sorrow.
Matthew 26:22 "And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?"
They were exceeding sorrowful - John says (John 13:22) "they looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake" - that is, they anxiously looked one at another, conscious each one, except Judas, of no such intention, and each one beginning to examine himself to find whether he was the person intended.
This showed their innocence, and their attachment to Jesus. It showed how sensitive they were to the least suspicion of the kind. It showed that they were willing to know themselves, thus evincing the spirit of the true Christian. Judas only was silent, and was the last to make the inquiry, and that after he had been plainly pointed out (Matthew 26:25), thus showing:
1. that guilt is slow to suspect itself;
2. that it shrinks from the light;
3. that it was his purpose to conceal his intention; and,
4. that nothing but the consciousness that his Lord knew his design could induce him to make inquiry.
The guilty would, if possible, always conceal their crimes. The innocent are ready to suspect that they may have done wrong. Their feelings are tender, and they inquire with solicitude whether there may not be something in their bosoms, unknown to themselves, that may be a departure from right feeling.
Matthew 26:23 "And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me."
He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish - The Jews, at the observance of this ordinance, used a bitter sauce, made of bunches of raisins, mixed with vinegar and other seasoning of the like kind, which they said represented the clay which their fathers were compelled to use in Egypt in making brick, thus reminding them of their bitter bondage there.
This was probably the dish to which reference is made here. It is not improbable that Judas reclined near to our Saviour at the feast, and by his saying it was one that dipped "with him" in the dish, he meant one that was near to him, designating him more particularly than he had done before. John adds (John 13:23-30; see the notes at that place), that "there was leaning on Jesus' bosom one of his disciples whom Jesus loved" - referring to himself; that Simon Peter beckoned to him to ask Jesus more particularly who it was; that Jesus signified who it was by giving "Judas a sop" - that is, a piece of "bread" or "meat" dipped in the thick sauce; and that Judas, having received it, went out to accomplish his wicked design of betraying him. Judas was not, therefore, present at the institution of the Lord's Supper.
Matthew 26:24 "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 Son of man, goeth - That is, the Messiah - the Christ. See the notes at Matthew 8:20.
Goeth - Dies, or will die. The Hebrews often spoke in this manner of death, (Psalm 39:13; Genesis 15:2).
As it is written of him - That is, as it is "written" or prophesied of him in the Old Testament. Compare Psalm 41:9 with John 13:18. See also Daniel 9:26-27; Isaiah 53:4-9. Luke (Luke 22:22) says, "as it was determined." In the Greek, as it was "marked out by a boundary" - that is, in the divine purpose. It was the previous intention of God to give him up to die for sin, or it could not have been certainly predicted. It is also declared to have been by his "determinate counsel and foreknowledge." See the notes at Acts 2:23.
Woe unto that man ... - The crime is great and awful, and he will be punished accordingly. He states the greatness of his misery or "woe" in the phrase following.
It had been good ... - That is, it would have been better for him if he had not been born; or it would be better now for him if he was to be as "if" he had not been born, or if he was annihilated. This was a proverbial mode of speaking among the Jews in frequent use. In relation to Judas, it proves the following things:
1. that the crime which he was about to commit was exceedingly great;
2. that the misery or punishment due to it would certainly come upon him;
3. that he would certainly deserve that misery, or it would not have been threatened or inflicted; and,
4. that his punishment would be eternal.
If there should be any period when the sufferings of Judas should end, and he be restored and raised to heaven, the blessings of that "happiness without end" would infinitely overbalance all the sufferings he could endure in a limited time, and consequently it would not be true that it would have been better for him not to have been born. Existence, to him, would, on the whole, be an infinite blessing. This passage proves further that, in relation to one wicked man, the sufferings of hell will be eternal. If of one, then it is equally certain and proper that all the wicked will perish forever.
If it be asked how this crime of Judas could be so great, or could be a crime at all, when it was determined beforehand that the Saviour should be betrayed and die in this manner, it may be answered:
1. That the crime was what it was "in itself," apart from any determination of God. It was a violation of all the duties he owed to God and to the Lord Jesus - awful ingratitude, detestable covetousness, and most base treachery. As such it deserved to be punished.
2. The previous purpose of God did not force Judas to do this. In it he acted freely. He did just what his wicked heart prompted him to do.
3. A previous knowledge of a thing, or a previous purpose to permit a thing, does not alter its "nature," or cause it to be a different thing from what it is.
4. God, who is the best judge of the nature of crime, holds all that was done in crucifying the Saviour, though it was by his determinate counsel and foreknowledge, "to be by wicked hands," Acts 2:23. This punishment of Judas proves, also, that sinners cannot take shelter for their sins in the decrees of God, or plead them as an excuse. God will punish crimes for what they "are in themselves." His own deep and inscrutable purposes in regard to human actions will not change "the nature" of those actions, or screen the sinner from the punishment which he deserves.
Matthew 26:25 "Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said."
Thou hast said - That is, thou hast said the truth. It is so. Thou art the man. Compare Matthew 26:64 with Mark 14:62.
See also Mark 14:22-26; Luke 22:15-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.
Matthew 26:26 "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."
As they were eating - As they were eating the paschal supper, near the close of the meal.
Luke adds that he said, just before instituting the sacramental supper, "With desire have I desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer." This is a Hebrew manner of expression, signifying "I have greatly desired." He had desired it, doubtless:
(1)that he might institute the Lord's Supper, to be a perpetual memorial of him;
(2)that he might strengthen them for their approaching trials;
(3) that he might explain to them the true nature of the Passover; and,
(4) that he might spend another season with them in the duties of religion. Every "Christian, about to die will also seek opportunities of drawing specially near to God, and of holding communion with him and with his people.
Jesus took bread - That is, the unleavened bread which they used at the celebration of the Passover, made into thin cakes, easily broken and distributed.
And blessed it - Or sought a blessing on it; or "gave thanks" to God for it. The word rendered "blessed" not unfrequently means "to give thanks." Compare Luke 9:16 and John 6:11. It is also to be remarked that some manuscripts have the word rendered "gave thanks," instead of the one translated "blessed." It appears from the writings of Philo and the Rabbis that the Jews were never accustomed to eat without giving thanks to God and seeking his blessing. This was especially the case in both the bread and the wine used at the Passover.
And brake it - This "breaking" of the bread represented the sufferings of Jesus about to take place - his body "broken" or wounded for sin. Hence, Paul (1 Corinthians 11:24) adds, "This is my body which is broken for you;" that is, which is about to be broken for you by death, or wounded, pierced, bruised, to make atonement for your sins.
This is my body - This represents my body. This broken bread shows the manner in which my body will be broken; or this will serve to recall my dying sufferings to your remembrance. It is not meant that his body would be literally "broken" as the bread was, but that the bread would be a significant emblem or symbol to recall to their recollection his sufferings. It is not improbable that our Lord pointed to the broken bread, or laid his hands on it, as if he had said, "Lo, my body!" or, "Behold my body! - that which "represents" my broken body to you." This "could not" be intended to mean that that bread was literally his body. It was not. His body was then before them "living." And there is no greater absurdity than to imagine his "living body" there changed at once to a "dead body," and then the bread to be changed into that dead body, and that all the while the "living" body of Jesus was before them.
Yet this is the absurd and impossible doctrine of the Roman Catholics, holding that the "bread" and "wine" were literally changed into the "body and blood" of our Lord. The language employed by the Saviour was in accordance with a common mode of speaking among the Jews, and exactly similar to that used by Moses at the institution of the Passover (Exodus 12:11); "It" - that is, the lamb - "is the Lord's Passover." That is, the lamb and the feast "represent" the Lord's "passing over" the houses of the Israelites. It serves to remind you of it. It surely cannot be meant that that lamb was the literal "passing over" their houses - a palpable absurdity - but that it represented it. So Paul and Luke say of the bread, "This is my body broken for you: this do in remembrance of me." This expresses the whole design of the sacramental bread. It is to call to "remembrance," in a vivid manner, the dying sufferings of our Lord. The sacred writers, moreover, often denote that one thing is represented by another by using the word is. See Matthew 13:37; "He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man" - that is, represents the Son of man. (Genesis 41:26); "the seven good kine are seven years" - that is, "represent" or signify seven years. See also John 15:1, John 15:5; Genesis 17:10. The meaning of this important passage may be thus expressed: "As I give this broken bread to you to eat, so will I deliver my body to be afflicted and slain for your sins."
Matthew 26:27 "And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;"
And he took the cup - That is, the cup of wine which was used at the feast of the Passover, called the cup of "Hallel," or praise, because they commenced then repeating the "Psalms" with which they closed the Passover.
See Matthew 26:30. This cup, Luke says, he took "after supper" - that is, after they had finished the ordinary celebration of "eating" the Passover. The "bread" was taken "while" they were eating, the cup after they had done eating.
And gave thanks - See the notes at Matthew 26:26.
Drink ye all of it - That is, "all of you, disciples, drink of it;" not, "drink all the wine."
Matthew 26:28 "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."
For this is my blood - This "represents" my blood, as the bread does my body.
Luke and Paul vary the expression, adding what Matthew and Mark have omitted. "This cup is the new testament in my blood." By this cup he meant the wine in the cup, and not the cup itself. Pointing to it, probably, he said, "This - 'wine' - represents my blood about to be, shed." The phrase "new testament" should have been rendered "new covenant," referring to the "covenant or compact" that God was about to make with people through a Redeemer. The "old" covenant was that which was made with the Jews by the sprinkling of the blood of sacrifices. See Exodus 24:8; "And Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant which the Lord hath made with you," etc. In allusion to that, Jesus says, this cup is the new "covenant" in my blood; that is, which is "ratified, sealed, or sanctioned by my blood." In ancient times, covenants or contracts were ratified by slaying an animal; by the shedding of its blood, imprecating similar vengeance if either party failed in the compact. See the notes at Hebrews 9:16. So Jesus says the covenant which God is about to form with people the new covenant, or the gospel economy is sealed or ratified with my blood.
Which is shed for many for the remission of sins - In order that sins may be remitted, or forgiven. That is, this is the appointed way by which God will pardon transgressions. That blood is efficacious for the pardon of sin:
1. Because it is "the life" of Jesus, the "blood" being used by the sacred writers as representing "life itself," or as containing the elements of life, (Genesis 9:4; Leviticus 17:14). It was forbidden, therefore, to eat blood, because it contained the life, or was the life, of the animal. When, therefore, Jesus says that his blood was shed for many, it is the same as saying that His life was given for many. See the notes at Romans 3:25.
2. His life was given for sinners, or he died in the place of sinners as their substitute. By his death on the cross, the death or punishment due to them in hell may be removed and their souls be saved. He endured so much suffering, bore so much agony, that God was pleased to accept it in the place of the eternal torments of all the redeemed. The interests of justice, the honor and stability of his government, would be as secure in saving them in this manner as if the suffering were inflicted on them personally in hell. God, by giving his Son to die for sinners, has shown his infinite abhorrence of sin; since, according to his view, and therefore according to truth, nothing else would show its evil nature but the awful sufferings of his own Son. That he died "in the stead or place" of sinners is abundantly clear from the following passages of Scripture: John 1:29; Ephesians 5:2; Hebrews 7:27; 1 John 2:2; 1 John 4:10; Isaiah 53:10; Romans 8:32; 2 Corinthians 5:15.
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."
But I say unto you ... - That is, the observance of the Passover, and of the rites shadowing forth future things, here end.
I am about to die. The design of all these types and shadows is about to be accomplished. This is the last time that I shall partake of them with you. Hereafter, when my Father's kingdom is established in heaven, we will partake together of the thing represented by these types and ceremonial observances - the blessings and triumphs of redemption.
Fruit of the vine - "Wine, the fruit or produce" of the vine made of the grapes of the vine.
Until that day - Probably the time when they should be received to heaven. It does not mean here on earth, further than that they would partake with him in the happiness of spreading the gospel and the triumphs of his kingdom.
When I drink it new with you - Not that he would partake with them of literal wine there, but in the thing represented by it. Wine was an important part of the feast of the Passover, and of all feasts. The kingdom of heaven is often represented under the image of a feast. It means that he will partake of joy with them in heaven; that they will share together the honors and happiness of the heavenly world.
New - In a new manner, or perhaps "afresh."
In my Father's kingdom - In heaven. The place where God shall reign in a kingdom fully established and pure.
Matthew 26:30 "And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives."
And when they had sung a hymn - The Passover was observed by the Jews by singing or "chanting" Ps. 113-118. These they divided into two parts. They sung Ps. 113-114 during the observance of the Passover, and the others at the close. There can be no doubt that our Saviour, and the apostles also, used the same psalms in their observance of the Passover. The word rendered "sung a hymn" is a participle, literally meaning "hymning" - not confined to a single hymn, but admitting many.
Mount of Olives - See the notes at Matthew 20:1.
Jesus foretells the fall of Peter - This is also recorded in Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:34-38.
Matthew 26:31 "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."
Then saith Jesus unto them - The occasion of his saying this was Peter's bold affirmation that he was ready to die with him, (John 13:36).
Jesus had told them that he was going away - that is, was about to die. Peter asked him whither he was going. Jesus replied that he could not follow him then, but should afterward. Peter, not satisfied with that, said that he was ready to lay down his life for him. Then Jesus distinctly informed them that all of them would forsake him that very night.
All ye shall be offended because of me - See the notes at Matthew 5:29. This language means, here, you will all stumble at my being taken, abused, and set at naught; you will be ashamed to own me as a teacher, and to acknowledge yourselves as my disciples; or, my being betrayed will prove a snare to you all, so that you will be guilty of the sin of forsaking me, and, by your conduct, of denying me.
For it is written ... - See Zechariah 13:7. This is affirmed here to have reference to the Saviour, and to be fulfilled in him.
I will smite - This is the language of God the Father. I will smite means either that I will give him up to be smitten (compare Exodus 4:21 with Exodus 8:15, etc.), or that I will do it myself. Both of these things were done. God gave him up to the Jews and Romans, to be smitten for the sins of the world (Romans 8:32); and he himself left him to deep and awful sorrows - to bear "the burden of the world's atonement" alone. See Mark 15:34.
The Shepherd - The Lord Jesus - the Shepherd of his people, (John 10:11, John 10:14). Compare the notes at Isaiah 40:11.
The sheep - This means here particularly "the apostles." It also refers sometimes to all the followers of Jesus, the friends of God, (John 10:16; Psalm 100:3).
Shall be scattered abroad - This refers to their fleeing, and it was fulfilled in that. See Matthew 26:56.
Matthew 26:32 "But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee."
But after I am risen ... - This promise was given them to encourage and support them, and also to give them an indication where he might be found.
He did not deny that he would first appear to a part of them before he met them all together (compare Luke 24:13-31, Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5), but that he would meet them all in Galilee. This was done. See Mark 16:7; Matthew 28:16.
Galilee - See the notes at Matthew 2:22.
Matthew 26:33 "Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended."
Peter answered ... Though all men ... - The word "men" is improperly inserted here by the translators. Peter meant only to affirm this of "the disciples." This confidence of Peter was entirely characteristic. He was ardent, sincere, and really attached to his Master. Yet this declaration was made evidently:
1. from true love to Jesus;
2. from too much reliance upon his own strength;
3. from ignorance of himself, and of the trials which he was soon to pass through.
And it most impressively teaches us:
1. that no strength of attachment to Jesus can justify such confident promises of fidelity, made without dependence on him.
2. that all promises to adhere to him should be made relying on him for aid.
3. that we little know how feeble we are until we are tried.
4. that Christians may be left to great and disgraceful sins to show them their weakness.
Luke adds that Jesus said to Peter that Satan had desired to have him, that he might sift him as wheat - that is, that he might thoroughly test him. But Jesus says that he had prayed for him that his faith should not fail, and charged him when he was "converted" - that is, when he was "turned" from this sin - to strengthen his brethren; to wit, by teaching them to take warning by his example. See the notes at Luke 22:31-33.
Matthew 26:34 "Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice."
This night - This was in the "evening" when this was spoken, after the observance of the Passover, and, we may suppose, near nine o'clock p.m.
Before the cock crow - Mark and Luke add, before the cock crowed twice. The cock is accustomed to crow twice once at midnight, and once in the morning at break of day. The latter was commonly called cock-crowing. See Mark 13:35. This was the time familiarly known as "the cock-crowing," and of this Matthew and John speak, without referring to the other. Mark and Luke speak of the "second" crowing, and mean the same time, so that there is no contradiction between them.
Deny me thrice - That is, as Luke adds, deny that "thou knowest" me. See Matthew 26:74.
Matthew 26:35 "Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples."
Will I not deny thee - Will not deny my connection with thee, or that I knew thee.
"All" the disciples said the same thing, and all fled at the approach of danger, "forsaking" their Master and Friend, and practically denying that they knew him, (Matthew 26:56).
Jesus' agony in Gethsemane - This account is also recorded in Mark 14:32-42; Luke 22:39-46; John 18:1.
Matthew 26:36 "Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder."
Then cometh ... - After the institution of the Lord's Supper, in the early part of the night, he went out to the Mount of Olives.
In his journey he passed over the brook Cedron (John 18:1), which bounded Jerusalem on the east.
Unto a place - John calls this "a garden." This garden was on the western side of the Mount of Olives, and a short distance from Jerusalem. The word used by John means not properly a garden for the cultivation of vegetables, but a place planted with the olive and other trees, perhaps with a fountain of water, and with walks and groves; a proper place of refreshment in a hot climate, and of retirement from the noise of the adjacent city. Such places were doubtless common in the vicinity of Jerusalem. Messrs. Fisk and King, American missionaries were at the place which is commonly supposed to have been the garden of Gethsemane in 1823. They tell us that the garden is about a stone's cast from the brook of Cedron; that it now contains eight large and venerable-looking olives, whose trunks show their great antiquity. The spot is sandy and barren, and appears like a forsaken place. A low broken wall surrounds it.
Mr. King sat down beneath one of the trees and read Isaiah 53:1-12, and also the gospel history of our Redeemer's sorrow during that memorable night in which he was there betrayed; and the interest of the association was heightened by the passing through the place of a party of Bedouins, armed with spears and swords. A recent traveler says of this place that it "is a field or garden about 50 paces square, with a few shrubs growing in it, and eight olive-trees of great antiquity, the whole enclosed with a stone wall." The place was probably fixed upon, as Dr. Robinson supposes, during the visit of Helena to Jerusalem, 326 a.d., when the places of the crucifixion and resurrection were believed to be identified. There is, however, no absolute certainty respecting the places. Dr. Thomson (The Land and the Book, vol. ii. p. 484) supposes it most probable that the real "Garden of Gethsemane" was several hundred yards to the northwest of the present Gethsemane, in a place much more secluded than the one usually regarded as that where the agony of the Saviour occurred, and therefore more likely to have been the place of his retirement. Nothing, however, that is of importance depends on ascertaining the exact spot.
Luke says that Jesus "went as he was wont" - that is, accustomed - "to the Mount of Olives." Probably he had been in the habit of retiring from Jerusalem to that place for meditation and prayer, thus enforcing by his example what he had so often done by his precepts the duty of retiring from the noise and bustle of the world to hold communion with God.
Gethsemane - This word is made up either of two Hebrew words, signifying "valley of fatness" - that is, a fertile valley; or of two words, signifying "an olive-press," given to it, probably, because the place was filled with olives.
Sit ye here - That is, in one part of the garden to which they first came.
While I go and pray yonder - That is, at the distance of a stone's cast, (Luke 22:41). Luke adds that when he came to the garden he charged them to pray that they might not enter into temptation - that is, into deep "trials and afflictions," or, more probably, into scenes and dangers that would tempt them to deny him.
Matthew 26:37 "And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy."
And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee - That is, James and John, (Matthew 10:2). On two other occasions he had favored these disciples in a particular manner, suffering them to go with him to witness his power and glory, namely, at the healing of the ruler's daughter (Luke 8:51), and at his transfiguration on the mount, (Matthew 17:1).
Sorrowful - Affected with grief.
Very heavy - The word in the original is much stronger than the one translated "sorrowful." It means, to be pressed down or overwhelmed with great anguish. This was produced, doubtless, by a foresight of his great sufferings on the cross in making an atonement for the sins of people.
Matthew 26:38 "Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me."
My soul is exceeding sorrowful - His human nature - his soul - was much and deeply affected and pressed down.
Even unto death - This denotes extreme sorrow and agony.
The sufferings of death are the greatest of which we have any knowledge; they are the most feared and dreaded by man; and those sufferings are therefore put for extreme and indescribable anguish. The meaning may be thus expressed: My sorrows are so great that under their burden I am ready to die; such is the anxiety of mind, that I seem to bear the pains of death!
Tarry ye here and watch with me - The word rendered "watch" means, literally, to abstain from sleep; then to be vigilant, or to guard against danger. Here it seems to mean to sympathize with him, to unite with him in seeking divine support, and to prepare themselves for approaching dangers.
Matthew 26:39 "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 went a little further - That is, at the distance that a man could conveniently cast a stone (Luke).
Fell on his face - Luke says "he kneeled down." He did both.
He first kneeled, and then, in the fervency of his prayer and the depth of his sorrow, he fell with his face on the ground, denoting the deepest anguish and the most earnest entreaty. This was the usual posture of prayer in times of great earnestness. See Numbers 16:22; 2 Chronicles 20:18; Nehemiah 8:6.
If it be possible - That is, if the world can be redeemed - if it be consistent with justice, and with maintaining the government of the universe, that people should be saved without this extremity of sorrow, let it be done. There is no doubt that if it had been possible it would have been done; and the fact that these sufferings were "not" removed, and that the Saviour went forward and bore them without mitigation, shows that it was not consistent with the justice of God and with the welfare of the universe that people should be saved without the awful sufferings of "such an atonement."
Let this cup - These bitter sufferings. These approaching trials. The word cup is often used in this sense, denoting sufferings. See the notes at Matthew 20:22.
Not as I will, but as thou wilt - As Jesus was man as well as God, there is nothing inconsistent in supposing that, as man, he was deeply affected in view of these sorrows. When he speaks of His will, he expresses what "human nature," in view of such great sufferings, would desire. It naturally shrunk from them and sought deliverance. Yet he sought to do the will of God. He chose rather that the high purpose of God should be done, than that that purpose should be abandoned from regard to the fears of his human nature. In this he has left a model of prayer in all times of affliction. It is right, in times of calamity, to seek deliverance. Like the Saviour, also, in such seasons we should, we must submit cheerfully to the will of God, confident that in all these trials he is wise, and merciful, and good.
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?"
And findeth them asleep - It may seem remarkable that in such circumstances, with a suffering, pleading Redeemer near, surrounded by danger, and having received a special charge to watch - that is, not to sleep - they should so soon have fallen asleep.
It is frequently supposed that this was proof of wonderful stupidity, and indifference to their Lord's sufferings. The truth is, however, that it was just the reverse; "it was proof of their great attachment, and their deep sympathy in his sorrows." Luke has added that he found "them sleeping" for sorrow - that is, "on account" of their sorrow; or their grief was so great that they naturally fell asleep. Multitudes of facts might be brought to show that this is in accordance with the regular effects of grief. Dr. Rush says: "There is another symptom of grief, which is not often noticed, and that is "profound sleep." I have often witnessed it even in mothers, immediately after the death of a child. Criminals, we are told by Mr. Akerman, the keeper of Newgate, in London, often sleep soundly the night before their execution. The son of General Custine slept nine hours the night before he was led to the guillotine in Paris." - Diseases of the Mind, p. 319.
Saith unto Peter ... - This earnest appeal was addressed to Peter particularly on account of his warm professions, his rash zeal, and his self-confidence. If he could not keep awake and watch with the Saviour for one hour, how little probability was there that he would adhere to him in the trials through which he was soon to pass!
Matthew 26:41 "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Watch - See Matthew 26:38. Greater trials are coming on. It is necessary, therefore, still to be on your guard.
And pray - Seek aid from God by supplication, in view of the thickening calamities.
That ye enter not into temptation - That ye be not overcome and oppressed with these trials of your faith so as to deny me. The word "temptation" here properly means what would test their faith in the approaching calamities - in his rejection and death. It would "try" their faith, because, though they believed that he was the Messiah, they were not very clearly aware of the necessity of his death, and they did not fully understand that he was to rise again. They had cherished the belief that he was to establish a kingdom "while he lived." When they should see him, therefore, rejected, tried, crucified, dead - when they should see him submit to all this as if he had not power to deliver himself - "then" would be the trial of their faith; and, in view of that, he exhorted them to pray that they might not so enter temptation as to be overcome by it and fall.
The spirit indeed is willing ... - The mind, the heart is ready and disposed to bear these trials, but the "flesh," the natural feelings, through the fear of danger, is weak, and will be likely to lead you astray when the trial comes. Though you may have strong faith, and believe now that you will not deny me, yet human nature is weak, and shrinks at trials, and you should therefore seek strength from on high. This was intended to excite them, notwithstanding he knew that they loved him, to be on their guard, lest the weakness of human nature should be insufficient to sustain them in the hour of their temptation.
Matthew 26:42-44 "42 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. 43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words."
It is probable that our Lord spent considerable time in prayer, and that the evangelists have recorded rather "the substance" of his petitions than the very "words." He returned repeatedly to his disciples, doubtless to caution them against danger, to show the deep interest which he had in their welfare, and to show them the extent of his sufferings on their behalf
Each time that he returned these sorrows deepened. Again he sought the place of prayer, and as his approaching sufferings overwhelmed him, this was the burden of his prayer, and he prayed the same words. Luke adds that amid his agonies an angel appeared from heaven strengthening him. His human nature began to sink, as unequal to his sufferings, and a messenger from heaven appeared, to support him in these heavy trials. It may seem strange that, since Jesus was divine John 1:1, the divine nature did not minister strength to the human, and that he that was God should receive strength from an "angel." But it should be remembered that Jesus came in his human nature not only to make an atonement, but to be a perfect example of a holy man; that, as such, it was necessary to submit to the common conditions of humanity - that he should live as other people, be sustained as other people, suffer as other people, and be strengthened as other people; that he should, so to speak, take no advantage in favor of his piety, from his divinity, but submit it in all things to the common lot of pious people. Hence, he supplied his wants, not by his being divine, but in the ordinary way of human life; he preserved himself from danger, not as God, but by seeking the usual ways of human prudence and precaution; he met trials as a man; he received comfort as a man; and there is no absurdity in supposing that, in accordance with the condition of his people, his human nature should be strengthened, as they are, by those who are sent forth to be ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation, (Hebrews 1:14).
Further, Luke adds (Luke 22:44) that, being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground. The word "agony" is taken from the anxiety, effort, and strong emotion of the wrestlers in the Greek games about to engage in a mighty struggle. Here it denotes the extreme anguish of mind, the strong conflict produced in sinking human nature from the prospect of deep and overwhelming calamities.
"Great drops of blood," (Luke 22:44). The word rendered here as "great drops" does not mean drops gently falling on the ground, but rather thick and clammy masses of gore, pressed by inward agony through the skin, and, mixing with the sweat, falling thus to the ground. It has been doubted by some whether the sacred writer meant to say that there was actually "blood" in this sweat, or only that the sweat was "in the form" of great drops. The natural meaning is, doubtless, that the blood was mingled with his sweat; that it fell profusely - falling masses of gore; that it was pressed out by his inward anguish; and that this was caused in some way in view of his approaching death. This effect of extreme sufferings, of mental anguish. has been known in several other instances. Bloody sweats have been mentioned by many writers as caused by extreme suffering. Dr. Doddridge says (Note at Luke 22:44) that "Aristotle and Diodorus Siculus both mention bloody sweats as attending some extraordinary agony of mind; and I find Loti, in his "Life of Pope Sextus V.," and Sir John Chardin, in his "History of Persia," mentioning a like phenomenon, to which Dr. Jackson adds another from Thuanus." It has been objected to this account that it is improbable, and that such an event could not occur. The instances, however, which are referred to by Doddridge and others show sufficiently that the objection is unfounded. In addition to these, I may observe that Voltaire has himself narrated a fact which ought forever to stop the mouths of infidels. Speaking of Charles IX of France, in his "Universal History," he says: "He died in his 35th year. His disorder was of a very remarkable kind; the blood oozed out of all his pores. This malady, of which there have been other instances, was owing to either excessive fear, or violent agitation, or to a feverish and melancholy temperament."
Various opinions have been given of the probable causes of these sorrows of the Saviour. Some have thought it was strong shrinking from the manner of dying on the cross, or from an apprehension of being "forsaken" there by the Father; others, that Satan was permitted in a special manner to test him, and to fill his mind with horrors, having departed from him at the beginning of his ministry for a season Luke 4:13, only to renew his temptations in a more dreadful manner now; and others that these sufferings were sent upon him as the wrath of God manifested against sin that God inflicted them directly upon him by his own hand, to show his abhorrence of the sins of people for which he was about to die. Where the Scriptures are silent about the cause, it does not become us confidently to express an opinion. We may suppose, perhaps, without presumption, that a part or all these things were combined to produce this awful suffering. There is no need of supposing that there was a single thing that produced it; but it is rather probable that this was a rush of feeling from every quarter - his situation, his approaching death, the temptations of the enemy, the awful suffering on account of people's sins, and God's hatred of it about to be manifested in his own death - all coming upon his soul at once sorrow flowing in from every quarter - the "concentration" of the sufferings of the atonement pouring together upon him and filling him with unspeakable anguish.
Matthew 26:45 "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."
Sleep on now and take your rest - Most interpreters have supposed that this should be translated as a question rattler than a command,
"Do you sleep now and take your rest? Is this a time, amid so much danger and so many enemies. to give yourselves to sleep?" This construction is strongly countenanced by Luke 22:46, where the expression. Why sleep ye? evidently refers to the same point of time. There is no doubt that the Greek will bear this construction, and in this way the apparent inconsistency will be removed between this command "to sleep," and that in the next verse, "to rise" and be going. Others suppose that, his agony being over, and the necessity of watching with him being now past, he kindly permitted them to seek repose until they should be roused by the coming of the traitor; that while they slept Jesus continued still awake; that some considerable time elapsed between what was spoken here and in the next verse; and that Jesus suffered them to sleep until he saw Judas coming, and then aroused them. This is the most probable opinion. Others have supposed that he spoke this in irony: "Sleep on now, if you can; take rest, if possible, in such dangers and at such a time." But this supposition is unworthy the Saviour and the occasion. Mark adds, "It is enough." That is, sufficient time has been given to sleep. It is time to arise and be going.
The hour is at hand - The "time" when the Son of man is to be betrayed is near.
Sinners - Judas, the Roman soldiers, and the Jews.
Matthew 26:46 "Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me."
Rise, let us be going - That is, probably, "with them." Let us go wheresoever they shall lead us. The time when "I must die" is come. It is no longer proper to attempt an escape, and no more time can be given to repose.
The account of Jesus' being betrayed by Judas is recorded by all the evangelists. See Mark 14:43-52; Luke 22:47-53; John 18:2-12.
Matthew 26:47 "And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people."
Judas, one of the twelve, came - This was done while Jesus was addressing his disciples.
John informs us that Judas knew the place, because Jesus was in the habit of going there with his disciples. Judas had passed the time, after he left Jesus and the other disciples at the Passover, in arranging matters with the Jews, collecting the band, and preparing to go. Perhaps, also, on this occasion they gave him the money which they had promised.
A great multitude with swords and staves - John says that he had received a band of men and officers from the chief priests and Pharisees." Josephus says (Antiq. b. 20 chapter iv.) that at the festival of the Passover, when a great multitude of people came to observe the feast, lest there should be any disorder, a band of men was commanded to keep watch at the porches of the temple, to repress a tumult if any should be excited. This band, or guard, was at the disposal of the chief priests, (Matthew 27:65). It was composed of Roman soldiers, and was stationed chiefly at the tower of Antonia, at the northwest side of the temple. In addition to this, they had constant guards stationed around the temple, composed of Levites. The Roman soldiers were armed with "swords." The other persons that went out carried, probably, whatever was accessible as a weapon. These were the persons sent by the priests to apprehend Jesus. Perhaps other desperate men might have joined them.
Staves - In the original, "wood;" used here in the plural number. It means rather "clubs" or "sticks" than spears. It does not mean "staves." Probably it means any weapon at hand, such as a mob could conveniently collect. John says that they had "lanterns and torches." The Passover was celebrated at the "full moon;" but this night might have been cloudy. The place to which they were going was also shaded with trees, and lights, therefore, might be necessary.
Matthew 26:48 "Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast."
Gave them a sign - That is, told them of a way by which they might know whom to apprehend - to wit, by his kissing him.
It was night. Jesus was, besides, probably personally unknown to the "Romans" - perhaps to the others also. Judas, therefore, being well acquainted with him, to prevent the possibility of mistake, agreed to designate him by one of the tokens of friendship.
John tells us that Jesus, knowing all things that should come upon him, when they approached him, asked them whom they sought, and that they replied, Jesus of Nazareth. He then informed them that he was the person they sought. They, when they heard it, overawed by his presence and smitten with the consciousness of guilt, went backward and fell to the ground. He again asked them whom they sought. They made the same declaration - Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus then, since they professed to seek only Him, claimed the right that his disciples should be suffered to escape, "that the saying might be fulfilled which he spake (John 18:9); Of them which thou gavest me have I lost none."
Matthew 26:49 "And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him."
Hail, Master - The word translated "hail," here, means to "rejoice," to have joy, and also to have "cause" of joy.
It thus expresses the "joy" which one friend has when he meets another, especially after an absence. It was used by the Jews and Greeks as a mode of salutation among friends. It would here seem to express the "joy" of Judas at finding his Master and again being "with him."
Master - In the original, "Rabbi." See the notes at Matthew 23:7.
Kissed him - Gave him the common salutation of friends when meeting after absence. This mode of salutation was more common among Eastern nations than with us.
Matthew 26:50 "And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him."
And Jesus said unto him, Friend - It seems strange to us that Jesus should give the endeared name "friend" to a man that he knew was his enemy, and that was about to betray him.
It should be remarked, however, that this is the fault of our language, not of the original. In the Greek there are two words which our translators have rendered "friend" - one implying "affection and regard," the other not. One is properly rendered "friend;" the other expresses more nearly what we mean by "companion." It is this "latter" word which is given to the disaffected laborer in the vineyard: "'Friend,' I do thee no wrong" (Matthew 20:13); to the guest which had not on the wedding-garment, in the parable of the marriage feast (Matthew 22:12); and to "Judas" in this place.
Wherefore art thou come? - This was said, not because he was ignorant why he had come, but probably to fill the mind of Judas with the consciousness of his crime, and by a striking question to compel him to think of what he was doing.
Matthew 26:51 "And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear."
One of them which were with Jesus - John informs us that this was Peter.
The other evangelists concealed the name, probably because they wrote while Peter was living, and it might have endangered Peter to have it known.
And drew his sword - The apostles were not commonly armed. On this occasion they had provided "two swords," (Luke 22:38). In seasons of danger, when traveling, they were under a necessity of providing means of defending themselves against the robbers that infested the country. This will account for their having any swords in their possession. See the notes at Luke 10:30. Josephus informs us that the people were accustomed to carry swords under their garments as they went up to Jerusalem.
A servant of the high-priest - His name, John informs us, was "Malchus." Luke adds that Jesus touched the ear and healed it, thus showing his benevolence to his foes when they sought his life, and giving them proof that they were attacking him that was sent from heaven.
Matthew 26:52 "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."
Thy sword into his place - Into the sheath.
For all they that take the sword ... - This passage is capable of different significations.
1. They who resist by the sword the civil magistrate shall be punished; and it is dangerous, therefore, to oppose those who come with the authority of the civil ruler.
2. These men, Jews and Romans, who have taken the sword against the innocent, shall perish by the sword. God will take vengeance on them.
3. However, the most satisfactory interpretation is that which regards it as a caution to Peter. Peter was rash. Alone he had attacked the whole band. Jesus told him that his unseasonable and imprudent defense might be the occasion of his own destruction. In doing it he would endanger his life, for they who took the sword perished by it. This was probably a proverb, denoting that they who engaged in wars commonly perished there.
Matthew 26:53 "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?"
Thinkest thou ... - Jesus says that not only would Peter endanger himself, but his resistance implied a distrust of the protection of God, and was an improper resistance of his will.
If it had been proper that they should be rescued, God could easily have furnished far more efficient aid than that of Peter - a mighty host of angels.
Twelve legions - A legion was a division of the Roman army amounting to more than 6,000 men. See the notes at Matthew 8:29. The number "twelve" was mentioned, perhaps, in reference to the number of his apostles and himself. Judas being away, but eleven disciples remained. God could guard him, and each disciple, with a legion of angels: that is, God could easily protect him, if he should pray to him, and if it was his will.
Matthew 26:54 "But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?"
But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled ... - That is, the Scriptures which foretold of his dying for the world.
In some way that must be accomplished, and the time had come when, having finished the work which the Father gave him to do, it was proper that he should submit to death. This was said, doubtless, to comfort his disciples; to show them that his death was not a matter of surprise or disappointment to him; and that they, therefore, should not be offended and forsake him.
Matthew 26:55 "In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me."
Against a thief - Rather a "robber." This was the manner in which they would have sought to take a highwayman of desperate character, and armed to defend his life.
It adds not a little to the depth of his humiliation that he consented to be "hunted down" thus by wicked people, and to be treated as if he had been the worst of mankind.
Daily with you teaching in the temple - For many days before the Passover, as recorded in the previous chapter.
Matthew 26:56 "But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled."
Scriptures of the prophets - The "writings" of the prophets, for that is the meaning of the word "scriptures." He alludes to those parts of the prophetic writings which foretold his sufferings and death.
Then all the disciples ... - Overcome with fear when they saw their Master actually taken; alarmed with the terrific appearance of armed men and torches in a dark night, and forgetting their promises not to forsake him, they all left their Saviour to go alone to trial and to death! Alas, how many, when attachment to Christ would lead them to danger, leave him and flee! Mark adds that after the disciples had fled, a young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body, attempted to follow him. It is not known who he was, but not improbably he may have been the owner of the garden and a friend of Jesus. Aroused by the noise from his repose, he came to defend, or at least to follow the Saviour. He cast, in his hurry, such a covering as was at hand around his body, and came to him. The young men among the Romans and Jews attempted to seize him also, and he only secured his safety by leaving in their hands the covering that he had hastily thrown around him. It is not known why this circumstance was recorded by Mark, but it would seem to be probable that it was to mention him with honor, as showing his interest in the Saviour, and his willingness to aid him. See the notes at Mark 14:50-51. This circumstance may have been recorded for the purpose of honoring him by placing his conduct in strong contrast with that of the apostles, who had all forsaken the Saviour and fled.
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."
The trial of our Lord before the council, and the denial of Peter happening at the same time, might be related one before the other, according to the evangelists' pleasure.
Accordingly, Matthew and Mark relate the "trial" first, and Peter's denial afterward; Luke mentions the denial first, and John has probably observed the natural order. The parallel places are recorded in Mark 14:53-72; Luke 22:54-71; and John 18:13-27.
To Caiaphas - John says that they led him first to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas. This was done, probably as a mark of respect, he having been high priest, and perhaps distinguished for prudence, and capable of "advising" his son-in-law in a difficult case. The Saviour was "detained" there. probably, until the chief priests and elders were assembled.
The high priest - Note, Matthew 26:3. John says he was high priest for that year. Annas had been high priest some years before. In the time of our Saviour the office was frequently changed by the civil ruler. This Caiaphas had prophesied that it was expedient that one should die for the people. See the notes at John 11:49-50.
The scribes and elders - The men composing the great council of the nation, or Sanhedrin, (Matthew 5:22). It is not probable that they could be immediately assembled, and some part of the transaction respecting the denial of Peter probably took place while they were collecting.
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."
Peter followed afar off - By this he evinced two things:
1. Real attachment to his Master; a desire to be near him and to witness his trial.
2. Fear respecting his personal safety. He therefore kept so far off as to be out of danger, and yet so near as that he might witness the transactions respecting his Master.
Perhaps he expected to be lost and unobserved in the crowd. Many, in this, imitate Peter. They are afraid to follow the Saviour closely. They fear danger, ridicule, or persecution. They "follow him," but it is at a great distance - so far that it is difficult to discern that they are in the train, and are his friends at all. Religion requires us to be near to Christ. We may measure our piety by our desire to be with him, to be like him, and by our willingness to follow him always - through trials, contempt, persecution, and death. Compare the notes at Philemon 3:10. John says that another disciple went with Peter. By that other disciple it is commonly supposed, as he did not mention his name, that he meant himself. He was acquainted with the high priest, and went immediately into the hall.
Unto the high priest's palace - The word rendered "palace" means, rather, the hall, or middle court, or "area" of his house. It was situated in the center of the palace, and was commonly uncovered. See the notes and plan of a house in Matthew 9:1-8.
And went in - John informs us that he did not go immediately in; but the ether disciple, being known to the high priest, went in first, while Peter remained at the gate or entrance. The other disciple then went out and brought in Peter. Matthew, Mark, and Luke have omitted this circumstance. John recorded it, probably, because they had omitted it, and because he was the "other disciple" concerned in it.
Sat with the servants to see the end - That is, the end of the trial, or to see how it would go with his Master. The other evangelists say that he stood with the servants warming himself. John says, it being cold, they had made a fire of coals and warmed themselves. It was then, probably, not far from midnight. The place where they were was uncovered; and travelers say that, though the "days" are warm in Judea at that season of the year, yet that the nights are often uncomfortably cold. This fire was made "in the hall" (Luke). The fire was not in a "fireplace," as we commonly suppose, but was probably made of "coals" laid on the pavement. At this place and time was Peter's first "denial" of his Lord, as is recorded afterward. See Matthew 26:69.
Matthew 26:59 "Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;"
False witness - That is, they sought for witnesses who would accuse him of crime of violation of the laws of the land or of God. We are not to suppose that "they wished" them to be "false" witnesses. They were indifferent, probably, whether they were true or false, if they could succeed in condemning him. "The evangelist" calls it false testimony. Before these witnesses were sought, we learn from John (John 18:19-23) that the high priest asked Jesus of his disciples and his doctrine. Jesus replied that he had taught openly in the temple, and in secret had said nothing; that is, he had no "secret doctrines" which he had not been willing openly to teach, and he referred the high priest to those who had heard him. In a firm, dignified manner he put himself on trial, and insisted on his rights. "If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?" (John 18:23). This conversation took place, probably, before the council was assembled, and during this time the denials by Peter occurred. Luke informs us (Luke 22:66) that the council came together as soon as it was day; that is, probably, near the morning, or not far from the break of day - after Peter had denied him and gone out.
Matthew 26:60 "But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,"
Found none - That is, they found none on whose testimony they could with any show of reason convict him. The reason was, as Mark says (Mark 14:56), that "their witnesses agreed not together." They differed about facts, times, and circumstances, as all false witnesses do. Two witnesses were required by their law, and they did not "dare" to condemn him without conforming, "in appearance" at least, to the requirements of the law.
Matthew 26:61 "And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days."
And said, This fellow said ... - Mark has recorded this testimony differently. According to him, they said, "We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another. made without hands." Probably both forms of giving in the testimony were used on the trial, and Matthew has recorded it as it was given at one time and Mark at another, so that there is no contradiction. Mark adds, "But neither so did their witnesses agree together." That which they "attempted" to accuse him of is what he had said respecting his body and their destroying it, (John 2:19); "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." This he spoke of his body; they perverted it, endeavoring to show that he meant the temple at Jerusalem. They neither stated it as it was, nor did they state correctly its meaning, nor did they agree about the words used. It was therefore very little to their purpose.
Matthew 26:62-63 "62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 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."
Jesus held his peace - Was silent. He knew that the evidence did not even appear to amount to anything worth a reply. He knew that they were aware of that, and that feeling that, the high priest attempted to draw something from him on which they could condemn him.
I adjure thee by the living God - I put thee upon thy oath before God. This was the usual form of putting an oath among the Jews. It implies calling God to witness the truth of what was said. The law respecting witnesses also made it a violation of an oath to conceal any part of the truth; and though our Saviour might have felt that such a question, put in such a manner, was very improper or was unlawful, yet he also knew that to be silent would be construed into a denial of his being the Christ. The question was probably put in auger. They had utterly failed in their proof. They had no way left to accomplish their purpose of condemning him but to draw it from his own lips. This cunning question was therefore proposed. The difficulty of the question consisted in this: If he confessed that he was the Son of God, they stood ready to condemn him for "blasphemy;" if he denied it, they were prepared to condemn him for being an impostor, and for deluding the people under the pretence of being the Messiah.
The living God - Yahweh is called the living God in opposition to idols, which were without life.
The Christ - The Messiah, the Anointed. See the notes at Matthew 1:1.
The Son of God - The Jews uniformly expected that the Messiah would be the Son of God. In their view it denoted, also, that he would be "divine," or equal to the Father, John 10:31-36. To claim that title was therefore, in their view, "blasphemy;" and as they had determined beforehand in their own minds that he was not the Messiah, they were ready at once to accuse him of blasphemy.
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."
Thou hast said - This is a form of assenting or affirming. Thou hast said the truth; or, as Luke (Luke 22:70) has it, "Ye say that I am." This was not, however, said "immediately." Before Jesus acknowledged himself to be the Messiah, he said to them (Luke 22:67-68), "If I tell you ye will not believe, and if I also ask you" - that is, propose the proofs of my mission, and require you to give your opinion of them "ye will not answer me, nor let me go."
Nevertheless - This word should have been translated: "moreover or furthermore." What follows is designed to explain and give confirmation to what he had said.
Sitting on the right hand of power - That is, of God, called here the Power - equivalent to "the Mighty, or the Almighty." It denotes dignity and majesty; for to sit at the right hand of a prince was the chief place of honor. See the notes at Matthew 20:21.
Coming in the clouds of heaven - See the notes at Matt. 24; 25. The meaning of this is, You shall see "the sign from heaven" which you have so often demanded; even the Messiah returning himself "as the sign," with great glory, to destroy your city and to judge the world.
Matthew 26:65 "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."
Then the high priest rent his clothes - The Jews were accustomed to rend their clothes as a token of grief. This was done often as a matter of form, and consisted in tearing a particular part of the garment reserved for this purpose. It was not lawful for the high priest to rip his clothes, (Leviticus 10:6; Leviticus 21:10). By that was probably intended the robes of his priestly office. The garment which he now tore was probably his ordinary garment, or the garments which he wore as president of the Sanhedrin - not those in which he officiated as high priest in the things of religion. This was done on this occasion to denote the great grief of the high priest that so great a sin as blasphemy had been committed in his presence.
He hath spoken blasphemy - That is, he has, under oath, arrogated to himself what belongs to God. In asserting that he is the Son of God, and therefore equal in dignity with the Father, and that he would yet sit at his right hand, he has claimed what belongs to no man, and what is therefore an invasion of the divine prerogative. If he had not been the Messiah, the charge would have been true; but the question was whether he had not given evidence that he was the Messiah, and that therefore his claims were just. This point - the only proper point of inquiry - they never examined. They assumed that he was an impostor, and that point being assumed, everything like a pretension to being the Messiah was, in their view, proof that he deserved to die.
Matthew 26:66 "What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death."
What think ye? - What is your opinion? What sentence do you pronounce? As President of the Sanhedrin he demanded their judgment.
He is guilty of death - This was the form which was used when a criminal was condemned to die. The meaning is, he is guilty of a crime to which the law annexes death. This sentence was used before the Jews became subject to the Romans, when they had the power of inflicting death. After they were subject to the Romans, though the power of inflicting capital punishment" was taken away, yet they retained the form when they expressed their opinion of the guilt of an offender. The law under which they condemned him was that recorded in Leviticus 24:10-16, which sentenced him that was guilty of blasphemy to death by stoning. The chief priests, however, were unwilling to excite a popular tumult by stoning him, and they therefore consulted to deliver him to the Romans to be crucified, "under the authority of the Roman name," and thus to prevent any excitement among the people.
Matthew 26:67 "Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,"
Then did they spit in his face - This, among the Jews, as among us, was significant of the highest contempt and insult, (Numbers 12:14; Isaiah 50:6; Job 30:10).
And buffeted him - That is, they struck him with their hands closed, or with the fist.
Others smote him with the palms of their hands - The word used in the original here means literally to strike with rods. It also means to strike the mouth with the open hand, as if to prevent a person's speaking, or to evince abhorrence of what he had spoken.
Matthew 26:68 "Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?"
Saying, Prophesy unto us ... - Mark informs us that before they said this they had blindfolded him. Having prevented his seeing, they ridiculed his pretensions of being the Messiah. If he Was the Christ, they supposed he could tell who smote him As he bore it patiently and did not answer, they doubtless supposed that they had discovered another reason to think he was an impostor. The word "prophesy" does not mean only to foretell future events, although that is the proper meaning of the word, but also to declare anything that is unknown, or anything which cannot be known by natural knowledge or without revelation. Luke adds, "And many other things blasphemously spoke they against him." There is something very remarkable in this expression. They had charged Him with "blasphemy" in claiming to be the Son of God. This charge they were not able to prove; but the evangelist fixes the charge of "blasphemy" on them, because he really was the Son of God, and they denied it.
Matthew 26:69 "Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee."
Now Peter sat without in the palace - Mark says the first denial took place while Peter was "beneath in the palace." This "palace" was the large hall or court belonging to the residence of the high priest. The part of it where Jesus and the council were was "elevated," probably above the rest for a tribunal. Peter was "beneath or in the "lower part" of the hall, with the servants at the fire. Yet, as Matthew says, he sat without in the palace - that is, out of the palace where they were trying Jesus - to wit, in the lower part of the hall with the servants: both narratives are therefore consistent.
And a damsel came unto him - John (John 18:17) says that this damsel was one that kept the door.
Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee - Probably she suspected him from his being in company with John. This was in the early part of the trial of Jesus.
Matthew 26:70 "But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest."
But he deeded before them all ... - He denied that he was a disciple; he denied that he knew Jesus; he denied (Mark) that he understood what was meant - that is, he did not see any reason why this question was asked. All this was palpable falsehood, and Peter must have known that it was such. This is remarkable, because Peter had just before been so confident. It is more remarkable, because the edge of the charge was taken off by the insinuation that "John" was known to be a disciple thou "also" wast with Jesus of Galilee.
Matthew 26:71 "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."
When he was gone out into the porch - The "entrance," or the small apartment between the outer door and the large hall in the center of the building. See plan of a house, Notes, (Matthew 9:1-8). Peter was embarrassed and confused by the question, and to save his confusion from attracting notice, he went away from the fire into the porch, where he expected to be unobserved - yet in vain. By the very movement to avoid detection, he came into contact with another who knew him and repeated the charge. How clearly does it prove that our Lord was omniscient, that all these things were foreseen!
Another maid saw him - Mark simply says that "a maid" saw him. From Luke it would appear that "a man" spoke to him, (Luke 22:58). The truth probably is that both were done. When he first went out, "a maid" charged him with being a follower of Jesus. He was probably there a considerable time. To this charge he might have been silent, thinking, perhaps, that he was concealed, and there was no need of denying Jesus then. Yet it is very likely that the charge would be repeated. A "man," also, might have repeated it; and Peter, irritated, provoked, perhaps thinking that he was in danger, "then" denied his Master the second time. This denial was in a stronger manner and with an oath. While in the porch, Mark says, the cock crew - that is, the first crowing, or not far from midnight.
Matthew 26:73 "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 bewrayeth thee."
And after a while - That is, about an hour after (Luke). Peter by this time had returned into the palace or hall, and stood warming himself by the fire, (John 18:25).
Thy speech bewrayeth thee - Your language makes it manifest that you are of his company. That is, as Mark adds, he was a "Galilean," and in this way his speech betrayed him. It is probable that the Galileans were distinguished for some peculiarity of pronunciation, perhaps some unique rusticity or coarseness in their manner of speaking, that distinguished them from the refinement of the capital, Jerusalem. This charge, John says John 18:26, was supported by the express affirmation of a kinsman of Malchus, the servant of the high priest, that he had seen him in the garden.
Matthew 26:74 "Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew."
Then began he to curse ... - Peter was now irritated beyond endurance. He could no longer resist the evidence that he was known. It had been repeatedly charged on him. His language had betrayed him, and there was a positive witness who had seen him. He felt it necessary, therefore, to be still more decided, and he accordingly added to the sin of denying his Lord the deep aggravation of profane cursing and swearing, affirming what he must have known was false, that he knew not the man. Immediately then the cock crew - that is, the second crowing, or not far from three in the morning.
Matthew 26:75 "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."
And Peter remembered the word of Jesus ... - Luke has mentioned a beautiful and touching circumstance omitted by the other evangelists, that when the cock crew, "Jesus turned and looked upon Peter," and that then he remembered his words. They were in the same room - Jesus at the upper end of the hall, elevated for a tribunal and Peter below with the servants, so that Jesus could look down upon Peter standing near the fire. By a tender and compassionate look - a single glance of his eye the injured Saviour brought to remembrance all Peter's promises, his own predictions, and the great guilt of the disciple; he overwhelmed him with the remembrance of his sin, and pierced his heart through with many sorrows. The consciousness of deep and awful guilt rushed over Peter's soul; he flew from the palace, he went where he might be alone in the darkness of the night, and "wept bitterly."
The fall of Peter is one of the most melancholy instances of depravity ever committed in our world. But a little while before so confident; seated at the table of the Lord; distinguished throughout the ministry of Christ with special favors; cautioned against this very thing; yet so soon denying him, forgetting his promises, and profanely calling on God to witness what he knew to be false - that he did not know him! Had it been only once, it would have been awful guilt - guilt deeply piercing the Redeemer's soul in the day of trial; but it was three times repeated, and at last with profane cursing and swearing. Yet, while we weep over Peter's fall, and seek not to palliate his crime, we should draw from it important practical uses:
1. The danger of self-confidence. "He that thinketh he standeth should take heed lest he fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12). True Christian confidence is that which relies on God for strength, and feels safety only in the belief that he is able and willing to keep from temptation.
2. The highest favors, the most exalted privileges, do not secure us from the danger of falling into sin. Few men were ever so highly favored as Peter; few ever so dreadfully departed from the Saviour, and brought so deep a scandal on religion.
3. When a man begins to sin; his fall from one act to another is easy - perhaps almost certain. At first, Peter's sin was only simple denial; then it increased to more violent affirmation, and ended with open profaneness. So the downward road of crime is easy. When sin is once indulged, the way is open for a whole deluge of crime, nor is the course easily stayed until the soul is overwhelmed in awful guilt.
4. True repentance is deep, thorough, bitter. Peter wept bitterly. It was sincere sorrow - sorrow proportioned to the nature of the offence he had committed.
5. A look from Jesus - a look of mingled affection, pity, and reproof - produces bitter sorrow for sin. We injure Him by our crimes; and His tender look, when we err, pierces the soul through with many sorrows, opens fountains of tears in the bosom, and leads us to weep with bitterness over our transgressions.
6. When we sin when we fall into temptation - let us retire from the world, seek the place of solitude, and pour out our sorrows before God. He will mark our groans; he will hear our sighs; he will behold our tears; and he will receive us to his arms again.
7. Real Christians may be suffered to go far astray. To show them their weakness, to check self-confidence, and to produce dependence on Jesus Christ, they may be permitted to show how weak, and feeble, and rash they are. Peter was a real believer. Jesus had prayed for him "that his faith should fail not," (Luke 22:32). Jesus was always heard in his prayer, (John 11:42). He was heard, therefore, then. Peter's faith did not fail - that is, his belief in Jesus, his real piety, his true attachment to the Saviour. He knew during the whole transaction that Jesus was the Messiah, and that he himself was well acquainted with him; but he was suffered to declare that which he knew was not true, and in this consisted his sin. Yet,
8. Though a Christian may be suffered to go astray - may fall into sin - yet he who should, from this example of Peter, think that he might, lawfully do it, or who should resolve to do it, thinking that he might, like Peter, weep and repent, would give evidence that he knew nothing of the grace of God. He that resolves to sin under the expectation of repenting hereafter "cannot be a Christian."
It is worthy of further remark, that the fact that the fall of Peter is recorded by "all" the evangelists is high proof of their "honestly." They were willing to tell the truth as it was; to conceal no fact, even if it made much against themselves, and to make mention of their own faults without attempting to appear to be better than they were. And it is worthy of special observation that Mark has recorded this with all the circumstances of aggravation, perhaps even more so than the others. Yet, by the universal belief of antiquity, the Gospel of Mark was written under Peter's direction, and every part of it submitted to him for examination. Higher proof of the honesty and candor of the evangelists could not be demanded.
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