Plotting, Betrayal, And Supper
“When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.” Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.” Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand. I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.’ ” And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. When it was evening, he reclined at table with the twelve. And as they were eating, he said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.” And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?” He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me. The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.” Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go over there and pray.” And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.” While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; seize him.” And he came up to Jesus at once and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” And he kissed him. Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you came to do.” Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword and struck the servant of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled. Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. And Peter was following him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said, “This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’ ” And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?” They answered, “He deserves death.” Then they spit in his face and struck him. And some slapped him, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?” Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before them all, saying, “I do not know what you mean.” And when he went out to the entrance, another servant girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” And again he denied it with an oath: “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you too are one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately the rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.” (Matthew 26:1–75, ESV)
Jesus knows what he has come to do, and he knows that his hour is near. He has been teaching and confronting the religious establishment. There is enmity between Jesus and these religious leaders that will end in murder. Jesus continues to tell the disciples what will take place and yet they are slow to understand. Jesus tells his disciples that he is only hours away from his crucifixion. We are not told how the disciples came to know the following information but Matthew writes about a clandestine meeting in the palace of the high priest. Caiaphas schemes with those present about how to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. For fear of the people, they all agree that the arrest should not take place during the feast.
A Beautiful Thing
Jesus has retired to Bethany in the house of Simon the leper who is most likely not a leper anymore because he is living in a house. A woman takes an expensive ointment and anoints Jesus. The disciples become indignant over such waste, and they state that it should have alternatively served the poor. Jesus corrects the disciples and says that what she has done is quite beautiful. Jesus then reminds the disciples that the poor will always be with them but he will not. Jesus is not using this as a means to neglect the poor. He is explaining that this serves a specific purpose–– burial and that she would be remembered for her service.
Judas Iscariot goes to the chief priests and seeks an unthinkable bargain. He asks what he could expect to receive if he delivered Jesus to the people who sought to murder him. With sinister intentions, they quickly offer the sum of thirty pieces of silver. Judas' treachery cannot be exaggerated. He sold out his Rabbi and began to look for the perfect opportunity to hand him over to his enemies. We have no explanation of his motives, but we certainly understand his character.
The disciples want to know where the Passover meal would be prepared and what they should do in order to make the necessary arrangements. Jesus sends them to a certain man and tells him that Jesus' time was at hand, and they would need the use of his house. They obeyed and everything happened just as Jesus foretold. Jesus reclines with his disciples in am intimate setting during a sacred time for the Jewish people and as they are eating he reveals an unimaginable act. He says that one of his own would betray him. The group is distressed and sorrowful asking one after another if they would be the one to betray him. Imagine Judas as the conversation unfolds. Judas must be nervous and perhaps certain that Jesus is aware of his treachery. Jesus speaks words that are most painful, "It would have been better if he had not been born." Judas addresses Jesus simply as Rabbi and not Lord or friend. This breach of trust came with a condemnation untenable.
The Lord's Supper
Jesus uses a living parable to give new meaning to the supper that these men had celebrated for as long as they could remember. Jesus took the bread and blessed it with the understanding that it represents his body. He also takes the cup and gives thanks. This cup, however, is now the representation of his blood which would be given for the forgiveness of sin. He also declares that the king will not drink the fruit of the vine again until the consummation of his Father's Kingdom.
They leave the upper room after singing a hymn. Jesus sings what a marvelous thought. The go to the Mount of Olives and Jesus tells them that they will all fall away and that this would be a fulfillment of prophecy but that when he has been raised they should join him in Galilee. Peter speaks up quickly and declares his loyalty to Jesus. He is determined that even if everyone else abandons Jesus that he will not. Jesus tells him that he would, and he declares to him the sign of his denial. Before the rooster crowed that very night, Peter would deny Jesus three times. Peter insists as do the other disciples that they are ready and willing to die if necessary, but they will not deny their friend.
Jesus takes the disciples to Gethsemane where he tells the majority of the group to wait while he takes Peter, James, and John with him. Jesus is troubled and filled with great sorrow. He asks them to watch over him during this difficult time, and he goes to pray. He falls to his face and pleads with the Father to let the cup of wrath pass from him but that he was would submit to the will of the Father. He returns to his closest friends and finds them sleeping. Jesus calls their attention to their inability even to stay awake for an hour. He asks them to watch and pray so that they will not enter into temptation. He tells them that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. Jesus goes and prays again and declares his obedience no matter the cost. He returns again to find his disciples sleeping. Jesus leaves to pray again and after the third time he rouses his disciples because the hour has arrived, and he was betrayed. This drama would now speed to an unthinkable act.
Judas makes his way to Jesus followed by a crowd with swords and clubs. This angry mob had been sent by the chief priests and elders. Judas had arranged a sign with them to identify who the crowd should seize. He greets the teacher with a kiss, and Jesus is immediately captured. One of the disciples grabs a sword and with murderous intent takes a swipe at a servants head. This servant of the high priest lost his ear in the melee. Jesus rebukes this act of violence and reminds his followers that he is not the victim of his circumstances, he is a purposeful king with legions of angels at his disposal. This was a plan, and the mob was only a secondary part of this drama. He chides the mob for their cowardice and reminds them that he has been available every day teaching in the temple. He tells the crowd that their actions fulfill the scripture, and the disciples flee.
The rabble takes Jesus to Caiaphas where the elders and scribes had gathered waiting. They would not get their hands dirty in this arrest. Peter follows at a distance but wants to be close enough to see how it will end. This wicked group sought false testimony that they might use to sentence Jesus to death. Many came forward, but nothing could be corroborated. Jesus remains silent until the high priest asked him if he was the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus speaks and declares that the Son of Man would be seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds. The high priest takes this statement and accuses Jesus of blasphemy. The kangaroo court pronounces a death sentence, spits in his face, and began to strike Jesus repeatedly.
Peter is in the courtyard observing the action when he is confronted by a servant girl. She accuses him of being with Jesus. Peter denies it, and he changes his position. He scarcely makes his escape before another servant girl recognizes him and this time Peter denies Jesus with an oath. Later, a bystander comes to Peter and makes an accusation based on his accent. This time, Peter swears and invokes a curse denying that he knows the man (no name was given). Immediately the sound of guilt peals forth. The rooster crows, and Peter remembers the words of his King, his Rabbi, his friend and he flees in bitter distress. Peter agonizes over his denial. This drama is only beginning...