Matthew 26

A Murderous Conspiracy

Jesus' death, burial, and resurrection are at hand, and this passage marks the end of Jesus' teaching ministry in Matthew. Jesus informs the disciples that the Passover will soon begin and Jesus will be delivered up to be crucified. The disciples struggle to understand Jesus' mission and soon have their world turned upside down in less than forty-eight hours. While Jesus is preparing the disciples, the religious leaders are involved in a wicked conspiracy. The chief priests and the elders have gathered in the palace of Caiaphas where they are plotting to arrest Jesus secretly and have him killed. The leaders are concerned about carrying out the plan during the Passover feast because they fear the outrage of the people. 

Wherever This Gospel Is Proclaimed

Jesus is at Bethany just before the Passover in the home of Simon, the leper. The fact that Simon is called a leper may indicate that he was cured, healed, or even dead. While in the home, a woman comes to Jesus and pours an expensive ointment from an alabaster flask on Jesus' head as he reclined at the table. The disciples are indignant and see her actions as wasteful. They believe the woman has made a mistake and should have sold it for a large sum of money and served the poor. Jesus corrects the disciples telling them that this woman has done a beautiful thing. Jesus' departure is near, and he challenges the disciples reasoning based on the reality that he will soon be gone. Jesus explains that she is actually preparing him for burial and he declares that she will be remembered for her actions. 


Judas, Iscariot, one the twelve disciples, does something inconceivable. Judas goes to the chief priests who want Jesus dead to negotiate a reward for delivering Jesus over to them. This group of bloodthirsty leaders quickly pays Judas thirty pieces of silver. Judas' treachery cannot be exaggerated. He sold Jesus out 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 particular 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 said it would. As Jesus reclines in this intimate setting, he reveals his betrayal to the group. The disciples must have been stunned to learn that one of them would betray Jesus. The group is distressed and sorrowful asking if they would be the one to betray him. Imagine Judas as the conversation unfolds. Judas must know at this point 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, not Lord or friend and his own words condemn him.

The Lord's Supper

During the Passover meal, 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. After they finish the meal, Jesus leads the disciples in a hymn before they head to the Mount of Olives. Jesus sings. The savior who faces death sings to the Father. Jesus knows what will happen in the next few hours and he tells the disciples that all of them will fall away from him because of the tenets that will transpire that night. Jesus explains that this is the fulfillment of Zechariah thirteen and as a result of what happens to him, they will scatter, but he goes on to say that he would be raised and go before them into Galilee. Peter speaks up quickly, declaring his loyalty to Jesus. He is determined that even if everyone else deserts Jesus that he will not. Jesus tells Peter that not only would he fall away, but before the rooster crowed that night he 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 leaves the majority of the group to wait while he takes Peter, James, and John with him to pray. Jesus is troubled and filled with great sorrow. He asks the disciples to watch 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 wakes his disciples telling them to get up because the hour has arrived, and he was betrayed. This drama would now speed to the unimaginable act.

Scriptures Fulfilled

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 God's plan, and the mob was only a secondary part of this drama. He chides the crowd 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.

You Have Said So

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.

Things To Consider:

  • Why is it important to know that Jesus knew what was going to happen to him and when it was going to happen?
  • How did the religious leaders misunderstand Jesus?
  • What was the reason the chief priests were so concerned with what the people would do if they arrested Jesus?
  • What is significant about the thirty pieces of silver?
  • How does the blood of Christ offer forgiveness for sin?
  • Why is pride so dangerous?
  • Why was Jesus sorrowful and troubled?
  • How difficult was it for Jesus emotionally to know that the disciples would fall away?
  • What should we understand about Jesus' statement concerning the twelve legions of angels at his disposal?
  • How is justice subverted by the high priests?
  • Why didn't Jesus contest his sentence?
  • How does fear change our view of Jesus?
  • Do you think Peter ever forgot his denial? Why or why not?