Matthew Chapter 26
Jesus Anointed at Bethany:
(Read Matthew 26:1-16)
Jesus made a final prediction of His death two days before the Passover. The feast of the Passover was celebrated to commemorate the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. This was great annual feast, and it was followed by the seven-day feast of Unleavened Bread. Christ’s death was the fulfillment of Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). The high priest and religious leaders potted to arrest and kill Jesus. But they did not do that during the Passover, lest there be an uproar among the people. God controlled even the timing so that Christ could die at the very hour of the slaying of the Passover lamb. Meanwhile Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper where Mary anointed Jesus with very costly ointment. This incident is mentioned in Mark 14:3-9 and John 12:1-8. Simon the leper was most probably healed by Christ. It was a thanksgiving service where Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus were present. Mary expressed her lavish gratitude by anointing the head of Jesus with the very expensive ointment. Usually, it was saved for her wedding or funeral. She found Jesus more valuable than her financial security. This ointment costs three hundred Denarii. This was equal to the wage of a person’s three hundred day’s work. Judas Iscariot thought that Mary's generous gift was a waste, and she could have sold it and given to the poor. He was a thief. Jesus rebuked Judas and said “Mary has done this to prepare me for the burial. Truly wherever the Gospel is preached, what she has done will be told in memory of her”. What a contrast; Judas’ greed led him to betray Christ for thirty pieces of silver, but Mary’s devotion drove her to worship Christ. Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters, he will hate the one and love the other" (Matthew 6:24).
Jesus Celebrates Passover with Disciples:
(Read Matthew 26:17-35)
Jesus shared the final Passover meal with his disciples. At this meal Jesus said, “One of you shall betray me”. They were exceedingly sorrowful and asked “Lord is it I? It seems the entire disciples feared the possibility of failure. Jesus said, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me”. Also, He added “It would have been better for that man if he had not been born”. Judas asked “Is it I Rabbi? Jesus said to him “You have said so”. At this meal Jesus established the Lord’s Supper. Jesus took the bread, blessed, and broke and gave it to his disciples and said “Take, eat; this is my body”. Also, He took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them saying “Drink from it, for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I will not drink wine again until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:26-29). Then they sang a hymn and went out to the mount of Olives. The bread and wine were only symbols. They remind us of Lord’s death and the cost of our redemption (Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 11:25). They don't contain any special grace or sacrament. Nothing in the gospel indicates that they are necessary for one’s salvation. Jesus sealed the new covenant with his blood. He is the lamb of God who takes the sin of the world. The new covenant is not an agreement between two equals, but the covenant God made for the benefit of us. Christ shed His blood for the remission of our sins. Jesus did something we could not do for ourselves (Romans 5:8). Jesus predicted peter’s denial. Jesus said Peter will deny Him three times before the rooster crows. Peter said, “Even if I have to die with you, I will not deny you”. All the disciples said the same thing. They all abandoned Jesus before his death.
Jesus’ Prayer in Gethsemane:
(Read Matthew 26:36-56)
Then Jesus went to the garden of Gethsemane with his disciples. Gethsemane means “Olive press”. The scene in this garden is one of the most moving one. Jesus took Peter, James, and John further into the garden. He said, “My soul is very sorrowful and troubled, even to death, remain here and pray with me” (Psalms 43:5). He fell on his face and prayed saying “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me, not as I will but as you will”. Jesus came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you stay awake and watch with me even one hour?” The disciples slept due to their physical exhaustion. Jesus said to them “Watch and pray, that you enter not into temptation. The second time, Jesus went away and prayed “My Father if this cup cannot be taken away until I drink it, your will be done”. Again, he found the three disciples sleeping. The third time Jesus went away and prayed. Then he came to the disciples and found them still sleeping. He said to them “Sleep and take your rest, “Behold the hour is at hand, the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going, see, my betrayer is at hand”. The disciple failed to stay awake with Jesus during the most stressful night of his life. The religious leaders have sent a mob with swords and club to arrest the Prince of peace. Judas promised them prearranged signal. “The one I kiss is the Jesus; arrest him”. Judas came to Jesus “Greeting, Teacher and he kissed him”. Jesus said to Judas “My friend, go ahead and do what you came to do”. Peter made a desperate effort to protect Jesus by slashing off the ear of the high priest’s servant. Jesus healed the servant by replacing his ear. His name was Malchus (John 18:10). Jesus rebuked Peter and said “Those who take sword shall perish by the sword. Jesus did not come to wage a war with sword. He secured victory over Satan and sin by his sacrificial death on the cross. He could have called twelve legions of angel to aid him. Each Roman legion has six thousand soldiers. Jesus willingly obeyed the Father and fulfilled the scriptures. All his disciples forsook Jesus and fled.
Jesus before the Sanhedrin: 26: 57-75.
(Read Matthew 26:57-75)
Jesus was led to Caiaphas, the high priest. The religious leaders were assembled there. Peter followed Jesus at a distant. They tried to find fault with Jesus and forced false witnesses to testify against Jesus. Finally, two men said, “This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days”. Jesus remained silent before them. At the trial the high priest asked Jesus whether or not he is “the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63). Jesus said “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". It was a reference to Christ’s ascension and second coming. Then the high priest tore his robes and said “He has uttered blasphemy. What further witnesses do we need?” The Jewish court sentenced Jesus to death (Matthew 26:66). Then they violently abused and mocked Jesus (Matthew 26:67-68). Peter’s three denials occurred during the trial. Peter followed Jesus at a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest. He sat and warmed himself by the fire prepared by the servants of the priests. His first denial was before a servant girl and said, “I don’t know what you are talking about”. Then in the porch Peter was confronted by another maid and said, “this fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth”. This time Peter denied Jesus with an oath and said, “I do not know the man”. Third time he was confronted by the bystanders and said “You must be one of them. We can tell by your Galilean accent”. The Peter said, “I swear by God, I don’t know the man”. And immediately the rooster crowed. Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him. Luke says, “The Lord turned and looked at Peter” (Luke 22:61). Peter went out and wept bitterly. This did not stop Jesus from being merciful to Peter. Jesus restored Peter. Our failures are not obstacles for Christ to forgive and use us if we are willing to repent. What a gracious Lord!