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Matthew 26

The Plan to Kill Jesus
1When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2“As you know, the Passover Feast is two days away. The Son of Man is going to be handed over to his enemies, and they will nail him to a cross.”
3Then the chief priests and elders of the people met in the palace of Caiaphas, the high priest. 4They made plans to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5“But we can’t do it during the feast,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”
A Woman Pours Perfume on Jesus
6While Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper, 7a woman came to him with a special sealed jar of very expensive perfume. She poured the perfume on his head while he was at the table.
8When the disciples saw this, they got angry. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9“This perfume could have been sold for a lot of money, and it could have been given to the poor.”
10Jesus knew they were saying this and asked them, “Why are you criticizing this woman? She has done a beautiful thing for me. 11You’ll always have the poor with you. But you won’t always have me. 12She poured the perfume on my body to prepare me for my burial. 13Truly I tell you, what she has done will be told wherever this good news is preached all over the world, and she will be remembered.”
Judas Agrees to Hand Jesus Over
14Then one of the 12 disciples, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests. 15He asked, “What will you give me if I hand Jesus over to you?” They counted out 30 silver coins for him, 16and from then on, Judas watched for the right opportunity to hand Jesus over.
The Lord’s Supper
17On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to go and prepare the Passover meal for you?”
18He answered, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is near. I’d like to celebrate the Passover at your house with my disciples.” ’ ” 19So the disciples did what Jesus told them to do, and they prepared the Passover meal.
20When evening came, Jesus was at the table with his 12 disciples. 21While they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you is going to hand me over to my enemies.”
22This made the disciples very sad. They began to say to him, one after the other, “You don’t mean me, do you, Lord?”
23Jesus replied, “Someone who has dipped his hand into the same bowl with me is going to hand me over. 24The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him, but woe to the one who hands him over! It would have been better for him if he he’d never been born.”
25Judas, the one who was going to hand him over, said, “You don’t mean me, do you, Rabbi?”
Jesus answered, “You have said so.”
26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and handed it to his disciples. He said, “Take this and eat it. This is my body.”
27Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he handed it to them. He said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out so that the sins of many people will be forgiven. 29I tell you that I won’t drink wine with you again from now until the day when I drink it with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
30Then they sang a hymn, and they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Jesus Says That the Disciples Will Turn Away
31Jesus told them, “You’re all going to abandon me this very night. It’s written that the Lord said,
“ ‘I will strike the shepherd down,
and then the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32But after I rise from the dead, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
33Peter replied, “Even if all the others abandon you, I never will.”
34“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you’ll claim three times that you don’t know me.”
35But Peter insisted, “Even if I have to die with you, I’ll never say that I don’t know you.” And all the other disciples said the same thing.
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
36Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to feel sad and troubled. 38Then he said to them, “My soul is very sad, and I feel close to death. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39He went off a little distance and got down on the ground face first. He prayed, “My Father, if possible, please take this cup of suffering away from me. But let your will be done, not mine.”
40Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t any of you keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. 41“Watch and pray so that you won’t fall into sin when you’re tempted. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”
42Jesus went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it isn’t possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, then may your will be done.”
43Then he came back and found the three of them sleeping again. They couldn’t keep their eyes open, 44so he left them and went off once more. He prayed the same thing a third time.
45Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look! The time has come. The Son of Man is about to be handed over to sinners. 46Get up! Let’s go! Here comes the one who’s handing me over to them!”
Jesus Is Arrested
47While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, who was one of the 12 disciples, arrived. He had a group of men with him who were carrying swords and clubs. The chief priests and elders of the people had sent them. 48Judas had arranged to hand Jesus over by giving them a signal. “The one I kiss will be the man,” he’d told them—“arrest him!” 49Judas went right over to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” Then he kissed him.
50Jesus responded, “Do what you came to do, friend.”
Then some of the men moved forward to grab Jesus and arrest him. 51As they did, one of those who was with Jesus reached for his sword. He pulled it out and slashed at the high priest’s slave with it, cutting off his ear.
52“Put your sword back!” Jesus told him. “Everyone who relies on the sword will die by the sword. 53Do you think I can’t ask my Father for help? If I did, he’d send an army of more than 70,000 angels right away. 54But then how would the Scriptures come true? They say it has to happen in this way.”
55Then Jesus asked the crowd, “Why did you come here with swords and clubs to capture me, as if I’d been leading a rebellion? I was in the temple courtyard every day teaching, but you didn’t try to arrest me. 56But of all this has happened to make the words of the prophets come true.” Then all his disciples abandoned him and ran away.
Jesus Is Taken to the Sanhedrin
57Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest. The teachers of the law and the elders had already gathered in his palace. 58Peter had followed Jesus from a distance, and now he came as close as the courtyard. He went in and sat down with the guards to see what would happen.
59The chief priests and the whole council of elders, called the Sanhedrin, were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. 60But they couldn’t find anything to use, even though many false witnesses came forward.
Finally, two witnesses came forward and testified, 61“This man said, ‘I’m able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in three days.’ ”
62Then the high priest stood up to question Jesus. “Aren’t you going to answer?” he asked. “What have you got to say to the charges these men are bringing against you?” 63But Jesus remained silent.
The high priest said to him, “Tell us, under oath to the living God, whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
64“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you that after this you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One, coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65Then the high priest ripped his clothes and said, “This man has claimed to be God! Why do we need any more witnesses? You’ve heard what he said. 66What do you think?”
“He must die!” they answered.
67Then they spit in his face and hit him with their fists. Others slapped him 68and said, “Prophesy to us, Messiah! Who hit you?”
Peter Says He Doesn’t Know Jesus
69Meanwhile, Peter was sitting out in the courtyard. A female servant came up to him and said, “You also were with Jesus of Galilee.”
70But Peter denied it in front of everyone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he insisted.
71Then he moved out to the gate that led into the courtyard. There another servant saw him and said to the people, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72Again he denied it and said, “I swear I don’t know the man!”
73After a little while, the people standing there came up to Peter and said, “You must be one of them. Your accent gives you away.”
74“I swear that I don’t know the man!” Peter said again. “May I be cursed if I’m not telling the truth!”
Just then a rooster crowed. 75Peter remembered that Jesus had said, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” Peter went outside and wept bitterly.
Jesus Prophesies His Crucifixion
1After Jesus had completed his teachings, he said to his disciples, 2“You know that the Feast of the Passover begins in two more days. That’s when the Son of Man will be betrayed and handed over to be crucified.”
3Meanwhile, the prominent priests and religious leaders of the nation were gathered in the palace of Caiaphas # 26:3 Caiaphas was a Sadducee with political connections to Pilate’s government. He was the son-in-law of Annas, who had been deposed from his office by the Roman procurator Valerious, but he was still viewed by the people as the high priest. In effect, Israel had two high priests at the same time, Annas and Caiaphas, thus violating Jewish law. the high priest. 4That’s when they made their decision to secretly # 26:4 Or “deceitfully” (Aramaic “with false testimony”). have Jesus captured and killed. 5But they all agreed, “We can’t do this during the Passover celebrations or we could have a riot on our hands.”
A Woman Anoints Jesus
6-7Then Jesus went to Bethany, to the home of Simon, # 26:6–7 Or “the house of Simon the leper.” It is implied that he had been healed by Jesus, for a leper. Some scholars equate him with Simon the Pharisee due to similarities with Luke’s account in Luke 7:36–49. a man Jesus had healed of leprosy. A woman came into the house, holding an alabaster flask # 26:6–7 Jars such as this usually had a long neck that would be broken off and the oil poured out. The woman is identified as Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. See Song. 1:12; Mark 14:3; Luke 7:37; John 12:1–5. filled with expensive, fragrant oil. # 26:6–7 This was spikenard (or nard), a spice taken from a plant that grows in northern India near the Himalayas. This costly perfume would have been carried over land to the Middle East. Many believe this jar of spikenard would have cost the average worker a year’s wages. It was a common practice among the Jews to prepare a body for burial with fragrant ointment. She came right to Jesus, and in a lavish gesture of devotion, she poured out the costly oil, and it cascaded over his head as he was at the table. 8When the disciples saw this, they were offended. “What a total waste!” they grumbled. 9“We could have sold it for a great deal of money and given it to the poor.”
10Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Why are you critical of this woman? She has done a beautiful act of kindness. 11You will always have someone poor whom you can help, but you will not always have me. 12When she poured the fragrant oil over me, she was preparing my body for burial. # 26:12 It is entirely possible that when the Roman soldiers pierced Jesus’ beautiful feet and put the crown of thorns on his lovely head, they could have smelled this fragrant oil. 13I promise you that when this wonderful gospel spreads all over the world, the story of her lavish devotion to me will also be mentioned in memory of her.” # 26:13 Jesus’ prophecy is that this woman’s act of devotion, mentioned in three of the four gospels, would be preached as part of the gospel message of new life.
Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
14One of the twelve apostles, Judas the locksmith, # 26:14 Or “Judah Iscariot.” Iscariot is not his last name or the name of a town. It means “locksmith.” Iscariot comes from an Aramaic word for “brass lock.” The one who held the key to the finances of the twelve disciples brazenly wanted to lock up Jesus. went to the leading priests 15and said, “How much are you willing to pay me to betray Jesus into your hands?” They agreed to pay him thirty silver coins. # 26:15 See Zech. 11:12–13. Assuming the thirty pieces of silver were tetradrachms, it would represent about four months’ wages of a skilled worker. If the coins were the Roman denarius, it would be about five weeks’ wages. If they were Jewish shekels, it would have been a very modest sum. How could anyone put a monetary value on the life of the glorious Son of God? 16Immediately Judas began to scheme and look for an opportunity to betray him.
Jesus Celebrates Passover with His Disciples
17On the first day of Passover, # 26:17 Or “the first day of Unleavened Bread.” The Aramaic reads “on the day before the Passover festival.” This was the first day of an eight-day celebration to commemorate the deliverance of the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt. The Jews would eat a roasted lamb after sunset in a family group of at least ten people. The meal would include bitter herbs (in remembrance of their bitter years of slavery), unleavened bread, and four cups of wine mixed with water. See Num. 9:2–5. the day when all bread made with yeast was removed from every Jewish home, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where should we prepare the Passover meal # 26:17 That is, “the Passover seder.” for you?”
18He answered them, “My heart longs with great desire to eat this Passover meal with you. # 26:18 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew and other external evidence. The Greek text does not include this sentence; however, it seems to be essentially the same as found in Luke 22:15, which may support the theory that part of Luke’s eyewitness accounts may have included Matthew. Go into Jerusalem and you will encounter a man. # 26:18 The Greek is actually “Mr. So-and-So.” This was someone who would know who the teacher was and understand what it meant when Jesus said, “My time is near.” The Hebrew Matthew adds this line: “He will volunteer for the task.” Tell him that the teacher says, ‘My appointed time # 26:18 An obvious ellipsis that could mean “My time of fulfilling my destiny” is near. is near. I am coming to your home to eat the Passover meal with my disciples.’ ”
19The disciples did as Jesus had instructed them, and they prepared the Passover meal. 20When evening came he took his place at the table and dined with the Twelve. 21While they were eating, Jesus spoke up and said, “One of you is about to betray me.”
22Feeling deeply hurt by these words, one after another asked him, “You don’t mean me, do you?”
23He answered, “It is one who has shared meals with me as an intimate friend. # 26:23 Or “he who has dipped his hand with me in the dish.” This is a figure of speech of one who was an intimate friend of Jesus. To break bread together was a sign of friendship throughout the Middle East. 24All that was prophesied of me will take place, but how terrible it will be for the one who betrays the Son of Man. It would be far better for him if he had never been born!”
25Then finally, Judas the traitor spoke up and asked him, “Teacher, # 26:25 Notice that the other eleven disciples called Jesus “Lord.” Judas called him “teacher.” perhaps it is I?”
Jesus answered, “You said it.”
The Lord’s Supper
26As they ate, Jesus took the bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to his disciples. He said to them, “This is my body. Eat it.” 27Then taking the cup of wine, he gave thanks to the Father, he entered into covenant with them, # 26:27 As translated from the Aramaic. saying, “This is my blood. Each of you must drink it in fulfillment of the covenant. 28For this is the blood that seals the new covenant. # 26:28 The Aramaic word khawdata can be translated “new,” but is better rendered “renewed” covenant or “repaired” covenant. See Lev. 17:11; Jer. 31:31–37. After each disciple took the cup and drank from it, they passed it to the next one. This was a love covenant between Jesus and each of his disciples, and it sealed the affection they had for one another. It will be poured out for many for the complete forgiveness of sins. 29The next time we drink this, I will be with you and we will drink it together with a new understanding in the kingdom realm of my Father.” # 26:29 We are now in the realm of the kingdom of God. The Holy Spirit brings us into the body of Christ and into the reality of the kingdom of God. It is growing and increasing in scope, and every time believers drink of the cup of communion, Jesus is present with us. It is the Lord’s table, not ours. This was a prophecy of what would happen in just a matter of days from then, as believers would break bread together in remembrance of what Jesus did for them. See Acts 2:42. Jesus now drinks it with us in a new way, and not just once a year at Passover, but every time we worship him by taking communion.
30Then they sang a psalm # 26:30 Or “a hymn.” The Aramaic is “They offered praise.” It was the custom after celebrating the Passover seder to conclude with singing one of the Hallel psalms (Pss. 115–118). and left for the Mount of Olives.
Jesus Prophesies Peter’s Denial
31Along the way Jesus said to them, “Before the night is over, you will all desert me. This will fulfill the prophecy of the Scripture that says:
I will strike down the shepherd
and all the sheep will scatter far and wide! # 26:31 See Zech. 13:7.
32“But after I am risen, I will go ahead of you to Galilee and will meet you there.”
33Then Peter spoke up and said, “Even if all the rest lose courage and fall away, I will still be beside you, Jesus!”
34“Are you sure, Peter?” Jesus said. “In fact, before the rooster crows a few hours from now, you will have denied me three times.”
35Peter replied, “I absolutely will never deny you, even if I have to die with you!” And all the others said the same thing.
Jesus Prays in Gethsemane
36Then Jesus led his disciples to an orchard called “The Oil Press.” # 26:36 Or “Gethsemane,” which means “oil press.” This was located on the lower slope of the Mount of Olives near the brook Kidron. King David left Jerusalem weeping as he crossed the Kidron Valley and went up the Mount of Olives (2 Sam. 15:23). Now the Son of David comes into that valley with great sorrow on his way into Jerusalem to be crucified. Kidron comes from the Hebrew verb qadar, which means “to grow dark” or “to mourn.” He told them, “Sit here while I go and pray nearby.” 37He took Peter, Jacob, and John with him. # 26:37 Or “Peter and the two sons of Zebedee.” However, an intense feeling of great sorrow plunged his soul into agony. 38And he said to them, “My heart is overwhelmed and crushed with grief. It feels as though I’m dying. Stay here and keep watch with me.”
39Then he walked a short distance away, and overcome with grief, he threw himself facedown on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if there is any way you can deliver me from this suffering, # 26:39 Or “If possible, take away this cup of suffering.” The cup becomes a metaphor of the great suffering that Jesus had to drink that night in the garden. However, Jesus was not asking the Father for a way around the cross. Rather, he was asking God to keep him alive through this night of suffering so that he could carry the cross and take away our sins. According to the prophecies of the Old Testament, Jesus was to be pierced on a cross. We learn from Heb. 5:7 that Jesus’ prayer was answered that night as the cup was indeed taken from him. An angel of God came to strengthen him and deliver him from premature death. The “cup” he was asking God to let pass from him was the cup of premature death that Satan was trying to make him drink in the garden, not the death he would experience the next day on the cross. He had already sweat drops of blood, but the prophecies had to be fulfilled of being pierced on a cross for our transgressions. God answered his cry and he lived through the agony of Gethsemane so that he could be our sacrifice for sin on Calvary. Jesus did not waver in the garden. We have a brave Savior. please take it from me. Yet what I want is not important, for I only desire to fulfill your plan for me.” Then an angel from heaven appeared to strengthen him. # 26:39 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew. See Luke 22:43, which may be evidence of Luke having access to the Hebrew Matthew account.
40Later, he came back to his three disciples and found them all sound asleep. He awakened Peter and said to him, “Could you not stay awake with me for even one hour? 41Keep alert and pray that you’ll be spared from this time of testing. Your spirit is eager enough, but your humanity is weak.” # 26:41 The Aramaic is “the flesh is failing.”
42Then he left them for a second time to pray in solitude. He said to God, “My Father, if there is not a way that you can deliver me from this suffering, # 26:42 See the first footnote for v. 39 and Heb. 5:7. then your will must be done.”
43He came back to the disciples and found them sound asleep, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open. 44So he left them and went away to pray the same prayer for the third time.
45When he returned again to his disciples, he awoke them, saying, “Are you still sleeping? Don’t you know the hour has come for the Son of Man to be handed over to the authority of sinful men? 46Get up and let’s go, for the betrayer has arrived.”
The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus
47At that moment Judas, his once-trusted disciple, appeared, along with a large crowd of men armed with swords and clubs. They had been sent to arrest Jesus by order of the ruling priests and Jewish religious leaders. 48Now, Judas, the traitor, had arranged to give them a signal that would identify Jesus, for he had told them, “Jesus is the one whom I will kiss. So seize him!”
49Judas quickly stepped up to Jesus and said, “Shalom, Rabbi,” and he kissed him on both cheeks. # 26:49 This would have been the customary kiss among the Jews of that day.
50“My beloved friend,” # 26:50 As translated from the Hebrew Matthew. Jesus said, “is this why you’ve come?” # 26:50 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “Do what you’ve come to do.”
Then the armed men seized Jesus to arrest him. 51But one of the disciples # 26:51 From John 18:10 we learn that the disciple was Peter. Matthew, although knowing it was his friend Peter, kept him from any embarrassment by not naming him in his Gospel narrative. pulled out a dagger and swung it at the servant of the high priest, slashing off his ear. 52Jesus said to him, “Put your dagger away. For all those who embrace violence will die by violence. # 26:52 The Aramaic reads, “Those who have taken up swords against me will all die by the sword.” The Aramaic is a prophecy that those armed men who came against Jesus in the garden that night would die by the sword. 53Don’t you realize that I could ask my heavenly Father for angels to come at any time to deliver me? And instantly he would answer me by sending more than twelve legions of angels # 26:53 A legion was a detachment of six thousand Roman soldiers. Jesus could have called down seventy-two thousand angels to come to his aid. The number twelve was a reminder to the twelve disciples that God had more than enough protection for them all. to come and protect us. 54But that would thwart the prophetic plan of God. For it has been written that it would happen this way.”
55Then Jesus turned to the mob and said, “Why would you arrest me with swords and clubs as though I were an outlaw? Day after day I sat in the temple courts with you, teaching the people, yet you didn’t arrest me. 56But all of this fulfills the prophecies of the Scriptures.”
At that point all of his disciples ran away and abandoned him.
Jesus Is Condemned by the Religious Leaders
57Those who arrested Jesus led him # 26:57 The Greek word for “led” (apago) is the word used for a shepherd who ties a rope around the neck of a lamb and leads it. This was the fulfillment of Isa. 53:7: “He was led like a gentle lamb to be slaughtered.” away to Caiaphas, the chief priest, and to a meeting where the religious scholars and the supreme Jewish council were already assembled. # 26:57 Or “elders.” The supreme Jewish council (Sanhedrin) is made explicit in v. 59. 58Now, Peter had followed the mob from a distance all the way to the chief priest’s courtyard. And after entering, he sat with the servants # 26:58 The Aramaic is “temple ushers.” of the chief priest who had gathered there, waiting to see how things would unfold. 59The chief priests and the entire supreme Jewish council of leaders # 26:59 Or “Sanhedrin” (or Great Sanhedrin), which was a council of seventy men who were appointed to serve as the leadership of the Jewish community and the affairs of the temple. were doing their best to bring false charges against Jesus, because they were looking for a reason to put him to death.
60Many false witnesses came forward, but the evidence could not be corroborated. Finally two men came forward 61and declared, “This man said, ‘I can destroy God’s temple and build it again in three days!’ ”
62Then the chief priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Have you nothing to say about these allegations? Is what they’re saying about you true?” 63But Jesus remained silent before them. So the chief priest said to him, “I charge you under oath—in the name of the living God, tell us once and for all if you are the anointed Messiah, the Son of God!”
64Jesus answered him, “You just said it yourself. And more than that, you are about to see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of God, the Almighty. # 26:64 See Ps. 110:2; Dan. 7:13. And one day you will also see the Son of Man coming in the heavenly clouds!”
65This infuriated the chief priest, and as an act of outrage, he tore his robe and shouted, “What blasphemy! No more witnesses are needed, for you heard this grievous blasphemy.” 66Turning to the council he said, “Now, what is your verdict?”
“He’s guilty and deserves the death penalty!” they answered. 67Then they spat on his face and slapped him. Others struck him over and over with their fists. 68Then they taunted him by saying, “Oh, Anointed One, prophesy to us! Tell us which one of us is about to hit you next?”
Peter’s Denials
69Meanwhile, Peter was still sitting outside in the courtyard when a servant girl came up to him and said, “I recognize you. You were with Jesus the Galilean.”
70In front of everyone Peter denied it and said, “I don’t have a clue what you’re talking about.”
71Later, as he stood near the gateway of the courtyard, another servant girl noticed him and said, “I know this man is a follower of Jesus the Nazarene!”
72Once again, Peter denied it, and with an oath he said, “I tell you, I don’t know the man!”
73A short time later, those standing nearby approached Peter and said, “We know you’re one of his disciples—we can tell by your speech. Your Galilean accent gives you away!” # 26:73 Peter, being from Capernaum in Galilee, spoke the northern dialect of Aramaic, while the people of Jerusalem spoke the southern dialect (Chaldean).
74Peter denied it, and using profanity he said, “I don’t know the man!” At that very moment the sound of a crowing rooster pierced the night. 75Then Peter remembered the prophecy of Jesus, “Before the rooster crows you will have denied me three times.” With a shattered heart, Peter left the courtyard, sobbing with bitter tears.