Scripture reading – Matthew 26

Jesus had been teaching His disciples from the Mount of Olives (24:3), and as He looked east, He gazed upon the glorious Temple on the highest peak in His beloved  city of Jerusalem. He had taught them the signs that pointed to His Second Coming. Yet, the disciples were blinded by their ambitions and did not grasp the imminence of events that would soon cause them to flee and deny the LORD. Finally, leaving no doubt of His appointment with the Cross, Jesus said plainly, 2Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified” (26:2).

Three Scenes in Matthew’s Narrative (26:3-16)

In the first scene we find an assembly of the Sanhedrin, that represented four offices of religious leaders. There was Caiaphas the high priest (26:3), the chief priests (the religious nobility of Israel), the scribes (the majority of whom were Pharisees, and experts in the Law), and the elders (wealthy laymen who held a powerful presence in Jewish society). These had assembled for one purpose—“that they might take Jesus by subtility [guise; deceit] and kill him” (26:4).

The second scene was a “throw back” to an event that occurred at a Sabbath meal with his friends six days before the Passover (26:6-9) when Mary anointed Jesus for His burial (John 12:1-6; Mark 14). Matthew recalled this scene, for Mary had anointed Jesus in anticipation of His death. Matthew continued his recollection of the supper at the home of Simon the leper (26:6), and remembered how Jesus rebuked the disciples, and said, “For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial” (26:12).

Chaffing for the rebuke he had rightfully received for his greed and protests, Judas brings us to the third scene in Matthew 26. We read: “Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15And 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” (26:14b-15).

Matthew records the preparation for the Passover meal (26:17-19), which was the LORD’s last supper with His disciples (26:20). Jesus foretold He would be betrayed by one of His disciples, yet none suspected Judas (26:21-25). What believers observe today as “The LORD’s Supper,” was instituted that same evening as a perpetual memorial to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection (26:26-29; 1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

When Christ’s observance of the Passover was ended, He and the disciples “sung an hymn [and] went out into the mount of Olives” (26:30). They retreated into the garden called Gethsemane (26:36-46). There, the disciples slept as Jesus prayed until the hour He was betrayed into the hands of His enemies who led Him away to be tried (26:47-56).

Closing thoughts – As Judas closed His heart to Christ, he opened his heart to Satan (Luke 22:3), and betrayed Him for 30 pieces of silver (Exodus 21:32). His name has come to embody sin, wickedness, and the villainy of rejecting Jesus Christ. Tragically, he turned his back on God, and rejected Christ and salvation, and the LORD rejected him.

What about you? Have you opened your heart to Christ, believed, and received Him as your Savior?

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Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith

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