Matthew 26:1-2 – When Jesus 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.’

Many scholars believe that verses 1-2 of chapter 26 should have been the very last verses of chapter 25.  In chapter 25, Jesus has just finished his teachings regarding the end of the Jewish age and the end of time; he now reminds them that Passover is coming and he will crucified at that time. 

Think of it!  The most crucial event in God’s timetable for the ages was about to take place!  Can you imagine the joy of heaven as the time drew near for Jesus to legally defeat Satan and put an end to the power of sin and death?   

Let’s give ourselves a quick review of the Passover celebration.  We will take a look at the basics of the first Passover, then look at how the customs changed after their liberation from Egypt. 

Passover Lamb

God instituted this celebration as He freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  You can find the original instructions for Passover in Exodus 12:3-20, Leviticus 23:5-8 and Numbers 28:16-25.

On the 10th day of Nisan, each household was to select a male lamb that was without blemish.  They kept this lamb separated until the 14th of Nisan (or Abib).  At that time the head of each household would kill the lamb sometime in the afternoon, before the sun was fully set.  The blood of this lamb was sprinkled on the top and both sides of the door frame of each entrance/exit to their house.  When the death angel of the Lord saw the blood on the door, he would ‘pass over’ that house.  However, in houses where the blood was absent (Egyptian households), each and every firstborn male was mysteriously killed that night.

Blood was put on the top and sides of the door frame.

The lamb was eaten the same day it was sacrificed, after being roasted.  It could not be boiled, fried, stewed, cooked in an Instant Pot or eaten raw.  It HAD to be roasted.  In order to be roasted, it was thrust through with two spits – on lengthwise and one transversely.  These two spits crossed each other in the area of the forelegs, so that the animal appeared to be crucified.  No bones of the animal were to be broken in this process. 

The lamb was to be eaten with unleavened bread and bitter herbs (salad), while the people were fully clothed and wearing coats and shoes.  This was to show that they were ready to leave Egypt in a hurry. 

While the basics of this feast are still retained, some changes have been made.  In later years when the lamb was selected, he actually lived with the family, inside the house, for the 4 day waiting period.  During this time, they often grew attached to the animal.  Because of this, the death of the lamb had a greater impact on the household. 

When the 14th came, all lambs were sacrificed at the temple by a priest, at around 3 pm in the afternoon (As opposed to being sacrificed by the head of the house, anytime in the afternoon, at any place).  The blood was sprinkled on the corner of the brazen altar, instead of the door posts. 

The lamb was still to be put on two spits, roasted and eaten on the same day.  Each lamb was designed to feed a group of between 10-20 people.  Families had to join together to meet these requirements.    

Passover itself is a single day festival.  However, immediately following it the Jews celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  During this time, all leaven is removed from their houses for 7 days.  This festival shows that the leaven of sin should be put far from us, after our sins have been forgiven by the blood of Jesus. 

Together, these two festivals give us a picture of Jesus.  Just as the Israelites were enslaved to the Egyptians, we were slaves to sin.  But at the appointed time, Jesus came to earth to be our final sacrifice.  Just like the lamb, he was perfect (sinless).  He allowed himself to be crucified on the cross (the two spits) and he died at 3 pm in the afternoon.  The Jews applied the blood of the lamb to their door posts, and it delivered them from death.  We symbolically apply the blood of Christ to our hearts, which pays for our sin, while imputing the righteousness of Christ to us.  Because of this, we are free from spiritual death which is caused by sin.

Other changes have been made to the Passover celebration throughout the years.  If you are interested in the exact ceremony of Passover, including the four cups of wine, the reciting of various Psalms, the removing/adding of plates, the testimony of the father to his children about what God has done, etc you can look online.  This information is readily available, and since the practice of communion is tied into the Passover, you should know about it.  So take some time and check it out!     

Now that we have had a brief review of Passover, let’s return to our text.  Jesus tells his disciples that in just a couple of days, he will be crucified at Passover.  This demonstrates that Jesus was God, because he clearly knew that the time had come for him to be the fulfillment of the Passover celebration.   

John 13:1 – Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father…

So, the timing of the death of Jesus was not determined by the Jewish religious leaders or by the political overtones of those days.  The timing of the death of Christ was a fixed, appointed time that was determined by God, before the world began. 

We can easily show that the Jewish religious leaders did not intend to kill Him during the Passover:

Mark 14:1-2 – After two days was the feast of the Passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death.  But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people.   

Despite what man has planned, God is in control.  God had a definite, appointed time for the sacrifice of the Lamb of God and it happened exactly when God ordained that it would.

Likewise, God has appointed a set time for Jesus to return to earth, when he will take us to be with him and judge the world, as we saw in chapter 25.  

The declaration of Jesus about his coming crucifixion was not only a sign that he was God, it was a comfort to his followers.  When things did not go as expected, they could take comfort in the fact that God was in control. 

What a great lesson for us!  Events of this world may not be unfolding the way you thought they would, in your own personal life or in our country.  But if we are disciples of Jesus, we can take comfort knowing that he sees us, and that we are in the palm of his hands.  Regardless of what happens around us, we can be assured that God is in control.

Matthew 26:3 – Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas.

Let’s review the facts about the high priest and the ‘supreme court’ of the Jews.

High priest is a title given to the head priest in any generation.  Back when God first instituted the office of high priest, a man held that office until he died, then the title passed to his firstborn son, and to his firstborn son, etc.

Quick question – Who was the first high priest?

Answer – Aaron, brother of Moses (Exodus 28:1).

As you recall, Aaron had four sons – Eleazar, Nadab, Abihu and Ithamar.  When Aaron died, it passed to his eldest son Eleazar.  It continued to be inherited in that family line for approximately 300 years, until it passed to Eli, who was the son of Ithamar, Aaron’s fourth son.  It then continued in that branch of the family until the time of King Solomon, who deposed Abiathar (for disloyalty to David) and appointed Zadok (descendant of Eleazar) to the office.  It remained in Eleazar’s line until the Babylonian captivity.  After the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, a descendant of Eleazar (Joshua) was once again placed in the office. 

Then around 160 BC, when Antiochus Epiphanes ruled in Judea, he sold the office to the highest bidder!  From that time on, it changed hands frequently and was no longer a ‘lifetime’ position.  In fact, Herod the Great changed the high priest as often as he liked, for any reason that suited his fancy.  Persons who had been removed from that office still retained the title.  That is why more than one high priest is sometimes mentioned, although the office technically belonged to only one man.

Now, by this time the high priest was also the head of the supreme court of Israel, called the Sanhedrin.  This court was originally instituted during the lifetime of Moses (Numbers 11:16-17) and included 70 men, prominent elders and rulers of big families.  Originally, their job was to assist Moses in judging matters between the Jews, but the purpose and power of this council changed over time.

By the time of Christ, it consisted of 24 chief priests, scribes and some elders of the people, who were the heads of the great families.  They had the ultimate ruling authority over the Jews, however, at this all Jews were under the authority of Rome.  This meant that the Sanhedrin could try a person and condemn them to death, but they could not carry out the sentence without the consent of the Roman authorities. 

Now the scriptures tell us that some kind of a meeting took place in the ‘palace’ or court of the high priest’s house.  This leads many scholars to believe that it was not an official meeting of the Sanhedrin, because official meetings of that group were held in the hall of Gazith (one of the halls in the court surrounding the temple).  They believe the meeting included some of Sanhedrin, as well as some temple officials and friends of the current/former high priest.

On the other hand, some scholars are convinced that this was a true, official meeting of the Sanhedrin.  Regardless of who is correct, we can be sure that this was a group who were bitterly opposed to Jesus, determined to bring him to shame and death at any cost. 

Matthew 26:4-5 – …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.’

All of the Jews believed Jesus was a distinguished prophet and teacher sent by God.  No doubt, many believed that he was the Messiah.  So any public plot against Jesus by the ruling Jews would probably have backfired on them.   The common Jews would have formed a mob, and rescued Jesus.  Realizing their position, the council gathered together to plan a covert or secret plot to arrest and kill Jesus.  But these men were not in control of the destiny of Jesus!  They could not frustrate the predetermined plans of Almighty God!

So the event that they wished to keep as secret as possible ended up taking place as the most public event of the century! Jews from all across the world has gathered in Jerusalem for the Passover feast.  These same people became witnesses to the most important event ever known to man – the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! And they took that witness back to every corner of the globe. (It was very important that his resurrection be public, so that in later years, no false religion could cast doubt upon the claims of Christianity). 

Now, this raises important implications for us.  There are people in government positions or people in the court system who think they are in control of the destiny of Christians – but they are just as wrong as the Jewish council.  The bible tells us that Jesus is the head of the church…

Ephesians 1:22 – And has put all things under his [Jesus] feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

…and he is in control over all things relating to the body of Christ.  Governments believe that they can wipe out or suppress Christianity, but they cannot.  When they persecute the church, it just spreads like wildfire.  Try to snuff it out in one place, and it will pop back up in multiple other places. 

Judges believe that they can rule ruthlessly and unjustly over the people of God, and simply silence them, but they cannot.  Jesus will always provide whatever the church needs in order to bring it to victory.  Our assignment is to trust in Jesus, and follow his battle plan.  If we do, he will put our enemies (and His) to ultimate shame!

Matthew 26:6-7 – 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.

Matthew has been relating events that took place two days before the Passover.  However, he now inserts an incident that took place six days earlier (John 12:1-2).  Why would he do such a thing?

His purpose is to show the treachery of Judas Iscariot.  In this passage, we will see that Judas is a thief.  He was not a true disciple of Jesus, but a traitor.  The rebuke he received at this dinner several days ago may have been the final catalyst that caused him to betray Christ.

So, we find that six days earlier, Jesus had been invited to supper at the house of Simon the leper.  It is really not possible for Simon to have been a leper at that point, because lepers could not live in the city and certainly nobody would go to their house for a meal.  It is likely that he himself had been cured of leprosy by Jesus, or that one of his relatives was, and the phrase “leper” was adopted as a surname to distinguish him from other men named Simon.

Now remember, at this time people did not sit upright in chairs at mealtime.  They reclined on couches with their heads toward the table and their feet pointing outward.  So as Jesus is eating, this woman arrives with a box of very expensive perfume.  Mark (14:3) and John (12:3) tell us that it was nard or spikenard. 

Spikenard was taken from an herb growing chiefly in the Indies.  It was a liquid obtained from the root or bark of the plant.  It was one of the most desired and precious of all the perfumes.  John tells us that she had a pound, which would equal 12 ounces to in our culture.  This is a rather large quantity of oil and it was very valuable.   

Back in Jesus’ day, people loved to anoint themselves with perfumes and ointments.  The most common method was to pour the perfume on the top of your head or hair.  Anywhere you went, people would be able to smell the perfume. So this woman breaks open her jar and without hesitation, she pours it on the head/hair of Jesus.      

The book of John mentions that she also poured some on his feet as well.  This was an uncommon way to use the perfume.  After his feet were wet, she then knelt down and wiped them with her hair.  This was an act of deep humility and it exemplified her love for Jesus. 

So… when was the last time you loved Jesus extravagantly?  How did you do that?  Do you ever look for opportunities to do it again?    

Matthew 26:8-10 – 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 this woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.”

Immediately, someone cast a damper on this act of humility and love by starting to complain.  Nothing can ruin an act of love more quickly than a complaint!  So who was the rotten apple?  You guessed it – Judas!

John 12:4-6 – But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”  He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and having charge of the moneybag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

He not only murmurs against this woman and her display of extravagant love for Christ, he implies fault on the part of Jesus as well, for allowing her to treat him in this way.  That’s a very bold assumption, don’t you think?   

Once Judas begins to gripe and complain, it appears that the other disciples also entered into it.  What a grievous and evil fire was set aflame by the tongue of Judas!  His envy and avarice infected all of his companions.

What a multitude of lessons present themselves in this circumstance!

  • We ought to see this as a kind of warning, not to rashly decide on a matter until we have heard both sides of the story.  The disciples instantly sided with Judas because there was a degree of plausibility in his statement.  However, if they had waited to see what Jesus had to say about the matter, they would have come to a completely different conclusion.  I wonder how embarrassed they were after Jesus responded to their griping and accusations!  The wise person will consider both sides of the issue, before spouting off at the mouth!
  • Thinking of complaining?  Don’t do it!  It never helps.  Complaining is one of Satan’s favorite fragrances.  Don’t draw him to yourself by wallowing in it.  Don’t tear others down with it.  Say something encouraging or keep your mouth shut!
  • How dare the disciples judge this woman’s act of service to Christ as a ‘waste’?  What right did they have to do so?  This woman’s perfume was her ‘talent’.  Had she kept it hidden away instead of investing it, that would have been a waste. 

Instead, she purposely and selflessly rendered a unique gift/service to God; Jesus commends her actions as surely as if he had said ‘well done, good and faithful servant’.  In short, we have no right to judge the motivation of a person’s heart.  When someone gives a pure expression of love to Christ, it has a value unknown to us; but it is priceless to God.

Matthew 26:11 – “For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.”

There are two kinds of opportunities which are available to us as Christians.  The majority of these are constant; they are always around.  For instance, we can always give clothing and shelter to the poor, because they will always be poor among us.  We can always feed the hungry, because there will always be hungry people.  We can always give to the spread of the gospel message, because they are always places that still need to be reached with the good news of Jesus.

But there are also opportunities that are one-time events.  The anointing of Jesus with this costly perfume was one of them.  It was right and good that she gave Jesus this lavish gift, because he would soon be gone and the chance to do this good work would also be gone.  This was her only chance to minister to this need. If we are attentive to the voice of the Holy Spirit, he will show us some of these unique opportunities. 

Matthew 26:12-13  –  “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.”

It is very unlikely that this woman clearly understood that Jesus was going to die shortly; even the disciples did not fully comprehend the fact at that time.  She was motivated by love and gratitude; Jesus used her extravagant gift to call attention to the fact that he was soon going to lay down his life for the benefit of mankind. 

Can we wax poetic for a moment and say that the death of Christ yielded a wonderful or desirable odor because it breathed life and salvation throughout the whole earth? 

After all, when Jesus promises that this woman will be remembered ‘wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world’, he is indirectly testifying that the gospel will spread way past the borders of the Jewish nation to include the Gentiles as well. That’s good news for all of us reading this lesson right now.

Matthew 26:14-15 – 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.

So, as one of Christ’s followers is giving him an extravagant gift of love, another one is planning to betray him to his sworn enemies!  Even in Jesus’ circle of friends there were both sheep and goats. 

It is true that Jesus gently rebuked his disciples for their grumbling about the gift of spikenard.  But why would a person who receives a gentle rebuke respond with a full blown betrayal?

Despite the fact that Judas had walked with Jesus for three years, witnessed great numbers of miracles and heard godly teaching, Christ was not truly ruling his heart.  He had not been transformed by his time with Jesus.  

So when he is rebuked for complaining about the ‘waste’ of the perfume, Judas probably felt some shame, which soon transformed into anger.  The true motivation of his heart – greed – had been painfully and publicly exposed.  Think about this:  He was angry and frustrated because he lost the opportunity to steal money that was never even under his control!  

He was probably further agitated by the realization that Jesus was not going to set up an immediate earthly kingdom – he was going to die!  All the dreams that Judas had about being the secretary of the treasury in Jesus’ new kingdom went right up in smoke!    

Obviously, lust for money consumed every part of Judas’ being.  And anyone who loves money that much has no room for God.

Now remember, this event happened six days before the crucifixion.  So over the next few days, Judas’ lust, anger and frustration grew to a point where he was totally consumed.  At some point (during the Passover meal), he allowed Satan to have control of his heart.      

Luke 22:3-5 – Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.   And he went his way, and conferred with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.  And they were glad, and agreed to give him money.

The price that was paid for the betrayal of Jesus is just bewildering.

On one hand, we have Judas, who is consumed by his love for money.  He is more than just greedy.  He has entered into the realm of avarice.  He will eventually trade his immortal soul and eternal life with Jesus for earthly money.  That being the case, we would expect him to ask the religious leaders for an exorbitant sum. 

On the other hand, we have the religious leaders, who are desperately determined to put an end to the life of Jesus.  They have access to vast sums of money (from the temple funds).  Surely, they would pay a handsome price to get what they wanted. 

Yet, we find that the amount paid for the life of Jesus was just thirty coins. 

Was there any significance to this amount?

Under the Law, thirty pieces of silver was the appointed restitution price for a servant/slave who had been gored to death by an animal.  It reflects the lowest value that could be placed on a human life.

Exodus 21:32 – If an ox gores a slave, male or female, the owner shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned. 

The only explanation for such a meager sum, was that God had ordained it in times past, and the sum was a fulfillment of prophesy.  

Zechariah 11:12-13 – And I said unto them, If you think it good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.   And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a princely price that I was valued at by them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.  

And yet, it is a fitting price, for Jesus was a servant:

Isaiah 42:1 – Behold my servant, whom I uphold; my elect, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth justice to the Gentiles.   

How could we ever comprehend the depth of the love that Jesus has for us?  Mankind assigns his life the lowest possible value, yet Jesus pays the ultimate price for us – his own blood.    

Sadly, our nation is even worse than Judas.  We have assigned a value of zero worth to tens of thousands of unborn children when we stood by and allowed abortion to be an acceptable practice.    

Matthew 26:16 – And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.

Once the bargain was struck, there was no further need to wait until after the Passover.  The religious leaders still did not want to arrest Jesus in front of the crowds, but that shouldn’t be a problem now.  As a close associate of Jesus, Judas would know where he was at all times.  It would be easy to call in the temple guards at night, or in a place of secrecy, away from the throngs of people who had descended upon Jerusalem.  Or so they thought…

Matthew 26:17 – Now on the first day of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus saying, “Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?”

As we already discussed, Passover only lasted a single day, but it was immediately followed by the feast of unleavened bread, which lasted seven days.  This feast commemorated the haste and confusion that occurred on the night that the Israelites fled Egypt.  Because of their great haste, they ate bread without leaven (Exodus 13:5-10).

I find it interesting that while Jesus was alive, he perfectly observed every facet of the ceremonial law, even up to the time of his death.  Jesus made no excuses – He celebrated Passover in Jerusalem, as the law specified, despite the threats of the religious leaders. 

Soon he would both fulfill and abolish the Law with his death and resurrection! 

Matthew 26:18 – 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.’”

Jesus instructs his followers to go and find a specific man, and make arrangements for the Passover meal to be eaten at his house.

No doubt, this man was a follower of Jesus.  This is apparent in the message that Jesus gives him.  In it, he refers to himself as “The Teacher” or “The Master”.  This was the title that the disciples commonly used for Jesus. It is possible that this man was a secret disciple, like many others at the time, because they feared persecution from the Jewish leaders (John 12:42).

As Master, Jesus does not ask permission from the man to use his house.  He commands it to be done, knowing that the man will acknowledge his authority.

Do we acknowledge the same authority of Jesus?  If he speaks to us about giving up our material possessions for his use, do we immediately comply, or do we hesitate and complain?  Do we find excuses not to do as he has commanded?    

Notice the message that Jesus gives to the homeowner: My time is at hand.  In other words, Jesus knew that the time of his death was upon him, and he acted accordingly. 

We, however, do not know the time of our death and so (as discussed in chapter 25) we must always be watchful and on guard so that we can be ready for eternity when the time of our death arrives. 

Matthew 26:19 – And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover.

Have you ever prepared an entire Thanksgiving meal by yourself?  You have to clean and roast the turkey, peel the potatoes, make the cranberry relish and mix the stuffing.  You also have to thicken the drippings for gravy, heat up the corn and make sure to bake the pies.  The tricky part is making sure that it is all done at the same time.   Thanksgiving dinner can be exhausting if you are the cook!

The disciples had a similar situation in this case.  Although the room they had access to was furnished (had tables and couches), they still had to get a lamb, buy or prepare unleavened bread, buy and wash the bitter herbs, make the sauce and get the wine.  The lamb would need to be taken to the temple to be slain; then it had to be skinned, dressed and roasted.  The table had to be set.  And it all had to be ready by sunset.

Matthew 26:20-21 – 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.”

So the Passover meal followed its normal course of events, until a shocking announcement is made by Jesus. 

First, we notice that Jesus was very much aware of what was going on.  Judas may have fooled his fellow disciples, but Jesus was divinely aware that Judas was his betrayer. 

Judas

Jesus had told his disciples for some time that he was going to be betrayed and put to death, but they probably figured it would be the religious leaders who would to this.  It was quite a blow for them to find out that it was a member of their inner group whose treachery would lead to their Master’s death. 

However, this revelation did serve a purpose.  When they saw it, it did not take them by surprise.  It was not a blow to their faith.  In fact, it was the opposite – because Jesus had accurately predicted it, the event became a confirmation of their faith in him.

Matthew 26:22 – And they were very sorrowful and began to say to him one after another, “Is it I, Lord?”

The reaction of the 11 was predictable – they were filled with sorrow and grief that Jesus was going to be betrayed.  This exemplified their great love for Jesus.

It probably also troubled them to find out that there was a traitor among them.  They had spent about three years with each other and I’m sure they felt that they knew each other very well.  Now they probably questioned whether or not they could trust anybody. 

But most troubling of all was that they were uncertain who the betrayer was.  Apparently, Judas was not the obvious suspect. He was a hypocrite, but he was well hidden and by all outward appearances, he was a true believer.  This is, perhaps, the scariest detail in this account. 

To their credit, the disciples did not start accusing one another.  They did not indignantly assert that it couldn’t be them.  Instead, each man was apt to suspect himself of some hidden weakness or sin that could lead to a betrayal of their Master, even though they were not conscious of it. 

This uncertainty surely made each disciple look inward and examine the intents and motivations of his own heart.  Having found nothing, they look to Jesus to confirm that they are clean. (Lord, is it I?)

This is a good lesson for us as well.  Every so often, we would do well to take stock of our motivations.  Are we still serving God with a pure heart?  Or has a touch of pride, a slice of jealousy, or a drop of judgment crept into our hearts and lives?  It is good for us to consult with the Holy Spirit and ask him to reveal any uncleanness in our lives. 

It is also possible that some of us have been ‘betrayed’ by a friend, or family member.  It may even have been someone extremely close to us.  It may have been something that was completely unexpected and caught us totally off guard.  But this example tells us not to be discouraged or to give up hope; Jesus experienced the exact same thing. 

If you are hurting or broken because of a betrayal, Jesus can heal you.  The stripes he took on his back were not just for physical healing, but for spiritual and emotional healing as well.  

Matthew 26:23 – He answered, “He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me will betray me.”

What is the dish being discussed here?  In the observance of Passover, the Jews had a thick sauce made of raisins and figs mixed with vinegar and other spices.  It was their view that this mixture represented the clay which their forefathers were compelled to use in making brick.  So the sauce was a reminder of their bitter bondage in Egypt.

Remember, there were 10-20 people in the group who ate the Passover lamb.  So there would have been several small bowls of this sauce on the table where the meal was eaten.

So when Jesus says that his betrayer will ‘dip his hand in the dish with me’, it indicates that Judas was sitting very close to Jesus during this final Passover meal. 

Which brings up another point.  How could Judas, knowing what he planned to do, come to participate in the sacred Passover feast with the one he planned to betray?  It is truly unbelievable!   

Psalm 41:9 – Yea, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

In the eyes of Jewish culture, eating with the one you betrayed made the treachery even more monstrous.

Matthew 26:24 – “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 shows a fixed determination to do evil.  He hears the ugly truth of his crime proclaimed by lips of absolute love and truth, and yet he is unmoved.  His intensions are no longer secret or hidden; his sin is exposed for all to see, yet he does not seem to care.  Most people are ashamed and embarrassed when their private sins are publicly broadcast, but not Judas.  He expresses no remorse over the foul deed he is about to do. 

He seems to have no care for his future condition.  Jesus is telling him that his future will be cast in stone, and it will be more horrible than he could imagine, but still Judas stays his course. 

We often speak of deathbed confessions, where sinners finally come to terms with their lives and turn to Christ on the threshold of eternity.  This is really the same thing.  Judas is on the threshold of no return.  Jesus throws him one more lifeline in an effort to sway him from his evil decision and save himself.  But he makes no move to grab the life preserver. 

If you are reading this, and you have delayed and delayed in doing something that God has called you to do, I urge you to stop right now, and make a change. 

If you have delayed in fully living for Christ (perhaps you still have one foot in the world), I urge you to stop right now and make a change.  It may seem like you have a long life ahead of you, but time has a funny way of disappearing.  You blink and it’s gone.  You may be on the threshold of an irreversible decision.  You don’t know when you will breathe your final breath.  Commit fully to Christ, today. 

Matthew 26:25 – Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?”  He said to him, “You have said so.”

Did you notice the title by which Judas addresses Jesus? 

All of the other disciples address Jesus as Master (or Lord), while Judas calls him Teacher (Rabbi).  This was probably the one truthful statement that he made – Jesus was NOT his Master or Lord, and in the end, he was unable to address him by that title. 

John gives us many additional details about this incident, so you might want to check that out (See John 13). He tells us that Satan actually entered into the heart of Judas after he ate the bread with sauce.  At that point, Jesus admonishes him to perform his betrayal quickly, and Judas leaves the company at that point. 

Thus, Judas did not partake of the bread or cup (the first communion) which was to be a sign or mark of the New Covenant.  We will discuss this topic on our next post.

Let me offer you some encouragement, relief and strength: 

The time of Jesus’ death was a very scary and perplexing time for the disciples.  They didn’t fully understand what was happening.  Things were not working out the way they had anticipated.  There was social unrest as the religious leaders clashed with Jesus and the threat of Roman involvement hung in the air.  Fear and doubt crowded into their minds.  Someone they trusted turned out to be a traitor.  Death and persecution were very real possibilities. 

You may be feeling the same way right now.  We are living in some perplexing times.  People are widely divided on many issues, like government, the virus, environmental issues, race, etc.  Everywhere we look there is social unrest. 

Maybe things in your life aren’t working out the way you thought they would.  Perhaps fear, doubt, depression or hopelessness are trying to attack you. 

But there is a way to be victorious in the midst of these times.  The disciples found victory by fully committing and trusting in Jesus.  So can you!

1 John 5:4-5 – For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

Look at what John is saying in this verse.  If you are a child of Almighty God, you are an overcomer!  No matter what comes against you, no matter what the government says, no matter what disease is out there, no matter how divided people are over social issues, you can/will overcome! 

John tells us that the key to overcoming the world is your faith.  So this week, I encourage you to take specific steps to further strengthen your faith. 

Here are some suggestions:

Read the word.  Not just a little; not just a few verses before bed.  Saturate your mind with it. Listen to it on CD or stream it.  Read it on your phone during your break.  Memorize a new passage.  Recite the verses you know each morning or before bed.  Share a scripture with your spouse.  Let the truth of the word fill your heart and mind.  Let it be on your lips as you go throughout your day.

Testify about what God has already done for you.  Sometimes there is an opportunity during church to testify, but many times there is not.  So you need to find a way to testify to your fellow believers.  Call someone on the phone, and let them know what God has done in your life recently.  Post something on social media.  Text your BFF and let them know.  This not only helps build your faith, it builds their faith as well!

Spend time in worship.  No evil can exist in God’s presence.  So when you are there, your faith grows and your troubles shrink.  The more you fellowship with God, the more your faith will expand.  Believe in him and trust in him.  Watch him work on your behalf!

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