Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover.See the notes at Matthew 26:1-2.
And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; for they feared the people.
Then entered Satan into Judas surnamed Iscariot, being of the number of the twelve.Then entered Satan into Judas - It is not necessary to suppose that Satan entered personally into the body of Judas, but only that he brought him under his influence; he filled his mind with an evil passion, and led him on to betray his Master. The particular passion of which Satan made use was "avarice" - probably the besetting sin of Judas. To show its exceeding evil and baseness, it is only necessary to say that when it produced its "appropriate" effect in this case, it led to the betraying and crucifixion of the Son of God. We may learn, also, that when Satan "tempts" people, he commonly does it by exciting and raising to the highest pitch their native passions. He does not make them act contrary to their nature, but leads them on to "act out" their proper disposition.
Satan - This word properly means an adversary or an accuser. It is the name which in the Scriptures is commonly given to the prince or leader of evil spirits, and is given to him because he is the "accuser or calumniator" of the righteous (see Revelation 12:10; compare Job 1:6-9), as well as because he is the "adversary" of God.
Being of the number of the twelve - One of the twelve apostles. This greatly aggravated his crime. He should have been bound by most tender ties to Jesus. He was one of his family - long with him, and, treated by him with every mark of kindness and confidence; and nothing could more enhance his guilt than thus to make use of this confidence for the commission of one of the basest crimes.
And he went his way, and communed with the chief priests and captains, how he might betray him unto them.Chief priests and captains - See the notes at Matthew 26:14. See the account of the bargain which Judas made with them explained in the Matthew 26:14-16 notes, and Mark 14:10-11 notes.
Absence of the multitude - The multitude, "the people," were then favorable to Jesus. He had preached in the temple, and many of them believed that he was the Messiah. It was a hazardous thing, therefore, to take him by force, and in their presence, as they might rise and rescue him. Hence, they sought to take him when "he" was away from the multitude; and as Judas knew of a place where he could be found "alone," they were glad of the opportunity of so easily securing him.
And they were glad, and covenanted to give him money.
And he promised, and sought opportunity to betray him unto them in the absence of the multitude.
Then came the day of unleavened bread, when the passover must be killed.See this passage explained in the Matthew 26:17-19 notes, and Mark 14:12-16 notes.
And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat.
And they said unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare?
And he said unto them, Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you, bearing a pitcher of water; follow him into the house where he entereth in.
And ye shall say unto the goodman of the house, The Master saith unto thee, Where is the guestchamber, where I shall eat the passover with my disciples?
And he shall shew you a large upper room furnished: there make ready.
And they went, and found as he had said unto them: and they made ready the passover.
And when the hour was come, he sat down, and the twelve apostles with him.When the hour was come - The hour of eating the paschal lamb, which was in the evening. See the notes at Matthew 26:20.
And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this passover with you before I suffer:With desire I have desired - This is a Hebrew form of expression, and means "I have greatly desired." The reasons why he desired this we may suppose to have been:
1. That, as he was about to leave them, he was desirous once of seeing them together, and of partaking with them of one of the religious privileges of the Jewish dispensation. Jesus was "man" as well as God, and he never undervalued the religious rites of his country, or the blessings of social and religious contact; and there is no impropriety in supposing that even he might feel that his human nature might be prepared by the service of religion for his great and terrible sufferings.
2. He doubtless wished to take an opportunity to prepare "them" for his sufferings, and to impress upon them more fully the certainty that he was about to leave them, that they might be prepared for it.
3. We may also suppose that he particularly desired it that he might institute for "their" use, and for the edification of all Christians, the supper which is called by his name - "the Lord's Supper." All his sufferings were the expression of love to his people, and he was desirous of testifying "always" his regard for their comfort and welfare.
Before I suffer - Before I die.
For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.Until it be fulfilled - See the notes at Matthew 26:29.
And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves:And he took the cup and gave thanks - This was not the "sacramental" cup, for that was taken "after" supper, Luke 22:20. This was one of the cups which were usually taken during the celebration of the Passover, and pertained to that observance. "After" he had kept this in the usual manner, he instituted the supper which bears his name, using the bread and wine which had been prepared for the Passover, and thus ingrafted the Lord's Supper on the Passover, or superseded the Passover by another ordinance, which was intended to be perpetual.
For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come.
And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.See the notes at Matthew 26:26-28.
Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.
But, behold, the hand of him that betrayeth me is with me on the table.See the notes at Matthew 26:21-25.
And truly the Son of man goeth, as it was determined: but woe unto that man by whom he is betrayed!
And they began to inquire among themselves, which of them it was that should do this thing.
And there was also a strife among them, which of them should be accounted the greatest.A strife - A contention or debate.
Which of them should be the greatest - The apostles, in common with the Jews generally, had supposed that the Messiah would come as a temporal prince, and in the manner of other princes of the earth - of course, that he would have officers of his government, ministers of state, etc. Their contention was founded on this expectation, and they were disputing which of them should be raised to the highest office. They had before had a similar contention. See Matthew 18:1; Matthew 20:20-28. Nothing can be more humiliating than that the disciples should have had "such" contentions, and in such a time and place. That just as Jesus was contemplating his own death, and laboring to prepare them for it, they should strive and contend about office and rank, shows how deeply seated is the love of power; how ambition will find its way into the most secret and sacred places; and how even the disciples of the meek and lowly Jesus are sometimes actuated by this most base and wicked feeling.
And he said unto them, The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors.The kings of the Gentiles - The kings of the "nations," or of the earth. They do this, and it is to be expected of them, and it is right. Our Lord does not mean to say that it was wrong that there should be such authority, but that "his" kingdom was to be of a different character, and they were not to expect it there.
Over them - That is, over the "nations."
Are called benefactors - The word "benefactor" is applied to one who bestows "favor" on another. It was applied to kings by way of "compliment or flattery." Some of them might have been truly benefactors of their people, but this was by no means true of "all." Yet it was applied to all, and especially to the Roman emperors. It is found applied to them often in the writings of Josephus and Philo.
But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve.But ye shall not be so - Christ here takes occasion to explain the nature of his kingdom. He assures them that it is established on different principles from those of the world; that his subjects were not to expect titles, and power, and offices of pomp in his kingdom. He that would be most advanced in "his" kingdom would be he that was most humble; and in order to show them this, he took a towel and girded himself after the manner of a servant, and washed their feet, to show them what ought to be their feelings toward each other. See John 13:4-17.
He that sitteth at meat - The master of the feast, or one of his guests.
But I am among you ... - This was said in connection with his washing their feet. He "showed" them how they ought to feel and act toward each other. "They" ought, therefore, not to aim at office and power, but to be humble, and serve and aid one another.
For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.
Ye are they which have continued with me in my temptations.My temptations - My trials, my humiliations, and my assaults from the power of Satan and a wicked world.
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me;And I appoint unto you a kingdom - He assures them here that they should "have" a kingdom - their expectations would be realized. They had continued with him; they had seen how "he" had lived, and to what trials he had been subjected; they had all along expected a kingdom, and he assures them that they should not be disappointed.
As my Father ... - They had seen how God had appointed a kingdom to "him." It was not with pomp, and splendor, and external glory, but it was in poverty, want, persecution, and trial. So would "he" appoint to them a kingdom. They should "surely" possess it; but it would be not with external splendor, but by poverty and toil. The original word "appoint" has the force of a "covenant" or compact, and means that it should be "surely" or certainly done, or that he pledged himself to do it. All Christians must enter into the kingdom of heaven after the manner of their Lord - through much tribulation; but, though it must be, as it was with him, by many tears and sorrows, yet they shall surely reach the place of their rest and the reward of heaven, for it is secured to them by the covenant pledge and faithfulness of their Lord and King.
That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.See the notes at Matthew 19:28.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:Simon - Peter. Jesus, foreseeing the danger of Peter, and knowing that he was about to deny him, took occasion to forewarn him and put him on his guard, and also to furnish him with a solace when he should be brought to repentance.
Satan hath desired - Satan is the prince of evil. One of his works is to try the faith of believers to place temptations and trials in their way, that they may be tested. Thus God gave Job into his hands, that it might be seen whether he would be found faithful, or would apostatize. See the notes at Job 1:7-12. So Satan desired to have Peter in his hands, that he might also try him.
May sift you as wheat - Grain was agitated or shaken in a kind of fan or sieve. The grain remained in the fan, and the chaff and dust were thrown off. So Christ says that Satan desired to try Peter; to place trials and temptations before him; "to agitate him" to see whether anything of faith would remain, or whether all would not be found to be chaff - mere natural ordor and false professions.
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.That thy faith fail not - The word "faith," here, seems to be used in the sense of religion, or attachment to Christ, and the words "fail not" mean "utterly fail" or fail altogether - that is, apostatize. It is true that the "courage" of Peter failed; it is true that he had not that immediate confidence in Jesus and reliance on him which he had before had; but the prayer of Jesus was that he might not altogether apostatize from the faith. God heard Jesus "always" John 11:42; it follows, therefore, that every prayer which he ever offered was answered; and it follows, as he asked here for a specific thing, that that thing was granted; and as he prayed that Peter's faith might not utterly fail, so it follows that there was no time in which Peter was not really a pious man. Far as he wandered, and grievously as he sinned, yet he well knew that Jesus was the Messiah. He "did know" the man; and though his fears overcame him and led him to aggravated sin, yet the prayer of Christ was prevalent, and he was brought to true repentance.
When thou art converted - The word "converted" means turned, changed, recovered. The meaning is, when thou art turned from this sin, when thou art recovered from this heinous offence, then use "your" experience to warn and strengthen those who are in danger of like sins. A man may be "converted or turned" from any sin, or any evil course. He is "regenerated" but once - at the beginning of his Christian life; he may be "converted" as often as he falls into sin.
Strengthen thy brethren - Confirm them, warn them, encourage them. They are in continual danger, also, of sinning. Use your experience to warn them of their danger, and to comfort and sustain them in their temptations. And from this we learn:
1. That one design of permitting Christians to fall into sin is to show their own weakness and dependence on God; and,
2. That they who have been overtaken in this manner should make use of their experience to warn and preserve others from the same path.
The two epistles of Peter, and his whole life, show that "he" was attentive to this command of Jesus; and in his death he manifested his deep abhorrence of this act of dreadful guilt in denying his blessed Lord, by requesting to be crucified with his head downward, as unworthy to suffer in the same manner that Christ did. Compare the notes at John 21:18.
And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.See the notes at Matthew 26:33-35.
And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.When I sent you ... - See the notes at Matthew 10:9-10.
Lacked ye ... - Did you want anything? Did not God fully provide for you? He refers to this to convince them that his words were true; that their past experience should lead them to put confidence in him and in God.
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.But now - The Saviour says the times are changed. "Before," he sent them out only for a little time. They were in their own country. Their journeys would be short, and there was no need that they should make preparation for a long absence, or for encountering great dangers. But "now" they were to go into the wide world, among strangers, trials, dangers, and wants. And as the time was near; as he was about to die; as these dangers pressed on, it was proper that they should make provision for what was before them.
A purse - See the notes at Matthew 10:9. He intimates that they should "now" take money, as it would be necessary to provide for their wants in traveling.
Scrip - See the notes at Matthew 10:10.
And he that hath no sword - There has been much difficulty in understanding why Jesus directed his disciples to arm themselves, as if it was his purpose to make a defense. It is certain that the spirit of his religion is against the use of the sword, and that it was not his purpose to defend himself against Judas. But it should be remembered that these directions about the purse, the scrip, and the sword were not made with reference to his "being taken" in the garden, but with reference "to their future life." The time of the trial in Gethsemane was just at hand; nor was there "time" then, if no other reason existed, to go and make the purchase. It altogether refers to their future life. They were going into the midst of dangers. The country was infested with robbers and wild beasts. It was customary to go armed. He tells them of those dangers - of the necessity of being prepared in the usual way to meet them. This, then, is not to be considered as a specific, positive "command" to procure a sword, but an intimation that great dangers were before them; that their manner of life would be changed, and that they would need the provisions "appropriate to that kind of life." The "common" preparation for that manner of life consisted in money, provisions, and arms; and he foretells them of that manner of life by giving them directions commonly understood to be appropriate to it. It amounts, then, to a "prediction" that they would soon leave the places which they had been accustomed to, and go into scenes of poverty, want, and danger, where they would feel the necessity of money, provisions, and the means of defense. All, therefore, that the passage justifies is:
1. That it is proper for people to provide beforehand for their wants, and for ministers and missionaries as well as any others.
2. That self-defense is lawful.
Men encompassed with danger may lawfully "defend" their lives. It does not prove that it is lawful to make "offensive" war on a nation or an individual.
Let him sell his garment - His "mantle" or his outer garment. See the notes at Matthew 5:40. The meaning is, let him procure one at any expense, even if he is obliged to sell his clothes for it intimating that the danger would be very great and pressing.
For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.This that is written - See the notes at Isaiah 53:12.
Was reckoned among the transgressors - Not reckoned as a transgressor, but "among or with" them - that is, he was treated as transgressors are. He was put to death in their company, and as he "would have been" if he had been a transgressor. He was innocent, holy, harmless, and undefiled, Hebrews 7:26. God knew this always, and could not "think" of him, or make him "to be" otherwise than he was; yet it pleased him to bruise him, and to give him into the hands of people who did reckon him as a transgressor, and who treated him accordingly.
Have an end - This may either mean, "shall be surely accomplished," or "they are about to be fulfilled," or "are now fulfilled." The former is probably the meaning, denoting that "every" prophecy in regard to him would certainly be accomplished.
And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.Are two swords - The Galileans, it is said, often went armed. The Essenes did so also. The reason was that the country was full of robbers and wild beasts, and it was necessary to carry, in their travels, some means of defense. It seems that the disciples followed the customs of the country, and had with them some means of defense, though they had but two swords among the twelve.
It is enough - It is difficult to understand this. Some suppose that it is spoken "ironically;" as if he had said, "You are bravely armed indeed, with two swords among twelve men, and to meet such a host!" Others, that he meant to reprove them for understanding him "literally," as if he meant that they were then to procure swords for "immediate" battle. As if he had said, "This is absurd, or a perversion of my meaning. I did not intend this, but merely to foretell you of impending dangers after my death." It is to be observed that he did not say "the two swords are enough," but "it is enough;" perhaps meaning simply, enough has been said. Other matters press on, and you will yet understand what I mean.
And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.See the Matthew 26:30-46 notes; Mark 14:26-42 notes.
And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.Strengthening him - His human nature, to sustain the great burden that was upon his soul. Some have supposed from this that he was not divine as well as human; for if he was "God," how could an angel give any strength or comfort? and why did not the divine nature "alone" sustain the human? But the fact that he was "divine" does not affect the case at all. It might be asked with the same propriety, If he was, as all admit, the friend of God, and beloved of God, and holy, why, if he was a mere man, did not "God" sustain him alone, without an angel's intervening? But the objection in neither case would have any force. The "man, Christ Jesus," was suffering. His human nature was in agony, and it is the "manner" of God to sustain the afflicted by the intervention of others; nor was there any more "unfitness" in sustaining the human nature of his Son in this manner than any other sufferer.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.In an agony - See this verse explained in the notes at Matthew 26:42-44.
And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,Sleeping for sorrow - On account of the greatness of their sorrow. See the notes at Matthew 26:40.
And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.See this explained in Matthew 26:48-56.
But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?Betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss? - By the "Son of man" was evidently meant "the Messiah." Judas had had the most satisfactory evidence of that, and did not doubt it. A kiss was the sign of affection. By that slight artifice Judas thought to conceal his base purpose. Jesus with severity reproaches him for it. Every word is emphatic. "Betrayest" thou - dost thou violate all thy obligations of fidelity, and deliver thy Master up to death? Betrayest "thou" - thou, so long with him, so much favored, so sure that this is the Messiah? Betrayest thou "the Son of man" - the Messiah, the hope of the nations, the desire of all people, the world's Redeemer? Betrayest thou the Son of man "with a kiss" - the sign of friendship and affection employed in a base and wicked purpose, intending to add deceit, disguise, and the prostitution of a mark of affection to the "crime of treason?" Every word of this must have gone to the very soul of Judas. Perhaps few reproofs of crime more resemble the awful searchings of the souls of the wicked in the day of judgment.
When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?
When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.
Then took they him, and led him, and brought him into the high priest's house. And Peter followed afar off.See the notes at Matthew 26:57-75.
And when they had kindled a fire in the midst of the hall, and were set down together, Peter sat down among them.
But a certain maid beheld him as he sat by the fire, and earnestly looked upon him, and said, This man was also with him.
And he denied him, saying, Woman, I know him not.
And after a little while another saw him, and said, Thou art also of them. And Peter said, Man, I am not.
And about the space of one hour after another confidently affirmed, saying, Of a truth this fellow also was with him: for he is a Galilaean.
And Peter said, Man, I know not what thou sayest. And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew.
And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
And Peter went out, and wept bitterly.
And the men that held Jesus mocked him, and smote him.See the notes at Matthew 26:57-68.
And when they had blindfolded him, they struck him on the face, and asked him, saying, Prophesy, who is it that smote thee?
And many other things blasphemously spake they against him.
And as soon as it was day, the elders of the people and the chief priests and the scribes came together, and led him into their council, saying,
Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:
And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.
Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.
Then said they all, Art thou then the Son of God? And he said unto them, Ye say that I am.
And they said, What need we any further witness? for we ourselves have heard of his own mouth.