Things turn ugly as a plot against Jesus’ life is formed. The religious leaders of Israel, who should have led the way in accepting Jesus, led the plot to kill him. They “plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him” (Matt. 26:4). He had challenged their pretentious way of life and he had to go.
Meanwhile the downtrodden and poor comforted Jesus. They reached out to the one who reached down to save them. It was not a waste to anoint Jesus with very expensive perfume; it was a beautiful thing. Here we find the memorable quote, “The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me” (Matt. 26:11). Why wait to honor someone we love until their death? Lavish love upon them now.
How sad and tragic to see Judas betraying the Lord. Jesus chose him, knowing his weakness. The Lord also knew Judas had potential and gave him the opportunity to do the right thing. But Judas opened his heart to Satan. He became an opportunist, thinking Jesus would overcome the plot against his life. Judas would pocket a nice pile of cash and Jesus would live on. No harm, no foul? Not so. We cannot have it both ways. We dare not join hands with the enemies of Jesus, while pretending to walk with him.
The introduction of the Lord’s Supper is a precious occasion. The Passover commemorated the deliverance of Israel from death and from bondage in Egypt. This narrative is recorded in Exodus. The Lord’s Supper commemorates Jesus’ death, by which we are delivered from bondage in sin. The church would begin to participate in this memorial meal in its beginning and would faithfully carry on the practice through the years (Acts 2:42, 20:7). What a blessing to have this communion with Jesus and one another each Lord’s day.
After such an uplifting subject comes the prediction of Peter’s denial of Jesus. Peter could scarcely believe that he would do such a thing. He boasted and denied that he would do so. All the disciples said the same. When our faith is put to the test and we must choose to suffer with Jesus or cower and deny him, what will we do? “They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him” (Titus 1:16).
In the garden of Gethsemane Jesus sought the company of his closest allies while he prayed about his upcoming sacrificial death. Jesus needed their support. Imagine that. In his prayer, Jesus asked that, if possible, the cup of suffering might be taken from him. Perhaps the Father could find another way to accomplish the salvation of the world. “Yet not as I will, but as you will” must always be our sentiment.
The betrayal of Jesus is such a sad scene. The “Judas kiss.” Jesus did not need Peter’s physical defense. “He could have called 10,000 angels, but he died alone for you and me.” Jesus went willingly with his captors.
The Sanhedrin was the “supreme court” of the Jews. Rome ruled the land with civil law and military might, but the Jews still ruled in matters of their religion. How pitiful that Jesus’ accusers sought false evidence against him. They could not find any real evidence to warrant his execution. Under oath, Jesus answered the charge that he claimed to be the Christ, the Son of God. Not just a claim, but a fact. His claim was not blasphemy; it was truth. How pitiful when mere men sit in judgment of the Son of God and the Word of God. They spat on and struck the Lamb of God!
And then, as Jesus had predicted, Peter denied Jesus. Not just once, but three times. Can you imagine how Peter felt from then on when he heard a rooster crow? Are we reminded of his denial when we see or hear a rooster? How easily men disown the Lord. Let us deepen our conviction and stand with Jesus always.
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of Matthew’s gospel. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.