Now the Passover and Unleavened Bread were two days away; and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to seize Him by stealth and kill Him;
(a) The Passover and Unleavened Bread were two separate festivals celebrated one after the other and often simply referred to as “Passover” (see entry for Matt. 26:2).
(b) The chief priests and the scribes. In Matthew’s account it is the chief priests and the elders who plot to kill Jesus (Matt. 26:3), while in John’s account it is the chief priests and the Pharisees (John 11:47). The plot involved the whole ruling council or Sanhedrin (Mark 14:55), with only a few dissenters (Luke 23:50-51).
(c) Were seeking or plotting; see entry for Matt. 26:4.
(d) How to seize Him by stealth because they feared a riot (see next verse).
for they were saying, “Not during the festival, otherwise there might be a riot of the people.”
(a) The festival of unleavened bread ran for seven days following the Passover. Perhaps the chief priests wanted to kill Jesus after the festival, when the city emptied. If so, Jesus forced their hand by almost encouraging Judas to betray him (see entry for John 13:27).
(b) A riot. The religious leaders had two reasons for fearing a riot. First, they risked incurring the wrath of the people who, just days earlier, had hailed the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:9). Second, they risked the wrath of the Romans who had the power to remove them from office and destroy their country (John 11:48).
Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went off to the chief priests in order to betray Him to them.
(a) Judas Iscariot; see entry for Matt. 26:14.
(b) To betray Him to them. Judas was a petty thief who stole from the disciples’ money box (John 12:6). He had heard that the chief priests were looking to seize Jesus (John 11:57). Judas decided to offer his services in exchange for money (Matt. 26:15).
They were glad when they heard this, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how to betray Him at an opportune time.
(a) They were glad. The chief priests had a problem – how to find Jesus alone and arrest him quietly – and Judas offered a solution.
(b) Promised to give him money. Like bait on a hook, the chief priests caught their fish by appealing to his greed. They paid himthirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:15), the price of a common slave (Ex. 21:32). It was also the blood price foretold by the prophets (Zech. 11:12).
(c) An opportune time was when Jesus could be taken quietly and without attracting attention (Luke 22:6). When such opportunity eventually presented itself, Judas seems to have been unready. Jesus had to nudge him into action (John 13:27).
On the first day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover lamb was being sacrificed, His disciples said to Him, “Where do You want us to go and prepare for You to eat the Passover?”
The first day of Unleavened Bread. Technically, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread did not begin until 15th of the month, immediately after the Passover (Lev. 23:5-6). But since the Jews began to eat unleavened bread on the 14th (Ex. 12:18), this day came to be known as the first day of Unleavened Bread.
As they were reclining at the table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me—one who is eating with Me.”
Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus (Mark 14:11), but when they time came, he wasn’t paying attention. He knew the Lord’s plans for the evening, yet he did nothing to alert the chief priests. Jesus had to give him a nudge. “One of you will betray me.” In other words, “Judas, it’s time to act. Either do what you’ve planned or repent.”
They began to be grieved and to say to Him one by one, “Surely not I?”
The disciples are freaking out, but Jesus’ attention is focused on Judas. With his body language, Jesus is saying, “Judas, it’s time” (John 13:27).
And He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who dips with Me in the bowl.
Jesus has given Judas a subtle nudge but Judas is not responding. He is still eating his supper. So Jesus gets more intentional. “It’s the one whose hand is in the bowl next to mine. Yes, you Judas.”
“For the Son of Man is to go just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”
See entry for Matt. 26:24.
While they were eating, He took some bread, and after a blessing He broke it, and gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is My body.”
See entry for Matt. 26:26.
And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.
See entry for Matt. 26:27.
And He said to them, “This is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many.
See entry for Matt. 26:28.
“Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”
See entry for Matt. 26:29.
After singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
It the custom for the Jews to conclude the Passover by singing one of the praise or Hallel psalms. (Hallel comes from hallelujah, the first word in Psalm 113.) The six Hallel psalms are Psalms 113-118.
And Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, because it is written, ‘I WILL STRIKE DOWN THE SHEPHERD, AND THE SHEEP SHALL BE SCATTERED.’
Jesus is quoting Zechariah 13:7. This prophecy was fulfilled just a few hours later when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:50).
“But after I have been raised, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
Galilee was home for Jesus and the eleven remaining disciples. In contrast, Jerusalem was a place of persecution and death. Jesus is saying, “When this current trial is over, I’ll see you at home.”
But Peter said to Him, “Even though all may fall away, yet I will not.”
Peter was utterly committed to the Lord and ready to die for him (Matt. 26:35). But Peter’s prideful boast would lead to a spectacular failure, as Jesus is about to predict.
And Jesus said to him, “Truly I say to you, that this very night, before a rooster crows twice, you yourself will deny Me three times.”
Within hours, this prophecy came true. Peter denied Jesus three times. It was a spectacular failure for Peter, but a wonderful encouragement for all of us who stumble. Jesus does not love and accept us because of the promises we make. He loves us just because. Manmade religion says we have to earn God’s approval, but the gospel of grace declares, “God loves you without any regard for your performance.” And where is the proof? It is in the cross and a hundred other things. It is in Jesus’ acceptance of Peter who denied him three times.
But Peter kept saying insistently, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And they all were saying the same thing also.
Even if I have to die with You. Peter was utterly committed to the Lord and ready to die for him. And these weren’t empty words either, as Peter proved when he single-handedly attacked a mob of 500 armed men (Luke 12:50). But Peter was seriously misguided and Jesus would have to rebuke him for his hot-headedness (Luke 12:51).
Immediately while He was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came up accompanied by a crowd with swords and clubs, who were from the chief priests and the scribes and the elders.
(a) Judas; see entry for Matt. 26:14.
(b) A crowd numbering more than 500 armed men was sent to arrest Jesus (see entry for John 18:3).
(c) Swords and clubs. Swords were the normal weapon for Roman soldiers, but clubs or staves would have been used for crowd control. Evidently, the chief priests had told the soldiers to prepare for a riot.
(d) The chief priests and the scribes and the elders. The armed mob had been sent by the ruling council or Sanhedrin. Some of the chief priests and elders were also present at the arrest (Luke 22:52).
Now he who was betraying Him had given them a signal, saying, “Whomever I kiss, He is the one; seize Him and lead Him away under guard.”
It was dark and the soldiers did not know Jesus as well as Judas did. To ensure they got their man, they needed a sign. In this way a kiss on the cheek became a knife in the back.
After coming, Judas immediately went to Him, saying, “Rabbi!” and kissed Him.
(a) Rabbi! Although this was a common greeting among the Jews, Judas’s words reveal his heart. Unlike the other disciples, it was not his habit to address Jesus as Lord (Matt. 26:25).
(b) And kissed Him. This was not the first time in scripture that a betrayal had been preceded by a kiss (see 2 Sam. 20:9-10).
They laid hands on Him and seized Him.
The soldiers came to arrest Jesus and they did, but not before they experienced the power of God (see John 18:6) and witnessed a miracle (Luke 22:51).
But one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear.
(a) One of those who stood by. It was Simon Peter who struck the servant (John 18:10). Jesus rebuked Peter for swinging a sword before healing the injured servant (Luke 22:51). Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, and the weapons of our warfare are not worldly (Eph. 6:12, 2 Cor. 10:4).
(b) His sword. Peter had a sword because Jesus told him to bring one (see entry for Luke 22:36). Jesus wanted the disciples to be armed so that he might be numbered among the transgressors, as prophesied by Isaiah (Luke 22:37).
(c) The slave of the high priest was called Malchus (John 18:10). A relative of Malchus later accused Peter of being a follower of Jesus prompting Peter to deny his association with the Lord (John 18:26).
And Jesus said to them, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest Me, as you would against a robber?
(a) Swords and clubs; see entry for Mark 14:43.
(b) As you would against a robber. Jesus is not defending his innocence as much as drawing everyone’s attention to the prophecy being fulfilled in front of them (see entry for Luke 22:37).
“Every day I was with you in the temple teaching, and you did not seize Me; but this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures.”
(a) I used to sit in the temple. The Sanhedrin did not want to arrest Jesus publicly because they feared it might start a riot (see Matt. 26:5).
(b) Fulfill the Scriptures. Jesus is referring to those prophecies predicting his betrayal and arrest (see entry for Matt. 26:54).
And they all left Him and fled.
As Jesus prophesied (Mark 14:27), the disciples deserted him in his hour of need.
A young man was following Him, wearing nothing but a linen sheet over his naked body; and they seized him. But he pulled free of the linen sheet and escaped naked.
A young man. We don’t know the identity of this young man, but tradition suggests he was Mark, the author of this Gospel. It may have been in the house of Mark’s mother, that Jesus and the disciples ate their last supper. Perhaps the young man, having gone to bed, heard Jesus and the disciples leaving the upper room and he decided to follow them wearing only a bed sheet. We can say nothing more about him, except that he was very nearly arrested, and only escaped by shedding his sheet.
They led Jesus away to the high priest; and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes gathered together.
(a) They led Jesus away first to the house of Annas, a former high priest (John 18:13), then to Caiaphas, the current high priest (Luke 22:54, John 18:24).
(b) The high priest; see entry for Matt. 26:3.
(c) All the chief priests and the elders and the scribes. The ruling council or Sanhedrin in other words (see entry for Mark 15:1).
Peter had followed Him at a distance, right into the courtyard of the high priest; and he was sitting with the officers and warming himself at the fire.
(a) The courtyard of the high priest. Instead of conducting their sham trial in their chambers at the temple, the Council examined Jesus in the relative privacy of the high priest’s courtyard.
(b) Sitting with the officers. Evidently the armed Levites of the temple guard did not recognize Peter as the disciple who had tried to behead poor Malchus (Mark 14:47)!
Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, and they were not finding any.
The whole Council. Although Mark 14:64 says “they all condemned him,” there were at least two members of the council who did not consent, namely, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (Luke 23:51, John 19:39). Possibly these two men were not invited to the trial.
For many were giving false testimony against Him, but their testimony was not consistent.
Many. In a trial that was illegal from start to finish (see entry for Matt. 26:57), many false witnesses did not hesitate to break the ninth commandment (Ex. 20:16).
Some stood up and began to give false testimony against Him, saying, “We heard Him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.’”
(a) We heard him say. What Jesus said was, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Jesus never said he would destroy Herod’s temple for he was speaking of the temple of his body (John 2:21). He was predicting his death and resurrection.
(c) Made without hands. The Most High does not dwell in a house made with human hands (Acts 7:48). The temple of the Lord is his body, the church.
Not even in this respect was their testimony consistent.
The contradictions of the false witnesses must’ve been frustrating for Caiaphas the high priest. He had put so much thought into organizing this sham trial, but it was all coming apart for a lack of witnesses. Thankfully, he had one ally who would help him secure a death sentence for Jesus, and that was Jesus himself.
The high priest stood up and came forward and questioned Jesus, saying, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?”
(a) The high priest at that time was Caiaphas (see entry for John 18:13).
(b) Do You not answer? Jesus does not answer because there is nothing to answer and it would make no difference to the outcome if he did.
(c) What is it that these men are testifying against You? Even the high priest can’t make sense of the lies told by the false witnesses.
But He kept silent and did not answer. Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?”
(a) He kept silent. Why respond to charges that are contradictory and patently false?
(b) Are you the Christ? Like a scene out of a courtroom drama, the high priest bets the house on one direct question.
And Jesus said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.”
(a) I am. This is one of the few times where Jesus acknowledges he is the Son of God (see entry for Rev. 2:18). Normally he refers to himself as the Son of Man.
(b) You shall see; see entry for Matt. 26:64.
Tearing his clothes, the high priest said, “What further need do we have of witnesses?”
(a) Tearing his clothes. It was a dramatic gesture, but it was an unlawful one (see Lev. 21:10). Once again, Caiaphas reveals his low regard for the laws of Moses (see entry for Matt. 26:57).
(b) What further need do we have of witnesses? Caiaphas believes Jesus has condemned himself.
“You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.
(a) Blasphemy is the act of cursing or slandering God. For Jesus, a mere man, to equate himself with God was blasphemous in the eyes of the Sanhedrin.
(b) How does it seem to you? Caiaphas has the Sanhedrin right where he wants them. His bold questions and dramatic gestures have brought the council to the moment of condemnation. Later, he will use these same skills to manipulate the Roman governor.
(c) They all condemned Him. This suggests that those members of the Sanhedrin who might have voted otherwise, such as Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, were not present at the midnight trial (see Luke 23:51, John 19:39).
(d) Deserving of death. Under Jewish law, blasphemy was a crime punishable by death from stoning (Lev. 24:16).
Some began to spit at Him, and to blindfold Him, and to beat Him with their fists, and to say to Him, “Prophesy!” And the officers received Him with slaps in the face.
(a) Beat Him. An angry religious mob is a fearsome beast. These weren’t old men giving reproving slaps; these were angry fanatics who thought nothing of killing in the name of their God. It’s almost a miracle that Jesus made it out of Caiaphas’s house alive. This was just one of three severe beatings Jesus received this day (see entry for Luke 22:63).
(b) Prophesy! If Jesus was the Christ, the Anointed One and Prophet of God, he would know who was beating him. Thus they taunted him, but Jesus probably did know who his persecutors were. He knew every hate-filled thing about them, yet forgave them any way (see Luke 23:34).
(c) The officers or temple guard; see entry for John 18:3.
As Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came,
One of the servant-girls; see entry for John 18:17.
And seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Nazarene.”
(a) Peter warming himself; see entry for John 18:18.
(b) Jesus the Nazarene. A Nazarene was someone from Nazareth, a Galilean town of little consequence. In Judea, Jesus was known as a Nazarene (Mark 10:47, John 18:5, 19:19), in fulfilment of prophecy (see Matt. 2:23).
But he denied it, saying, “I neither know nor understand what you are talking about.” And he went out onto the porch.
(a) He denied it; see entry for Luke 22:57.
(b) The porch. Peter had gone into the courtyard to get warm (John 18:18), but the heat from the servant-girl’s unwanted attention caused him to withdraw to the outer porch.
The servant-girl saw him, and began once more to say to the bystanders, “This is one of them!”
The servant-girl. It didn’t matter where Peter sat. Either the same girl or another one (Matt. 26:71) or possibly a man (Luke 22:58) recognized him.
But again he denied it. And after a little while the bystanders were again saying to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean too.”
(a) Again he denied it; see entry for Luke 22:58.
(b) You are a Galilean too. Jesus was famously Galilean (Luke 23:6) and most of his disciples were from Galilee. Peter had a distinctive Galilean accent.
But he began to curse and swear, “I do not know this man you are talking about!”
Curse and swear; see entry for Matt. 26:74.
Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had made the remark to him, “Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” And he began to weep.
(a) A rooster crowed and the Lord’s prophecy was fulfilled (Mark 14:30).
(b) He began to weep. Having betrayed his best friend and Lord, Peter’s sorrow was understandably great. His proud heart had been thoroughly broken by sin. But in contrast with the remorse of Judas (Matt. 27:3), this was a good and godly sorrow that would ultimately lead Peter to repentance.
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