Mat_26:14-16. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, And 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. And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.
It was one of the twelve, who went unto the chief priests, to bargain for the price of his Lord’s betrayal. He did not even mention Christ’s name in his infamous question, “What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you?” The amount agreed upon, thirty pieces of silver, was the price of a slave; and showed how little value the chief priests set upon Jesus, and also revealed the greed of Judas in selling his Master for so small a sum. Yet many have sold Jesus for a less price than Judas received; a smile or a sneer has been sufficient to induce them to betray their Lord. Let us, who have been redeemed with Christ’s precious blood, set high store by him, think much of him, and praise him much. As we remember with shame and sorrow, these thirty pieces of silver, let us never undervalue him, or forget the priceless preciousness of him who was reckoned as worth no more than a slave.
Mat_26:17-18. Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover? And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at thy house with my disciples.
How truly royal was Jesus of Nazareth even in his humiliation! He had no home of his own therein he could “keep the Passover” with his disciples; he was soon to be put to a public and shameful death; yet he had only to send two of his disciples “into the city to such a man,” and the guest-chamber, furnished and prepared, was at once placed at his disposal. He did not take the room by arbitrary force, as an earthly monarch might have done; but he obtained it by the diviner compulsion of almighty love. Even in his lowest estate, our Lord Jesus had the hearts of all men beneath his control. What power he has now that he reigns in glory!
Mat_26:19. And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the Passover.
If Christ’s disciples always loyally did a Jesus appointed them, they would always speed well on his errands. There are many more people in the world ready to yield to Christ than some of us think. If we would only go to them as Peter and John went to this man in Jerusalem, and say to them what “the Master saith”, we should find that their hearts would be opened to receive Christ even as this man’s house was willingly yielded up at our Lord’s request.
Mat_26:20-21. Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.
Our Lord remained in seclusion until the evening, and then went to the appointed place, and sat down, or rather, reclined at the paschal table, with the twelve. And as they did eat, he said, “Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.” This was a most unpleasant thought to bring to a feast, yet it vas most appropriate to the Passover, for God’s commandment to Moses concerning the first paschal lamb was, “ With bitter herbs they shalt eat it.” This was a painful reflection for our Lord, and also for his twelve chosen companions: “One of you”, and his eyes would glance round the table so he said it, “ One of you shall betray me.”
Mat_26:22. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?
That short sentence fell like a bomb-shell among the Saviour’s bodyguard. It startled them; they had all made great professions of affection for him, and, for the most part, those professions were true. And they were exceeding sorrowful: and well they might be. Such a revelation was enough to produce the deepest emotions of sorrow and sadness. It is a beautiful trait in the character of the disciples that they did not suspect one another, but every one of them enquired, almost incredulously, as the form of the question implies “ Lord, is it I? “ No one said, “ Lord, is it Judas? “ Perhaps no one of the eleven thought that Judas was base enough to betray the Lord who had given him an honourable place among his apostles. We cannot do any good by suspecting our brethren; but we may do great services by suspecting ourselves. Self-suspicion is near akin to humility.
Mat_26:23-24. And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed ! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.
A man may get very near to Christ, ay, may dippeth his hand in the same dish with the Saviour, and yet betray him. We may be high in office, and may apparently be very useful, as Judas was; yet we may betray Christ. We learn from our Lord’s words that divine decrees do not deprive a sinful action of its guilt: “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed.” His criminality is just as great as though there had been no “ determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” “It had been good for that man if he had not been born.” The doom of Judas is worse than non-existence. To have consorted with Christ as he had done, and then to deliver him into the hands of his enemies, sealed the traitor’s eternal destiny.
Mat_26:25. Then Judas which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.
Judas appears to have been the last of the twelve to ask the question, “Is it I?” Those who are the last to suspect themselves are usually those who ought to be the first to exercise self-suspicion. Judas did not address Christ as “Lord,” as the other disciples had done; but called him Rabbi, “Master.” Otherwise his question was like that of his eleven companions; but he received from Christ an answer that was given to no one else: He said unto him, “Thou hast said.” Probably the reply reached his ear alone, and if he had not been a hopeless reprobate, this unmasking of his traitorous design might have driven him to repentance, but there was nothing in his heart to respond to Christ’s voice. He had sold himself to Satan before be sold his Lord.
Mat_26:26-28. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat, this is my body. And he took the cup and gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
The Jewish Passover was made to melt into the Lord’s supper, as the stars of the morning dissolve into the light of the sun. As they were eating, while the paschal supper was proceeding, Jesus instituted the new memorial which is to be observed until he comes again. How simple was the whole ceremony! Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Christ could not have meant that the bread was his body, for his body was reclining by the table; but he intended that broken bread to represent his body which was about to be broken on the cross. Then followed the second memorial, the cup, filled with “the fruit of the vine”, of which Christ said, “Drink ye all of it.” There is no trace here of any altar or priest; there is nothing about the elevation or adoration of the host; there is no resemblance between the Lord’s supper and the Romish mass. Let us keep strictly to the letter and spirit of God’s Word in everything; for, if one adds a little, another will add more, and if one alters one point, and another alters another point, there is no telling how far we shall get from the truth. The disciples had been reminded of their own liability to sin; now their Saviour gives them a personal pledge of the pardon of sin, according to Luke’s record of his words, “This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.”
Mat_26:29. But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.
Thus Jesus took the great Nazarite vow never to drink of the fruit of the vine till he should drink it new with his disciples in his Father’s kingdom.
He will keep his tryst with all his followers, and they with him shall hold high festival for ever.
Mat_26:30. And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.
Was it not truly brave of our dear Lord to sing under such circumstances? He was going forth to his last dread conflict, to Gethsemane, and Gabbatha and Golgotha; yet he went with a song on his lips. He must have led the singing, for the disciples were too sad to start the hallel with which the paschal feast closed: And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives. Then came that desperate struggle in which the great Captain of our salvation wrestled even to a bloody sweat, and prevailed.
Mat_26:31-32. Then said Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me, this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.
Observe our Lord’s habit of quoting Scripture. He was able to speak words of infallible truth, yet he fell back upon the Inspired Record in the Old Testament. His quotation from Zechariah does not seem to have been really necessary, but it was most appropriate to his prophecy to his disciples: “ All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.” Jesus was the Shepherd who was about to be smitten, but he foretold the scattering of the sheep. Even those leaders of the flock that had been first chosen by Christ, and had been most with him, would stumble and fall awe from him on that dread night, but the Shepherd would not loose them, there would be a re-union between him and his sheep: “ After I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.” Once again he would resume, for a little while, the character of their Shepherd-King, and with them he would revisit some of their old haunts in Galilee, ere he ascended to his heavenly home. “ I will go before you,” suggests the idea of the food Shepherd leading his flock after the Eastern manner. Happy are his sheep in having such a Leader, and blessed are they in following him whithersoever he goeth.
Mat_26:33. Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.
This was a very presumptuous speech, not only because of the self-confidence it betrayed, but also because it was a flat contradiction of the Master’s declaration. Jesus said, “ All ye shall be offended because of me this night, “ but Peter thought he knew better than Christ, so he answered, “Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.” No doubt these words were spoken from his heart; but “ the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked.” Peter must have been amazed, the next morning, as he discovered the deceitfulness and wickedness of his own heart, as manifested in his triple denial of his Lord. He who thinks himself so much stronger than his brethren, is the very man who will prove to be weaker than many of them, as did Peter, not many hours after his boast was uttered.
Mat_26:34. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.
Jesus now tells his boastful disciple that, before the next morning’s cock-crowing, he will thrice deny his Lord. Not only would he stumble and fall with his fellow-disciples, but he would go beyond them all in his repeated denials of that dear Master whom he professed to love with intense affection than even John possessed. Peter declared that he would remain true to Christ if he were the only; faithful friend left, Jesus foretold that, of all the twelve, only Judas would exceed the boaster in wickedness.
Mat_26:35. Peter said unto him, Though I shall die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
Here again Peter contradicts his Master straight to his face. It was a pity that he should have boasted once after his Lord’s plain prophecy that all the disciples would that night be offended; but it was shameful that Peter should repeat his self-confident declaration in the teeth of Christ’s express prediction concerning him. He was not alone in his utterance, for likewise also said all the disciples. They all felt that under no circumstances could they deny their Lord. We have no record of the denial of Christ by the other ten apostles, although they all forsook him and fled, and thus practically disowned him. Remembering all that they had seen and heard of him, and especially bearing in mind his most recent discourse, the communion in the upper room, and his wondrous intercessory prayer on their behalf, we are not surprised that they felt themselves bound to him for ever. But, alas, notwithstanding their protests, the King’s prophesy was completely fulfilled, for that night they were all “offended.”