The Death of Jesus – Luke 23

Joseph of Arimathaea Seeks Pilate to Beg Permi...

Joseph of Arimathaea Seeks Pilate to Beg Permission to Remove the Body of Jesus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Luke tells us that it was about the sixth hour, and darkness came over the land until the ninth as the sun’s light failed. Then the Temple curtain was torn in two. This grand event obviously orchestrated by God was certainly very symbolic. No longer  would there be a need for a high priest, as Jesus is now our new high priest (Hebrews 4:14). Jesus gave up His spirit as He said “Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit.”

A centurion who saw all of these things, glorified God and said that surely this man is innocent. And all the crowds who witnessed these things returned home “beating their breasts.” Indeed, how many people witnessed all of these things that had shouted “crucify him,” and were now afraid for what they had done? Luke also says that Jesus’ “acquaintances” watched all these things and the women who had followed from Galilee  This would likely include those written about in Luke 8:1-3.

Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Sanhedrin council who had not consented to their decision to railroad the Lord. Luke says that he was a good and righteous man, and was looking for the kingdom. He got custody of the body of Jesus from Pilate, and wrapped it in a linen shroud. Then he placed it in a tomb that was cut in stone and had never been used for burial. The women prepared ointment and spices. And then they rested on the Sabbath rested as commanded.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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The Sanhedrin Sham – Luke 23

Verse one says that the “whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate.” The Sanhedrin council was delivering the Son of God to Pilate. During his first questioning, Pilate could not find anything to accuse Him about, despite the Sanhedrin’ s urging – and even a lie they told him. Jesus never told anyone that they should not pay tribute to Caesar.  But when Pilate found out He was from Galilee, he decided to send Him to Herod because that was his jurisdiction, and he knew that Herod was in Jerusalem at the time.

Christ before Pontius Pilate, Mihály Munkácsy,...

Christ before Pontius Pilate, Mihály Munkácsy, 1881 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Herod had been wanting to meet Jesus for a long time, so he was very glad to see him. He wanted to see some sort of “sign” from Him. But Jesus was not participating in some dog and pony show for Herod. Verse 9 says that he questioned Him at some length, but got no answer from Him. This fulfilled the prophecy in Isaiah 53:7:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth

Unamused with the Lord, Herod and his soldiers treated Him with contempt and mocked Him. Then they dressed Him in “splendid” clothing – solely as mockery of His claim to be king of the Jews. He was then sent back to Pilate (who the scripture says became good friends with Herod that day). But Pilate called the chief priests and elders in and told them that neither he nor Herod had found Jesus guilty of their charges. Nothing deserving death had been done, he said. So he was going to punish Him and release Him.

This not what the Sanhedrin had in mind at all.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Betrayed and Denied – Luke 22

English: "The Judas Kiss", (Mark 14:...

English: “The Judas Kiss”, (Mark 14:45) by Gustave Doré. Judas kisses Jesus in order to betray him to the guards. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As Jesus was still speaking in the Garden of Gethsemane, a crowd was approaching, with Judas leading them. As Luke reminded us earlier, it was His custom to come here, and Judas knew where He went to pray. It must have been quite a scene. Judas kissed his teacher as was customary. Jesus did not let him off easy for that, reminding him that he had just betrayed “the Son of Man with a kiss.”

When they realized what was happening, some of the apostles asked Jesus if they should “strike with the sword.” Peter, of course, did not wait for answer, but cut the ear off of one of them. It is only John who tells us that it was Peter who did this (John 18:10), and that the victim’s name was Malchus. Jesus stopped them from continuing in violence and healed the man’s ear. Then He chastised the chief priests who had come with the crowd, pointing out that they had not laid a hand on Him while He was with them everyday ion the Temple, yet now they come after him like He was a robber.

They took Him to the house of the chief priest, with Peter following at a distance. He settled in with a crowd who had made a fire in the courtyard. It was there that Peter denied knowing Jesus three times. Luke tells us that a rooster crowed immediately, and that Jesus turned and looked at Peter. What a horrible feeling of guilt must have come over Peter at that moment. Despite all of his bravado, he had taken the cowardly way out in fear for his own safety. Now he must live with that knowledge, and Luke tells us that he did indeed go out and “wept bitterly.”

The kiss of Judas and Peter cutting off the ea...

The kiss of Judas and Peter cutting off the ear of Malchus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Verses 63-65 tell us how the men that were holding Jesus mocked and blasphemed against Him. They also had Him blindfolded, beating Him, and they would tell Him to “prophesy” by saying which one of them had struck Him. Then at daybreak, He was led to the Sanhedrin, where they questioned Him about whether He was the Christ – the Son of God. Jesus’ answer “you say that I am” is a Greek expression that turns it back on the questioner, but the answer was clear. And that was enough for His accusers. They would deliver Him to Pilate, since they were forbidden by Roman law to execute Him themselves.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Luke here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

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Acts 23 – A Plot to Kill Paul

Paul appeared before the Jewish council

Paul had just begun to speak to the Sanhedrin council, when the high priest unlawfully ordered him to be struck (it was unlawful to strike a man who had not yet been condemned).  Paul correctly predicts Ananias’ demise in verse 3, as he will be killed by his own people at the start of the Jewish war.  There are a lot of theories (total speculation, of course) about verses 4-5 and Paul’s disrespect for Ananias, but whatever the case, we should take Paul at his word that he did not know who he was addressing.  It is noteworthy, however, how quick they were to point out that fact, yet ignore the willful violation made against Paul.  At that point, he would have no question (if there was doubt before) about whether he would receive a fair hearing from them.

Paul then uses the fact that the Sanhedrin council was made up of both Pharisees and Sadducees to his advantage.  The Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, but the Pharisees did – and the division between them because of it was great.  Paul’s statement in verse 6 makes that division so sharp that it became violent.  The Roman tribune then feared that Paul would be torn to pieces, and had the soldiers remove him and take him to the barracks.  Paul’s statement that set it in motion was “brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial;” and every word of it was true.  Paul had been raised a Pharisee (Philippians 3:5-9), and it was indeed because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the hope, that he was on trial.  The following night, the Lord stood by him for encouragement and told him that he must go to Rome to testify the facts about Him (verse 11).

Antipatris was the Old Testament Philistine city of Aphek (1 Samuel 4: 1; 29: 1). The New Testament city was built by Herod the Great in 9 BC. Antipatris was named for Antipater, Herod the Great’s father. Ras el-‘Ain is the site of the ruins of the ancient city. The spring at Antipatris is the source of the River Auja. Paul was taken here (Acts 23: 31) on the way to his imprisonment in Caesarea.

The Jews then sensed that Paul’s fate was slipping away, so more than forty of them conspired to kill him, taking an oath not to eat or drink until they had done so.  Such an oath was a serious matter – not made flippantly (and reminds us of Jezebel in 1 Kings 19:2).  Verse 14  leaves no doubt of the extent of corruption there, as we learn that the chief priests and elders were involved in this despicable plot.  But Paul’s sister learned of the plot and sent her son to warn him.  Paul then sends his nephew to tell the tribune (whose name we learn in verse 26 is  Claudius Lysias).  Lysias then composed a letter to Felix the governor (verse 26-30), putting himself, of course, in a favorable light.  At his orders, Paul gets an escort of two hundred soldiers to deliver him and the letter to Antipatris by the dark of night.  Upon reading the letter and questioning Paul as to his birthplace, he ordered Paul held in Herod’s praetorium (one of Herod’s palaces that the governor used for his quarters), as he awaits his accusers for a hearing.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Acts 22 – Paul and the Roman Tribune

Paul bound with chains

Paul, having been arrested and beaten, had at the close of chapter 22 convinced the Roman tribune to allow him to speak to the mob.  When he spoke in Hebrew, it settled them down and they listened.  He then gave them a history of himself as a Jew, “educated at the feet of Gamaliel” (a Pharisee and renowned teacher, who was also a member of the Sanhedrin council – see Acts 5:34).  He also recounted his own persecution of Christians and the “Way ” (see previous post here for more information on “the Way”); and then told of his encounter with the Lord in Acts 9:3-8, in which he was blinded.   The re-telling of that event here in verses 6-11 is not contradictory at all, despite what some say.  Those who were with Paul on that road could hear what was said, but were not made to understand.

Paul then turns to Ananias restoring his sight and his subsequent baptism in verses 12-16.  But when he told them of his encounter with the Lord, and how He had told Paul that He was sending him to the Gentiles (verses 17-21), the crowd became wild with anger again.  The tribune ordered him to be flogged in order to find out why they were shouting out against him.  But as he was stretched out, Paul told the tribune that he was a Roman citizen by birth (verses 25-28); and the Roman tribune became fearful (Roman law forbade flogging a Roman citizen without a hearing or a formal condemnation).  So in verse 30, the chapter ends with the tribune having Paul brought before the Sanhedrin, since scourging was not an option.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Acts 6 – Stephen is Seized

Seven men were selected to serve the needy in the early church, which freed the apostles to preach the Gospel (Acts 6:1-15).

In verse one, the phrase “in these day,” accompanied by the context, implies that some time had passed.  The number of the disciples was still increasing.  The Hellenists were Jews of foreign birth and Greek education.  It is likely that many had ended up staying in Jerusalem after the events of Pentecost and the beginnings of the church had profoundly affected them.  But a complaint arose from them that their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food and such.  The New American Standard version translates the issue as they “were being overlooked,” and it is likely that it was unintentional.  The language difference would also result in some separation physically as well, so such an oversight in such great numbers could be expected.

When brought to the attention of the Apostles, it would of course be remedied, but they recognized that the work they were doing of preaching the word of God could not be neglected.  So they told their brothers to choose seven men “of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty.”   There is some discussion as to whether these were the first deacons, but as Coffman notes:

“…the record here does not so name them, nor is there very much similarity between their status and that of the deacons Paul commanded Timothy to appoint. The men here were not assistants to elders of the church, but to the Twelve; and, furthermore, they were endowed by a laying on of the hands of the apostles.”

Stephen’s Gate, Jerusalem- This gate in the eastern wall of Jerusalem is named for Stephen, the first-century martyr.

The point is academic however, as the scripture does mention the Apostles using the words “serve tables.”  The significance to us is mostly the selection of Stephen as one of the seven.  He is described as full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, grace and power; and “was doing great wonders and signs among the people.”  But before moving to Stephen’s story, let’s not overlook the significance of verse 7’s description of the growth in numbers – that “a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.”  We are not told what is meant by “a great many” but the lower echelon of the priesthood numbered in the thousands; and conversion of a significant number of them would offer some explanation of why the Pharisees reacted so viciously in their treatment of the early Christians.

In a dispute that evolved into a conspiracy of lies and false witnesses, Stephen is seized and brought to the Sanhedrin.  Verse 15 says “And gazing at him, all who sat in the council saw that his face was like the face of an angel.”  Although we do not know precisely what that means physically, it is clear that the Holy Spirit was at work in Stephen.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Stephen, the Sanhedrin, and Saul \ Week 38 summary posted

Paul escaping Damascus in a basket

We are continuing in Acts this week with the selection of seven “table servants” – one of which is Stephen.  Then we will read of his arrest, his appearance before the Sanhedrin, and his historic, eloquent, and aptly accusatory speech to them – a moving and unforgettable account of the bravery of this man.  Then, we will move to chapter 8 to find Saul of Tarsus ravaging the church, as he persecutes and even brings about the death of more Christians – deeds that he would very soon come to great sorrow for, as he encounters the Lord.  His life is forever changed, and we are all the better for it.  But this week will also give us Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch; and Peter will have an important revelation.  What a week in God’s word!

Summing Up

Each weekend, I am now posting a small PDF of one week of chapter summaries (on the website’s “Summaries” page), current to the beginning of the previous week.  I have posted the summary for Week 38 (September Week 3) of the schedule I am following.  This short PDF document contains condensed comments about Matthew 27, 28, John 20, 21, and Luke 24, with hyperlinks to the ESV version of each chapter for listening or reading, and joins the summaries for other weeks already posted there.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Acts 4 – Peter and John Before the Council

While Peter and John were still speaking to the people who had flocked to hear, the priests and the Sadducees became “greatly annoyed” (verse 2).  There were several reasons for them to be disturbed over this sermon.  To begin with, the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection at all (Acts 23:8).  Secondly, they had themselves condemned Jesus to death.  As Campbell wrote in his commentary: “the great popularity of the gospel message threatened their political base, promised to hold them up before the people as murderers, as ignoramuses concerning the Holy Scriptures, and as deserving of universal contempt.”  Peter and John were arrested and put into custody until the next day.  But verse 5 says that many more who had heard “the word” believed. “The word” was the same as it is today: Jesus, the Son of God, has risen from the dead, and it is only through Him “by which we must be saved!”  The number of men alone in the Lord’s church now came to about 5,000.

Sanhedrin, Jewish high council chambers.

The next day, Peter and John faced Annas the high priest, Caiaphas and the rest of the Sadducees, and the elders and scribes, who asked them by what power or what name they had acted. Peter, who had earlier feared these men enough to deny that he even knew the Lord, was now filled with the Holy Spirit.  In verses 8-11, with respect but also with boldness of conviction, he eloquently told them that the lame man had been healed by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom they crucified. The reference to Jesus being the cornerstone, rejected by the builders (them) was from Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 28:16.

After deliberating, the council knew they had no just charge to bring against them, but they warned them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus any more.  The truth still meant nothing to the Sanhedrin.  But Peter and John would only say that they would have to judge whether it is right to listen to God or the council.  They would speak the truth.  The council gave them another warning before releasing them.  God, through Peter and John, had given these men the chance to repent and they chose to reject the Lord again.

Back with their friends they lifted their voices in prayer to God, quoting Psalm 2:1-2 in verses 25-26 and asking God to “look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.”  In verse 31, when they finished praying “the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”  God had given His response.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Matthew 27 – The Crucifixion of Jesus

When morning came, the Sanhedrin had Jesus taken to Pilate.  When Judas saw that Jesus was condemned, he had a change of heart, and took the thirty pieces of silver back to them, saying that he had betrayed innocent blood.  But they are unimpressed.  So he threw it down in the temple and went and hanged himself.  Remorse, as we see, does not always include repentance.  The Sanhedrin has no problem with lies and the murder of an innocent man, but they want no part of this blood money, so they use it to buy a potter’s field.  The scripture that this fulfilled, referred to in verses 9-10, is from both Jeremiah 19:1-13 and Zechariah 11:11-13.

Jesus answers Pilate’s question of whether He was a king, but remains silent about the charges against Him.  We find in verse 20 that the chief priests and elders persuaded the people to choose Barabbas when Pilate offered to free one of them.  Fearing a riot, Pilate resigns himself to the will of the crowd, but uses the physical act of washing hands to declare his innocence of “this man’s blood.”  “Having scourged Jesus” is mentioned in passing, but this Roman form of flogging was anything but incidental.  It was a brutally painful beating with a whip weighted with sharp pieces of bone and metal. It was designed to lacerate, often exposing bone and intestines.  Crucifixion was an agonizing and tortuous death, but this beating would be equally painful.  An article about this scourging can be found at this link.

One traditional site of Golgotha is this hill with hollow eye sockets to look like the place of the skull. Another traditional site is in present-day Jerusalem, which in Jesus’ time was just outside the wall. It is called the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

He was mocked and spit upon, stripped and made to wear a crown made of thorns.  Then he was led away to be crucified.  They made a man named Simon of Cyrene to carry His cross, and when they reached Golgatha (which means Place of a Skull), they tried to give him wine mixed with gall (a very bitter herb that could also be poisonous) to drink.  It was intended to dull the sense of pain, but it was God’s will that He should suffer, and He refused.  As they crucified Him, “they divided his garments among them by casting lots” – referring to Psalm 22:18.  Verses 36-44 detail the continued derision, mocking and reviling inflicted on Him as He suffered.

Crucifixion was a slow and excruciatingly painful method of inflicting death, and their are many stories of the cruelty of Roman soldiers experimenting with different poses for crucified victims (Josephus, “Jewish War” 5.449–551).  Hanging by one’s arms caused great difficulty in breathing, only alleviated by the victim pushing up with their feet in order to take the weight off of the arms. But that caused severe pain in the feet, arms, legs, and back, making the exhausted victim slump down again, only to be barely able to breathe again. Finally, he would mercifully die of asphyxiation, if he had not already died as a result of the cumulative effects of the multiple physical traumas inflicted.

In verse 45, there was darkness all over the land from the 6th hour until the ninth hour (about noon to 3:00).  About the ninth hour, Jesus cried out with a loud voice “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” meaning, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  This is from Psalm 22:1.  This is one of the most puzzling verses in the Bible.  Jesus knows what is happening, and why He is doing it. One explanation that has been posed is that because Jesus did in fact become sin, at this moment Jesus felt the presence of God turn away from Him as He was dying.  Jesus then gave up the spirit with another cry.

Then in verse 51, the curtain of the Temple was torn from top to bottom.  It was between the Holy Place and the Most Holy Place, and was woven from 72 twisted plaits of 24 threads a piece. It was 60 feet high and 30 feet wide. No one was allowed to enter the Most Holy Place behind the curtain except the high priest, and then only on the Day of Atonement.  Being torn in two represents the removal of the separation between God and the people.  A high priest was no longer needed – Jesus is our high priest now.  More elaboration of this event, and what it symbolized, is in Hebrews 9:11–10:22.  Then the earth shook (Palestine sits on a major seismic rift), rocks were split, and tombs were opened.  As Matthew often groups events together topically, he then jumps ahead here in verse 53 to events after the resurrection, as many of the saints were raised and came out of the tombs to appear to many in the city.  We are not told whether they were taken to heaven after these eyewitnesses received these visits.  But clearly, God wanted many witnesses to understand the profoundly momentous significance of what had happened.

In verse 57, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph came to Pilate that evening to request Jesus’ body.  He took the body and wrapped it in a linen shroud and placed it in his own tomb.  This fulfilled Isaiah 53:9.  Then he rolled a big stone in front of the entrance.  Then the chief priests, remembering how he had said that he would rise after 3 days, went to Pilate voicing their fears that Jesus’ disciples might come and steal the body.  So he gave them a guard of soldiers, and they sealed the tomb and stood guard.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Matthew 26 – The Plot to Kill Jesus

 

Having read John’s account, we now move to Matthew’s account of the last supper and Jesus’ arrest.  Since the audience of the gospel of Matthew is the Jews, it makes sense that he would give full attention to certain details of the trial before the Sanhedrin.  Unlike John, who gives the event in more chronological order, Matthew includes the account of the anointing of Jesus by Mary (sister of Lazarus) here in verses 6-13.   he also gives us the details in verses 14-16 of Judas’ conspiracy with, and payment from, the chief priests for his promise to deliver Him.  We also read in verses 17-20 of Jesus sending disciples to a “certain man” to prepare to have Passover at his house.

A model of the way Caiaphas’ house may have looked in the time of Jesus. Caiaphas was the high priest who judged Jesus.

But it is in verses 3-5 that we read of chief priests and the elders plotting in Caiaphas’ palace to  “arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him.”  They were fearful of arresting Jesus openly because of His popularity; and the Feast of Unleavened Bread brought thousands of Pilgrims to the city.  The last thing they wanted was an uprising.  In verses 20-25, Jesus foretells His betrayal by one of them, culminating in an actual exchange between Jesus and Judas.  What was it like to be told by the son of God that it would be better if His betrayer had never been born – knowing that you had already begun that process?  And Jesus’ confirmation that He knew in verse 25 must have been chilling, especially after the fact.

In verses 26-29, Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper.  The Passover, begun so long ago in Exodus 12 with the sacrifice of a lamb had pointed to this day.  Now this memorial would remind us of the sacrifice of “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).  Verse 28 (“…this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” is the fulfilling also of the new covenant promise of Jeremiah 31:31-34.

The hymn that they sung in verse 30 is most likely Psalm 113-118, which is known as the Hallel (meaning “praise”).  The scripture Jesus quotes in verse 31 is from Zechariah 13:7, telling the disciples that they will all fall away that very night.  He also predicts Peter’s denial, at which point they all declare that they will remain with Him even if they must die.  His prayer in Gethsemane occurs in verses 36-44.  The traditional site for this now holds the “Church of All Nations” (or “Basilica of the Agony“), which was built over a 4th century Byzantine church.  Note Jesus’ sorrow and fervent petition to God in verses 38-39.  Although He was divine, for our benefit He had the same emotions any man would have knowing the suffering that He was about to endure.

The Mount of Olives, looking from Jerusalem, with the Basilica of the Agony, traditional site where Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. Today the garden is at the left of the basilica.

Judas betrays Him with a kiss in verse 49.  We know from John 18:10-11 that it was Peter that cut off the ear of one of Jesus’ captors (Malchus) in verse 51.  When Jesus rebukes him, He says “Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?”  (we sing the song “He could have called Ten Thousand Angels”).  Jesus was of course  not going to call for help, but a Roman legion was 6,000 – so twelve of them would be 72,000.  As predicted, all of His disciples fled the scene.

Matthew skips past the meeting with Annas (John 18:12-14, 19-24) and begins next with the appearance before Caiaphas the High Priest and the Council (the Sanhedrin).  They had many witnesses coming forward, but none would give the false testimony they wanted in order to have Him put to death until at last two came and, in verse 61, misquoted Jesus’ actual statement of John 2:19-21.  He remained silent, making no correction,  when Caiaphas questioned Him about it.  But when asked if He was the Christ, He confirmed it with the Greek expression “you have said so” that He had also used with Judas in verse 25.  Then He added that they would see him at the right hand of “Power.”  Caiaphas declared this to be blasphemy, and they spit on Him and slapped Him, saying that He deserved death.  The outcome was assured now.

Peter’s denial in verses 69-74 went just as Jesus had said; and remembering the words of the Lord, Peter’s grief was intense.  Though this apostle would come to understand the necessity of what Jesus was to endure, we can only try to imagine the guilt he would bear.

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

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