Matt. 26:20-30-The Passover Celebration and the institution of The Lord’s Supper (Communion)
The order of events that night:
- Eating of the Passover meal
- Washing the disciples feet (John 13:1-20)
- Identification of Judas as the one who would betray Jesus and his leaving the home (Matthew 26:21-25; John 13:21-30)
- Institution of the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:26-29)
- Messages there in the Upper Room (John 14)
- They leave the home and proceed to the Garden of Gethsemane…Jesus continues to teach along the way (John 15-16).
For a map showing these locations see:
- Christ’s great prayer (called the High Priestly Prayer) for His followers (John 17)
- Christ’s agony and suffering in the Garden (Matthew 26:36-46)
- The betrayal and arrest of Jesus (Matthew 26:47-56)
Matt. 26:21-25-Jesus reveals that one of the disciples was going to betray Him. The disciples were “deeply grieved” (means “sorrowful”). When they responded, were the disciples concerned that they might be the one to betray Him? Or, were they trying to reassure Jesus that they wouldn't do it? Jesus identifies who the one is that will betray Him by giving him a piece of bread...it is Judas. But Judas quickly contradicts Him…”No, not me, Rabbi! You’re mistaken.” Was Judas trying to cover his tracks. Or, did Judas actually believe that what he was doing was not a betrayal of Jesus; but instead, it was his attempt to force Jesus to become the Messiah that he had anticipated…one who would revolt against the Romans and become an earthly king? Does Jesus' response to Judas mean that He is aware of what was said in verses 14-16? Is this what Jesus means by "You have said it yourself"? The Gospel of John tells us that Jesus then told Judas to go and do what he has planned (John 13:21-30).
Matt. 26:26-Jesus now institutes the Lord’s Supper (Communion). For thousands of years the Jews had been celebrating the Passover, but had never understood its full and final significance. Here, Jesus makes it clear that He is its fulfillment.
For a further explanation of the historical significance of the Passover for the Jews and its symbolism for Christians see:
http://www.zionshope.org/zionsfire/articles/spring_feasts.html (Israel’s Spring Feasts, Marv Rosenthal)
http://www.chosenpeople.com/main/resources/videos, Messiah in the Passover
Matt. 26:27-28-In Leviticus, the Hebrews were commanded to never drink the blood of an animal. And yet here, Jesus tells them to drink His blood. Why? Because the blood represented the very life of the animal (Leviticus 17:11). In this case, the blood represented the life of Jesus. His provision of eternal life was accomplished by His giving His life in their behalf. The drinking of the wine symbolically represented their receiving His blood, His life. The question is often asked, “Did Jesus literally mean that the bread and the wine became His body?” The answer is, “No, He was using these two elements in a figurative, symbolic manner.”
For a further explanation visit this website:
Matt. 26:29-30-Jesus says that He will not sit down and drink with them again until they dine together in the future millennial kingdom. They sang a song and then continued to the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives.
Matt. 26:31-32-Jesus predicts that the disciples will desert Him. He knew and understood human nature. He knew what was going to happen…that the threat made towards Him would become a threat towards them, as well. They would run for their lives...and abandon Him. And yet, He still loved them...and He still asked them to be by His side. He never gave up on them. Later, they would remember what may have been the most important words that He spoke that night, “after I have been raised.” It was His prediction, His promise…that despite everything that was about to happen…there was nothing that would happen that He had not been previously aware of, and prepared for. But, for the disciples in particular, these words were words of comfort and forgiveness. He is telling them now, beforehand, that they will forsake Him, and abandon Him in His most desperate hour of need…that He would die…but, that He would be “raised”. Then, listen to these next words…”I will go before you to Galilee.” It’s an invitation, a summons. When He says, “go before you,” it means that He will go, and then they will join Him. Jesus is telling His disciples, “After this has happened…after I have been killed…after you have abandoned Me…I will come back…and I want you to meet Me in Galilee.” At that moment the words probably did not resonate much with them. But later, when the angel would speak with the women at His burial tomb, and then Jesus Himself spoke with them as they raced back to the disciples…they were reminded of these very words (Matt. 28:7,10; Mk. 16:7). It would only be then, when they were grieving over the fact that they had abandoned Him…that the women would return from the empty tomb and repeat His words, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they shall see Me”…that they would realize that He had forgiven them, before they had ever abandoned Him. He knew all along what they would do. And yet, He had told them ahead of time…that He forgave them. He was making it clear, that as bad as they felt, there was nothing that they had to do to deserve His forgiveness. It was His choice, His decision…His gift to them.
Have you ever felt that you had been so bad, done something so wrong, forsaken Him so much…that there was nothing that you could ever do to deserve His forgiveness? You were right…there is nothing that you can do to deserve His forgiveness. But that’s where His grace comes in. That’s why it is called grace. Someone has said, “Justice is when you get what you deserve. Mercy is when you don’t get what you deserve. Grace is when you get what you don’t deserve!” He gives grace to those who don’t deserve it and cannot earn it. Maybe you need to leave behind your grief…and go to Jesus and His grace.
Matt. 26:33-Peter says he will never desert Him. Give him credit...when the moment came...while his method was wrong (he attacked a servant, not a soldier...with a sword), his heart was in the right place. However, afterward...after all of his bravado before this gang...he would melt into lies when confronted by a servant girl.
Matt. 26:34-Jesus says that Peter will desert Him that very night.
Matt. 26:35-Peter again says he will not desert Him and the rest of the disciples agreed that they would not, either.
Matt. 26:36-51-The Garden of Gethsemane ("Gethsemane" means "oil press"). Jesus had come to the time of His Gethsemane...the time when His very life would be pressed out of Him.
Matt. 26:36-46-Three times Jesus goes off alone to pray. He prayed: that the Father would find another way to accomplish His purpose; that the Father's will would be done; and, that He would not give in to temptation.
Notice the intensity of the emotional suffering of Jesus (:37-38; Luke 22:42-44-He sweat drops of blood…a medical condition called “hemahidrosis”, cf. https://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=1086). This was not the cross, His suffering for the sins of the world...this was Gethsemane, His suffering for His own life, His struggling with events in His own life and what He knew they were leading to. No wonder the author of Hebrews says that our Savior was "made perfect" (Hebrews 2:10; 5:8-9) through His experiences in His earthly life.
Jesus took His friends with Him to provide moral and spiritual support. However, Peter, James and John kept falling asleep. They had previously expressed such great intentions (26:33-35). But now, when the moment had come, they didn't have the physical stamina (or perhaps the spiritual discernment of what was about to happen) to even stay awake. Great intentions are only that and nothing more...if they fall asleep when they are called upon. How many times, desperate times, Gethsemane times...have you looked for people to stand up for you, hoped that people would stand beside you...friends, trusted friends that you knew cared for you...and yet, for any number of reasons, when you needed them, they weren't there. Good intentions do little good.
It’s amazing! In the middle of all of this (Luke 22:49-51; John 18:10)...Peter swings wildly with his sword at the man standing perhaps closest to him and cuts off his ear (great aim!). And Jesus, Who only moments before had felt so intensely the pain of the sword that was already piercing His own heart...reached down, gently touched the side of the wounded man's face...and healed him. He never, ever lost sight...of what He was there for. No matter what the circumstances...no matter Gethsemane.
The prayers of Jesus while here in Gethsemane deserve our close attention (:39,42,44). Notice that Jesus prayed that He would not have to go through the suffering that He knew lay ahead of Him…”My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me…” (:39). Jesus knew full well what would happen in the hours to come…the physical agony, pain, and suffering that would be inflicted on His body and mind. But, He was also aware of the sheer spiritual torment that He would face when the entirety of the sins of the world (all of history, all of mankind) were poured into Him on the cross…the totality of depravity, corruptness, and immorality…poured at once into the perfect, pure, chaste vessel of His body…on the cross. ”My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me…” This was the desire of the man, Jesus. All that was human. This was His prayer. “Father, please, don’t let this happen!” And yet, Jesus knew that His prayer could not be answered. He must go to the cross…in order to pay the price for sin. So, He continues, “…yet, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” Now, stop and think…Jesus offered a prayer that He knew was not the will of the Father. And yet, it was not a sin to do so. Scripture makes it absolutely clear that Jesus never sinned. How could Jesus pray in this manner and it not be sinful to do so? Because while Jesus was being completely transparent with the Father concerning what He was thinking and asking for…He none-the-less submitted His will to the will of the Father. Of course, in all of His humanity, He did not want to suffer. But, as the Son of God, He knew that He must suffer in order to pay the price for our sin, so He willingly submitted Himself to the Father’s will. Here is the lesson for us. Be honest and open with God about what you are feeling and what you desire. Tell it all to Him, without any window dressing, or trying to word it in a way that you think would make it sound right. Just tell God what is on your heart. Then, submit it to Him for His correction and for His will to be done. Don’t try to fool God. Be honest about what is going on, what is bothering you, what you want to happen. Start at that point. Then, finish as Jesus finished. Be willing to allow God to direct your prayer in such a way that you will come to a better understanding of His will…and submit yourself to Him.
Matt. 26:47-54-When Judas arrives with the soldiers to capture Jesus Peter jumps to His rescue. Jesus tells him to put away his sword…if He desired He could call to His Father and He would send twelve legions of angels to His rescue (a Roman legion varied in number from 3,000-6,000). Jesus explains that this was necessary…in order to fulfill what the Scripture said must be done to provide salvation. All of the disciples ran away.
Here is an interesting opinion on why Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, instead of just pointing Him out to the soldiers.
I’ve been reading a new book titled Pseudo-Cyril of Jerusalem "On the Life and the Passion of Christ": A Coptic Apocryphon by the Dutch scholar Roelof van den Broek.1 In case it has escaped your attention, it provides a new translation of an eighth-century Gnostic gospel in Coptic from Egypt that has been in the Morgan Library in New York since 1908, a gift of J.P. Morgan.
This text explains why Judas Iscariot identified Jesus with a kiss so that the Roman soldiers could arrest him, as related in three canonical gospels (Matthew 26:48; Mark 14:44; Luke 22:47). According to this late Gnostic gospel, that was the only way the Roman soldiers could be sure they had the right man. The reason was that Jesus could change his features:
"How shall we arrest him," the Jews ask, "for he does not have a single shape, but his appearance changes. Sometimes he is ruddy, sometimes he is white, sometimes he is red, sometimes he is wheat-colored, sometimes he is pallid like ascetics, sometimes he is a youth, sometimes an old man, sometimes his hair is straight and black, sometimes it is curled, sometimes he is tall, sometimes he is short." They "have never seen him in one and the same appearance."
Jesus could also become completely incorporeal. Jesus explains that, if he wished, he could escape crucifixion in this way. The idea of a shape-changing Jesus is not new. It goes back as far as Origen in the third century. According to Origen, Jesus would appear differently to people who saw him at the same time.
Van den Broek is careful to note that he is not suggesting that Jesus was in fact shape changing but only that some people in early Christian times may have thought he was.
(Biblical Archaeology Review, Why Did Jesus Identify Jesus with a Kiss?, Jan/Feb 2014, p. 6)
Prayer: Lord, when I come to my "Gethsemane" help me to pray for Your will to be done, regardless of the cost. Please help me by giving me some faithful friends...that I can depend upon...that will come alongside me. Help me to be faithful to what You are accomplishing in and through my life...and not give in to the temptation to run away, to take a different, easier route. Help me to not allow my own problems to keep me from continuing to serve You...by serving others. And Lord, when others are in the midst of their "Gethsemane"...please, don't let me fall asleep on them. Help me to be there for them and to be a faithful, dependable, and true friend.