This Bible Study is part of the "The Gospel of Matthew" series. See other Bible Studies which are part of this series
"The Passover," you might ask, "What is that?" A lot of you have heard about the Jewish Passover. But, Christ was keeping the Passover—and He was keeping it at the very end of His life. After His death and resurrection, His disciples kept right on keeping the Passover—as you will read in Acts 12:1-3, and in other places in the New Testament which talk about the Passover.
Greetings, friends around the world!
This is Roderick Meredith, bringing you commentary on the book of Matthew. In this segment, we will go through Matthew 26. Open your Bible, and please follow along with me; you will get a lot more out of it if you do. Follow along and prove these things. Study carefully and try to understand this book and what Christ is really saying. He said so many things and did so many things contrary to what modern Christianity teaches. That is very obvious if you look into it and see the example and the teaching of the Christ of the Bible.
"Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples, 'You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.'"
"The Passover," you might ask, "What is that?" A lot of you have heard about the Jewish Passover. But, Christ was keeping the Passover—and He was keeping it at the very end of His life. After His death and resurrection, His disciples kept right on keeping the Passover—as you will read in Acts 12:1-3, and in other places in the New Testament which talk about the Passover. 1 Corinthians 5 talks about the Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread, and how the Church of God was obviously keeping those days. These were the days God gave to be kept and to picture God's plan. So Jesus said, "The Passover is about to come."
"Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. But they said, 'Not during the feast [in other words, not during the whole festival period of Passover and Unleavened Bread], lest there be an uproar among the people.' [Although they wanted to kill Jesus, many of the people understood that He was a prophet, and honored Him unless stirred up by these false religious leaders.] And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper… [Here we find the story of the woman coming and pouring very costly fragrant oil on His head as He sat at the table.] But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, [They thought this was a waste. Here was the Son of God about to die and this woman was trying to honor Him.] But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, 'Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. [He was not always going to be there.] For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.'"
It is being told right now, on this program, "as a memorial to her" because God inspired it to be put right here in the Bible.
Matt. 26:14, 17
"Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests [You see the story. He was going to deliver Christ for thirty pieces of silver.]… Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread…"
There were seven Days of Unleavened Bread that came right after the Passover. The Passover was first observed by killing an unblemished lamb, then splattering its blood on the doorposts of the houses so the death angel would pass over. This symbolized Christ later coming and giving His blood so that God would pass over our sins. Then Unleavened Bread was to be observed. Leaven is used in the New Testament as a "type"—a symbol—of sin; it is not itself sinful. It symbolizes sin because it causes bread to puff up, just as sin causes us to puff up and become arrogant. Here and in later years, as we see in 1 Corinthians, the Church was keeping the Days of Unleavened Bread, which we should be keeping if we are going to literally follow what Christ taught and did, and what the Apostles taught and did. This all took place during the Days of Unleavened Bread.
Matt. 26:17, 26
"…disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, 'Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?' [They were going to prepare the Passover meal, with the roast lamb and bitter herbs—the old style Passover. He said, "Tell this man I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples," and they made ready the Passover.]… And as they were eating [the Passover], Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body.'"
The bread came first because the bread symbolized Christ's body. His body was broken, torn by a terrible scourging or whipping before He died. Then He had His blood shed; a spear was rammed in His side and the blood poured out. By His blood, our sins were forgiven. "The life is in the blood," God says, back in Leviticus 17:11. So His blood was poured out. But first came the broken body, because His body was broken first.
"Take, eat; this is My body."
Jesus did not say, "My body jumped over into this bread." He was obviously showing that the bread symbolized His body.
"Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, 'Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood of the new covenant [The red wine symbolizes His shed blood, which He was going to give for the life of the world.], which is shed for many for the remission [or "forgiveness'] of sins. But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom.'"
So Jesus kept the Passover the very last night of His life. The Passover was kept by Christ and by His disciples the night before the Jews kept their Passover. The Jews kept their Passover the next evening, but Christ did not. He kept His on the previous evening, setting us an example.
Matt. 26:30-31, 33-34
"And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. Then Jesus said to them, 'All of you will be made to stumble because of Me…' Peter answered and said to Him, 'Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.' Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.'" [Peter and all of them said, "Oh, no we will never deny you."]
If you do not have the Holy Spirit, you will do very peculiar things. God tells us that at the end of the age, people are going to turn on one another in a way that we would never imagine. They really are. Without God's spirit, men are very helpless.
"Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane [a garden with many olive trees—I have visited there two or three times], and said to the disciples, 'Sit here while I go and pray over there.'"
Jesus was not ashamed of praying, but He normally did not pray in front of people. He normally went off by Himself, as we have seen all through this Gospel. On this occasion, He went thirty or fifty yards away.
"And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee [Peter was the leading Apostle over the Jews. James and John also came along.], and He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, 'My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me.' He went a little farther and fell on His face…"
He just flopped right on His face on the ground and He prayed with His whole being because He knew the type of suffering He was about to go through. He had seen men hanging and writhing on the cross. He knew it was not going to be fun. Yes, He was God. But He was God in the flesh—and He suffered the full pain and agony that anyone else would suffer when being crucified.
"…and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.' [He always had that attitude, "not My will, but Thine be done," as Luke has it.] Then He came to the disciples and found them asleep, and said to Peter, 'What? Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.'"
That is true. We are liable to do almost anything, frankly. Many of you don't recognize that about yourselves—but I do. We could do almost anything, apart from God, if the temptation came along and the pressure was too much. We must pray to God. God must be real—and we must talk to Him, walk with Him, commune with Him and have Him living His life within us through the Holy Spirit. So He said, "The Spirit is willing," (you want to do the right thing), "but the flesh is weak."
"Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, saying, 'O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done.' And He came and found them asleep again, for their eyes were heavy. So He left them, went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words."
Then His betrayers came and He greeted them and immediately as they came and as Judas came, He went up to Jesus in verse 49…
"Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, 'Greetings, Rabbi!' and kissed Him."
Here was one of Jesus' own disciples turning on Him. Things like this can and will happen at the time of the end, as they happened back then.
"But Jesus said to him, 'Friend, why have you come?' Then they came and laid hands on Jesus [grabbed Him and tied Him up—bound Him] and took Him [off like a prisoner]. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear."
That "one" was Peter himself! Peter—the "big fisherman" as he is sometimes called—was apparently big and strong, and very courageous in certain situations, yet very weak in others because he did not have God's Spirit. But he tried. He grabbed his sword and whacked this ear off, and Jesus said…
"Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."
You read that back in John 18:10-11.
"Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword."
You are not to be killing other human beings. You are to put your faith and trust in God. Jesus did that and He reminded them of the power that He had. He said…
"Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels?" [scores of powerful angelic beings.]
"Don't you realize the power that is there, if I want to use that spirit world—God's angels? But it is My time to die. Don't try to interfere, fellows," He was telling them.
"'How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?' In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, 'Have you come out, [like I was some criminal]… But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.' Then all the disciples forsook Him and fled."
They became scared. They did not pray. They could not fight, because Jesus told them, "Put up your swords," so then they became scared. That is when their carnality suddenly "clicked in"—as we will see a little later here when Peter denies Christ.
Matt. 26:57, 59-64
"And those who had laid hold of Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas the high priest, [They brought Him there into the courtyard.]… Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death.
[They wanted to put to death He who had helped so many people.] but found none. Even though many false witnesses came [but their testimony did not agree together.]… And the high priest arose and said to Him, 'Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?' But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, 'I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!' Jesus [guided by God the Father] said to him, 'It is as you said.["You are right; I am the Christ, the Son of the Living God."] Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.'" ["You will see me in a way you have never dreamed," He told the high priests and the Sanhedrin.]
Boy, they got mad at that! These leaders were not impressed by what He did and by the Truth. They were carnal-minded men, wanting to preserve their own jobs, their own stations, and their religious hierarchy. So they did not listen; their minds were blinded.
"Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, 'He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! What do you think?' They answered and said, 'He is deserving of death.' Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with [rods, not just the palms of their hands, and they began to beat on Jesus' head. He may have had a detached retina, His ears were swelling, His ears were ringing and His face may have been swelling and covered with blood by the time this was all over.] saying, 'Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?' [as they all began to hit Him] Now Peter sat outside in the courtyard. And a servant girl came to him, saying, 'You also were with Jesus of Galilee.' But he denied it before them all, saying, 'I do not know what you are saying.' And when he had gone out to the gateway, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, 'This fellow also was with Jesus of Nazareth.' But again he denied with an oath, 'I do not know the Man!'"
Peter became scared and frustrated; the Holy Spirit was not with him. He saw all of these Roman soldiers around with their swords and spears. He was outnumbered and outgunned—and God was not real to Peter yet, because he was not yet converted. The Holy Spirit had not yet come. It was with the Apostles, but not yet in them. God makes that clear back in the Gospel of John.
"And a little later those who stood by came up and said to Peter, 'Surely you also are one of them, for your speech betrays you.'"
"You have that Galilean accent," they were saying. In effect: "You sound like you are from the hills."
"Then Peter, [Peter was not the infallible pope at all—then or at any other time] began to curse and swear, saying, 'I do not know the Man!' Immediately a rooster crowed. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, 'Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.'"
Perhaps he was looking across the courtyard, seeing Jesus beaten and seeing the blood running down His face and seeing the Son of God going through a type of suffering that he would never have imagined could happen because he did not understand Jesus' warnings. Now he was doing what Jesus said.
"So he went out and wept bitterly."
His big, strong shoulders began to shake. He probably thought, "Peter, you rat, what is wrong with you? I don't understand why I am so weak." But later, that same Peter was he was turned around when the Holy Spirit came on the Day of Pentecost.
At this point, I would like to offer to you our booklet titled Restoring Apostolic Christianity. It will tell you what real Christianity is all about—the practices of Jesus, the practices of the Apostles and the whole way of life—as we have been going through some of its principles in this very chapter and the previous chapter. This is a powerful booklet filled with many historical as well as biblical proofs to show you what real Christianity is all about. So be sure to contact us and ask for this booklet. It is absolutely FREE upon your request. Just click the "Order FREE" button on our Web site, and request this booklet.
Next time, we will go right ahead into Matthew 27, and keep right on toward the finish of this powerful book. So tune in next time.
This is Roderick C. Meredith, for the Living Church of God.