Summary: The story of Jesus betrayal, arrest, and trial could be seen as a dark time, but it teaches us things about faith, suffering, and finding the will of God in our lives like no other portion of Scripture.
I hate politics. Politics at its worst is the manipulation of people and processes to get your way. I’m sure there’s a good side to politics – but I haven’t seen it lately. Certainly it was politics at its worst that was operating in Palestine around 33AD when the ruling religious political group conspired to arrest, try, and murder Jesus Christ.
Praise God that despite the worst intentions of the Jewish religious leaders, the Father’s plan won out – what looked like utter failure was total victory, but it was not apparent – to anyone, including the disciples – just as God’s victories in our lives are not always apparent – that’s why we need to pray and rely on Him. The enemy thought they were winning, but they were walking into a check-mate.
This chapter marks a departure from all the previous chapters of Matthew. Matthew’s gospel shows us Jesus the King – but here we see how human the King of Kings really is. We also see the voluntary way in which Jesus gave the sacrifice of His life – and God’s ultimate control over the events of Jesus’ death, as "out of control" as they seem.
We’re going to move rapidly through this chapter – 75 verses in all – because much of it is narrative instead of teaching – but there are still some very critical things for us to learn about faith, suffering and God’s will, prayer, and worship.
26:1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2 "As you know, the Passover is two days away-and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."
Jesus was crucified on Passover – which was very very significant. The Passover was the celebration of when the angel of death "passed over" the houses that had the blood of a spotless lamb on the doorposts. Jesus was to be a spotless lamb slain not for the sins of a household, but the sins of the whole earth.
Jesus knew what was going to happen – as the chief priests and elders met in secret to plot His arrest.
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. 5 "But not during the Feast," they said, "or there may be a riot among the people."
This group was ruled by public opinion – not that they cared what people thought, but their hold on power could be threatened if they did something the people clearly didn’t like. They had seen the triumphal entry and the crowd’s reaction to Jesus so they worried about arresting Him in a public place. A note here: whenever your actions are led by the reactions of others, you need to check your motives.
6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked. 9 "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
This act probably took place just before the triumphal entry, but Matthew records it here. The woman was Mary, Martha’s sister – the same one that sat at Jesus’ feet while her sister slaved in the kitchen. The perfume was pure nard – used to cover the smell of a body after death and was worth a year’s wages. Other gospels also record that it was Judas, who regularly stole from the pot, who complained.
14 Then one of the Twelve-the one called Judas Iscariot-went to the chief priests 15 and asked, "What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?" So they counted out for him thirty silver coins. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
The 30 pieces of silver was actually prophesied by Zechariah and Jeremiah - not only the amount but also what the money would buy – the Potter’s Field.
17 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, "Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"