Matthew 26 – The Plot to Kill Jesus & The Last Supper and the Passover

I have said before that to truly know who Jesus is we have to read the Old Testament because the Old Testament spoke of and/or prepared things that pertained to Jesus in the New Testament. 

For example, the Passover (Ex 12), as well as His birth (Is 7:14).

Tomorrow we’ll look at the location….

Matthew 26
The Plot to Kill Jesus

The High Priest was the chief religious official of Israelite religion and of classical Judaism from the rise of the Israelite nation until the destruction of the Second Temple of Jerusalem.

The high priests belonged to the Jewish priestly families that trace their paternal line back to Aaron, the first high priest and elder brother of Moses.

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,

2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,

“Caiaphas” – high priest 18-36 A.D. and the son-in-law of Annas, a former high priest who served 6-15 A.D.

4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him.

5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

“An uproar among the people” – hundreds of thousands of Jewish pilgrims came to Jerusalem for Passover and riots were not unknown.  The religious leaders knew that many people admired Jesus.

“Bethany” – a village on the eastern slope of the mount of Olives, about two miles from Jerusalem and the final station on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem.

“Simon the leper” – mentioned elsewhere only in Mk 14:3, though Simon was a common Jewish name in the 1st century.  He was probably a well-known victim of leprosy who had been healed by Jesus.

6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,

Joseph Caiaphas, known simply as Caiaphas in the New Testament, was the Jewish high priest who is said to have organized the plot to kill Jesus. Caiaphas is also said to have been involved in the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus.

From the name written on two of the ossuaries the cave seems to be the family tomb of Qafa, in Greek Caiaphas, a name known to us from the New Testament and writings of Josephus, one of whom was the high priest who presided at the trial of Jesus.

One of these ossuaries is decorated beautifully in a rare and intricate pattern of two circles, each made up of six whorl rosettes, bordered by a pattern of palm branches. Inside were found bones from six different people, two infants, a child between 2 and 5, a young boy between 13 and 18, an adult woman and a male of about 60.

7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.

“Alabaster box” – most “alabaster” of ancient times was actually marble.

8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?

9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.

11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.

13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,

“Iscariot” – probably means “the man from Kerioth,” the town Kerioth-hezron (Josh 15:25), 12 miles south of Hebron (Jer 48:24).  The man that betrayed Jesus.

These jars come from Egypt and can be dated to the 2nd century BC. It is likely that a larger jar of type was used for the anointing.
Matthew 26:7
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.
Mark 14:3
While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
Luke 7:37
When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume.

15 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.

“Thirty pieces of silver” – equivalent to 120 denarii.  Laborers customarily received one denarius for a day’s work.  Judas sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver.

It is said that Judas sold his soul for 30 pieces of silver.  Yet, some say Judas did what he did at Jesus request.  I am unable to agree or disagree because God does uncanny/unbelieveable things and His crucifixion was prophesied centuries and centuries before He was born:

“And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD” (Zech 11:12-13).

“He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.

Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge.

For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips” (Ps 22:16-18).

Of course, the Jews say Jesus was never crucified and try and use Psalm 91 to prove their evil lie or some of them through their ignorance. They say it because if Jesus would not have been killed and resurrected then we could not be saved.  They want to hold to their ridiculous idea that the Messiah has not yet come.

Ancient Village of Kerioth
Home of Judas Iscariot

Of course, Jesus told us that these Jews are of the devil (Jn 8:44; Rev 2:9, 3:9).

16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

17 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?

“The first day of the feast of unleavened bread” – the 14th of Nisan (March-April), it was also called the preparation of the Passover.  The Passover meal was eaten the evening of the 14th after sunset – and therefore technically on the 15th, since the Jewish day ended at sunset.

The feast of unleavened bread lasted seven days, from the 15th to the 21st of Nisan (Lev 23:5-6), but in the time of Christ the entire period, Nisan 14-21, was referred to under that name.

18 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.

26:18-30 – these verses clearly indicate that Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples the night before His crucifixion.

Cave Dwellings at Kerioth

“My time” – a reference Jesus’ crucifixion.

19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.

20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.

21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.

“Dippeth his hand with me in the dish” – it was the custom – still practiced by some in the Middle East – to take a piece of bread, and dip it into a bowl of sauce (made of stewed fruit) on the table.

“Shall betray me” – in the culture, as among Arabs today, to eat with a person was tantamount to saying, “I am your friend and will not hurt you.”  This fact made Judas’s deed all the more despicable (see Ps 41:9).

24 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.

25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

Ancient Wine Press at Kerioth

26 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.

27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

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.

30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

31 Then saith 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.

32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

5th/6th Century Monastery at Kerioth

34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

“Gethsemane” – the name means “oil press,” a place for squeezing the oil from olives.

37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

“Peter and the two sons of Zebedee” – the latter were James and John.  These three disciples seem to have been especially close to Jesus.  They were the only disciples to accompany Jesus into Jairus’s house and to the mount of transfiguration.

38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

The city of Hebron is located 20 mi. [33 km.] southwest of Jerusalem. Roads from the Negev, from Arad to the south and Beersheba to the southwest join here making Hebron a natural meeting point of peoples from the Negev with those of the Hill Country of Judah.

Abraham purchased a cave here and buried his wife Sarah in it. In turn Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and their spouses, were buried in Hebron. Joshua captured it and gave it to Caleb. Here David was made the king of Judah and later of both Judah and Israel. His son Absalom began his revolt here.

Today Hebron is a city of about 125,000 people – all of them Moslem Arabs save for about 500 Israelis who live in, or near, the city.

40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

R41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.

44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.

48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.

“A servant of the high priest’s” – Malchus.

52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

The Gospel of Judas is a fragmented Coptic (Egyptian)-language text that portrays Judas in a far more sympathetic light than did the gospels that made it into the Bible.

In this version of the story, Judas turns Jesus over to the authorities for execution upon Jesus’ request, as part of a plan to release his spirit from his body.

53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

“Legions” – a Roman legion had 6,000 soldiers.

54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

“Scriptures be fulfilled” – in view of v. 56 and pro a reference to Zech 13:7.

55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

26:57-27:26 – for a summary of the two stages (religious and civil) of the trial of Jesus .

58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,

Top row left to right: 157 BC Roman Republic, A.D 73 Vespasian, A.D 161 Marcus Aurelius, A.D 194 Septimius Severus;
Second row left to right: A.D 199 Caracalla, A.D 200 Julia Domna, A.D 219 Elagabalus, A.D 236 Maximinus Thrax.

In the Roman currency system, the denarius (/dɪˈnɛərɪəs/ di-nair-i-əs; plural: denarii /dɪˈnɛərɪaɪ/ di-nair-i-eye) was a small silver coin first minted about 211 BC during the Second Punic War. It became the most common coin produced for circulation but was slowly debased in weight and silver content until its replacement by the double denarius, called the antoninianus, early in the 3rd century AD.

The word denarius is derived from the Latin dēnī “containing ten”, as its value was 10 asses, although in the middle of the 2nd century BC it was recalibrated so that it was now worth sixteen asses or four sestertii; it may also be the origin of the words dinar and penny.

61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?

63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

“I adjure thee” – Jesus refused to answer the question of v. 62, but when the high priest used this form He was legally obliged to reply.

64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

“Rent his clothes” – ordinarily the high priest was forbidden by law to do this (Lev 10:6, 21:10), but this was considered a highly unusual circumstance.  The high priest interpreted Jesus’ answer in v. 64 as blasphemy.

66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.

67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,

68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.

70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.

72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.

74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

The Last Supper and the Passover

Exodus 12 records the deaths of all males in Egypt, except for those born to Israelites whom God spared or “passed over” when the avenging angel saw the blood of the lamb on their doorposts. Passover is the annual festival commemorating God’s miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage.

Depictions of the Last Supper in Christian art have been undertaken by artistic masters for centuries, Leonardo da Vinci’s late 1490s mural painting in Milan, Italy, being the best-known example.

Every year thousands of 1st century Jews would make a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate this holy day (the fourteenth day of the first month). 

The Passover celebration involved a sacrifice on behalf of each family present, followed by a sacrificial meal consisting of unleavened bread, bitter herbs and wine. The following day (the fifteenth) was the first day of the seven-day Festival of Unleavened Bread.

During the eight days of these two festivals no one was permitted to eat bread with leaven; this was commemorative of the need to prepare to leave Egypt in haste at the time of the exodus (there  being no time to wait for a dough to rise).

There has been a good deal of debate over whether the Last Supper of Jesus was a Passover meal.  It certainly appears that Jesus understood it to be such (Mk 14:12-16; Lk 22:15).  Arguments against it being a Passover meal include the following:

Jn 19:14 indicates that Jesus was crucified on that day of the preparation for the Passover; thus the previous evening could not have been that of the Passover.

– The Passover is traditionally eaten with one’s family, whereas the Last Supper was shared among a group of men, some of whom (such as Simon Peter) were married but who for the most part were unrelated to one another.

– The Gospel accounts of the Last Supper do not mention the lamb or the bitter herbs of the Passover, nor do they use the normal Greek word for” unleavened bread,” speaking instead of ordinary bread.

– Passover wine was consumed using individual cups, but the wine of the Last Supper was drunk from a common cup.

On the other hand, many elements associated with the Passover were present at the Last Supper:

The sacrifice of lambs played a very important role in the Jewish religious life and sacrificial system.

When John the Baptist referred to Jesus as the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), the Jews who heard him might have immediately thought of any one of several important sacrifices.

With the time of the Passover feast being very near, the first thought might be the sacrifice of the Passover lamb. The Passover feast was one of the main Jewish holidays and a celebration in remembrance of God’s deliverance of the Israelites from bondage in Egypt.

In fact, the slaying of the Passover lamb and the applying of the blood to doorposts of the houses (Exodus 12:11-13) is a beautiful picture of Christ’s atoning work on the cross. Those for whom He died are covered by His blood, protecting us from the angel of (spiritual) death.

– The meal was consumed at night, which was the time for the celebration of Passover,

– The drinking of wine was obligatory at Passover, and wine was central to the Last Supper.

– During New Testament times, Jews ordinarily sat when taking meals, but Jesus and the disciples habitually reclined while taking the Passover. At the Last Supper they reclined.

– At Passover, a dish of hors d’oeuvres preceded the breaking of bread; such a dish is mentioned in Matt 26:23.

– A hymn was sung at Passover, as in verse 30.

Some of the arguments against the Last Supper having been a Passover meal probably indicate that Jesus was transforming the Passover and creating a new institution for the new covenant:

– Jesus’ taking the meal with his disciples implies that the church is the family of God (see Mk 3:31-34).

– Jesus may well have used unleavened bread at the Last Supper, but the Evangelists may have used the ordinary word for bread to avoid the implication that it is essential that the Lord’s Supper be taken with unleavened bread.

– The lack of mention of a lamb is probably significant. Jesus was presenting himself as the sacrificial Lamb of the new covenant, and the mention of a literal lamb would have been a misleading distraction in the narrative.

…where Jesus was placed after His crucifixion.