Matthew 26:1-25

Thursday Evening Bible Study

May 31, 2007


The time has come for Jesus to perform the most crucial part of His mission to the earth.  The time has come for Him to die.

:1-5 Religious leaders plot against Jesus

:2 Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to His disciples,

:2 "You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified."

Passover – this was the Jewish feast that celebrated God’s deliverance of Israel from the slavery of Egypt.  On the first Passover, the families each sacrificed a lamb and covered their doorposts with the blood of the lamb.  The angel of death “passed over” their houses and killed all the first born of Egypt.

Jesus will die at the Passover.  He was the “Lamb of God” who would die for our sins so that God will “pass over” us and we will not be judged for our sins.

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

His actual name was “Joseph, son of Caiaphas”, but he was given the nickname of Caiaphas, which means “as comely”

His father-in-law, Annas, was high priest from A.D. 6-15, and was still called by some “high priest”, though at this time, the actual high priest was Caiaphas.

Caiaphas was appointed high priest in A.D. 18 by Valerius Gratus, the governor of Judaea, the governor before Pontius Pilate.

He was removed as high priest by Vitellius, governor of Syria, in A.D. 36, and was so humiliated, he killed himself.

He, along with Annas, was a Sadducee.

There was a political angle at work here.  Some of the Jews, like Caiaphas, liked the Romans ruling over the land.  They were concerned that some of those in the underground, the “zealots”, would upset the Romans too much and the Romans would respond by taking away the authority of the Jewish leaders.

In 1990, about two miles south of Jerusalem, twelve “ossuaries” (“bone boxes”) were found at the family tomb of “Caiphas”.  One ossuary was inscribed with the full name, in Aramaic of “Joseph, son of Caiaphas”, and contained the bones of a sixty year old man. After examination the bones were reburied on the Mount of Olives.

:4 and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him.

:5 But they said, "Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people."

At the feast of Passover, the city would be filled with pilgrims from around the world, including many from Galilee.

:6-13 Mary anoints Jesus

:6 And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper,

BethanyBethania – “house of dates” or “house of misery”.  It is a village on the Mount of Olives, about 1.5 miles east of Jerusalem.

Simon the leper

What is Jesus doing at the house of a leper?  Lepers were considered “unclean” and were supposed to live outside the city.  One suggestion is that Jesus has healed this fellow.

John gives us a few more details about the event (John 12).

This particular event actually takes place six days before the Passover, or four days before the events in the previous verses.
Bethany is the same city that Martha, Mary, and Lazarus are from. 
We know about Martha, Mary, and Lazarus as followers of Jesus from an earlier account in Jesus’ ministry:

(Luke 10:38-42 NKJV)  Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. {39} And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. {40} But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." {41} And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. {42} "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

As we follow John’s account, we realize that our particular supper here in the final week of Jesus’ life is taking place after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, and Lazarus is sitting at the table.
Can you guess who is serving the supper?  Martha.

:7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.

a woman – John identifies the woman as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

alabaster flaskalabaster is a type of light colored, translucent stone.

very costly fragrant oil – John fills in the details and tells us that it was

(John 12:3 NKJV)  …a pound of very costly oil of spikenard

John also tells us that this perfume was thought to be valued at “three hundred denarii” (about a year’s worth of wages, John 12:5).

:8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste?

:9 "For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor."

:10 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.

:11 "For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.

Jesus isn’t saying we shouldn’t help the poor.  He’s simply telling the disciples that they will have enough time to do that later.  For now they ought to be thinking about Jesus.

:12 "For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.

I wonder if the fragrance of this perfume could still be smelled on Jesus when He was being scourged.  I wonder if you could smell it while He hung on the cross.  I wonder if He could smell it when everyone had left Him and He cried, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”

:13 "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."


The cost of worship

As we’re going to see, Mary’s anointing of Jesus was an act of worship.
It was a costly one.
Worship isn’t just the songs we sing to the Lord.  It’s the things we offer to the Lord out of love and gratitude.
It might include the things we do for the Lord – the ways we serve Him.
It might include the things that we choose NOT to do – things we don’t do because we follow Jesus.
Worship is costly.
David had offended the Lord by performing a census on the nation.  As a result, the Angel of the Lord had brought a plague on Jerusalem.  When David cried out to the Lord, he was told he should build an altar at the place where the Angel had stopped.  The fellow that owned the property offered to give it to David …

(2 Sam 24:24 NKJV)  Then the king said to Araunah, "No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price; nor will I offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God with that which costs me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.

Our salvation is a free gift.  But look at the cost of the gift that God has given to us.  God sacrificed His only Son for us.  His was the most costly gift.
When we realize what God has done for us, we want to return His love with a similar love. 
Sometimes we are faced with doing things we don’t like.  It might be giving up something that means a lot to me, it might be having to spend time with someone I don’t like, it might be doing a job I hate to do.

I can do that thing grudgingly, and the result is a “stinky” mess.  I hate what I’m doing and it stinks to God.

I can choose to do the thing willingly, as an offering to the Lord, and the result is a sweet perfume.


Some folks don’t understand extravagant worship

Sometimes it’s people right inside the church.  This criticism came from the disciples.  You want to do something that seems a little bit extravagant, and they are holding you back.
What’s interesting is to see who that started all the criticism:
(John 12:4-6 NKJV)  Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, {5} "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" {6} This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

I’m not saying that everyone who tries to discourage you is a “Judas”.  And I’m not saying that everyone who discourages you is wrong.

But sometimes you don’t always know what a person’s motives and reasons are for what they’re doing.

This morning we read the story of the prophet who traveled up north to challenge Jeroboam in Bethel (1Ki. 13).  God warned him to go north to Bethel, give the message, and get back home to Judah.  After giving his message, he began to go home when he encountered another fellow who claimed to be a prophet and who lied to him telling him that an angel gave him a new message.  The fellow stops and has dinner with the second prophet, but on the way home is killed by a lion.  The whole point of the story is that you and I need to be accountable to do what God tells us, not necessarily what somebody else claims that God is telling them.

We ought to listen when people give their advice, but ultimately we need to decide for ourselves what God wants us to do.

If God is leading us to worship Him extravagantly, then go for it!

:14-16 Judas agrees to betray

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

:15 and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.

:16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

thirty pieces of silver – thirty shekels, about the equivalent of 120 denarii in Roman money, about a third of the value of Mary’s perfume.

This is considered the value of a male slave's life (Ex. 21:32)

Apparently, Judas and the high priests didn't think much of Jesus to only place this value on Him.

There was also a prophecy being fulfilled here:

(Zec 11:12-13 NKJV)  Then I said to them, "If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain." So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. {13} And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter"; that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD for the potter.

In two brief instances you get a glimpse into some of Judas’ motivation for life.  He was upset that Mary spent so much on Jesus.  Now he’s trying to profit from selling Jesus to the chief priests.


Giving or Getting?

What a contrast between Mary and Judas.
Mary is concerned about giving extravagantly to Jesus.
Judas is concerned about getting what he can from Jesus.
Which one would you rather be more like?
There is a place in all of our lives where we need to simply come and receive – from the Lord and from others.
But if that characterizes our entire life – getting – then something is wrong.
Being a part of the Christian community is about learning to give.  It’s about learning to give to the Lord.  It’s about learning to give to others in the church.  It’s about learning to give to the world.
When you come to church, are you coming just to see what you’ll get out of it?  Or are you coming to give?  Are you looking to see if people will talk to you?  Or are you coming to reach out to others?

:17-19 Passover Preparation

:17 Now on the first day of the Feast of the Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, "Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?"

:18 And He said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Teacher says, "My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples."' "

My time – His time to die has come.

:19 So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.

:20-25 Jesus predicts His betrayal

:20 When evening had come, He sat down with the twelve.

This is the Last Supper.  The table most likely was in a “U” shape with Jesus in the outer side in the middle of the “U”.    The table would be low to the ground with the fellows laying on their sides around the table, typically leaning on your left elbow and using the right hand to eat with.  The guest of honor would have been on Jesus’ left (according to custom) and the second-favorite spot was on the host’s right.  When you follow the story in John 13, you have to come to the conclusion that John was on Jesus’ right, and the guest of honor was Judas.  Peter seems to have been down at the end of the table because he doesn’t seem to know what is going on.

:21 Now as they were eating, He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me."

:22 And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, "Lord, is it I?"

Jesus knew all along who would betray Him.

(John 6:64 NKJV)  …For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him.

And yet for three years Jesus has not even given the slightest hint to the others about what Judas would do.

:23 He answered and said, "He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me.

A meal often included a common shared bowl set in the middle with something like a sauce or a soup.  Loaves of unleavened bread (like pita bread) were passed around and each person tore of chunks of bread.  You would scoop up the contents of the bowl with your bread.  I don’t know if there were rules against “double-dipping”.

I’m not sure that even here Jesus is pointing out Judas.  Jesus is simply saying that it will be one of the men reclining around the table.

:24 "The Son of Man indeed goes just as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born."

:25 Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, "Rabbi, is it I?" He said to him, "You have said it."

You have said it – In other words, “yes”.


Jesus understands betrayal

One of life’s hardest pains is the pain of betrayal.
Friends turn on each other.  Parents betray their children with abuse.  Children betray their parents in rebellion.  Husband and wife divorce.
(Heb 2:17-18 NLT)  Therefore, it was necessary for Jesus to be in every respect like us, his brothers and sisters, so that he could be our merciful and faithful High Priest before God. He then could offer a sacrifice that would take away the sins of the people. {18} Since he himself has gone through suffering and temptation, he is able to help us when we are being tempted.
If you’ve been betrayed, there is one person who understands your pain more than any other.  Go to Jesus.