Matthew 26
(Betrayal and Conviction)
October 11th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

That is when one of the Twelve, the one named Judas Iscariot, went to the cabal of high priests and said, “What will you give me if I hand him over to you?” They settled on thirty silver pieces. He began looking for just the right moment to hand him over.

- Matthew 26:14-16 (MSG)

Summary of Chapters

Chapter 26 begins the final section of Matthew, “Death and Resurrection of the Messiah.” The story of Jesus reaches a pivotal point as Judas agrees to betray Jesus by turning him over to the chief priests. He subsequently sat with Jesus at the Last Supper and then later identified him with a kiss in the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus was arrested and the sheep scattered.

Jesus was brought to trial in front of the teachers of the law and the elders. Two witnesses came forward to testify against him. Those present refused to acknowledge who he was. Instead they hit him and mocked him:

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

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

    - Matthew 26:67-68 (KJV)

Meanwhile, Peter hung around in the shadows nearby and denied Jesus three times, just as Jesus said he would.

Reflection and Application

Chapter 26 records events that Jesus and the prophets had been describing going back hundreds of years. At the Last Supper, Jesus quotes Zechariah 13:7 when he says in verse 31 “ ‘This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered (NIV).’”

When Jesus was arrested, the first response from his disciples was to defend him: Verse 50 in chapter 26 tells us that one of his companions took out his sword and cut off the ear of the servant of the high priest. In response, Jesus tells him to put the sword away and reminds everyone that he could defend himself if that was God’s plan, but the fulfillment of the scriptures required that he allowed himself to be taken. The next response from the disciples was to hightail it out of the garden.

What went through Judas’ mind when he decided to betray Jesus? At the last supper Jesus made it clear that he knew what this disciple had planned:

    Then Judas, already turned traitor, said, "It isn't me, is it, Rabbi?"; Jesus said, "Don't play games with me, Judas."

    - Matthew 26:31 (MSG)

We can fool some of the people some of the time, but we can never fool Jesus. He always knows what is in our hearts. Maybe Judas was diabolically greedy or treacherous, or maybe he had good intentions and wanted to spark Jesus to act as the Warrior Messiah instead of the sacrificial lamb. If the latter was true, it would explain why he later tried to give back his reward – because the chess game did not play out as he imagined.

Does the response of any of the disciples resemble our own actions in any way? What lengths are we willing to go to try to force Jesus to be the type of Messiah that we want him to be – or are we content to submit ourselves to him? We may be quick to defend Jesus, but when we don’t like how he responds, we might abandon him, as so many disciples did. If so, we can read ahead, and see that we can be forgiven and reconciled, even if we had abandoned our Lord.

It’s interesting to note that the teachers and elders adhered to Deuteronomy 19:15 by requiring that two witnesses come forward in order to convict Jesus. This was the same passage that Jesus referenced when discussing reconciliation in Matthew chapter 18. However, we recognize that these witnesses gave a false testimony and no one in the room countered them. We may be in a situation one day where we hear false witnesses against Jesus. Pray that we have the strength and boldness to counter these people in a respectful manner that helps others to see the truth.

How do you imagine the scene at the Last Supper? We regularly hear the words of Jesus as we prepare for receiving communion in memory of this night:

    While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

    Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, l for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins."

    - Matthew 26:26-28 (NAB)

How about the visual image? How do we picture the scene as Jesus breaks the bread? Many of us may have been influenced by the setting and alignment of diners in the famous painting by Leonardo Da Vinci. How would you draw this scene if you had a pencil or paintbrush in your hand? You can see an image and analysis of Da Vinci's painting by clicking the link below to go to the Bible Art website:

Da Vinci's "Last Supper"

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. When was the last time that you heard a rooster crowing?
    2. How would you have reacted if you were one of the disciples in Gethsemane? Lash out with a sword? Scatter in fear? Follow at a distance, but deny your relationship? Or some other reaction?
    3. Have we had moments where we abandoned Jesus and need to ask forgiveness? Jesus awaits us with a merciful heart.
    Recommended Prayer
    Father, we know that all things work to serve you. Help us to accept your will and ways.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Those tempted to betray someone

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Matthew 27-28 (Death and Resurrection)

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