What contrasting attitudes toward Jesus! The chief priests and scribes searched for a way to kill Him. Judas offered to betray Him. But a single woman spent 300 days’ wages for the perfume which she poured over His head. The disciples criticized her for this extravagant act of love.
They viewed it as a waste of money and thought it would have been better to have sold the perfume and given the money to the poor. But Jesus defended her saying that she had anointed His body for burial and that in all the world people would tell of her deed.
Both Mark and Luke are even more explicit than Matthew when they state that it was, ‘the first day of unleavened bread WHEN THEY KILLED THE PASSOVER lamb.’ Matthew 14:12 whilst Luke 22:7 states, ‘Then came the day of unleavened bread WHEN THE PASSOVER lamb MUST BE KILLED.’
Matthew 26:17 in the A.V., the verse reads, ‘Now the first day of THE FEAST OF unleavened bread’, but the words in capitals do not occur in the Greek text, and the verse should read, ‘On the first day of unleavened bread, the disciples; Where shall we prepare for thee to eat the Passover (supper)?’ ‘When even was come he sat down with the twelve.’ Matthew 26:20
The date was the 14th Nisan, called ‘Preparation’. The Passover (meal) was eaten in the evening.
l. The 14th of Nisan was the day when all leaven had to be put away.
2. It was the day on which the Lord was arrested after he had left the Upper Room with His disciples, and the day before the beginning of the Passover week.
3. It was still the 14th Nisan when the Jewish leaders took Jesus to Pilate, John 18:28.
Jesus to Judas Iscariot. ‘What you do, do quickly’. John 13:27
Note that when Judas left the Upper Room:
1. It was already night. John 13:30.
2. The other disciples thought that Judas had left to buy the things needed for the feast of Unleavened Bread, which began the next day, the first day of the Passover Week, Luke 22:1.
If Judas needed to buy anything it would have to be done on the 14th because the next day was a ‘Sabbath’, a rest day, when he could not possibly have bought anything. To buy or sell on the 15th Nisan would have been a violation of the Mosaic Law. And remember that the day was the very high ‘Sabbath’ of Passover Week.
Jesus had given Judas the opportunity of abandoning his plans but knowing that he was determined to go through with it, Jesus said, ‘What you intend to do, do quickly’, thus sending him to the Priests to agree with them on the price of betrayal. It is unlikely that Judas knew that Jesus was aware of his intentions, but the Lord’s words forced his hand, and in so doing Jesus took control of events.
Matthew 26:1ff records that Jesus said to his disciples, ‘After two days is THE PASSOVER and the son of man is betrayed to be crucified.’
Matthew 26:5 records that, at a meeting in the palace of the High Priest that same day, when they were planning to kill Jesus, they said, ‘Not on the feast lest there be an uproar’.
Jesus was always in control, in John 10:18 Jesus said, ‘No man takes my life from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have the power to lay it down, and I have the power to take it again.’
John 8:2-3 reveals that Judas was able to lead the Jews to where they could find Jesus. And Jesus knew they were coming to arrest him, but when He decided!
There are several mistakes that are made in trying to work out when the Lord was crucified.
1. For instance, the Passover MEAL, at which the instituted His own Supper. Should not be confused with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
Leviticus 23:5-6 very clearly states, ‘In the 14th day of the first month (Nisan), at even, i.e. Evening, is the Lord’s Passover: and on the 15th day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread’.
This means that commencing on the 15th day, the feast lasted for seven days, and just as the Israelites continued to eat unleavened bread after they had escaped from Egypt when God ‘passed over’ the land, so their descendants celebrated seven days of ‘the Feast of Unleavened Bread’, after eating the ‘Passover meal’.
Although they were required to eat unleavened bread during those seven days, it was a ‘Feast’ because the people were called upon to ‘rejoice.’
Numbers 28:16-17 reads, ‘In the 14th day of the first month IS THE PASSOVER OF THE LORD. And in the 15th day of the month is THE FEAST: seven days shall unleavened bread be eaten.’
And then the passage continues with the command to offer the prescribed sacrifice.
2. The several references to ‘sabbath’ are also a source of difficulty for many Bible students.
It is often overlooked that the word ‘sabbath’ does not refer to the weekly seventh-day alone. The word ‘sabbath’ does not mean ‘seventh’ as some seem to think. It simply means ‘separation’ or ‘rest’ and any day of the week, which was celebrated as a ‘high day’, was also called a ‘sabbath’, on which the law of the weekly Sabbath also applied.
The sabbath to which this verse refers was especially significant because, being Nisan 15th, it was the Sabbath of Passover Week.
In the Upper Room, on the 14th Nisan, the Lord ate the Passover Meal, Matthew 26:19, but, when Judas rose and went out, the rest of the disciples thought he had gone to buy whatever the group would need to celebrate
‘THE FEAST’, which began the next, day, the 15th Nisan. John 13:29. It is also worth noting that, occurring in the first month of the religious year, the sacred year, and being the first major Feast of the year, the ‘Passover’ was regarded as an especially important occasion.
So, this is what we have seen so far: The Passover Meal was eaten during the evening of 14th Nisan, and the ‘Feast of Unleavened Bread, known as ‘the PASSOVER’, began the next day.
1. Jesus celebrated the Passover Supper on Nisan 14, Thursday. Matthew 26:19.
2. He was arrested later that night when Nisan 15 had begun, evening to evening.
3. The priests came together, ‘straightaway, in the morning,’ Mark 15:1, thus Friday.
4. He was crucified, and his body taken down from the cross because the next day was the sabbath, Saturday. John 19:31.
5. He rose on ‘THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK’, Luke 24:1.
The woman came to see the sepulchre, ‘in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn towards the first day of the week’. Matthew 28:1
The heavenly messengers at the tomb quoted the Lord’s prediction of His resurrection, Luke 24:5-8.
An angel told the women, ‘He is not here, for he is risen. Come see the place where the Lord lay’. Matthew 28:6
The Jewish leaders themselves said that Jesus had claimed that He would rise ‘after three days’, and wanted the sepulchre to be guarded ‘until the third day’. Matthew 27:63-66.
‘Three days and three nights’. Reference is made to the statement which declared that, as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so also would the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the earth.
Then follows the observation that, if Jesus was arrested late on Thursday, 14th Nisan, died and was buried the next day, Friday the 15th Nisan, and raised early on the First Day of the Week, this cannot be reckoned as three days and three rights.
The problem arises because we fail to understand how the expression ‘three days and nights’ was understood in biblical times, Sir Robert Anderson, who was an eminent lawyer, made an interesting point when he observed that words and phrases are just ‘counters’ which have no value or significance in themselves, which must be understood in the light of the meaning they would have had to those who originally heard them.
In the scriptures, there are several places where we find mention of ‘three days and nights’, and, when we examine these passages, some interesting information emerges.
1. In 2 Chronicles 10, we read that when Rehoboam, the son of Solomon became Israel’s new king, certain of his subjects approached him, pleading that they might be relieved of the heavy burdens which Solomon, in his later days, had imposed on them in order to support his extravagant lifestyle. Rehoboam said to these people, ‘Come again to me after three days’. And then we read, ‘So Rehoboam and the people came to Rehoboam on the third day.’
2. In Esther 4:16, when Haman, the enemy of the Jews, plotted their wholesale destruction, Esther, the Queen, issued this command. ‘Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day’.
But Esther 5:1 then tells us, ‘Now it came to pass on the third day’, that Esther appeared before the king. And verse 4 records what she said to the king. ‘If it seems good to the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him’.
3. Matthew 27:63-64 tells us that, after the burial of the body of Jesus, the leaders of the Jews came to Pilate with a request. They said, ‘We remember that that deceiver said, while he was yet alive. After three days ‘I will rise again’. Command therefore that the sepulchre be made secure until the third day.’
It is obvious that, in Bible times, the phrase ‘three days and nights’ did not mean what we understand it to mean today. It is also obvious that, in those earlier times, people were not as concerned with the precise reckoning of time, as we are today.
The scholarly Bishop Lightfoot, in his work, ‘Horae Hebraicae’, mentions a Jewish saying, which runs, ‘A day and a Night make an Onah, and a part of an Onah is as the whole’.
He refers to this Jewish saying when he comments on Matthew 12:40, where the Lord mentions Jonah’s terrifying experience. I suppose that, in an age of digital watches and chronographs, when we are offered time-pieces that are said to be accurate to the second, we would find this old Jewish saying very unsatisfactory. But Lightfoot says, ‘Therefore Christ may truly be said to have been in the grave three Onoth, the consent of the schools and the dialect of the nation agreeing thereunto’.
l think that it is surprising that, when this subject is discussed, it is the one passage in which the Lord uses the illustration involving Jonah that receives the most attention. I suggest that, even if we find this passage difficult to understand, we ought to consider that, the four Gospel records, reveal that, over and over again, the Lord declared in unequivocal language, that he would rise from the dead ‘on the third day’.
Matthew 16:21 / Matthew 17:23 / Matthew 20:19 / Matthew 26:44 / Mark 9:31 / Mark 10:34 / Luke 9:22 / Luke 13:32 / Luke 18:33 / Luke 24:7 / Luke 24:21 / Luke 24:46.
Notice how Jesus tells His disciples to go into the city and ‘man’ carrying a water jar will meet them. This would be very unusual indeed because it was mainly women who carried the water jars.
And notice also that Jesus tells them to ask the owner of the house, where is ‘My’ guest room, which implies the owner of the house could well have been a disciple of Jesus.
The disciples find everything just as Jesus said and only had to make preparations for the Passover meal.
I would like for us to consider a few things concerning the Lord’s Supper, Matthew 26:26-27.
Firstly, the prayer for the bread and the wine, too often I hear people asking God to bless the bread and the wine but this isn’t what Jesus did, He simply thanked God for them, He blessed God, not the bread and the wine because He knew that God was the One who supplied the bread and the wine and supplied everything for them to have it, i.e., the rain and sun which caused them to grow so that they could make bread and wine, Matthew 26:28.
Secondly, we must remember that we don’t come to the Lord’s table looking for forgiveness, I’ve lost count of the number of times I hear someone asking God to forgive us as if we only have our sins forgiven once a week. Our sins have already been forgiven at our baptism Acts 2:38 and when we confess our sins to Him, 1 John 1:9.
Well, possibly both, it saddens us when we remember what we did to cause Jesus to have to go to the cross but it’s also a time of celebration because Jesus has conquered death and dealt with our sins and promises to come back again, whilst we remember what He did for us.
Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper in order for us to remember the great sacrifice He made for us and that we rely on Him and His sacrifice for our salvation. He gave us this memorial, so we would not forget Him and what He did for us.
In Luke 22:19, when Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, He said, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’ This is done to help us remember the Lord and what He did for us.
The death of our Lord wasn’t an accident. It was in God’s eternal plan of redemption for Christ to come to this earth and take our punishment for our sins by dying for us, so God can now be just in saving us. In several places in the Old Testament, God foretells the death of His Son for us. One place is found in Isaiah 53:5-6.
God and Christ are loving and wonderful for what they have done for us. In 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, we read of Jesus instituting the Lord’s Supper.
This is how we remember the great suffering that our Lord did for us. We proclaim our faith in this great and wonderful deed to the world each time we partake of the Lord’s Supper. Some partake of only the bread and their priest partakes of the fruit of the vine, this is a perversion of the Lord’s Supper. This isn’t doing it the way the Bible instructs.
But notice each Christian is to partake of both the bread and the fruit of the vine. When we partake of the unleavened bread we picture our Lord’s body hanging there, suffering in anguish and pain, taking the punishment that was rightly due us.
As we drink of the fruit of the vine we envision His precious blood which was poured out for us to cleanse us from all our sins. What great love and concern God and Christ have for us! The Lord wants us to remember what He did for us every first day of the week as the church did in the first century.
We are to remember that our Lord gave up heaven to come to this earth for thirty-three years, and then died for us. We remember the humiliation of the mock trial, the crown of thorns and the terrible scourging that left His back raw and bleeding. We remember the soldiers gambling for the Lord’s only earthly possession, the clothes on His back.
Then we remember the nails as they were driven into His hands and feet, and the cross as it was raised and dropped into the hole. We also remember the spirit of forgiveness of our Lord, as He was being crucified, when He said in Luke 23:34, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.’
We remember our Lord’s loud cry of victory in Matthew 27:46, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’ We remember as our Lord hung on the cross, how the people mocked, shamed, and made fun of Him as He was dying not only for their sins but the sins of all mankind.
We remember in Matthew 27:45, ‘Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land’, and in Matthew 27:51, ‘The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split.’
The sun refused to shine, and the earth shook because of the death of the Son of God.
We read in 1 Peter 2:24, ‘Who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness, by whose stripes you were healed.’
We must first examine ourselves to determine whether we have the right attitude to partake of this memorial. We must put all else from our minds. We should make sure we have our minds centred on what Christ did for us.
We are told in 1 Corinthians 11:27-29, ‘Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.’
We must clear our minds of all other thoughts and centre our minds on the sacrifice of our Lord, or otherwise as 1 Corinthians 11:29 (KJV) says, ‘We eat and drink damnation to ourselves.’
There are four things we need to look at before and whilst we participate in the Supper.
1. We need to look back to the cross, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25.
2. We need to look forward to His return, 1 Corinthians 11:26.
3. We need to look within ourselves, 1 Corinthians 11:27-29.
Many Christians today refuse to partake of the Supper because they feel they are ‘unworthy’. The truth is all of us are ‘unworthy’ but this isn’t Paul’s point. Paul is speaking about the Christian’s attitude towards the Supper, do they partake without really thinking about what the bread and wine symbolise? Do they partake without thinking about what Christ did for them on the cross?
If not, they are spiritually crucifying Jesus all over again, hence the need to self-examine first to avoid judgment.
Many Christians today refuse to partake of the Supper because they have a problem with a brother or sister in Christ and, so they believe they would be partaking in the Supper in an ‘unworthy manner’.
I find this tragic that Christians refuse to partake of the Supper because they have a problem with someone else.
The truth is, Christians shouldn’t be participating in ‘worship’ as a whole, not just the Supper if they have a problem with their brothers or sisters, Matthew 5:23-34.
I’ve often heard Christians say that we should refuse non-Christians the Lord’s Supper because they will bring ‘judgment on themselves’.
First of all, Paul is writing to Christians and its Christians who should be ‘examining themselves’, Paul doesn’t deal with non-Christians participating in the Supper.
Secondly, if non-Christians partake of the Supper, how much more ‘judgement’ can a non-Christian come under?
I find it fascinating that some Christians will refuse any non-Christian visitor the Supper but will happily take their money for the offering! I believe the Supper is for Christians but if a non-Christian begins to come regularly to our assemblies, then someone should go and explain to them what the Supper is all about and who it is for.
4. We need to look at each other, 1 Corinthians 11:33.
Many people don’t want to remember the Lord’s death for us very often since they only partake of the Lord’s Supper monthly, quarterly, annually, or not at all. The excuse is given that they do not want to partake of it more often because it will become too commonplace and lose its meaning. But the very opposite is true.
The Lord’s Supper loses its meaning when we choose not to partake and think about it. This would be like saying that we should only pray two or three times a year, for if we prayed more often, then prayer would lose its meaning. This would be absurd.
Does the Lord’s death really mean anything to us? But Jesus requested in Luke 22:19, ‘Do this in remembrance of Me.’ Do we really care to regularly remember the death of our Lord?
People seem to be turned off by the death of Jesus and the shedding of His blood. They don’t care to remember it. But it is His blood that cleanses us from our sins. As Revelation 1:5 says, ‘To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.’
They had rather remember Him as a babe in a manger than a crucified Saviour. It is an insult to Jesus to celebrate His manger and then ignore His cross. Many people seem to be ashamed of the death of Jesus.
Jesus says in Mark 8:38, ‘For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in His glory of His Father with His holy angels.’
This memorial of our Lord is called ‘the Lord’s Supper’ in 1 Corinthians 11:20 and ‘the Lord’s table’ in 1 Corinthians 10:21. In 1 Corinthians 10:16, it is referred to as ‘the breaking of bread’ and ‘communion’.
But the church in the first century met every first day of the week to observe the Lord’s Supper. We are told in Acts 20:7, ‘Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight.’
Why did they come together on the first day of the week?
Here we see the church in the first century came together on the first day of every week to break bread, which is the Lord’s Supper. Their primary reason for coming together on the first day of the week was to partake of the Lord’s Supper. We cannot be pleasing to the Lord if we observe the Lord’s Supper only a few times a year or not at all.
In 1 Corinthians 11:26 we are told, ‘For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.’
Are we really interested in proclaiming the Lord’s death to the world until He comes?
People today don’t seem to have a problem with the example to give on the first day of each week as found in 1 Corinthians 16:1-2. One of the things they were to do when they came together was to give. What else was the church at Corinth to do every first day of the week when they came together?
In 1 Corinthians 11:20, they were condemned for making a gluttonous feast out of the Lord’s Supper and were told, ‘Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper.’
Every first day of the week. What were they doing when they came together every first day of the week?
Perverting the Lord’s Supper by making it into a glutinous and drunken feast.
What were they supposed to be doing every first day of the week?
Partaking of the Lord’s Supper. Two of the things the church at Corinth did every first day of the week were to give and partake of the Lord’s Supper.
Why shouldn’t we be like those in the first century who assembled on the first day of every week to remember the Lord’s death by partaking in the Lord’s Supper?
But many people seem to have a problem in seeing the importance of partaking in the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week as the church in the first century did when it was under inspired apostolic guidance.
When the Jews, who lived under the Old Testament, were commanded to remember the Sabbath Day, that is the seventh day of the week, to keep it holy, they kept all 52 Sabbath Days of the year holy. The first day of the week also occurs 52 times each year.
When Christians today observe the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, they are following the Biblical example of Acts 20 of the disciples who came together on the first day of the week to partake of the Lord’s Supper, Acts 20:7.
We also read in Acts 2:42 concerning the church at Jerusalem, ‘And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in breaking of bread and in prayers.’
Again, we see the first-century church was steadfast or regular in the breaking of bread which is their observance of the Lord’s Supper.
But later men in denominational groups chose to partake of the Lord’s Supper less frequently. Should we be any less regular than the church in the first century?
According to what we have seen in the scriptures, we are to both give and partake of the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week.
Could the Bible be any clearer concerning the Lord’s Supper?
Another perversion of the Lord’s Supper occurred when men introduced the absurd doctrine of transubstantiation in the Decrees of the Council of Trent, which met from 1545 to 1563 A.D.
This decree devised by men stated that the bread and the fruit of the vine are converted miraculously into the literal body and blood of Jesus when we partake of it. Sadly, men would dare to pervert the Lord’s Supper into such a mockery.
It’s ridiculous to place literal interpretations on symbolic language. In John 15:5 Jesus says, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches.’ Here Jesus is using figurative language because we know He isn’t a literal vine and we aren’t literal branches. In John 10:9 Jesus said, ‘I am the door.’
But again, He uses symbolic language. Concerning the Lord’s Supper, Jesus said in 1 Corinthians 11:25, ‘this do in remembrance of Me.’
The Lord’s Supper is designed to help us remember what the Lord did for us. And as we partake of it as 1 Corinthians 11:26 says, ‘You proclaim the Lord’s death till He Comes’.
We are showing the world that we believe that Jesus died for our sins.
Now notice that Jesus basically said 3 things. A prediction, an answer and a command.
1. The prediction, He said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me’.
Can you imagine the gulp that Judas had to restrain when Jesus said that? Can you imagine the shock that he had to try and keep from registering when Jesus said that?
Now, this text makes us face the sovereignty of God and the free will of men. Jesus predicted His betrayal but predicted doesn’t mean predestined. In other words, Jesus’ awareness of Judas’ betrayal doesn’t excuse Judas from responsibility for his actions.
God does not design treachery, but God can design treachery in His plan. God doesn’t make men do evil, but God can use evil men. Now later Judas’ remorse is evident that betrayal was his choice. He did not have to betray Jesus, but God used that betrayal to save the world.
You see the reason made the prediction was to let the other disciples know that He was in control. The situation wasn’t out of hand. He said in John 13:19 ‘I am telling you now before it happens so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He’.
In other words, later they were going to reflect, they were going to look back on that night. And they are going realise that, Jesus saw that coming, it was all part of a plan, He knew what was about to happen. And they were going to realise He really is the Son of God, He really is in control, He really is the Lord. That’s why Jesus made that prediction.
But right now, they can’t think about that. All they can think about is, ‘Who! Who would betray Jesus?’ And so, Peter motions to John and says, ‘John find out! Who is it?’
And I think the disciple’s amazing lack of suspicion about Judas tells a couple of things.
1. It tells us that Judas hid his dishonesty very well. You can be a bargainer for Christ and other people will never know it.
2. Jesus must have treated Judas as well as any of the other disciples.
If they had seen over the years that Jesus had a problem with Judas, they would have suspected Judas, but they didn’t. Because there was nothing about the way Jesus loved Judas that gave them any hint that Judas would sell his Lord.
I’ll tell you because Peter wanted to take preventative action. Peter’s got a sword. And all he needs to know is who in this room would sell out Jesus. Lifting one finger Jesus could have saved His life and ended Judas’ like that. Peter would have jumped up and cut off his head so fast, Judas wouldn’t know about it until he sneezed.
Jesus didn’t do that. Instead, He gave an answer that only Judas could respond to. He said in John 13:26 ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’
You might ask, well why didn’t they figure it out then?
Well because in that culture it was the custom for the host to honour a special guest by giving him a morsel from his hand. Let me take you into that room for a second and let you see it as you’ve never seen it before.
How many of you have seen a copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous portrait of ‘The Last Supper’?
It’s a magnificent work but it’s so wrong. They didn’t sit at a long table, in chairs, with a white tablecloth. Passover was eaten lying on the floor.
You see they would have a U-shaped table, with the host up at the front, in the very middle. There was someone on the right in a special place of honour. And someone on the left in a very special place of honour. And everybody else would be down the sides. They would lie down on their left elbow and eat with their right hand.
That’s why the Bible said in John 13:25 that ‘John was up against the breast of Jesus.’
He didn’t have bad table manners, John was right here, to the right of Jesus. Right up against His breast as they ate. Now let me ask you, who would have been right to the left of Jesus in the very special place of honour?
Somebody so close to Jesus could take a piece of bread and hand it to him. Jesus gave Judas the place of honour at the Passover. And all that the disciples thought that was happening, in fact, we know later from Matthew that Jesus and Judas were able to have a very private conversation.
Because it says in Matthew 26:25, ‘Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely not I, Rabbi?’ Jesus answered, ‘Yes, it is you.’ Then he took that piece of bread, He reached over, and He handed it over to him’.
And I believe He was making a special appeal to Judas’ heart. He was holding that piece of bread there and He was looking right into his eyes.
And both men knew what He was saying, ‘Judas I know it’s you, I know what you’re struggling with, I know what you’re thinking about doing to me Judas, can you go through with it? Can you turn on me like that? Can you sell me out?’
The Bible says, ‘Judas took that morsel and when he did, Satan entered His heart.’ As someone once said, ‘It was Judas Gethsemane’.
Jesus was knocking at the door of his heart and Judas threw open the door and told Jesus to stay outside and he invited Satan in. And just like in Gethsemane when Jesus made His decision and the angels came to give Him strength. Judas made his decision and the dark angel showed up that quick, to make sure he didn’t change his mind.
And at that moment Jesus knew that He had lost him. So, He gave a command, He said in John 13:27, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’
By the way, it’s the only time in the Bible that God and Satan gave a man the same command. And do you know what John says? John says, ‘When I look back on it, what I remember is how dark it was when he left, the last thing I ever remember of Judas is walking out in the darkness’. Because it’s always dark when you sell out Jesus.
The Lord was about to foretell the denial of Peter and the flight of the twelve, but He began by appealing to the prophecy here quoted from Zechariah 13:7. God had revealed Himself in the Old Testament under the extensive use of the metaphor of ‘the shepherd of Israel’. Psalm 23 / Ezekiel 16.
but here it was stated that the Shepherd would strike the Shepherd, thus God laid upon himself, in the person of the Son, the iniquity of us all. Inherent in this was the failure of all human support.
Christ here went far beyond the detailed prophecies of His passion and calmly set up an appointment to meet the twelve in Galilee after the Great Sacrifice had been offered. Christ promised to meet them after His resurrection and He did it.
Jesus told the disciples that they would all fall away. Peter retorted that though the others might, he would never abandon Him. Christ replied that he would deny Him three times that very night. Again, Peter denied it saying that he would even be willing to die with Him. Perhaps Peter’s overconfidence was one reason he fulfilled this very prophecy a few hours later.
Peter wasn’t alone in rejecting the idea of their failure, for both Mark and Matthew relate how ‘all the disciples’ made the same affirmation of loyalty. What none of them realised was that the source of true spiritual strength hadn’t yet been provided through the death of Christ and that it was, therefore, impossible for them to have stood without that strength.
Peter denied Christ three times, later confessing his love three times, as recorded in John.
‘Before the cock crow twice’ is a variation from Matthew’s ‘cock crow’. Matthew referred to the event of the cock-crow, a phenomenon taking place every morning, and Mark had reference to the beginning of a cockcrow, which always starts with one or two roosters leading all the rest.
It was at this time that the events and statements of Jesus in John 13-17 took place. Jesus had a private meeting with the apostles as recorded in John 13-17. There were actually two meetings going on at the same time, this one where Jesus said He was about to be crucified during Passover and the other meeting when the chief priests were saying He can’t be killed during Passover, Mark 14:1-2, but as usual Jesus’ plans are always first, He will die when He chooses to die.
In the John 13-17 meeting, Jesus made specific promises to the apostles that applied only to them. In John 17 He made a specific prayer for the apostles and for those who would not believe in Him through their preaching.
The time had come to fulfil the eternal scheme of redemption that God had planned before the foundation of the world, Ephesians 3:8-11 / Revelation 13:8. The fulfilment of the seed promise of Genesis 3:15 was now at hand.
Satan would be crushed by the sacrifice of the Son of God. However, the heel of the Son would be bruised by the necessity of His death on the cross. It was time for Jesus to pay a sacrificed price for our deliverance from sin.
Jesus took His disciples into a private garden and asked them to watch and pray. He told them that He was deeply distressed. He went a little farther and prayed that God would take the cup of suffering away from Him. Jesus knew how terrible His death would be. He asked, however, that God’s will be done above all. Each time He returned to His disciples, they had fallen asleep. Jesus wrestled with His griefs and fears alone, without human support.
This paragraph reveals Jesus’ deep grief as He thought about what He was going to suffer. He knew exactly what was about to happen and He dreaded it. Was He thinking only of physical pain?
Crucifixion certainly was an agonising experience, the victim slowly suffocated as he grew gradually weaker and finally unable to pull his body up against the nails to breathe.
But others have suffered similar executions with less dread than Jesus. There must be something Jesus feared besides pain. Several passages teach that Jesus bore the sins of the world on the cross. Isaiah 53 / 1 Peter 2:24 / 2 Corinthians 5:21.
Judas had bargained with the chief priests to betray his Master. He had promised to lead them to the place where He spent the night, away from the crowds. Although Jesus knew the plan, He went again to the usual spot where He knew Judas could easily find Him.
A troop of soldiers with the traitor leading the way interrupted the calm of the night. Judas kissed Jesus, a signal that it was safe to arrest Him. This was Peter who struck off the ear of Malchus, John 18:8-11.
Peter’s being emboldened to do such a thing probably sprang from the devastating effect of Christ’s prostration of the whole company of guards and soldiers upon their faces, John 18:6. But then the disciples lost their nerve and fled. Jesus remained alone with His captors and Judas.
The evil crowd carrying out the arrest of Christ were fulfilling Scripture, but they didn’t know it. It’s of singular importance that many of the prophecies fulfilled during that eventful week were fulfilled by the Lord’s enemies.
As to what Scriptures are meant here, there were many, among them Zechariah 13:7 and the next verse shows that Jesus had that one in mind.
Peter’s rash attack upon Malchus was rebuked by Jesus, and the cut-off ear was restored. In the face of His enemies, Jesus proclaimed Himself as God, ‘I AM’, John 18:8.
and from the sudden demonstration of His divine power, the soldiers fell back to the ground. Having shown the completeness of His power, the Lord required the arresting group to refrain from taking the twelve into custody, John 18:8f, thus revealing the wonder that had just taken place as a work bent, not upon His own behalf, but upon theirs.
The apostles, true to the Lord’s prophecy, and perhaps totally bewildered by the complexity of events which they, at that time, only partially understood, forsook him and fled. This action on their part was probably necessary for the preservation of their lives because there is every reason to believe that the hierarchy would have liked nothing better than to have had the whole group in custody.
From this time on, things begin to happen quickly in reference to the trials, crucifixion, burial and resurrection.
Throughout the next three days, the disciples would experience the greatest trauma of their lives. Expectations would be crushed. Their hopes in Jesus would be dashed. They would be in a state of disillusionment until Jesus redirected them through several appearances that would take place after the resurrection. After the trauma of all these events, they would be prepared to go forth for Jesus.
This young man who was left naked could have possibly been John Mark. Mark makes this brief statement here in order to identify himself as the writer of the document. I can imagine this event being both sad for the disciples later but also humorous as they remember Mark running away naked.
Though it was very late at night, Jesus was brought before the Jewish supreme court and tried. They bribed false witnesses who told contradictory stories about Him. For a time, it appeared that the court would be unable to find consistent testimony by which to convict Jesus. Their testimony was untruthful. Jesus actually said, ‘You’ destroy this temple, referring to His body, and in three days I will raise it up, that is, rise from the dead’. John 2:19.
In context, Jesus’ words were a prediction that the religious leaders would take His life and that He would rise from the dead three days later. There was no suggestion whatever of such a thing as the false witnesses alleged.
Even such a misrepresentative and malicious garbling of Jesus’ words, however, was useless to the chief priests, because there was no coherent account of such an alleged statement. One said one thing; another declared something else.
All night long, the preliminary investigation had gone forward, and nothing had come of it. In desperation, Caiaphas, who was beginning to find the judge’s bench a very uncomfortable place, forsook the judicial status, usurped the role of a prosecutor, placed Jesus under oath, and demanded an answer; but he would ask a question first.
Finally, the high priest asked Him if He were the Christ. When Jesus said, ‘I AM,’ they used this statement as evidence of blasphemy and convicted Him. Christ’s, ‘I AM’ claim here speaks of His Deity.
Sitting at the right hand of Power and coming with the clouds of heaven refers to the final judgment when all men shall stand before the throne of God for sentencing. It was astounding that Christ would here transfer the thought from that prejudiced and corrupted court to the Great Judgement Day where all shall receive justice and they that are Christ’s shall receive mercy. Then they spat on Him, mocked Him and beat Him.
Of all the activities that transpired during these last few hours of Jesus’ earthly ministry, Mark records the least of all the inspired writers. He records the trial before the high priest and council, Mark 14:64+65. He records the confirmation of the elders, scribes and the Sanhedrin early in the morning after the arrest, Mark 15:1.
And finally, he records the time when Jesus is handed over to Pilate for sanction by this Roman official to have Him crucified, Mark 15:1ff.
This was the second of Jesus’ six trials, the first having been the arraignment before Annas, perhaps in the same palace where apartments for both Annas and Caiaphas were located around the courtyard.
The meeting of the Sanhedrin was probably not at full strength, its more noble members, such as Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathaea, having already withdrawn. Also, such an all-night session of so august a body doubtless found many of their members at home in bed. It may well be doubted that even a quorum was present; but, on the other hand, it may be assumed that every effort was made to attain one.
1. No formal change had been made against Him.
2. The arrest was made by the men who would be His judges.
The High Priests and the Sanhedrin were also the ones who accused Him which violating the Law which said that the Council was not permitted to lay charges.
3. The trial was held, at night.
Forbidden by the Law, because it was believed that the darkness might bind the mind of the accused a cause him to testify against himself.
4. His questioning by the High Priest was alone forbidden by the Law.
The Judges were not allowed to question the accused, because he might be led into providing evidence against himself.
5. Deuteronomy 18:14 required the High Priest to ‘search, enquire and ask diligently’, if the charge against the accused was true.
6. A trial could not be held before sunrise.
So that potential witnesses for the defence could be present.
7. A guilty verdict could not be pronounced on the same day as the trial.
A night must intervene between trial and sentence so that the Judges could meditate on the verdict.
8. After the verdict, a period of nine hours must be allowed for potential objections to be made to the verdict.
9. The verdict must be pronounced in the Chamber of Stones, the room in the Temple, where the Sanhedrin held its Meetings, before being made public.
10. The death sentence was invalid because it was not the unanimous verdict of the full Council. Joseph of Arimathea was not present. Luke 23:50-51.
11. The testimony of the witnesses, procured by the Priests, on which the ‘Guilty’ verdict was based, was false.
They claimed that Jesus said, ‘I will destroy this Temple’.
12. The Law forbade the holding of a Trial on a Friday. John 18:28.
The Trial was illegal because it was held on a day that was followed by an Annual Sabbath, the Passover.
Peter had slipped into the courtyard to watch the trial. Various people began to recognise him. A servant girl asked him if she hadn’t seen him with Jesus. Peter claimed not to understand what she was talking about. Then she began to tell others that he was a disciple and he flatly denied it.
Finally, others noticed his Galilean accent and accused him of following Jesus. With this, Peter panicked, vehemently denying Jesus, even asking God to curse him if He knew the man. The cock crew and Peter remembered Jesus’ warning.
He came to himself with a sickening awareness of the horrible deed he had done. He rushed out and began weeping in despair.
The disciples failed Jesus miserably in His hour of greatest need. They fled. Peter denied Him. Why? They had been such loyal supporters.
1. They hadn’t listened when Jesus had frequently warned them of His impending suffering. They had been too eager to argue about who would be the greatest in the kingdom.
2. They were overconfident. Earlier that evening, Jesus warned them that they would flee, but they didn’t believe it.
3. They didn’t watch and pray in the garden as He instructed. Thus, they were not mentally prepared to face the challenge. We could fail in the hour of temptation for these same reasons.
Peter did deny Jesus, but he repented. Judas was remorseful and returned the pieces of silver. But he later hung himself. There was a difference between the reaction of the two men to their discovery of what Jesus said each would do.
Peter’s reaction led him to return to faithfulness with a stronger conviction. Judas’ reaction led him to further guilt, and subsequently, to his own suicide.