Matthew 26 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Matthew 26)

Verse 2

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

After two days is the passover — The manner wherein this was celebrated gives much light to several circumstances that follow. The master of the family began the feast with a cup of wine, which having solemnly blessed, he divided among the guests, Luke 22:17. Then the supper began with the unleavened bread and bitter herbs; which when they had all tasted, one of the young persons present, according to Exodus 12:26, asked the reason of the solemnity. This introduced the showing forth, or declaration of it: in allusion to which we read of showing forth the Lord's death, 1 Corinthians 11:26. Then the master rose up and took another cup, before the lamb was tasted. After supper, he took a thin loaf or cake, which he broke and divided to all at the table, and likewise the cup, usually called the cup of thanksgiving, of which he drank first, and then all the guests. It was this bread and this cup which our Lord consecrated to be a standing memorial of his death.

Verse 3

[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,

The chief priests and the scribes and the elders of the people — (Heads of families.) These together constituted the sanhedrim, or great council, which had the supreme authority, both in civil and ecclesiastical affairs.

Verse 5

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

But they said, Not at the feast — This was the result of human wisdom. But when Judas came they changed their purpose. So the counsel of God took place, and the true paschal Lamb was offered up on the great day of the paschal solemnity.

Verse 6

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

Mark 14:3.

Verse 8

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

His disciples seeing it, had indignation, saying — It seems several of them were angry, and spoke, though none so warmly as Judas Iscariot.

Verse 11

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

Ye have the poor always with you — Such is the wise and gracious providence of God, that we may have always opportunities of relieving their wants, and so laying up for ourselves treasures in heaven.

Verse 12

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

She hath done it for my burial — As it were for the embalming of my body. Indeed this was not her design: but our Lord puts this construction upon it, to confirm thereby what he had before said to his disciples, concerning his approaching death.

Verse 13

[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.

This Gospel — That is, this part of the Gospel history.

Verse 14

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

Mark 14:10; Luke 22:3.

Verse 15

[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.

They bargained with him for thirty pieces of silver — (About three pounds fifteen shillings sterling; or sixteen dollars sixty-seven cents,) the price of a slave, Exodus 21:32.

Verse 17

[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?

On the first day of unleavened bread — Being Thursday, the fourteenth day of the first month, Exodus 12:6,15. Mark 14:12; Luke 22:7

Verse 18

[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.

The Master saith, My time is at hand — That is, the time of my suffering.

Verse 20

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

Mark 14:17; Luke 22:14.

Verse 23

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

He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish — Which it seems Judas was doing at that very time. This dish was a vessel full of vinegar, wherein they dipped their bitter herbs.

Verse 24

[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.

The Son of man goeth through sufferings to glory, as it is written of him - Yet this is no excuse for him that betrayeth him: miserable will that man be: it had been good for that man if he had not been born - May not the same be said of every man that finally perishes? But who can reconcile this, if it were true of Judas alone, with the doctrine of universal salvation?

Verse 25

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

Thou hast said — That is, it is as thou hast said.

Verse 26

[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.

Jesus took the bread — the bread or cake, which the master of the family used to divide among them, after they had eaten the passover. The custom our Lord now transferred to a nobler use. This bread is, that is, signifies or represents my body, according to the style of the sacred writers. Thus Genesis 40:12, The three branches are three days. Thus Galatians 4:24, St. Paul speaking of Sarah and Hagar, says, These are the two covenants. Thus in the grand type of our Lord, Exodus 12:11, God says of the paschal lamb, This is the Lord's passover. Now Christ substituting the holy communion for the passover, follows the style of the Old Testament, and uses the same expressions the Jews were wont to use in celebrating the passover.

Verse 27

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

And he took the cup — Called by the Jews the cup of thanksgiving; which the master of the family used likewise to give to each after supper.

Verse 28

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

This is the sign of my blood, whereby the new testament or covenant is confirmed.

Which is shed for many — As many as spring from Adam.

Verse 29

[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.

I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, till I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom — That is, I shall taste no more wine, till I drink wine of quite another kind in the glorious kingdom of my Father. And of this you shall also partake with me.

Verse 30

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

And when they had sung the hymn — Which was constantly sung at the close of the passover. It consisteth of six psalms, from the 113th to the 118th. Psalms 113:1 etc.

The mount of Olives — Was over against the temple, about two miles from Jerusalem. Mark 14:26; Luke 22:39; John 18:1.

Verse 31

[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.

All ye will be offended at me — Something will happen to me, which will occasion your falling into sin by forsaking me. Zechariah 13:7.

Verse 32

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

But notwithstanding this, after I am risen I will go before you (as a shepherd before his sheep) into Galilee. Though you forsake me, I will not for this forsake you.

Verse 34

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

Before cock crowing thou wilt deny me thrice — That is, before three in the morning, the usual time of cock crowing: although one cock was heard to crow once, after Peter's first denial of his Lord.

Verse 35

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

In like manner also said all the disciples — But such was the tenderness of our Lord, that he would not aggravate their sin by making any reply.

Verse 36

[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.

Then cometh Jesus to a place called Gethsemane — That is, the valley of fatness. The garden probably had its name from its soil and situation, laying in some little valley between two of those many hills, the range of which constitutes the mount of Olives. Mark 14:32; Luke 22:40.

Verse 37

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

And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee — To be witnesses of all; he began to be sorrowful and in deep anguish - Probably from feeling the arrows of the Almighty stick fast in his soul, while God laid on him the iniquities of us all. Who can tell what painful and dreadful sensations were then impressed on him by the immediate hand of God? The former word in the original properly signifies, to be penetrated with the most exquisite sorrow; the latter to be quite depressed, and almost overwhelmed with the load.

Verse 39

[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.

And going a little farther — About a stone's cast, Luke 22:41-So that the apostles could both see and hear him still.

If it be possible, let this cup pass from me — And it did pass from him quickly. When he cried unto God with strong cries and tears, he was heard in that which he feared. God did take away the terror and severity of that inward conflict.

Verse 41

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

The spirit — Your spirit: ye yourselves.

The flesh — Your nature. How gentle a rebuke was this, and how kind an apology! especially at a time when our Lord's own mind was so weighed down with sorrow.

Verse 45

[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.

Sleep on now, if you can, and take your rest - For any farther service you can be of to me.

Verse 47

[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.

Mark 14:43; Luke 22:47; John 18:2.

Verse 50

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

The heroic behaviour of the blessed Jesus, in the whole period of his sufferings, will be observed by every attentive eye, and felt by every pious heart: although the sacred historians, according to their usual but wonderful simplicity, make no encomiums upon it. With what composure does he go forth to meet the traitor! With what calmness receive that malignant kiss! With what dignity does he deliver himself into the hands of his enemies! Yet plainly showing his superiority over them, and even then leading as it were captivity captive!

Verse 51

[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.

And one of them striking the servant of the high priest — Probably the person that seized Jesus first; Cut off his ear - Aiming, it seems, to cleave his head, but that by a secret providence interposing, he declined the blow. Mark 14:47; Luke 22:49; John 18:10.

Verse 52

[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.

All they that take the sword — Without God's giving it them: without sufficient authority.

Verse 53

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

He will presently give me more than twelve legions of angels — The least of whom, it is probable, could overturn the earth and destroy all the inhabitants of it.

Verse 55

[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.

Mark 14:48; Luke 22:52

Verse 57

[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.

They led him away to Caiaphas — From the house of Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, to whom they had carried him first. Mark 14:53; Luke 22:54; John 18:12.

Verse 58

[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.

But Peter followed him afar off — Variously agitated by conflicting passions; love constrained him to follow his Master; fear made him follow afar off.

And going in, sat with the servants — Unfit companions as the event showed.

Verse 60

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

Yet found they none — On whose evidence they could condemn him to die.

At last came two false witnesses — Such they were, although part of what they said was true; because our Lord did not speak some of those words at all; nor any of them in this sense.

Verse 64

[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.

Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man — He speaks in the third person, modestly, and yet plainly; Sitting on the right hand of power - That is, the right hand of God: And coming upon the clouds of heaven - As he is represented by Daniel, Daniel 7:13,14. Our Lord looked very unlike that person now! But nothing could be more awful, more majestic and becoming, than such an admonition in such circumstances!

Verse 65

[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.

Then the high priest rent his clothes — Though the high priest was forbidden to rend his clothes (that is, his upper garment) in some cases where others were allowed to do it, Leviticus 21:10; yet in case of blasphemy or any public calamity, it was thought allowable. Caiaphas hereby expressed, in the most artful manner, his horror at hearing such grievous blasphemy.

Verse 67

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

Then — After he had declared he was the Son of God, the sanhedrim doubtless ordered him to be carried out, while they were consulting what to do. And then it was that the soldiers who kept him began these insults upon him.

Verse 72

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

He denied with an oath — To which possibly he was not unaccustomed, before our Lord called him.

Verse 73

[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.

Surely thou art also one of them, for thy speech discovereth thee — Malchus might have brought a stronger proof than this. But such is the overruling providence of God, that the world, in the height of their zeal, commonly catch hold of the very weakest of all arguments against the children of God.

Verse 74

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

Then began he to curse and to swear — Having now quite lost the reins, the government of himself.