"When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 'As you know, the Passover is two days away-and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.' Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him. 'But not during the Feast,' they said, 'or there may be a riot among the people.'" (Matthew 26: 1-5)
Good morning. Today we will begin to look at the last days of Jesus according to Matthew's gospel. many details that are found in other gospels and which are very similar, we will look at later. For now, I want to focus on Matthew's understanding of the Passion of Christ. Matthew's passion narrative is very similar to Mark's. Both gospels tell of the woman who anoints the feet of Jesus and how Judas arranged to betray Jesus. There is the Last Supper and the prayer in the Garden.
If you recall Jesus was ushered into Jerusalem with a parade. Once there things settled down. The festivities were over with the exception of one lone woman who anointed Jesus' feet. I will say more about her when we look at Mark's account. Clearly, very few are eager to give Jesus a parade at this point. The mood in Jerusalem has changed significantly. There is now a plot to even kill Jesus. Notice, the plot called for the killing of Jesus to take place during a time other than the Passover. Why? Well, there would have been a mob of people in Jerusalem during the feast. If there was a protest among the people over the treatment of the people then a riot could easily break out. The Romans would not tolerate any threats to peace. If the leaders caused a riot then they would have to answer to the Roman authorities and their heads would have been on the chopping block. Now, when we get to John's gospel we will see a major difference in the timeline.
"Then Jesus told them, 'This very night you will all fall away on account of me...Peter replied, 'Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will." (Mat. 26:31,33) Well, poor Peter meant well. But, Jesus assured him "this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times." (Matthew 26:34) It is often asked, "Why did the disciples betray Jesus?" Of course, the worst of the
bunch was Judas. Have you ever heard of anyone naming their son Judas? He seems to be cursed forever. Well, Peter and the gang may not be responsible for turning Jesus over to the authorities, but they deny him. At least Peter argued with Jesus (the others seemed to have done the same) "I will never disown you." (Mat. 26:34)
I will look at the Garden scene in Mark. It is very similar to Matthew's. Judas then leads a large crowd armed with swords and clubs to where Jesus is. Judas then gives Jesus the "kiss of death."
"Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. 'Put your sword back in its place.' Jesus said to him, 'for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" (Mat. 26:50b-53) Jesus is making it clear that his kingdom will not be defined by violence and force. Again, this is a message as to what kind of messiah Jesus is. John, in his gospel, tells us that the companion who draws the sword is none other than Peter, the same Peter who assured Jesus that nothing would ever happen to him.
The scene described above is interesting in other ways. As you may recall a good number of the disciples were from Galilee. To be called a Galilean did not necessarily mean that you were being associated with a particular region. Galilean was a term which could also mean an outsider, or someone who was not really a Jew of the traditional sort. A Galilean was not just geographically far from Jerusalem, he/she was considered to be spiritually and politically far off as well. Josephus was an early Jewish historian who lived in the time period very near that of Jesus. He wrote: "Galileans were always able to make a strong resistance on all occasions of war. Galileans are inured to war from their infancy, nor has the country ever been destitute of men of courage." For the Romans the word "Galilean" was a synonym for a Jewish Rebel. As far as the Galileans were concerned their only ruler and lord was God.
Well, Jesus is arrested. Tomorrow we will continue our study and see what happens next. -Pastor Rick