Matthew 26:1-16 Part 1


As you already know, there are many who read the Bible, and teach it, as a series of seemingly unrelated events because of the state of the Church today.  There’s a good story here, and one there; and some “filler” in between.  And one of these “unconnected” passages will be lifted out of the text and told… as if it stood alone and had an intrinsic value separate from the rest.  The “human interest” accounts are given special emphasis – especially those in which there are words and deeds of valor and courage (“heroes” with weaknesses).  And these stories are used to “shore up” the human heart in its quest for the highest human dignity.

Then there are other readers and teachers of the Bible who purposefully allow their imaginations to run riot in psychological analysis.  Biblical characters who take part in especially dramatic scenes are analyzed and profiled with human paradigms and exploited in attempts to solve the psychological “enigmas”.  This is the material from which come stories and novels, and even movie scripts.

And then some others read in order to find the stories “about” God.  The Bible to them is a series of “short stories” that have spiritual value.  There’s always a “moral of the story” to apply to our lives to make us better people!

And then there are those who read in order to find the occasional sensational phenomena; and a few who even search to locate inconsistencies in the Biblical record.  And then, lastly, some who look here and there to find something to confirm what they already believe.  That’s call “proof-texting”.

However, the Bible isn’t a book of spiritual treatises about God; it isn’t a history of man’s quest for dignity; it isn’t a group of studies fit for psychological analyses; it’s not a compendium of moral stories for the betterment of human life; and it isn’t a series of short stories about heroes and villains!

The is the progressive Revelation of God and His work in saving men and the creation!  It is the record of His Own redemptive work in Christ Jesus, His Son.

Therefore no one has the right to rip this event in our text out of the Bible and have it stand by itself as a story.  God forbid that that would ever happen in this Church, but if we were to do that this morning, any one of you could spend the next hour and come up with a good story line.  You would enhance the characters and build a plot; and woven into the primary plot is the strong psychological examination of the aggressive tendency of men to envy and violence (on the one hand), and the innate feminine nature of this woman (on the other) – a nature which tends toward deep feelings of caring and love and nurturing and sympathy (an analogy of the makeup of womanhood, of course).  The psychological contrasts would be spectacular, and it would confirm people in their evolutionary understanding of the inherent psychological makeup of the two sexes.

The point is, that the story line that any one of you came up with would be just as pertinent as another.  Some stories would be better literature than others, of course… according to the level of creativity and imagination and writing skill.  But, aside from that, whatever moralistic principles you developed in your characters and story would be just as valid and pertinent as any other.

I would assume, given the fact that we lift this passage completely out of the context, that even though everyone read the same passage, your story lines and moralisms would all be different.  They certainly could be.

If you were to hear ten evangelical sermons on this passage, you would probably hear ten different approaches.  Most assuredly the developments and applications to people would be different – according to what is perceived to be the immediate needs of the congregation or what the mind-set of the minister is.

But we have to take a different course, don’t we?  Isn’t it awfully arrogant of men to presuppose the freedom to use God’s Word in whatever way fits the immediate purpose?  Do men have that right to use God’s Word that way?

There’s really only one understanding of this passage.  The One Whose Revelation it is understands it.  He sees it arightly because He revealed it.  In the progressively unfolding Revelation of Himself and His salvation in Christ Jesus, this incident occurs.

In his insufferable insolence, man, with his free, renegade imagination, changes and revokes and mutates and alters the Living Word, and he retrofits it to whatever purpose he sees fit and to meet whatever need he perceives!

Sometimes I think the “need” is as simple as being able to fill thirty minutes between 11:30 and 12:00 on Sunday morning.  Or being able to come up with something that hasn’t been covered recently.  Or “fitting” the text into a Sunday morning newspaper article.

Or, to be “kind”, let’s say that most ministers see a “need”, or a real void, in their people; and they really try to fill it.  And regardless of what the text says, there’s something in there that can be used (no matter that it has to be modified) to address that need.  And even in kindness we still have to say that that’s an arrogant, man-centered way to approach God’s Word.

But, you see, herein is the void filled!  In the unfolding salvation of God in His Son Jesus Christ, the need is met.  The void is filled.

But the people in all those congregations go home, and the ministers are satisfied that they’ve made an attempt; but the void is still there!  They’ve missed the opportunity to preach the Gospel of God, and they’ll never get it back; and the void is still there!

The people go home, and they haven’t heard what their great need is (much less how impossible it is for them to fill it), and they haven’t heard how God has dealt with their dilemma in the Revelation of His salvation!

But by the wisdom and love of God this event comes when and how it does.  And we will deny our selves and mortify our arrogance and humbly submit ourselves to God’s Revelation of His salvation in Christ Jesus the Lord.


And it is Tuesday.  As Jesus says here in verse two, “After two days comes the Passover….”  Passover was the evening of the fourteenth of Nisan – the first month of the Jewish year (Nisan being roughly equivalent to our April); and two days before Passover on Thursday was Tuesday.

It’s an interesting sidelight here that one year ago, on March 20th, 1995, and we’re still dealing with all that Jesus said and did on Tuesday – two days before Passover 30AD!  Matthew began recording Jesus’ approach to Jerusalem on Monday, with the great crowds, at the beginning of chapter twenty-one.

So, most of chapter 21, and chapters, 22, 23, 24, 25 and this passage in chapter twenty-six all have to do with events on Tuesday.

And remember that there is a correlation here between the sacrificial animals and God’s Paschal Lamb (Passover Lamb).  There was a requirement to closely watch the selected sacrificial animals to see whether they had any spots or blemishes; because only non-blemished animals were allowed (by God’s Law) to be sacrificed.  (Exodus twelve)

And as Isaiah chapter fifty-three makes so very clear, Jesus was God’s unblemished Lamb – the One Who was Himself observed closely for several days prior to Thursday’s Passover and Friday’s public sacrifices in order that they might find spot or blemish in Him.

Immediately upon entering the city, Jesus went directly to the temple to judge and condemn the priests and the elders of Israel (chapter twenty-one, at verse twenty-three).  All of chapters twenty-two and twenty-three record the incessant condemnation of the entire Sanhedrin as they consult again and again about how to entrap Him in His Theology and His understanding of the Law and His references to the prophets.

He unveils their hypocrisy for all to see, and calls them hypocrites and whitewashed tombs and a generation of vipers.  They had perverted the Scriptures and turned the Word of God upside down.  They were wolves in sheep’s clothing who had ripped and torn the remnant elect of God and left them in desperate condition… blind and deaf and crooked and leprous and destitute, and living in a wilderness without godly shepherds.

He shattered every attempt to entrap Him as He brought the “Word of God Written” against them with precision.  And then He tells them that, because of their wicked rejection of God’s Word and their maltreatment and beating and murdering of the prophets of God, and the vile pursuit of Christ’s apostles, all the spilled blood of God’s righteous elect from Abel to the present would come upon them.  And it would take place in this generation! (chapter twenty-three, verse thirty-four)

Then, having left the temple, Jesus informs His disciples that the temple was about to be destroyed – which prompted anxious concern and questions from them.  Back up on the Mount of Olives they inquired of Him about when all of this would take place.

And Jesus then proceeds to tell them all that’s about to happen!  From the prophets!  Matthew records the entire discourse in chapters twenty-four and twenty-five; and it includes the ascension of the Son of Man with the clouds of Heaven to receive His glory, dominion, and the Kingdom; the establishment of the Church in the nations of the world – under terrible persecution from judaizers; false christs and false prophets and complete apostasy and demonic infestation of Israel, the destruction of the temple and city and nation by Roman armies, and the establishment of the New Heavens and the New Earth (as Isaiah says).

And in no way would this generation pass until all these things were completed.

Then Jesus presents His disciples with four parabolic-type allegories concerning the Parousia of the King – and His Kingdom.  1) the first one concerning the Son as the only wise and faithful servant of God the Father; 2) being the Bridegroom eminently coming for His bride; 3) the lord who goes away to receive His Kingdom and returns; and, 4) the Good Shepherd and righteous Judge of the sheep – all of these, aspects of the King and His Kingdom prophesied in the Older Testament Scriptures.

And having finished all these words, verse one, He said to His disciples,


“Know that after two days is the Passover; and the Son of Man is delivered over to be crucified.”


And those words are to be fit into the context of all that He has just finished saying.  Much of the meaning is lost if the context is ignored!  In other words it all begins in two days!  He has already told His disciples that the “Son of Man” (Daniel chapter seven) will enter the Glory-cloud/Throne-room of the Father and receive the eternal Kingdom.

But here, that “Son of Man”, in order to be received by His Father and inherit the Kingdom, must first be delivered over to be crucified!  He cannot be given the Kingdom unless He first be “delivered up”!

Do you see why the context is so important here?  And why the event can’t be lifted out and dealt with as a story?  For all these things to happen in this generation, first the Son of Man must be delivered up… then He can ascend to omnipotent rulership over all the nations.

And who does the “delivering up”?  We could say, of course, that Judas (appearing in this passage), when he betrayed Jesus, “delivered” Him to the Sanhedrin, the text says.  We could also say that when the priests took Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor, He was “delivered”.  And when Pilate released Barabas and gave Jesus to the people to do with Him as they wanted, we could say He was “delivered”.  And when the soldiers took Him to prepare Him for crucifixion, we could say He was “delivered”.

But is that what Jesus meant when, in speaking here in verse two to His disciples, He said, “The Son of Man is delivered up to be crucified”?

The translators of the King James Bible missed the point when they used the word “betrayed” here.  In doing so they placed all the emphasis on Judas Scariotes for Jesus being “delivered up” to be crucified.  But Judas was just the one immediately responsible for Jesus’ ultimate entrapment!  He was only the one “selected” to do the deed!

But Who “delivered” Jesus up to be crucified?  Whose sacrifice was He?  And to Whom was the sacrifice made?  Who is the One to Whom Jesus would submit – all the way to the cross and death and burial?

Listen to Peter’s sermon at Pentecost – fifty days after this Passover.  He had just finished quoting the prophet Joel concerning the great phenomena that would occur in Israel before the great “Day of the Lord”, and then he says:


“Men of Israel hear these words:  Jesus of Nazareth… being delivered up by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, you have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain….  Whom God has raised up, having loosed the pains of death….”  (And then he goes on to say that God has exalted Him to great power!)


Peter, who so lays it right on the line – never equivocating; “God did it…”  God did it through your wicked hands!  You see, that was the only way to tell these men of their hopeless condition… Jesus was Messiah, God’s Son; and God His Father delivered up His Own only Son to suffer shame and humiliation, and to be crucified.  He delivered Him up, and He used you wicked men to do it.  Where does that leave you?

God presented His Own sacrifice to be slain for the sin of the world – the unspotted, unblemished Lamb.  He “delivered Him up” at this peculiar time – during Passover – so that these particular men (the men of Israel) might slay Him with their wicked hands.

“Know that after two days is the Passover; and the Son of Man is delivered up in order to be crucified.”  Delivered up by Whom?  By His Own God and Father.

As we near the end of our time, I want to read a couple of verses of Isaiah chapter fifty-three.  And there’s a term here that the prophets used for the future crucifixion of Christ.  While I read concerning the prophesied suffering of our Lord, you listen and see if you pick it up.


“…He is despised and rejected of men; and a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.  And we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.  Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God and afflicted.  And He was wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him – and with His stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth.  He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He opened not His mouth.  He was taken from prison and from justice… for He was cut off out of the land of the living.  For the transgression of my people was He stricken.  And He made His grave with the wicked, and the rich in His death; because He had done no violence… neither was deceit in His mouth.  Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him; He hath put Him to grief….”


“He was cut off out of the land of the living….”  He was “delivered up” to be crucified….  He was “delivered up” to be “cut off”.  God the Father delivered Him over… to be “cut off”.

Next Lord’s Day, still in verse two… the ultimate circumcision.  We’ll also hear some things about Passover; and why Jesus was to be delivered up by His Own Father at Passover.  It all begins with that.