Matthew 26:1-16 Part 5


From the beginning the disciples didn’t understand (not until after the Resurrection).  They didn’t understand what was to be….

They all, throughout Jesus’ three-year mission, exhibited the desire to be in positions of power and authority.  Upon His assumption of the throne of David, they thought King Jesus would appoint them to high positions in His administration; and they would control all the functions of government.

The city of Jerusalem (and the nation of Israel) would reassert itself and become (once again) the light of the world.  And the inner circle of close, trusted allies of the new Messiah King would wield considerable authority in the world’s number one city.

At the point when Rome finally recognized the authority of God’s messiah, the pagan kings and emissaries of the world would come to Jerusalem for direction and wisdom and justice.  And they would be entertained by and consult with the twelve disciples.

One would be in charge of world commerce; one would be vice-regent and president of the Sanhedrin; another would take charge of the world’s system of justice… and so forth.  This was the King’s cabinet!

Not only did they not comprehend the nature of God’s Messiah and His Kingdom (and, by the way, they did believe that He was), but they were fully accepting of Pharisaical eschatology.

It was long-standing belief that God’s Messiah would come from the line of David, and that Jerusalem would be the glory of God and center of the earth.  And although they didn’t know how it was to be done (popular uprising, political coup, armed revolt), they believed it would be done.  No matter how many world kingdoms there had been (Israel had been ruled by four of them to date), the fifth one was theirs.  And Jesus was God’s anointed One (The Son of Man – Daniel seven) Who would, one way or another, be crowned King.

Even Herod, the pagan descendant of Esau… at the time of Jesus’ birth, believed in the Jewish prophecies of a coming king greater than David!  And being fiercely jealous of his own kingship he had all the male babies of Bethlehem (under two years old) killed!

When Jesus began to preach and to heal the multitudes, His words were “Repent for the Kingdom is at hand!”  And great crowds believed that Messiah had come, and they followed Him (Matthew four, verse seventeen).  And when the Sanhedrin sent observers out to Him He spoke to them of the Kingdom (Matthew chapter twelve, verse twenty-five).

The parables that He spoke (to the multitudes and to His disciples and to the pharisees) were Kingdom parables (Matthew thirteen and following).

When Jesus first spoke of His suffering and death at the hands of the elders and priests and scribes (Matthew sixteen, verse sixteen and following), Simon Peter wouldn’t believe it, and he objected strongly (thinking Jesus was soon to be crowned the Messiah Ruler of Israel).

And you remember, at the beginning of chapter eighteen, that the disciples had become jealous of Peter, and they came to Jesus to ask Him which of them was to be greater in His Kingdom!  Was Peter His favorite, and was he going to be greater than the rest of them?  Would he be given higher office?

Once again, in Matthew chapter twenty, Jesus speaks of His suffering and death; and, immediately, the mother of James and John comes to lobby Him regarding the future positions of her two sons!  She asked that they be His two most trusted men when He assumed the rulership of Israel!

And, as we’ve read numbers of times in going through Matthew’s text, the leaders of Israel were disturbed and anxious about Jesus and the very large crowds that were following Him.  He hadn’t denied the crowd’s claims of His Messiahship.  And although the elders had judged Him ridiculously unfit to be Messiah/King of Israel, they were worried about a coup!  And the delicately balanced political situation with Rome demanded His elimination.

So, all through the Gospel of Matthew we see the false eschatological expectations of the people of Israel… including the disciples of Jesus.  It was anticipated that God’s Messiah/King would, one day, assume the chair of David in the city of Jerusalem; and that the Kingdom would be returned to (and even far surpass) the glory that it once had under David and Solomon.  (All of that, and we haven’t even mentioned the “higher reality” – the raging satanic activity going on against the coming King and His Kingdom.  It seems that Satan, too, misunderstood eschatology and the nature of Messiah and His Kingdom.)

Now, all of what we’ve just heard is the set-up for the text this morning and its positioning in Matthew’s Gospel.  As you can see, Matthew places these three verses (fourteen through sixteen) directly after the incident in which the woman “anoints” Jesus with the specially-made unguent.  The disciples (especially Judas, we’re told) became indignant about it, and Jesus responds to them with a rebuke!  And He says that this woman did it to prepare Him for burial!

And it’s at this point that Matthew describes what Judas did; and he begins it with the word “then”, verse fourteen (which is a connective between the two instances.  They are supposed to be seen together.  One follows from the other – not just in time, but logically, as a result.).  And the way Matthew writes it, what happened in that house that night, as far as Judas was concerned, was the “cap” to a three-year endeavor (three years out of his life) which, so it seemed, was wasted and would net him nothing!  Now it was made obvious that his greatest ambitions didn’t have the slightest chance of being realized in this man Jesus!  We’ll hear some more about that in a few minutes.

But we’re now going to examine all the Biblical evidence relating to this man Judas; find out what we can about him; and make those good and necessary implications concerning his character and motives.  And we’ll also ask some probing questions (and see if the evidence is strong enough to answer them) such as, “Should we be lenient with Judas… since he’s one of Jesus’ disciples… even one of us?”; or, “Should we separate him out as ‘different’ and more evil than the rest of us?”; or “Should Judas be condemned by us… seeing we all have sinned?”

There is “folklore” in abundance about many Biblical characters, and Judas is one of them.  And there are implications drawn and assumptions made about him which can’t be supported from Scripture.  And the only way to dispel those is to find out what the text says and make only the good and necessary implications from it.

So, with that in mind, the first occasion in which we find this man mentioned in Scripture is that point in time when “the twelve” had all been gathered together; and Jesus “appointed” them to go into all the cities and towns and villages of Israel and Judea and seek out the lost sheep of the house of Israel – God’s elect remnant (Matthew chapter ten).  He gave them power to preach and to heal; and He sent them out to say, “The Kingdom of the Heavens is at hand!”  In other words, the long expected Messiah has arrived; and He was being “announced” to the nation.  Prepare!  Come!  Follow!  Messiah is here!… The Kingdom is “at hand”!

And, as a result (if you remember), immense crowds began to gather and to follow Jesus.  They were from all over Israel and from all the surrounding pagan nations.  (the remnant sought and found).

Now, for approximately two years the Gospels are silent concerning Judas.  We know that he was the “purse-bearer”, or the treasurer, for the group; but nothing is said about that until much later (John chapter twelve, at verse six).

And the only inference we can draw from the silence is that Judas continually attended to Jesus during His mission, and that he took his proper part, and participated in all the functions that the others were involved in – as one of them.

The formal lists that we just mentioned of the twelve disciples all place Judas last.  And they all add that he was the traitor who delivered Jesus.  (But these, you see, were written after the fact.  They didn’t know that he was a traitor until he did the deed.)

And, too, there was another Judas in the group; and Jesus had a brother named Judas.  So all of the evangelists are simply making it clear which Judas was meant… it was the one who was the traitor!  The deceiver – the one who delivered him up.

But it was with only about a year remaining in the mission of Christ that we hear the first intimation of there being something wrong (John chapter six, verse seventy).  Jesus was teaching some very hard things in Capernaum; and many turned away from Him in unbelief.  He then turned to His disciples and said, “Will you go away too?”  And Peter, speaking for the whole group, affirmed their whole-hearted belief in Him.

But Jesus responded to Peter this way, “Have I not chosen you, and one of you is a devil?”  Now, nothing specific was said about Judas here.  He isn’t named.  But it’s obvious that Jesus knew from the beginning… knew perfectly well what one of His disciples would eventually do.

And yet Judas was allowed to retain his place among the chosen.  And for three years of close living and working together, he did his part so creditably that there was never a suspicion of him.

As you know, coming up in the text (beginning next Lord’s Day) is the institution of the Lord’s Supper on the evening in which Jesus is delivered up.  And it was only then, at that event, that the disciples discovered who it was – that Jesus was talking about.

In some of our Lord’s last moments before He was taken and crucified, He prays to His Father for His disciples (John chapter seventeen).  And He says that He has lost none of them… except “the son of perdition”!  That term is better translated “destruction”, or “waste”; and it shows up in verse eight of our text as well, where Judas complained that using the expensive unguent to anoint Jesus was a “waste”.  So we have a play on words here which connects Judas and his Satanic deed to his objection to anointing the Lord!  He was objecting to waste when he was waste.  So his indignance in wishing to stop the Anointment of Christ is now played out in his traitorous scheme to deliver Him up to the high priests.  He is, truly, as our Lord names him, “the son of destruction” – the “son of waste”.

Now, this man did, within the narrow circle of Jesus’ disciples, and in a most intensely personal form, and under the most aggravating circumstance, what the priests and elders of Israel did in the much larger circle.  With spite and bitterness for being rebuked, he schemed (just like the priests and elders did) with Christ’s enemies to deliver Him up at an opportune time.

And this heinous act of destruction (to deliver God’s Messiah to death), born of a hellish, devilish character, was foretold in the prophetic Scriptures which spoke of the enmity and treacherous behavior of which Jesus Christ was to be the object, and which was to find peculiar culmination in one individual.

And our Lord, and his disciples later on, identified that one individual as one Judas Iscariot.  For example, at some point before the crucifixion, the apostle John records, at chapter thirteen of his Gospel, the words of Christ which read,


“I speak not of you all; I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He that eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’”


Jesus, as we’ll see in the text in the next weeks, specifically identifies which disciple will deliver Him up.  And this will fulfill the prophetic word from Psalm forty-one which says,

“Yea, mine own familiar friend in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (the very same words of Christ as recorded by John).


And as another example of the man Judas fulfilling the word of prophecy, consider this:  after Jesus had ascended to the Father, the apostles and their families and others returned to that room in Jerusalem (some one hundred and twenty individuals).  And it was decided that one should be elected to replace Judas.  And Peter stood to speak about it, and he said this: 


“Men and brethren, this Scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spoke by the mouth of David concerning Judas (who was guide to them who took Jesus).  For he was numbered with us and had obtained part of this ministry!  Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.  And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem, insomuch as that field is called ‘aceldama’, or ‘the field of blood’.  For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let this habitation be desolate.  And let no man dwell therein.’…  And, ‘Let another take his office.’”


Those words are directly out of Psalm sixty-nine and Psalm one hundred nine, both of which were considered by the apostle Peter as prophetic of the person of Judas Iscariot – written a thousand years in advance.  Therefore they were now to elect another to “take his office” – because the office of “apostle”.

God’s Messiah was delivered up… for spite over being rebuked and humiliated; for bitterness over three wasted years of unfulfilled ambition; for thirty pieces of silver (the restitution required by law for injuring another man’s servant).

This man, motivated by what happened at Simon’s house, went to the priests and offered them his services (verse fourteen).  Seeing an opportunity that might occur even before their own plan could materialize, the priests were delighted; and they agreed.  Never in their wildest imaginations had they thought that one in Jesus’ own camp would turn on Him and betray Him.  And they weighed out thirty shekels (I don’t even think it mattered much to Judas how much it was; but it fulfilled another prophecy in Scripture).  And Judas promised to deliver Him at an “opportune time”… that is, at a time when there would be no interference from the crowds – a time when Jesus was alone.

“And I said unto them, ‘If you think its good, give my price; and if not, forbear.’  So they weighed for my price thirty silvers.  And the Lord said unto me, ‘Cast it unto the potter; a goodly price that I was prized at of them.’  And I took the thirty silvers and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.”  (Zechariah chapter twelve, verses twelve and thirteen – written four hundred eighty-seven years before Christ was born.  The very words describing what Judas did.)


Now, the priests of Israel have now taken action to kill a man by guile.  And in the Law, not even the altar of God can be used for protection by a murderer.  And yet, here were men who were continually attending to the worship of God at the altar!  And they had schemed to kill by guile… using a thief and a traitor from among Jesus’ Own disciples.

How do we know he was a thief?  The apostle John called him so in chapter twelve.  “He was a thief, and he carried the bag…” John said.

From the beginning, of all men born dead in sin, this man was chosen from among them as the most worthless and reprobate – one perfectly fit to be “at home” in the Satanic scheme to abate God’s plan for the King of Kings.  He was the servant of Satan, injured by another… and received thirty silvers as restitution.

Although all of the disciples, as fallen and sinful men, were weak and, much of the time, confused and perplexed, and vacillating and faint-hearted… and dreaming of earthly prospects that were never to be realized, the Scriptures present this man as one “wedded” to a completely rival interest!

He was, even though in the presence of Messiah the Christ for three years, thoroughly worldly and self-serving.  Whatever godliness he developed (so as to shield his real interests from the others) he did so for whatever future gain there was.  The evidences of Jesus’ great power, that could only come from God, gave him confidence and assurance that this was a safe adventure, and would surely lead to a position of power for himself.

But toward the third year of the mission, when Jesus began to foretell His suffering and death, it must have seemed more and more to Judas that this whole escapade was going to end in disaster.  And he began to steal from the bag; and complain about such things as the expensive unguent being “destroyed”, or wasted.  That money could have gone into his bag!

And nothing was being done to enflame the people against the government; there were no arms caches in secret places around Jerusalem; there was no communications network; not even one building they could call their own from which to launch a coup.  Even with the grand, triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Jesus took no advantage of it, and made no claims to the throne!  And He even retired to the Mount of Olives!  In Judas’ opinion, Jesus was letting this last opportunity for dominion slip by Him.

With an incredibly hard heart, and now with the deepest aggravation of his condition, Judas decides to cut his losses and take some vengeance.  A false friend, with base treachery and a smooth tongue, shows his heels as he walks to do his deed.

In substance this has been repeated often among men.  It’s not an unusual sin among fallen men – but only once against the Lord of Heaven and Earth.  So we cut him no slack… the Scriptures don’t, so we can’t.

Now it is for us to consider that the appearance of one such as Judas among the immediate disciples of Jesus confirms the strength of man’ depravity.  It can lurk under the most sacred of professions; it can live in the holiest company; it can grow in the clearest light, and in the face of the most solemn warnings, and flourish while hearing the greatest preaching!

This is a warning to us all… what lies underneath?  Under the “shell” of one’s profession, is there avarice and malice and self-serving ambition; and is there treachery and deceit and hypocrisy… and every vile and evil thing?

Take it from Judas.  Without him the Church would have less evidence of man’s depravity, and less of that which is required for her warning and admonition.  But because he was chosen of God for this most perverted of all acts, we now have a good, clear example of what we all are inside… save the grace of God.