Matthew 26:31-35 Part 1


Before we begin our new passage this morning, I’d like to make just a few additional comments about verses twenty-nine and thirty.  (Last Lord’s Day we were intensely involved in the words of Jesus concerning His body and His blood, and since we were about to celebrate the Lord’s Table it would have been “out of place” to interrupt the transition from the “words” to the “celebration”.  So we’ll just touch on those last two verses now.)

Immediately upon drinking the wine with His disciples (His blood of the covenant), Jesus said (verse twenty-nine), “In no way shall I drink of this fruit of the vine from now until that day when I drink it with you new in the Kingdom of My Father.”

First, let’s see that Jesus is speaking of “this” wine (and for our brothers and with “alcohol” scruples this was undoubtedly wine.  There can be no controversy about it.)  This was the wine of the covenant meal.  And Jesus would drink it “once” with them.  After this He is crucified; and He would “go away”, coming to the Glory Cloud/Throne Room of His Father and sit down at His right.

So because of His personal “absence” from them, “in no way” could He drink it with them… until!  Until what?  “… until that day when I drink it with you new in the Kingdom of My Father.”

There are several “interpretations” of what that means; I won’t spend the time to dispute with them.  But one says that this must mean “heaven”.  And the imagination then takes over and runs with the ideas about what magnificent clusters of grapes there would be in heaven to make a “new” wine (along with all the other “delights” to the human senses).

Another interpretation says that, since Jesus sent His Spirit to the Church, He is present as the Church celebrates then Table.  Therefore what He says here about “drinking with them” is fulfilled figuratively and “spiritually” in the New Testament Church.

Those are the two main views of this verse, but neither one of them even comes close to explaining what the text says.  In the first place, when Jesus says, “when I drink with you new…”, He is speaking in the present subjunctive (present tense, subjunctive mood).  So a literal translation would be, “until that day when I be drinking with you new….”  This fruit of the vine!

There will once again come a day when Jesus personally and continually delights in drinking real wine (just like this one) with His Church… the significance of which is the remission of sins for all of His people!  Jesus has paid the whole price for the salvation of the world, and His blood is sufficient for its complete sanctification.  All of the justice and goodness and holiness of God will be satisfied by the shed blood of His Christ!  The subjunctive is there because of the uncertain day; but the continuous celebration of the present tense (in that uncertain day) is between Jesus Christ and His Church.

The second point here with regard to the text is the meaning and location of the word “new”… “until I be drinking it with you new.”  Now, the modifier modifies its closest object in Greek.  So this isn’t “new” drinking… and He isn’t speaking of “new” wine.  When Jesus spoke He was careful to put the word “new” closest to the objects which He wished to modify.  And that’s the word “you” (plural).  “Until I be drinking it with you new.”

In the Kingdom of His Father, with His justified and sanctified Church (His new creations reborn in Him), Jesus will once again be drinking this fruit of the vine!  “But I say to you, in no way will I drink from this fruit of the vine until that day when I be drinking it with you new in the Kingdom of My Father.”  It is we “elect” who are rebirthed in Him, and who grow up into maturity, and who are finally justified and sanctified in the resurrection.  Having received a down payment now, the “fullness” of our salvation in Christ is ours at the resurrection.  We are His “new” creations, and we will drink wine with Him in joyful celebration.

Now.  Just a note here about verse thirty; and then we’ll go on.  At the close of the transitional Passover meal (while Judas was out doing his deed), Jesus and His disciples sang a hymn before going out into the Mount of Olives.

Jesus was very careful to observe all the Law, and the traditions (when they didn’t interfere with the Truth).  And it was Passover tradition to sing the Psalms of the Hallel (and they prophesied Him… especially Psalm one hundred eighteen).

So it is almost certain that the word “hymn” here refers to a Hallel Psalm.  But the word “hymn” doesn’t mean “Psalm”.  It can include “Psalm” (as it does here), but it doesn’t mean “Psalm”… there’s another word for that.

So to assert (as an absolute) that, since the Hallel was sung at this event and the word “hymn” was used for it, therefore we must use the Psalms exclusively in worship, is stretching the text beyond its reasonable limits.  I’ve read the arguments of our brothers who hold to “exclusive Psalmody” in worship.  And I am impressed with their desire for purity in worship.  And I agree that singing God’s Revelation is the highest praise and acknowledgment of His authority.  But I am unconvinced that the text demands that all singing in worship be Psalm singing.

There appear to be traditional “song” verses written in the New Testament with regard to the “fuller” Revelation of Christ.  And if they are as they appear to be, the Church sang of His crucifixion and His resurrection… and the life of the Church in Him (in addition to the Psalms!).  And the praise and thanksgiving of the Lord’s people ought not be limited to the prophecy of His appearance, but (with great care for the Truth) include the progressive “fullness” of the Revelation in His Person.

Now, it’s not honoring to God to sing false praises to Him; and a full “third” of our Trinity Hymnal is taken up with songs that ought not be sung.  And many Churches will sing those songs… unconscious of the fact that they’re bad.  They do that because the songs are fun to sing.  So the focus of the singing is on themselves rather than on praising God.

But the Church shouldn’t sing with the primary purpose of personal enjoyment in singing.  Although it is a personal and corporate expression of the passion of the soul; and although there is great emotional benefit to the Church, that’s not the first reason for singing.

God wishes His people to break forth in joy and praise and thanksgiving – not by emphasizing us and our feelings, but with true expressions of who He is and what He has done!  God is not honored, and the Church receives no benefit, from glorifying the singer and the singer’s expressions of emotion.  The summum bonum, or the “highest good” takes place when God receives praise and thanksgiving from His joyful and emotional people.  And when He is honored, then the Church is benefited!

But we’ve gone too far from the text.  “And having sung a hymn (in this case one of the “Hallel” Psalms), they went into the Mount of Olives.”

Now, we don’t know, from this text, whether the conversation in verses thirty-one through thirty-five took place just after they left the house where they ate the Passover, or as they were arriving at the Mount of Olives.  We just have the general statement (from all the Gospel writers) that they went into the Mount of Olives.

We do know, from the history books and from those who visited there during the following several centuries, that Gethsemane (which means “oil-press” in Hebrew) was probably an olive tree orchard with highly-valued trees of great antiquity.

Apparently there was an oil press located here; and the oil produced from the great trees in this spot was highly valued even as far away as Spain.  So I would guess that the olives were so distinctive that connoisseurs of olive oil all over the world could tell whether olives were grown, picked and pressed right there at Gethsemane or some other place in Israel.

But as far as the location is concerned, the history says that Constantine’s mother visited Israel in the late 300’s, and apparently she surveyed the area very well.  From the brook Kedron (which runs between Mt. Zion and Jerusalem on the one side, and the Mount of Olives on the other) she counted off one hundred forty-two steps to the olive orchard called “Gethsemane”.

Now, the only thing which might shed some light on the accuracy of her calculations is the Biblical data concerning the Roman siege of Jerusalem and Josephus’ account of the actual event.  The prophetic Scriptures describe the armies of Rome making a dead wilderness of everything in its path – much like a firestorm or a plague of locusts.

In describing the event from personal sight, Josephus said that Titus’ armies destroyed every living thing within a hundred furlongs of Jerusalem in order to use the materials in is siege!  A furlong is two hundred twenty yards; and a hundred furlongs is twenty-two thousand yards, or sixty-six thousand feet, or twelve and one half miles!

So, in Josephus’ estimation (and I’m sure that’s what it is – an estimate), this massive Roman army made a complete wilderness of everything surrounding Jerusalem for twelve and a half miles.  And that certainly fulfills the dreadful accounts in the prophetic Scriptures of the “wasting” of this nation under the judgment of God.  There was nothing left but birds of prey and the carrion.

But the point here is that emperor Constantine’s mother may have been looking at a garden, or an orchard of olive trees three hundred and fifty years after Christ; but it certainly wasn’t the same orchard in which Jesus began His suffering on the way to the cross.  It may have been in the same place; but it wasn’t the same one.

But regardless of all of that, Jesus and His disciples left the house sometime in the middle of the evening; and they made their way through the streets of Jerusalem and out the north gate of the city… down the side of the mountain.  And in the valley they crossed over the brook Kedron and started up the side of Mount Olivet.  And somewhere, not far from the brook, was Gethsemane – the olive orchard.

And we can assume what Judas was doing during this time.  He had left the upper room of that house after the Passover and before the New Covenant meal.  Filled with a satanic desire for revenge; and disgusted with the wasted three years with nothing to show for it; and having been paid for information about where this man Jesus could be “taken” with ease, Judas was at the temple mount explaining to the priests that Jesus and His disciples were alone.  They had left a house on the lower west side of the city; and they were going back to the Mount of Olives with no crowds following them.  And all during the Passover week it had been Jesus’ pattern to go into the orchard to pray, so more than likely He would do it again.

And he must have convinced them that this was the time to take Him (later in the night, deep in the orchard, not many people around – no commotion, no fuss).  And we can imagine that the priests called out a contingent of temple guards to be led by Judas to Gethsemane.  And all of that was happening while Jesus and His disciples were making their way there.

And sometime during their exit from the city, and before they came to the orchard, Jesus spoke to them.  And since it was now His “time”, there had to be an almost overwhelming dread in His heart.  And those eleven who heard Him must have noticed it in His words and in His tone.  It would all begin in a matter of minutes, and they were moving now to the spot.

All of the authorities of Israel’s national government would be against Him; the representatives of international governments would be against Him (all prophesied in Psalm two); the Passover traditions would be against Him; the people gathered from all over the world would cry out for His death; God His Father would abandon Him….

And now comes the disclosure that these eleven disciples, His closest and most trusted and loved “inner circle” of men, would forsake Him in the time of His greatest suffering and leave Him solitary – isolated, without help, without solace, without support…


“all of you will be entrapped in Me in this very night; for it is written, ‘I will strike the Shepherd and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’”


Now, we only have the time to introduce that quote from Zechariah chapter thirteen and say a few things about its context.

But first let me say that, for those of you who may have experienced suffering alone, it must be agony.  Especially if that “aloneness” is a condition caused by friends departing in the time of need… or abandonment by loved ones on the occasion of trouble.

Even if one has been at fault and the trouble is of his own making, isolation in trouble is overwhelming; the anguish is excruciating… it’s palpable!  There is no way out… and no help… and no care.

Our Lord suffered that before you did.  And in fact the entire created realm was against Him!  The Satanic order was warring against His life; every nation on earth sought after His death – including His Own people.  And His disciples became entrapped in His suffering and feared their own inclusion in that suffering… so they abandoned Him and isolated Him.

And as the Zechariah passage from which Jesus quotes indicates, His Father in Heaven would lift the sword of judgment Himself and strike Him!

So you know no “aloneness” that Jesus didn’t suffer before you.  Are you better than He?  Should we go through life having never suffered – even to be forsaken by the world?  Or are we to be included in His suffering?

But rest assured that no son of God will ever again be abandoned by the Father.  As the Zechariah context says, after a large majority of Israel is slaughtered, and the remnant of God is scattered to the four winds, God will once more put His hand over His little ones… the newborns… the ones kept for Himself and rebirthed in His Only-begotten Son.

The people of God will scatter as with the chaff in the wind.  And they will suffer and mourn and sorrow over the death of God’s Christ; and they will be refined, as silver and gold, in the fires of the Refiner.  But they will repent.  And He will again cover them with His hand.

But they won’t be abandoned… they won’t be alone, as the Savior was.  For He was resurrected.  And all of us who belong to Him were resurrected in Him.

As verse thirty-two says, the entrapment and scattering of the disciples will be dealt with in the resurrection of Christ – in Whom they will be gathered together once again in Galilee.  All the words of the prophet Zechariah fulfilled in Christ – all to the glory of God the Father, Who sacrificed His Only Son that we might have life.

Next Lord’s Day we will address these two verses some more, and see the Zechariah passage some more, and possibly finish the passage through verse thirty-five.  As you see, everything is vital and very intense at this point.  And we want to see everything and miss nothing.