The Conspiracy Against Jesus. 1#26:1–28:20] The five books with alternating narrative and discourse (Mt 3:1–25:46) that give this gospel its distinctive structure lead up to the climactic events that are the center of Christian belief and the origin of the Christian church, the passion and resurrection of Jesus. In his passion narrative (Mt 26 and 27) Matthew follows his Marcan source closely but with omissions (e.g., Mk 14:51–52) and additions (e.g., Mt 27:3–10, 19). Some of the additions indicate that he utilized traditions that he had received from elsewhere; others are due to his own theological insight (e.g., Mt 26:28 “
for the forgiveness of sins”; Mt 27:52). In his editing Matthew also altered Mark in some minor details. But there is no need to suppose that he knew any passion narrative other than Mark’s. When Jesus finished all these words,#When Jesus finished all these words: see note on Mt 7:28–29. “You know
crucified”: Matthew turns Mark’s statement of the time (Mk 14:1) into Jesus’ final prediction of his passion. Passover: see note on Mk 14:1. he said to his disciples, 2#Mk 14:1–2; Lk 22:1–2. “You know that in two days’ time it will be Passover, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” 3#Caiaphas was high priest from A.D. 18 to 36. Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, 4#Jn 11:47–53. and they consulted together to arrest Jesus by treachery and put him to death. 5But they said, “Not during the festival,#Not during the festival: the plan to delay Jesus’ arrest and execution until after the festival was not carried out, for according to the synoptics he was arrested on the night of Nisan 14 and put to death the following day. No reason is given why the plan was changed. that there may not be a riot among the people.”
The Anointing at Bethany.#See notes on Mk 14:3–9 and Jn 12:1–8. 6#Mk 14:3–9; Jn 12:1–8. Now when Jesus was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 7a woman came up to him with an alabaster jar of costly perfumed oil, and poured it on his head while he was reclining at table. 8When the disciples saw this, they were indignant and said, “Why this waste? 9It could have been sold for much, and the money given to the poor.” 10Since Jesus knew this, he said to them, “Why do you make trouble for the woman? She has done a good thing for me. 11#Dt 15:11. The poor you will always have with you; but you will not always have me. 12#To prepare me for burial: cf. Mk 14:8. In accordance with the interpretation of this act as Jesus’ burial anointing, Matthew, more consistent than Mark, changes the purpose of the visit of the women to Jesus’ tomb; they do not go to anoint him (Mk 16:1) but “to see the tomb” (Mt 28:1). In pouring this perfumed oil upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13Amen, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be spoken of, in memory of her.”
The Betrayal by Judas. 14#Mk 14:10–11; Lk 22:3–6. Then one of the Twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot,#Iscariot: see note on Lk 6:16. went to the chief priests 15#The motive of avarice is introduced by Judas’s question about the price for betrayal, which is absent in the Marcan source (Mk 14:10–11). Hand him over: the same Greek verb is used to express the saving purpose of God by which Jesus is handed over to death (cf. Mt 17:22; 20:18; 26:2) and the human malice that hands him over. Thirty pieces of silver: the price of the betrayal is found only in Matthew. It is derived from Zec 11:12 where it is the wages paid to the rejected shepherd, a cheap price (Zec 11:13). That amount is also the compensation paid to one whose slave has been gored by an ox (Ex 21:32). #Zec 11:12. and said, “What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?” They paid him thirty pieces of silver, 16and from that time on he looked for an opportunity to hand him over.
Preparations for the Passover. 17#Mk 14:12–21; Lk 22:7–23. On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread,#The first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread: see note on Mk 14:1. Matthew omits Mark’s “when they sacrificed the Passover lamb.” the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?”#Ex 12:14–20. 18#By omitting much of Mk 14:13–15, adding My appointed time draws near, and turning the question into a statement, in your house I shall celebrate the Passover, Matthew has given this passage a solemnity and majesty greater than that of his source. He said, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The teacher says, “My appointed time draws near; in your house I shall celebrate the Passover with my disciples.”’” 19The disciples then did as Jesus had ordered, and prepared the Passover.
The Betrayer. 20When it was evening, he reclined at table with the Twelve. 21And while they were eating, he said, “Amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”#Given Matthew’s interest in the fulfillment of the Old Testament, it is curious that he omits the Marcan designation of Jesus’ betrayer as “one who is eating with me” (Mk 14:18), since that is probably an allusion to Ps 41:10. However, the shocking fact that the betrayer is one who shares table fellowship with Jesus is emphasized in Mt 26:23. 22Deeply distressed at this, they began to say to him one after another, “Surely it is not I, Lord?” 23He said in reply, “He who has dipped his hand into the dish with me is the one who will betray me. 24#It would be better
born: the enormity of the deed is such that it would be better not to exist than to do it. #Is 53:8–10. The Son of Man indeed goes, as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. It would be better for that man if he had never been born.” 25#Peculiar to Matthew. You have said so: cf. Mt 26:64; 27:11. This is a half-affirmative. Emphasis is laid on the pronoun and the answer implies that the statement would not have been made if the question had not been asked. Then Judas, his betrayer, said in reply, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” He answered, “You have said so.”
The Lord’s Supper. 26#See note on Mk 14:22–24. The Marcan-Matthean is one of the two major New Testament traditions of the words of Jesus when instituting the Eucharist. The other (and earlier) is the Pauline-Lucan (1 Cor 11:23–25; Lk 22:19–20). Each shows the influence of Christian liturgical usage, but the Marcan-Matthean is more developed in that regard than the Pauline-Lucan. The words over the bread and cup succeed each other without the intervening meal mentioned in 1 Cor 11:25; Lk 22:20; and there is parallelism between the consecratory words (this is my body
this is my blood). Matthew follows Mark closely but with some changes. #Mk 14:22–26; Lk 22:14–23; 1 Cor 11:23–25. While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.”#See note on Mt 14:19. Said the blessing: a prayer blessing God. Take and eat: literally, Take, eat. Eat is an addition to Mark’s “take it” (literally, “take”; Mk 14:22). This is my body: the bread is identified with Jesus himself. #1 Cor 10:16. 27Then he took a cup, gave thanks,#Gave thanks: see note on Mt 15:36. Gave it to them
all of you: cf. Mk 14:23–24. In the Marcan sequence the disciples drink and then Jesus says the interpretative words. Matthew has changed this into a command to drink followed by those words. My blood: see Lv 17:11 for the concept that the blood is “the seat of life” and that when placed on the altar it “makes atonement.” Which will be shed: the present participle, “being shed” or “going to be shed,” is future in relation to the Last Supper. On behalf of: Greek peri; see note on Mk 14:24. Many: see note on Mt 20:28. For the forgiveness of sins: a Matthean addition. The same phrase occurs in Mk 1:4 in connection with John’s baptism but Matthew avoids it there (Mt 3:11). He places it here probably because he wishes to emphasize that it is the sacrificial death of Jesus that brings forgiveness of sins. and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28#Ex 24:8; Is 53:12. for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins. 29#Although his death will interrupt the table fellowship he has had with the disciples, Jesus confidently predicts his vindication by God and a new table fellowship with them at the banquet of the kingdom. I tell you, from now on I shall not drink this fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it with you new in the kingdom of my Father.” 30#See note on Mk 14:26. Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Peter’s Denial Foretold. 31#Mk 14:7–31. Then Jesus said to them, “This night all of you will have your faith in me shaken,#Will have
shaken: literally, “will be scandalized in me”; see note on Mt 24:9–12. I will strike
dispersed: cf. Zec 13:7. for it is written:#Zec 13:7; Jn 16:32.
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be dispersed’;
32but after I have been raised up, I shall go before you to Galilee.” 33Peter said to him in reply, “Though all may have their faith in you shaken, mine will never be.” 34#Before the cock crows: see note on Mt 14:25. The third watch of the night was called “cockcrow.” Deny me: see note on Mt 16:24. #Lk 22:33–34; Jn 13:37–38. Jesus said to him, “Amen, I say to you, this very night before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.”#26:69–75. 35Peter said to him, “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And all the disciples spoke likewise.
The Agony in the Garden. 36#Cf. Mk 14:32–52. The account of Jesus in Gethsemane is divided between that of his agony (Mt 26:36–46) and that of his betrayal and arrest (Mt 26:47–56). Jesus’ sorrow and distress (Mt 26:37) in face of death is unrelieved by the presence of his three disciples who, though urged to watch with him (Mt 26:38, 41), fall asleep (Mt 26:40, 43). He prays that if
possible his death may be avoided (Mt 26:39) but that his Father’s will be done (Mt 26:39, 42, 44). Knowing then that his death must take place, he announces to his companions that the hour for his being handed over has come (Mt 26:45). Judas arrives with an armed band provided by the Sanhedrin and greets Jesus with a kiss, the prearranged sign for his identification (Mt 26:47–49). After his arrest, he rebukes a disciple who has attacked the high priest’s servant with a sword (Mt 26:51–54), and chides those who have come out to seize him with swords and clubs as if he were a robber (Mt 26:55–56). In both rebukes Jesus declares that the treatment he is now receiving is the fulfillment of the scriptures (Mt 26:55, 56). The subsequent flight of all the disciples is itself the fulfillment of his own prediction (cf. 31). In this episode, Matthew follows Mark with a few alterations. #Mk 14:32–42; Lk 22:39–46. Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane,#Gethsemane: the Hebrew name means “oil press” and designates an olive orchard on the western slope of the Mount of Olives; see note on Mt 21:1. The name appears only in Matthew and Mark. The place is called a “garden” in Jn 18:1. and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”#Jn 18:1. 37#Heb 5:7. He took along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee,#Peter and the two sons of Zebedee: cf. Mt 17:1. and began to feel sorrow and distress. 38#Ps 42:6, 12; Jon 4:9. Then he said to them, “My soul is sorrowful even to death.#Cf. Ps 42:6, 12. In the Septuagint (Ps 41:5, 12) the same Greek word for sorrowful is used as here. To death: i.e., “enough to die”; cf. Jon 4:9. Remain here and keep watch with me.” 39#Jn 4:34; 6:38; Phil 2:8. He advanced a little and fell prostrate in prayer, saying, “My Father,#My Father: see note on Mk 14:36. Matthew omits the Aramaic ’abbā’ and adds the qualifier my. This cup: see note on Mk 10:38–40. if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet, not as I will, but as you will.” 40When he returned to his disciples he found them asleep. He said to Peter, “So you could not keep watch with me for one hour? 41Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.#Undergo the test: see note on Mt 6:13. In that verse “the final test” translates the same Greek word as is here translated the test, and these are the only instances of the use of that word in Matthew. It is possible that the passion of Jesus is seen here as an anticipation of the great tribulation that will precede the parousia (see notes on Mt 24:8; 24:21) to which Mt 6:13 refers, and that just as Jesus prays to be delivered from death (Mt 26:39), so he exhorts the disciples to pray that they will not have to undergo the great test that his passion would be for them. Some scholars, however, understand not undergo (literally, “not enter”) the test as meaning not that the disciples may be spared the test but that they may not yield to the temptation of falling away from Jesus because of his passion even though they will have to endure it. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42#Your will be done: cf. Mt 6:10. #6:10; Heb 10:9. Withdrawing a second time, he prayed again, “My Father, if it is not possible that this cup pass without my drinking it, your will be done!” 43Then he returned once more and found them asleep, for they could not keep their eyes open. 44He left them and withdrew again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing again. 45#Jn 12:23; 13:1; 17:1. Then he returned to his disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man is to be handed over to sinners. 46Get up, let us go. Look, my betrayer is at hand.”
The Betrayal and Arrest of Jesus. 47#Mk 14:43–50; Lk 22:47–53; Jn 18:3–11. While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived, accompanied by a large crowd, with swords and clubs, who had come from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48His betrayer had arranged a sign with them, saying, “The man I shall kiss is the one; arrest him.” 49Immediately he went over to Jesus and said, “Hail, Rabbi!”#Rabbi: see note on Mt 23:6–7. Jesus is so addressed twice in Matthew (Mt 26:25), both times by Judas. For the significance of the closely related address “teacher” in Matthew, see note on Mt 8:19. and he kissed him. 50Jesus answered him, “Friend, do what you have come for.” Then stepping forward they laid hands on Jesus and arrested him. 51And behold, one of those who accompanied Jesus put his hand to his sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his ear. 52Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its sheath, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53Do you think that I cannot call upon my Father and he will not provide me at this moment with more than twelve legions of angels? 54But then how would the scriptures be fulfilled which say that it must come to pass in this way?” 55#Day after day
arrest me: cf. Mk 14:49. This suggests that Jesus had taught for a relatively long period in Jerusalem, whereas Mt 21:1–11 puts his coming to the city for the first time only a few days before. At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me? Day after day I sat teaching in the temple area, yet you did not arrest me. 56#26:31. But all this has come to pass that the writings of the prophets may be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Jesus Before the Sanhedrin.#Following Mk 14:53–65 Matthew presents the nighttime appearance of Jesus before the Sanhedrin as a real trial. After many false witnesses bring charges against him that do not suffice for the death sentence (Mt 26:60), two came forward who charge him with claiming to be able to destroy the temple
and within three days to rebuild it (Mt 26:60–61). Jesus makes no answer even when challenged to do so by the high priest, who then orders him to declare under oath
whether he is the Messiah, the Son of God (Mt 26:62–63). Matthew changes Mark’s clear affirmative response (Mk 14:62) to the same one as that given to Judas (Mt 26:25), but follows Mark almost verbatim in Jesus’ predicting that his judges will see him (the Son of Man) seated at the right hand of God and coming on the clouds of heaven (Mt 26:64). The high priest then charges him with blasphemy (Mt 26:65), a charge with which the other members of the Sanhedrin agree by declaring that he deserves to die (Mt 26:66). They then attack him (Mt 26:67) and mockingly demand that he prophesy (Mt 26:68). This account contains elements that are contrary to the judicial procedures prescribed in the Mishnah, the Jewish code of law that dates in written form from ca. A.D. 200, e.g., trial on a feast day, a night session of the court, pronouncement of a verdict of condemnation at the same session at which testimony was received. Consequently, some scholars regard the account entirely as a creation of the early Christians without historical value. However, it is disputable whether the norms found in the Mishnah were in force at the time of Jesus. More to the point is the question whether the Matthean-Marcan night trial derives from a combination of two separate incidents, a nighttime preliminary investigation (cf. Jn 18:13, 19–24) and a formal trial on the following morning (cf. Lk 22:66–71). 57#Mk 14:53–65; Lk 22:54–55, 63–71; Jn 18:12–14, 19–24. Those who had arrested Jesus led him away to Caiaphas#Caiaphas: see note on Mt 26:3. the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled. 58Peter was following him at a distance as far as the high priest’s courtyard, and going inside he sat down with the servants to see the outcome. 59The chief priests and the entire Sanhedrin#Sanhedrin: see note on Lk 22:66. kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, 60#Dt 19:15; Jn 2:19; Acts 6:14. but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. Finally two#Two: cf. Dt 19:15. I can destroy
rebuild it: there are significant differences from the Marcan parallel (Mk 14:58). Matthew omits “made with hands” and “not made with hands” and changes Mark’s “will destroy” and “will build another” to can destroy and (can) rebuild. The charge is probably based on Jesus’ prediction of the temple’s destruction; see notes on Mt 23:37–39; 24:2; and Jn 2:19. A similar prediction by Jeremiah was considered as deserving death; cf. Jer 7:1–15; 26:1–8. came forward 61who stated, “This man said, ‘I can destroy the temple of God and within three days rebuild it.’” 62The high priest rose and addressed him, “Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?” 63#Is 53:7. But Jesus was silent.#Silent: possibly an allusion to Is 53:7. I order you
living God: peculiar to Matthew; cf. Mk 14:61. Then the high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” 64#Ps 110:1; Dn 7:13. Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so.#You have said so: see note on Mt 26:25. From now on
heaven: the Son of Man who is to be crucified (cf. Mt 20:19) will be seen in glorious majesty (cf. Ps 110:1) and coming on the clouds of heaven (cf. Dn 7:13). The Power: see note on Mk 14:61–62. But I tell you:
From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power’
and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’”
65Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed!#Blasphemed: the punishment for blasphemy was death by stoning (see Lv 24:10–16). According to the Mishnah, to be guilty of blasphemy one had to pronounce “the Name itself,” i.e., Yahweh; cf. Sanhedrin 7:4, 5. Those who judge the gospel accounts of Jesus’ trial by the later Mishnah standards point out that Jesus uses the surrogate “the Power,” and hence no Jewish court would have regarded him as guilty of blasphemy; others hold that the Mishnah’s narrow understanding of blasphemy was a later development. What further need have we of witnesses? You have now heard the blasphemy; 66what is your opinion?” They said in reply, “He deserves to die!” 67#The physical abuse, apparently done to Jesus by the members of the Sanhedrin themselves, recalls the sufferings of the Isaian Servant of the Lord; cf. Is 50:6. The mocking challenge to prophesy is probably motivated by Jesus’ prediction of his future glory (Mt 26:64). #Wis 2:19; Is 50:6. Then they spat in his face and struck him, while some slapped him, 68saying, “Prophesy for us, Messiah: who is it that struck you?”
Peter’s Denial of Jesus. 69#Mk 14:66–72; Lk 22:56–62; Jn 18:17–18, 25–27. Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. One of the maids came over to him and said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean.” 70#Denied it in front of everyone: see Mt 10:33. Peter’s repentance (Mt 26:75) saves him from the fearful destiny of which Jesus speaks there. But he denied it in front of everyone, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about!” 71As he went out to the gate, another girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazorean.” 72Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man!” 73#Your speech
away: Matthew explicates Mark’s “you too are a Galilean” (Mk 14:70). A little later the bystanders came over and said to Peter, “Surely you too are one of them; even your speech gives you away.” 74At that he began to curse and to swear, “I do not know the man.” And immediately a cock crowed. 75#26:34. Then Peter remembered the word that Jesus had spoken: “Before the cock crows you will deny me three times.” He went out and began to weep bitterly.