1. Now it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, that He said to his disciples,Washing Jesus' feet
2. “You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”

Once again the Lord tells His disciples what is to soon take place. One has to marvel how it could be that they were not ready for what happened. Yet perhaps this is not so strange. When we don’t understand something and it bothers us, we all like to shut such unhappy things out of our minds. Not wishing to accept their Master’s words, the disciples no doubt did their best to forget them.

3. Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,
4. and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him.

The chief priests, scribes, and elders had attempted to catch Him in His words, but that strategy had utterly failed them. The Lord spoke the words of God, and thus was too wise to ever be caught in such a way by the likes of them. At last realizing that they cannot succeed in discrediting Him, they determine that their only course of action is to take Him and kill Him. They realize that the Lord’s popularity will prevent them from taking him openly, so they must resort to trickery and take Him secretly.

5. But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”

They decided not to take Him during the feast. Jerusalem was a relatively small city most of the year, but during the feast all the citizens of Israel would migrate to the city to worship the Lord as the Scriptures prescribed. Thus, the leaders determined that to take such action against Christ at this time would be far too dangerous. The common people of Israel loved Christ, and would never have stood by to see him taken. Thus they prefer to wait until the population is back to its normal levels, and thus is more controllable. Yet this was not God’s plan. He wanted the crucifixion to take place at this time, and so He overruled their caution by sending them a betrayer. Yet they still feared the people, and thus His arrest took place under the cover of darkness.

6. And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper,

After each day in Jerusalem, the Lord returned to Bethany to stay the night. Since Jerusalem was too small a city to house all the people of the country of Israel, no doubt the Lord was not the only One who stayed in the suburbs at night during the feast rather than in the city proper. He is staying at the home of Simon the leper. Of course, the Lord had already healed Simon by this point, but he is called this to identify him even though he no longer had this illness. This helps us distinguish between this Simon and the Simon who had Him at his home in Luke 7:36-50. That Simon was a Pharisee, and should not be confused with this Simon, a leper.

7. a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.

This is another example of an event that could be taken as a contradiction if we did not allow for the fact that an event could happen more than once. This is a different woman from the one who came and wet his feet with her tears, wiped them off with her hair, and anointed his feet with ointment in Luke 7:36-50. There the Lord was not in the house of Simon the leper, but that of Simon the Pharisee. Moreover, that event occurred much earlier in His ministry. Then we must also not confuse this event with that of John 12:1-8. There the time period was similar yet not the same, having taken place a day at least earlier. Moreover, this event was in the house of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, not that of Simon the leper. In that event, Mary was the one who anointed Him, and she again anointed His feet. There is no mention of her weeping on His feet in the John account either. In this final account, recorded both here and in Mark 14:3-9, the woman is not named, she is not said to shed tears, the home is that of the leper, and the anointing is of His head, not His feet.

We must not assume that, just because these three events are similar, that they must have originally been the same and the gospel record must thus be flawed somehow. There were no doubt many women who loved our Lord very much. The kindness and consideration He showed them…indeed, the fact that as a rabbi He would even TALK to them…was something totally foreign to them in that day. Thus, when one woman did such a kind act for Him as did the woman in Luke 7, we might imagine that other women who heard about it, when they wanted to highly honor the Lord themselves, might copy what a previous woman had done. This would be the most natural thing in the world, yet there are those who claim to be wise Bible scholars, who reject such a thing as if it were ridiculous! I wonder if these scholars have honestly never in their lives copied what someone else had done before them? To call the Bible into question on such a point is patently ridiculous.

8. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “To what purpose is this waste?
9. “For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.”

In the first event in Luke, it was the unbelieving Pharisees who condemned the woman in their hearts, and the Lord rebuked them for it. In the John event it was the evil-hearted Judas Iscariot who voiced opposition to what Mary had done because he would rather have the money that would have come from selling the oil so that he could embezzle some of it. Again, the Lord, well knowing what was truly in his heart, rebukes him for his attitude. In this last account in Matthew, the disciples in general, taking their cue from Judas, complain against the woman and declare her offering to the Lord to be a waste.

10. But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me.

The disciples were foolish to trouble the woman in this. From the previous occurrence, they had taken more to heart the words of Judas than they had the words of the Lord! The Lord rebukes them for this and commends the woman most highly, for the work she had done was indeed an excellent work.

11. “For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.

The point is not that the poor should not be helped. Yet it is true that as long as there is alcohol, as long as there is gambling, as long as there is sin and vice in this world, there will always be those who are poor and destitute, and there will always be children who will be suffering and poor because of it. It is good that we help the innocent victims of poverty, yet in doing so we should never neglect the honoring of the Lord. Giving Him our worship is ultimately more important than even caring for the poor!

12. “For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial.

The corpses of the rich or wealthy would traditionally be bathed with fragrant oils before burial. Thus the Lord declares that this woman was honoring Him prior to His burial just as any rich or important person might be honored. To the Lord, this was a good and right thing for her to do.

13. “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

This promise of the Lord’s might have seemed incredible to the disciples at the time. Yet once this woman’s actions were recorded in both Matthew and Mark, the Lord’s words did indeed become true. Now, whenever either of these books are read and proclaimed, this woman’s actions are also proclaimed, just as the Lord said. His promises are ever good!

14. Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests

It seems that Judas Iscariot, if he ever had thought that the Lord might truly be the Messiah, had given up this belief long ago. Perhaps he too ceased to believe in Him along with the disciples who abandoned Him in John 6:66. Yet because of his position as one of the privileged twelve, he remained with the Lord and used his authority as treasurer for the group to embezzle money for himself. Now, upon hearing the Lord speak of His Own death so matter-of-factly, perhaps he decided that things were coming apart at last and he’d best get out while he can. Perhaps Judas thought Jesus’ speaking of His coming burial was a sign that He had finally gone off the deep end. Judas no doubt always looked on the Lord as sort of a mad prophet, and this just convinced him that the time had come to jump the ship while he was ahead. Yet he cannot resist the idea of milking the Lord for money one last time, and so he goes to the chief priests to work out a deal to get money for betraying Him.

15. and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.
16. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

The chief priests were more than willing to buy a traitor, and so they gave Judas thirty pieces of silver. This seems an insultingly low price to pay for the Lord of all the universe! Yet it was enough to buy Judas, who was only looking to firm up his profit and get out.

17. Now on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?”

Many have tried to teach that this was not the normal day for the Passover, but actually the day before the Passover, and that therefore Christ could not have been keeping the Passover at this time. This is just wishful thinking, however, as it is repeated three times in these verses that this was, indeed, the Passover. What we need to remember is that basically the feast of the Passover was a single feast day. On the original Passover the lamb was to be sacrificed that day “at even,” which was the start of the day on the Jewish calendar, and the blood was to be placed on the doorposts the same day. In later times, however, when a lamb had to be slaughtered for each family, it is my understanding that they sacrificed all the lambs the day before the Passover meal was to be eaten, so it was already slaughtered when the feast day started at even. Some have tried to argue from this that the Lord had to be sacrificed on the day before Passover, not on Passover day. These are trying to make out the so-called “Lord’s Supper” to not be the Passover meal. But the fact is that the original Passover lamb was slaughtered on the day of Passover, and though Christ was not slaughtered at even, He was still slaughtered Passover day, which was according to the original Passover. No, this was the Passover meal that He and His disciples were keeping.

We have a difficulty here in that it is said that they asked about preparing the Passover on the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Yet according to Leviticus 23:5-6, the Feast of Unleavened Bread began the day after Passover. “On the fourteenth day of the first month at twilight is the LORD’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; seven days you must eat unleavened bread.” The first month on the Hebrew calendar is the month Nisan, and the Passover is to take place on the fourteenth and the Feast of Unleavened Bread on the fifteenth through the twenty-first. What day, then, did they ask the Lord this, and on what day did they make the preparations for the Passover? Could it be that the disciples were so negligent and so little respected the LORD’s holidays that they didn’t even think to ask about preparing for the holiday until the day after it was supposed to occur? Or is there some other explanation?

I believe the solution to this can come from us understanding these things as if it were like one of our own holidays, say the Christmas season. We all know that we start proclaiming it to be “Christmas time” long before the day that is technically Christmas, December 25. In many stores and malls nowadays, decorations for the Christmas season go up even as early as October! Thus, when we speak of Christmas, we are often talking of this extended season, although sometimes we might speak of it as the actual day. In the same way, I believe, the Feast of Unleavened Bread could have been spoken of as the entire season surrounding it. When might this season have begun? I think we can get a clue for this from Exodus 12:3, where we read, “Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.’” In verse 6 we read, “’Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.’” So we see that the preparations for the Passover were actually made four days in advance of the actual feast. This, then, in the Israelites’ minds would have been in fact the “first day” of what they might have thought of as the “Feast of Unleavened Bread” season. Even though that feast did not technically begin until the fifteenth of the month Nisan, the Israelites would have thought of the “season” of the holiday as beginning on the tenth, which was the day they were to make their preparations for the feast by preparing the lamb. No doubt, then, Christ gave His disciples these instructions on this preparation day, the tenth of Nisan. This clears up our difficulty, and still leaves the Scripture’s testimony intact that what they were doing was keeping the “Passover.”

18. And He said, “Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, “My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.”’”
19. So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover.

Apparently, this was some man who knew the Lord and with whom He had made some prior arrangement. It appears this man was expecting the Lord to keep the feast at his house. Why the Scripture does not name this man is impossible to say. Perhaps the Holy Spirit simply didn’t want us to know his identity. Suffice it to say that this man was known of the Lord, and that he was blessed with providing Him a place to keep the Passover.

20. Now when evening had come, He sat down with the twelve.

This “evening” would have been the normal evening to keep the Passover, the evening of the fourteenth day of Nisan. Remember, according to the Hebrew calendar, this would be the beginning of the fourteenth, as Hebrew days started at 6:00 PM and proceeded through the next night at 6:00 PM. Thus, the Lord actually was crucified on the same day as the Passover, although His death did not take place at twilight. He was the fulfillment of the Passover, and was the lamb Who could take away, not just the sins of one household, but of the whole world.

21. Now as they were eating, He said, “Assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me.”

Again we seem to have a contradiction between the four accounts of the prediction of the betrayal. The four passages in question are this passage in Matthew 26:21-25, Mark 14:18-21, Luke 22:21-23, and John 13:21-30. Of these passages, we can clearly see that this is the same occurrence as that in Mark 14. Yet when we come to the account in Luke 22, we see that that prediction came after the giving of the cup and the bread (Luke 22:19-20,) whereas this account takes place before this event (Matthew 26:26-29 and Mark 14:22-25.) And the account in John takes place after they were finished with supper (John 13:2.) How then can these accounts be the same?

If this were not bad enough, these accounts differ in detail. The accounts in Matthew and Mark have the Lord dipping in the dish with Judas to show who he was who would betray Him. Yet in Luke, no such proof is offered, but the Lord only speaks of the fact that one will betray Him. And in John the sign of who it is is entirely different. There, the Lord takes a piece of bread, dips it, and gives it to Judas Iscariot, which is far different from merely dipping the bread with Judas at the same time. Is this then an insurmountable contradiction? Is the Scripture at last proved false?

Not at all! We need to realize that the Lord did not just predict Judas’ denial once that night. Rather, He predicted it again and again, giving Judas every time a chance to confess and turn from his plot. The first was before they ate. He marked out Judas by the fact that they were dipping their bread at the same time. Judas must surely have suspected that the Lord was speaking of him, yet the other disciples did not understand, so it appears that Judas stayed at the supper, trusting to their ignorance to cover him and perhaps hoping that the Lord had only been groping in the dark. After all, he seemed to have had them all fooled so far! Perhaps he even consoled himself that the Lord could not be the Messiah by the fact that He hadn’t seemed to detect his embezzlement up until this time. Then, the Lord again alluded to the betrayal after giving the cup and the bread, giving Judas another chance to back down on his intentions. Again no one figured out what the Lord meant, and so again Judas remained. Then, after the Passover supper was over and the Lord had washed the disciples’ feet, he brought the topic up again. This time He identified Judas in such a way that he could not doubt that the Lord knew what he had done. Although they had finished eating supper, the Lord took one of the leftover pieces of bread, dipped it, and gave it to Judas. The Master doing this to one of the disciples was a sign of high honor, and was the Lord’s last appeal to Judas to repent of his wicked intention. Yet Judas rejected the Lord’s pleas again, and this time he left the supper. Now he surely knew that the Lord knew of his intentions, and so he could no longer stay at the supper. Not only that, but now that he had refused the Lord once and for all, he was controlled instead by Satan, who speeded him on his way to his evil task.

Thus we see that the gospel accounts are not of the same prediction at all. Rather, the Lord made three predictions throughout the night of the betrayal of Judas. At the first two in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, it is never said that Judas left the room at that point. It is only in the last prediction in John when Judas left to go about his task. This shows us that these accounts are indeed of different events, not of the same event with the details contradictory. Thus we can rest assured that in this case, as in all others, the Bible is accurate, and there is no such thing as a “contradiction in Scripture.”

22. And they were exceedingly sorrowful, and each of them began to say to Him, “Lord, is it I?”

It would be a terrible thing to realize that one of you—perhaps even you yourself—might soon betray the Lord you loved so much. I think it is interesting—as well as significant—that these men each asked the Lord if he was the one who should betray Him. One would think that in such a situation that there would be finger pointing and trying to pass such a thing off, not asking if you were going to be the one to do it. Perhaps Jesus’ teachings had had more of a positive effect on these men than most today are willing to admit.

23. Then He answered and said, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the dish will betray Me.

In other words, the one who had just done so. Judas would not have been so foolish as to continue dipping his bread, even if he had been intending to do so, after the Lord had made this statement. Remember, Judas was still trying to hide his identity, and hoping against hope that the Lord had not really identified him as He claimed. Thus, the Lord must have meant that they had just finished dipping together. The disciples don’t pick up on this, however, so perhaps they hadn’t noticed who had just dipped at the same time as the Lord. It is certain that Judas noticed, however! This was a plea to him to give up his wicked plan, yet he refused to repent at the Lord’s gentle request.

24. “The Son of Man goes as it is written of Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.”

There are those who try to make out that everyone will eventually be saved. These “Universal Salvationists,” as they are called, would claim that all men, even men like Judas Iscariot, will ultimately be saved, though some might have to suffer first. Yet I cannot believe this in light of a passage like this one. If Judas would ever ultimately receive eternal life, then I cannot believe that it would have been better for him if he had not been born. Certainly, if his ultimate fate is salvation, then it certainly is better for him that he was born. Thus Christ’s words here clearly reveal the fact that Judas will never be saved, for it would have been good for him if he had not been born.

25. Then Judas, who was betraying Him, answered and said, “Rabbi, is it I?” He said to him, “You have said it.”

Verse 22 indicates that they were each asking this question of the Lord one at a time. The Lord appears to have broken in before Judas and made this statement. Now it is Judas’ turn, and he asks this question. The Lord’s answer made it plain that he indeed was the one.

This verse reveals to us the meaning of the figure of speech, “You have said it.” The Lord Jesus uses this figure often during His various trials. We know from this passage that it is a positive affirmation, not a nebulous answer.

26. And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed it and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.”

Notice that this takes place as they are eating. What they were eating was, of course, the unleavened bread of the Passover (Exodus 12:8.) Without leaven, this bread would be in fact a hard biscuit that would have to be broken, not torn like we would tear leavened bread. Now, that Passover bread that had long symbolized the haste with which the Israelites came out of Egypt, not even having time to put leaven in their bread (Exodus 12:39,) would symbolize something new for the disciples from now on. Now it is not just a symbol of that great Passover miracle of long ago, but was also a symbol of the Lord’s body that would soon be broken on the cross for them.

27. Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you.

This, likewise, was the cup of bitter wine served with the Passover (Exodus 12:8 and Numbers 9:11.) Remember, this was not a feast eaten for enjoyment. It was actually a rather poor meal, and was meant to commemorate the Exodus from Egypt. The Lord, however, being the One Who had given the Passover in the first place, is able to ascribe new significance to the familiar elements of the Passover, which He does here. This bitter wine had originally symbolized the bitterness of their bondage in the land of Egypt. Now, however, it would symbolize His Own blood, a bitter sacrifice indeed for God to pay, and yet one He was willing to pay to bring about the salvation of the world!

28. “For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Jeremiah 31:31 says that the “new covenant” is with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It has nothing to do with Gentile believers of today. Nor are we “spiritual Israel,” as the covenant and replacement theologians like to claim. That is just confusion. These words must be understood in a dispensational context. A close reading of Jeremiah 31:31 through the end of the chapter will be enough to convince one that this new covenant can by no means be in effect today, for we are not the people the new covenant was made with (the house of Israel and the house of Judah,) what the new covenant is is not in effect today (the law is not written on our hearts, but we have to study it and seek to obey it,) and the results of the new covenant are in no wise apparent in the world around us (all men do not know God from the least unto the greatest.) The Lord here proclaims Himself to be the sacrifice that accompanies the new covenant. The fulfillment of the promise of that covenant waits for the future Kingdom of God. If there is any further doubt of this, notice that He says that His blood was shed for MANY, not for all. The blood of the new covenant was shed for Israel only. The blood of Christ that saves us, however, was shed for ALL. It was the same blood, but it served two different purposes. Only the many were included in the blood of the new covenant, but all people were included in the blood that brings salvation to us today.

29. “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

We know that this statement is true, for His time on earth was about to come to an end until that future kingdom comes. Yet notice that in order for this statement to be true, the disciples must be raised from the dead so that they as well can be in that future kingdom!

Some have pointed out that Christ did drink wine again when the soldiers gave Him wine in Matthew 27:34 and John 19:29-30. In the Matthew passage they offered it to Him and He tasted it and then would not drink it. Yet in the John passage He Himself requested wine, and when they gave it to Him it clearly says that He received it! Does this contradict Christ’s statement here?

I do not believe so. Notice that Christ says “this” fruit of the vine. The wine the soldiers offered Him was sour wine. It was not the same wine that Christ was talking about here. The fruit of the vine He was talking about was specifically the wine mixed with bitter herbs of the Passover. That was the wine He meant He would not drink again until He drinks it new with His disciples in His Father’s kingdom. He meant He would not celebrate the Passover again until that time, not that He would never taste any sort of wine at all until that time. This is how we should understand this statement, and not try to make some contradiction between these two passages.

30. And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

The word “hymn” here means “Psalm.” Probably at that time they still had the music that originally accompanied the Psalms, music that is lost to us today. Traditionally they probably would have sung from Psalms 115, 116, 117, and 118.

31. Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written:
‘I will strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

The Lord predicts that all of His disciples will stumble this night because of Him. He quotes Zechariah 13:7 to show that this will all happen to fulfill the Scriptures. In this night of seeming chaos, all would occur according to the Lord’s predetermined plan.

32. “But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee.”

Notice that the Lord is already giving them instructions as to what they are to do and what He will do once He is resurrected! The Lord viewed His resurrection as such a sure thing that He was absolutely assuming it was going to happen and was making plans for afterwards. In the same way we should view our own resurrections as an equally sure thing. We might as well think of our hopes for that resurrection and what we will do then as we think of our hopes for tomorrow and our activities then. Indeed, if we have been saved by the blood of Christ then our resurrection is even more sure than our lives tomorrow!

33. Peter answered and said to Him, “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble.”

Peter was always quick to speak his mind, and yet he was often incorrect in his hastily-made statements. Here he speaks with absolute certainty, and, no doubt, at the time he fully believed his own words. Yet the Lord knew better than he did, and He ever does.

34. Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.”

Notice that this prediction of Peter’s denial of Christ only includes one rooster, while that of Mark 14:30 has two. This fact has caused many to scoff that one of the gospels must be in error. The answer to their scorn and to this difficulty is that Peter denied the Lord six times, three times before the first rooster, and three times before the second. I will point out the various times when we get to the actual denials.

35. Peter said to Him, “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!” And so said all the disciples.

They were willing to bet their lives, or so they thought, on the fact that they were correct. Yet, as they would find out later that night, it is easier to bet your life in theory than it is in actual deed!