In Jesus’ Words: The Judas Kiss and Jesus’ Reaction (Matthew 26:50-56)

“Friend,” Jesus asked Judas, “why have you come?”

The Greek word used here for friend means “comrade” – a person who shares your activities, occupation or political group, such as a work associate.  Jesus did not call Judas a close friend.

Jesus always addresses our heart:  Why have you come?

“The chief priests and elders arrested Jesus, and then one of those with Jesus drew his sword and struck the high priest’s slave and cut off his ear.”

The writings of John identify this person as Peter and the slave as Malchus.  The writings of Luke also mention that Jesus heals the slaves ear.  These were specific, eye-witness accounts.

Then Jesus told him, “Put your sword back in place because all who take up a sword will perish by a sword. Or do you think that I cannot call on My Father, and He will provide Me at once with more than 12 legions of angels? How, then, would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen this way?”

Jesus shows he was still in control of the situation.  He did not panic.  A false preacher would have lacked control.

One legion is 6,000 soldiers, and 12 legions would be 72,000 angels.  2 Kings 19:35 tells of a single angel who killed more than 185,000 men in one night.  Can you imagine the impact 72,000 angels would have?

At that time Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs, as if I were a criminal, to capture Me? Every day I used to sit, teaching in the temple complex, and you didn’t arrest Me. But all this has happened so that the prophetic Scriptures would be fulfilled.” Then all the disciples deserted Him and ran away.


One of the best defenses for Christ is that none of the disciples or writers of the gospels painted a rosy picture of themselves.  Instead, they told that they were cowards and ran away.  Yet, after Jesus’ resurrection, these same young men became the most brave of men to tell the truth, even to the point of their own tortured deaths. Our own actions as human beings can be very telling.  A fake or lying person would not admit in writing that they had run away from the one they were claiming to be Messiah.  No, only one telling the truth would admit to that.

In Jesus’ Words: A place called Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46)

Have you ever had your life change in an instant?  One minute you’re having a nice dinner, making plans and talking about the future, and the next.. it all changes, and quickly.  It’s that moment of epiphany when we suddenly realize we’re not in control of everything after all.  Sometimes it leads to confusion, and you’re tired, and you just can’t believe what is happening, but it is.  There is an event recorded in all four gospels that is like this.

Gethsemane was a garden in the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem.  It was known for its olive trees and there are still many olive trees there today.  It is also where Jesus often went to pray, but on this one particular night Jesus was visibly upset.  His disciples didn’t know what to think when they saw him overcome with grief and emotion.  Usually Jesus is comforting them, and now Jesus is asking them to pray.  Did they know this would be the last night they would spend with Jesus before he was crucified?  They had just finished a nice meal in the Upper Room.

Jesus’ extreme emotion in the Garden was not one of weakness, but of humanity and humility.  The result of his coming into this world thirty-three years earlier has now culminated.  He would be leaving his disciples alone, knowing what they would face in the coming days and years.  Jesus knew what he was about to face as well.  It was not just a physical pain and death, but the weight of the world’s sin bearing down on Him.

Yet, after a time of intense prayer and agony in the Garden, Jesus seems to emerge even stronger and in a take-charge way.  He tells his disciples, “Are you still sleeping?  Get up, let’s go!”

Even in our deepest agonizing times, Jesus tells us the same.  He went through it, and He is also saying to us, “Get up, let’s go!”

~ Prayer in the Garden  Matthew 26:36-46 ~

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and He told the disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  Taking along Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, He began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed. Then He said to them, “My soul is swallowed up in sorrow —to the point of death. Remain here and stay awake with Me.” Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.”Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping. He asked Peter, “So, couldn’t you stay awake with Me one hour? Stay awake and pray, so that you won’t enter into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again, a second time, He went away and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, Your will be done.” And He came again and found them sleeping, because they could not keep their eyes open.

After leaving them, He went away again and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 

Then He came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the time is near. The Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up; let’s go! See, My betrayer is near.”

In Jesus’ Words: The Rock and the Denier (Matthew 26: 31-35)

I would bet that each of us have been like Peter at least once in our lives.  Before Peter became the Rock, which was the name Jesus promised him earlier, he was the Denier.  It was probably the lowest point in Peter’s life.  He was in agony over what he had done.  He denied his friend and Lord when Jesus needed him most.  In his mind, he had failed.  Thankfully for all of us, Peter didn’t stay that way.  And neither should we.

As I read this story where Jesus predicts that Peter will deny Him, a few thoughts crossed my mind.

Jesus never stopped loving Peter even as He told Peter what he was about to do, even in His greatest hour of need.  How many times have we failed someone when they needed us?  Jesus understands our human nature and He still loves us.  He can still use us.

Interestingly, after Jesus tells the disciples that they will fall away, He tells them, “after he is resurrected, He will meet them in Galilee.”  Did they not catch that part?  Jesus is telling them He will be resurrected and plans to see them again, but they’re so obsessed over telling Jesus they will never run away from Him that they don’t see the future.  How often are we preoccupied over something we did and miss Jesus’ most important words – words of hope and the future?

Jesus knows knows we all fail from time-to-time.  That is why Jesus came.  We need a Savior – someone who can help us when we can’t help ourselves.  Jesus came to save (future), not condemn (past).  Stop looking back, stop focusing on what went wrong, and look at what Jesus is saying.  He wants to lead you forward, not backward.

~ Peter’s Denial Predicted  Matthew 26:31-35  ~

Then Jesus said to them, “Tonight all of you will run away because of Me, for it is written:

I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.

But after I have been resurrected, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”

Peter told Him, “Even if everyone runs away because of You, I will never run away!”

“I assure you,” Jesus said to him, “tonight, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times!”

“Even if I have to die with You,” Peter told Him, “I will never deny You!” And all the disciples said the same thing.

In Jesus’ Words: The First Lord’s Supper and Forgiveness (Matthew 26:26-30)

As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.”  Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Father’s kingdom with you.”  After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives. – Matthew 26:26-30

This is the last Passover Jesus has with his disciples, and through this, he transforms the Passover into the first Lord’s Supper.  He is preparing his disciples for what is to come after his death.  Jesus has finished his ministry – there is no more teaching the crowds and performing miracles, no more discussions with the religious people in the synagogues, and no more parables.  He had recently spoken of the end times and the signs of times to come.  As Jesus nears the end of his life, his words began to take on a more serious tone.

I took a glance back through the book of Matthew and noticed that the first part of the book is almost completely covered in red-letters showing Jesus’ words and sermons, but now as I look ahead to the remaining few chapters in Matthew I noticeably see that Jesus’ words become less.  His remaining spoken words are to his disciples and to God.  This last Passover becomes symbolic, not because of its ending but because of new beginnings.  Jesus turns this last Passover into the first Lord’s Supper, and He shows the disciples how to celebrate a new covenant and the blood that is to be shed for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus reveals his purpose – the forgiveness of sins.

I once heard Bishop T.D. Jakes ask someone, “How valuable is it to you to be forgiven?”

The person replied with tears in his eyes, “It is everything.”

In Jesus’ Words: Free Will and Hope – the Betrayal at Passover (Matthew 26:17-25)

People often ask, “Why does God allow evil?”  It could also be asked another way, “Why does God allow people to do evil when He knows ahead of time what people will choose and the outcome of their choices?”  And if a person says they do not believe God knows everything ahead of time, then they would be saying God is not all-knowing and not in control.  I don’t think any of us want to believe or follow a God who is not in control or who can be caught by surprise.  So then the question becomes “Why does an all-knowing and in-control God still allow us to do evil?

The standard answer is usually “free will”, but I believe it’s more than just that.  Free will by itself does not guarantee anything or carry any hope.  It just means you are free to make your own choices, but not necessarily that anyone cares about your choices.  But the all-knowing, in-control God is also a God of mercy, forgiveness, and grace.  God gives everyone a chance – many chances – to do the right thing, to change their hearts, sometimes even to their last dying breath, no matter what they have done in their past.

This is why God allows our actions and choices.  He never gives up hope on any of us that we can change and choose Him.  And that is why in this next story of Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus, even he was given a chance though Jesus knowingly could have prevented his actions.

~ Matthew 26:17-25  The Betrayal of Jesus at Passover ~

On the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do You want us to prepare the Passover so You may eat it?”

“Go into the city to a certain man,” He said, “and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My time is near; I am celebrating the Passover at your place with My disciples.’” So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. When evening came, He was reclining at the table with the Twelve. While they were eating, He said, “I assure you: One of you will betray Me.”

Deeply distressed, each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?”

He replied, “The one who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl—he will betray Me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Then Judas, His betrayer, replied, “Surely not I, Rabbi?”

“You have said it,” He told him.