Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28

Chapter 26

This chapter tells of an incident which took place while Jesus was in Bethany before He went on into Jerusalem in the scene described in Chapter 21. It also gives His first announcement of the time of His crucifixion, the description of "The Last Supper," an account of His suffering in the garden of Gethsemane , the betrayal, His arrest, His ordeal in the palace of the high priest, and Peter's three denials. All of these things are of great importance to every Christian, and should be studied carefully by all, but most of them are clearly enough set forth that they need little, if any, explanation.


After Jesus finished His description of the judgment of the nations, or Gentiles, He made an announcement to the disciples, "Ye know that after two days is the feast of the Passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified." The "Ye know" has to do only with the time of the Passover: the latter clause is His first declaration that His betrayal and crucifixion were to coincide with the feast.


The chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the Jews had for some time been waiting and looking for an opportunity and an excuse to take Jesus, and have Him killed. Now they meet together at the palace of Caiaphas the high priest, and discuss how they can accomplish this with subtlety; but they still are afraid of the people: so they say, "Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people."


In verses 6 through 13 Matthew drops back to an incident that took place while Jesus was still in Bethany , which was the home town of Mary , Martha, and Lazarus. One might think from John's description of this feast, for such it was, that it took place in the home of Lazarus and his sisters. But both Matthew and Mark insist that it was in the house of one Simon, whom Mark calls "Simon the leper," who must have been a friend of Lazarus: for Lazarus was one of those who sat with Jesus at the feast, and Martha helped serve the food. John gives a more detailed description of this event than do Matthew and Mark, while Luke omits it altogether. It is not to be confused with a slightly similar event recorded by Luke in Chapter 7 of his gospel. That event took place in Galilee . Here Mary (both Matthew and Mark only say, "a woman") took a box of very precious ointment, and poured it on Jesus' head, and, according to John, on His feet also, which she wiped with the hair of her head. From what Matthew and Mark both record Jesus as saying, we can be sure that the ointment ran down from Jesus' head onto His body, and may have run down to His feet, instead of being poured directly there, as John says. According to Matthew, He said, "For in that she hath poured this ointment on My body, she did it for My burial;" and Mark, "She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint My body for the burying." What brought forth this remark is that, Judas Iscariot was angry, and complained that it was a great waste, and suggested that it should have been sold, and the proceeds given to the poor. John tells us why he complained: "This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." This tells us, first of all, that Judas was, as we would say today, the treasurer of the disciples and Jesus; and since John expressly says, "he was a thief," it suggests that he may have been embezzling from their funds. Both Matthew and Mark conclude this episode with this quotation from Jesus: "Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this that this woman hath done be told for a memorial of her."


Verses 14 through 17 tell another development in the plot of the chief priests against Jesus. Judas Iscariot, who complained about the waste of the ointment, went to the chief priests, and sold out our Lord to them for "thirty pieces of silver." If these pieces of silver were shekels, as they probably were, the price of the betrayal, in our money, before the price of silver was allowed to "float," was about $19.50. One might get the idea from John 13:27 that Judas did not set up the betrayal until after the last supper, and so far as the time and place are concerned, he did not, but he had already made his deal with the chief priests. Having covenanted with the priests, Judas began looking for an opportunity to deliver Jesus into their hands.


Verses 17 through 25 give an account of the preparation for, and the eating of the "Last Supper," all of which is clearly enough described to need no explanation. It was during this meal that Jesus said to His disciples that one of them would betray Him, and declared that although it was all according to the purpose and prophecy of God, there was still such a terrible condemnation upon the betrayer, that it would have been better for him had he never been born. "Then Judas, which betrayed Him, answered and said, ‘Master is it I?’ He said unto him, ‘Thou hast said.’" According to John, at this point Judas went out to set up the final details of the betrayal of Jesus. John gives no account of the institution of "The Lord's Supper;" but it is recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as being set up at this time. Paul also describes it for us in 1 Corinthians 11:22-26.


All of these agree upon the essentials of it, though they use different words to record it. Every Christian should be thoroughly familiar with this description, so we quote from Matthew 26:26-30, "And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take, eat; this is My body.’ And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. But I say this unto you, “I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom.”’ And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the Mount of Olives ."


Several observations are in order concerning this. In verse 26, the word translated "blessed" can mean "bless, or consecrate," and it can also mean "ask God's blessing upon, or pray to Him to bless" something to the proper use. Certainly, Jesus being "God with us" was able of Himself to consecrate, or bless the bread; and this may have been the meaning Matthew had in mind. Yet, when we celebrate this memorial, we must remember that the extent of our ability is to pray to God that He will bless this bread to its proper use. As Jesus broke the bread He was not, in this symbol, showing that His body would be broken into pieces, or even that His bones would be broken. For God had declared long before that this would not be done, but He was showing the dissolution of soul and body in His death. As He gave the broken bread to His disciples, saying, "Take, eat; this is My body," He was not speaking literally, but symbolically, as He did when He said, (John 6:53,) "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you." Yet there are those who believe that in this service the bread becomes the literal flesh of Jesus. This is called, "The doctrine of transubstantiation." The Apostle Paul set the matter in its proper perspective in 1 Corinthians 10:16, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of the Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of the Christ?” Thus we see that his view of it was that the bread and the wine are the "communion," or symbolic representation of, the body and blood of our Lord. When Jesus took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to His disciples, saying, "Drink ye all of it," the meaning is not, as some have tried to say, that each was to drink all that was in the cup, nor even that all together must drink all of it, so that none be wasted. In the Greek language, the meaning is clear. "All (ye) drink out of this." (Literal translation). "Ye" is not even expressed, except as shown by the ending of the verb. This command is for all to drink from the common container, which has from time immemorial been the manner of showing comradeship, or fellowship, as opposed to the drinking of a toast, in which each has his own cup, or glass, and all raise their drinks together. The same explanations apply to the cup as to the bread. Some argue that since the scriptures only say, "the cup" or "the fruit of the vine," there is no evidence that they used wine, and, maybe it was only grape juice. This is nothing but "hairsplitting," and that upon a very unsound foundation. The time of the year was such that they could not have had fresh grape juice, they had no means of keeping grape juice for any extended time, since they had no refrigeration, and no means of canning juice, as we have today. And the common beverage with meals, in use by the people of that day, was wine. So it is certain that, though the word does not here occur, they used wine. Jesus announced that this would be His last time to drink with them of "this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."


He had told them repeatedly that He must be crucified, rise from the dead, and return to the Father.  At the beginning of this chapter He announced that this must take place during the time of this Passover season. Now He begins His farewell address to them. However He would continue this address in the place where they were wont to spend much of their time when at Jerusalem , the mount of Olives. Accordingly they sang a hymn, a song of praise to God, and went out into the mount. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all pass over the journey from where this supper was eaten to the mount of Olives, with almost no comment; but John records a quite lengthy, and very comforting talk Jesus had with His disciples before they passed over the brook Cedron.


(Verses 31 through 35) "Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee . Peter answered and said unto Him, Though all men shall be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny Me thrice. Peter said unto Him, Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee. Likewise also said all the disciples."


Surely This needs no explanation; but one observation must be made concerning it. None of us can, in his own strength, regardless of what we may think we are able to do, stand faithful to our Lord through all things. Even these disciples, not Peter only, but the other ten as well, (Judas was not with them at this time,) as Jesus told them that they would be scattered, and leave Him alone to face the wrath of the enemy, felt that nothing of this sort could take place. They were fully determined to stand by Him, even to the death. Yet when the show down came, not a one could be found to stand with Him, or speak up for Him. The Apostle Peter, the most outspoken one of the lot, did exactly what Jesus told him that he would: he three times denied Him before the crowing of the cock that very night. So we should keep in mind the Apostle Paul's admonition, "Wherefore let him that thinketh that he standeth take heed lest he fall," (1 Cor. 10:12,) and pray that God will give us the strength to stand: for we do not of ourselves have it.


In verses 36 through 46 we are given the picture of Jesus' agony in the garden of Gethsemane . When He and His disciples reached this "place called Gethsemane ," He left all of them except Peter, James, and John, and taking them with Him He went a little farther. Here He, burdened with sorrow, said to them, "My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with Me." Leaving them there He went a little farther, Luke says, "about a stone's throw," and, Matthew says, "And fell on His face and prayed." Mark says, He "fell on the ground," and Luke says, He "kneeled down." The position in which He was while praying makes little difference to us, although, considering the agony in which He was at the time, Matthew's description is probably more accurate. His prayer is the important consideration here, and though their words may differ slightly, all three agree as to the substance of that prayer. "O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt." Sometimes we think that this prayer was denied; and indeed the first portion of it was, but we need to remember that even as short as it was, this prayer was in two parts; and the last part is greater than the first. It means much more than we sometimes might think. We may be prone to think that He meant, "If You do not see fit to grant what I ask, then just withhold it, and I will be reconciled to that." It means far more. Notice what He says, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt," and in the repetition of this prayer in verse 42, "Thy will be done." The next consideration is, "What is the Father's will?" Perhaps the clearest answer to this in scripture is John 6:38-40, and this will could not be done without the participation of the Son in that for which He came into the world. After His first prayer Jesus returned to where He had left Peter, James, and John, and found them asleep. He then said to Peter, "What, could ye not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." The short prayer quoted by Matthew, Mark, and Luke, would certainly take far less than an hour. But since John mentions none of the things related by these three, but does record Jesus' intercessory prayer in Chapter 17 of his gospel, there may be a possibility that his expression, "When Jesus had spoken these words, He went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into which He entered, and His disciples," (John 18:1,) might actually belong at the beginning of Chapter 17, or even earlier: for both Matthew and Mark insist that they had gone to the mount of Olives, and therefore would have had to cross this brook, before Jesus foretold Peter's denial of Him. So, even though John is the only one who records the intercessory prayer, it seems likely that it also occurred in the garden. This would have taken somewhat more time than the short prayer recorded by the other three, and might account for the question, What, could ye not watch with Me one hour?" Be that as it may, Jesus tells them that their failure is not from a lack of desire, but from the weakness of the flesh. He then went away again, and prayed, "O My Father, if this cup may not pass from Me, except I drink it, Thy will be done." Coming back to them, He found them asleep again. So again He left them, and went back to pray the same prayer again.


According to Luke's account, at this time "there appeared an angel unto Him from heaven, strengthening Him. And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." The Greek wording is such that it could just as readily have been translated, "His sweat was like great drops of blood falling down to the ground." It was so mixed with, and colored by, His blood, that it seemed to all be just great drops of blood; and it was so profuse that it fell down to the ground. There have been a few cases recorded of men who were in such agony that this took place with them. So it seems foolish to argue, as some have, that this does not mean that He actually sweated blood, but that just the shape of the drops, or something else about them, not their color, made it be "as it were" drops of blood. For surely no man was ever in greater agony.


This time when He returned to the three sleeping disciples, Matthew tells us that He said, "Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hand of sinners." That is, "there is no need for further watching; the time is already here." Then He said, "Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray Me." It was now time for action: for the traitor was already present.


Though they all use slightly different words, all four, gospel writers give essentially the same story that Matthew records in verses 47 through 56. Mark does tell us of one who is nowhere else in scripture mentioned, but he gives no identification of him. "And there followed Him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked." (Mark 14:51-52). Men have tried to imagine who this young man was, but since imagination is of no value in the study of the word of God, and the young man is never again mentioned in scripture, we shall leave him as described. John tells us of a remarkable thing concerning this event. "Jesus therefore, knowing all things that should come upon Him, went forth, and said unto them, ‘Whom seek ye?’ They answered Him, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus saith unto them, ‘I am He.’ And Judas also, which betrayed Him, stood with them. As soon then as He had said unto them, ‘I am He,’ they went backward, and fell to the ground. Then asked He them again, ‘Whom seek ye?’ And they said, ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Jesus answered, ‘I have told you that I am He: if therefore ye seek Me, let these go their way.’" Thus none of the disciples were arrested, but were scattered, just as He had told them they would be. Also John is the one who gives us the name of the high priest's servant whose ear Peter cut off. Otherwise these accounts are very similar, and all are so clearly worded as to need no explanation, but as always, What Jesus says is worthy of extra attention.


(Verses 52 through 56) "Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword. Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to My Father, and he shall presently give Me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be? In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take Me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on Me. But all this was done that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook Him, and fled."


What Jesus said to Peter is exactly in keeping with Revelation 13:10, "He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and faith of the saints." Our warfare is not to be fought with carnal weapons. Also we must remember that Jesus had the power to obtain from the Father an army of angels larger than the army of men maintained by Rome . Yet the only way the scriptures could be fulfilled is that He submit to these things which had begun to come to pass. He then reminded those who had come out after Him that they had had all manner of opportunities to lay hands upon Him, and had made no move to do so; but now they had come out with swords and staves, as if after a thief. Luke records His saying at this point, "But this is your hour, and the power of darkness." We are often reminded that everything, which was done to our Lord "was done that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." This is also the reason why the disciples all forsook Him and fled.


There is nothing in verses 57 through 63 that needs any explanation, though all of it is of great importance. It is a simple straightforward account of the efforts of the chief priests to find false witnesses that would tell sufficient lies against Jesus to have Him condemned to death. After they found two who would give such testimony, the high priest, in a pretense of trying to determine the facts of the case, finally said to Jesus, "I adjure Thee by the living God, that Thou tell us whether Thou be the Christ, the Son of God." His mind was already made up, and it would have made little difference to him whether Jesus answered him at all, or not; but Jesus did answer. He said, "Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." This is a clear statement, not of His coming to gather His elect, but of His coming in judgment upon the wicked. That is when that high priest shall see Him. The high priest was so angered by this reply that he dispensed with any further testimony, declared Jesus guilty of blasphemy, and called for the vote of the council, who pronounced the death sentence, as they had intended to do regardless of testimony.


(Verses 67 and 68) "Then did they spit in His face, and buffeted Him; and others smote Him with the palms of their hands saying, Prophesy unto us, Thou Christ, Who is he that smote Thee?"


Matthew and Mark agree that this is the proper sequence of events, while Luke seems to set this after Peter's denial. However he does not insist upon chronological sequence. He only says, "And the men that held Jesus mocked Him, and smote Him. And when they had blindfolded Him, they struck Him on the face, and asked Him, saying, Prophesy, Who is it that smote Thee? And many other things blasphemously spake they against Him." It seems that properly this did follow the sequence stated by Matthew and Mark. This is the beginning of the fulfilling of Isaiah's prophecy. (Is. 52:14) "As many were astonied at Thee; His visage was so marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men," and (Is. 53:2-3,) "He hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised, and we esteemed Him not." Every picture painted by artists, and called a picture of the Christ, has been that of a beautiful face. Sometimes well meaning, but misinformed Christians will criticize them on the basis of these prophecies, and say that Jesus could not have had any beauty, but on the contrary had to be a very ugly person. Of course, we all know that these pictures are only the artists' imagination of how He looked; but there is a written description believed to have been written by Publius Lentulus, president of Judaea during the reign of Tiberius Caesar, which would make him a contemporary of Jesus. According to this description, Jesus must have been the most handsome man who ever walked upon this earth; and though we cannot absolutely establish the authenticity of this description, there is no reason to doubt it. The description given of Him in these prophecies is not of Him before His arrest, but of Him when He was presented to the people by Pilate. For this presentation see Matthew 27:13-24, Mark 15:12-15, Luke 23:13-24, and John 19:5-16, and keep in mind that this presentation ("when we shall see Him") was after all the terrible beatings and some of the scourgings during the time between His arrest and His being delivered to the executioners. In this one can get a little glimpse of a part of His suffering for us.


The remaining seven verses of this chapter tell us of Peter's denial of Jesus, and his bitter repentance when it was brought to his mind by the crowing of the cock. So far as the account is concerned, it could hardly be made any clearer. There are for us two very valuable lessons to be gained from this incident. The first is that when we have so hastily boasted of what we will do for the Lord, and have not considered the weakness of the flesh, we are subject to failure, just as Peter failed in what he promised. He had said to Jesus, "Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee." There is no reason to think that he did not mean what he said. He was fully determined to give his life if necessary; but the flesh was weak. We need to remember this when we begin to think that we can, or will, do so much for the Lord. We can only stand if He gives us the strength; otherwise we are nothing but failures. The next great lesson for us is that even when we fall, Jesus will bring us to repentance, as He did Peter. Matthew and Mark only mention the crowing of the cock, but Luke says, "And immediately, while he yet spake, the cock crew. And the Lord looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how He had said unto him, ‘Before the cock crow, Thou shalt deny Me thrice.’" All three agree that Peter "went out, and wept bitterly." We too may sometimes have very bitter repentance; but thanks be to the Lord for repentance, even if it is bitter.


Chapter 27

The Jews kept Jesus at the palace of the high priest until morning, and then they took Him to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. This they had to do before they could get a death sentence executed, because Rome had taken away that right from them.


Verses 3 through 10 tell us the story of Judas and the chief priests after the latter had condemned Jesus. Much has been said by many concerning Judas and his repentance, but the key to understanding the situation lies in what the scripture says about Judas, not in what someone thinks about him. In John 17:12 Jesus calls him "the son of perdition," which is exactly what the Apostle Paul calls "the man of sin" in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Here Matthew says, "Then Judas, which had betrayed Him, when he saw that He was condemned, repented himself." No mention is made of God's giving him repentance. His repentance was of himself, of man, or of the world. Since it was of the world, it worked exactly as the scripture says worldly sorrow does; "For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death." (2 Corinthians 7:10) Judas "went out and hanged himself." This incident shows, not only the pitiful condition of Judas, the traitor, but also the callousness of the chief priests. When Judas brought back the thirty pieces of silver to them, and said, "I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood," notice their answer: "What is that to us? See thou to that." It didn't bother them at all. When he threw the money down in the temple, and went and hanged himself, they gathered it up, and since they considered it unlawful to put the price of blood in the treasury, they took it and with it bought a field in which to bury strangers. "Wherefore the field was called The field of blood, unto this day." In Acts 1:18-19, Peter says that another reason for this field's being called "The Field of Blood" is that it was in this field that Judas fell headlong, and all his bowels gushed out. Matthew says that all of this is the fulfilling of Zechariah's prophecy, Zech. 11: 12-13. Although Matthew says "Jeremy", or Jeremiah, the reference is clearly to Zechariah: for there is no such quotation in Jeremiah's prophecy.


Since the remainder of this chapter is primarily a record of the proceedings from the time when Jesus was brought before Pilate until He was buried, and His tomb was sealed, though we recommend very close study of it, we find it clear enough to need very little explanation. We shall therefore comment not upon every verse, or every movement recorded, but upon certain highlights thereof.


We notice how quietly Jesus stood before Pilate while the chief priests and the elders of the Jews hurled their accusations at Him. This even astonished Pilate so that he asked Jesus if He did not hear what they had said. This is the fulfilling of the prophecy in Isaiah 42:1-4, particularly verse 2, "He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause His voice to be heard in the street." Matthew, Mark, and John, make no mention of it, but Luke says that after Jesus was brought before him, Pilate sent Him to Herod, that he might judge Him before He was brought back to Pilate for the final decree. Pilate's wife was given a dream, in which she says, "I have suffered many things _ _ _ because of Him;" and because of this dream, she sent word to Pilate, "Have thou nothing to do with that just man." There are some ancient writings purported to be the records of the trial and execution of Pilate by Tiberius Caesar, which set Pilate and his wife forth as Christians, which they may have been by that time; but there is nothing in our gospel accounts to support this. However at the time of Jesus' trial, the evidence seems to be against such, although John seems to give Pilate a little more credit for his efforts to release Jesus than do the other three writers. According to Matthew, Pilate ceremoniously washed his hands before the people, and said, "I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it." It seems that it would take quite a bit more than this to cleanse them of the blood of our Lord. The Jews, however, were satisfied with this, and gave answer to him thus: "His blood be upon us, and on our children." They are still suffering the consequences of that rash speech.


Matthew seems to indicate that this was the beginning of the terrible abuse of Jesus by the soldiers, but Luke says that it was started when He was sent to Herod, and John says that Pilate had already had Him scourged before he made his famous "Behold the man!" speech. So after He was turned over to the executioners, and Barabbas was released, the mocking, degradation, and beatings were resumed. It is no wonder Isaiah said, "His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men." After this mockery and beating had come to a close, John says, "And He bearing His cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha." But all the other three writers agree that a man named Simon, from Cyrene , was made to carry the cross. This brings us to the conclusion that Jesus, after having been so badly beaten and scourged, must have fallen under the weight of the cross as He came forth from Pilate's judgment hall, and they had to have someone else carry the cross. So the soldiers took the first stranger they could find, who was this Simon.


When they crucified Him, they unwittingly fulfilled many prophecies: perhaps, no one has ever yet determined just how many. We certainly shall not attempt to mention all of them. The first that comes to mind is Psalms 69:21. "They gave Me gall for My meat; and in My thirst they gave Me vinegar to drink." Then in Psalms 22:18, David said, "They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture." Isaiah 53:9 says, "And He made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death." The list would be almost endless. The execution squad, having finished their work, sat down to watch Jesus and those who were crucified with Him, die.


Pilate had prepared a sign, which the soldiers placed over the head of Jesus. This sign was written in all three of the common languages, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, and said "THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS." After "Jesus," John adds, "Of Nazareth," Luke omits "Jesus Of Nazareth," and Mark omits the whole clause, "This Is Jesus Of Nazareth." There were two thieves crucified with Him, one on either side. There is nothing in scripture to tell us which of the thieves asked the Lord to remember him, and none of the writers except Luke even mention the incident at all. We sometimes hear someone refer to that incident, and say that the thief on our Lord's right hand side was the one who repented. They do not get this from scripture. It comes from an ancient writing that bears the name, "The Gospel Of Nicodemus,” which some think to have been written by Nicodemus. (But that cannot be verified, and though there are some things in it that are in harmony with other scriptures, there are some that seem a little contradictory.) Matthew says that when the Jews were passing by, and mocking Jesus as He was dying, "The thieves also, which were crucified with Him, cast the same in His teeth." John makes no mention of the thieves except that they were crucified with Jesus, and that, in order that they might die more quickly, the soldiers broke their legs. Mark agrees with Matthew.


From noon until three o'clock in the afternoon, the light of the sun was cut off so that there was darkness over all the land. About three o'clock Jesus cried out, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" In the language in which Jesus spoke, the word translated, "My God," was "Eli," and some thought He was calling for "Elias," or Elijah. Again one gave Him vinegar to drink, but others wanted no interference; they were looking to see if Elijah would come, and take Him down from the cross. After another loud outcry, Jesus "gave up the ghost," that is, He died. Luke mentions nothing concerning Jesus' saying, "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?," but he does tell us what that last cry was, "Father into Thy hands I commend My Spirit," while John says, "When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, He said, It is finished: and He bowed His head, and gave up the ghost." Since John mentions this only as "He said," not "He cried," it probably followed the cry of "Father into Thy hands I commend My Spirit." The word translated, "I commend," actually means, "I place," which makes the expression somewhat stronger than we commonly understand "commend" to mean. He did indeed lay down His life, just as He said in John 10: 17-18. Now the awful deed was done: the suffering was finished. To show that there is now nothing to hinder nor obscure the way of approach through Jesus to His wonderful mercy seat and throne of grace, God caused the veil of the temple to be torn from top to bottom, opening the way into the holy of holies.


At this time there was an earthquake that broke the rocks, and opened many graves. After the resurrection of our Lord, the bodies of many of the saints who had been dead arose, went into the city, and were seen by many witnesses. There is nothing in scripture to tell us anything further about these saints who arose. Since Jesus is "the firstfruits of them that slept," and the law calls for a whole sheaf instead of one grain, for the offering of the firstfruits, possibly, He took them to heaven with Him; but, as said above, there is no scriptural proof of this.


We always expect a man's friends to give favorable testimony for him, but when an enemy gives such, we are bound to respect it. The centurion, a Roman soldier, trained in warfare, and experienced enough in the bloody scenes of battle to be placed in charge of a hundred soldiers, and charged with the execution of three men, whom he, no doubt, considered worthy of execution, when he saw the things that took place, said, "Truly this was the Son of God." Surely this is as strong testimony as man can give.


In verses 55 through 61, Matthew tells us of some who were watching this scene from a distance. Then he says that Joseph of Arimathaea went to Pilate, and asked for the body of Jesus, and after receiving the body, he took it, wrapped it in a winding sheet of clean linen, and "laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock." He rolled a large stone up to the mouth of this cave for a door, and left the tomb. When Joseph left the tomb, there were two women sitting by it. They were "Mary Magdalene, and the other Mary." This must refer back to verse 56, where he says, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses." Then looking back to Chapter 13, verse 55, we find this Mary to also be the mother of Jesus: for there we find, "Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judah?"


The remainder of this chapter tells of the futile efforts of the chief priests and Pharisees to prevent the resurrection of Jesus. They went to Pilate, and tried to get him to set a guard over the tomb, but his answer was, "Ye have a watch: go your way, and make it as sure as ye can." He had gone as far with them in the matter as he intended to go. No doubt, he felt such matters as one rising from the dead to be foolishness, and though he would not interfere with the Jews, if they wanted to set their own guard, he would not commit any of his soldiers to such projects. "So they went, and made the sepulchre sure, sealing the stone, and setting a watch."


Chapter 28

This chapter tells of the resurrection of our Lord, the false report put out about it by the Jews, and Jesus' instructions to His disciples when He met with them on a mountain in Galilee . There has long been a tendency among professed Christians to hold a sunrise service on Easter morning to commemorate the resurrection of our Lord, but this seems to be a little off in its timing. In fact, the sunrise service originated not in Christianity, but in the pagan worship of the sun god. The two Marys mentioned in the previous chapter went to the tomb, "in the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week," which is, obviously, before sunrise. Verses 2 through 4 tell what they saw. "And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: and for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men." Then verses 5 through 7 give the angel's message to them, and by them to the disciples. "And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead; and, behold, He goeth before you into Galilee ; there shall ye see Him: lo, I have told you." We have no evidence of the exact time of His rising, though it plainly was well before sunrise: for He had already arisen before the women arrived, and they got there before sunrise. In verse 8, Matthew says, "And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring His disciples word." Yes, they were in fear from having seen the angel, and what he had done; but there is no mention of their having any doubt of the truth of his message. They were so overcome with joy that they could hardly wait to share the good news with His disciples, so they ran. Yet they were to receive even greater joy.


(Verses 9 and 10) "And as they went to tell His disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held Him by the feet, and worshipped Him. Then Jesus said unto them, Be not afraid: go tell My brethren that they go into Galilee , and there shall they see Me."


Surely this needs no explanation, but what a wonderful joy must have filled the souls of the two Marys, as they went to find the disciples, and give them this amazing news! As we read this short account, it makes our hearts long for the day when we too shall see our Lord; and as an echo to John in Rev. 22:20, we are made to say, "Amen. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus."


While the women were on their mission, some of the guards went to the chief priests, and told them what had taken place. One might think that when their own guards reported, as eye witnesses, what they had seen, these Jews might start to reconsider what they had done; but no, they could not accept the testimony of their own men.


(Verses 12 through 15) "And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money to the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor's ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day."


Although the word "soldiers" is used in verse 12, it is difficult to accept these guards as Roman soldiers. First, because a Roman soldier could hardly have been bribed to say that he slept at his post, since Roman law provided only one penalty for this, DEATH; and second, because of Pilate's own words to the Jews, when they requested him to secure the tomb, "Ye have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as you can." He left it in their hands to set their own watch. The story these guards were bribed to tell, would never be acceptable to any thinking person: for the first question it would bring up is, "How do you know what happened while you were asleep?" Yet this story was circulated, and believed among the Jews, because it was what they wanted to believe, in the first place.


In obedience to Jesus' message to the disciples, they went into Galilee , to a pre-appointed meeting place on a mountain, and there Jesus met them. Even now, though they saw Him and worshipped Him, some still doubted.


(Verses 18 through 20) "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."


The first statement Jesus made to the disciples here is the most important one of all: for it is the foundation that supports the remainder of the saying. This by no means should be considered to teach that He had not previously had all power; but that according to the eternal purpose of the Father, He was not to exercise this authority among the nations until after His resurrection. This is why, when He sent forth His disciples while He was still in His earthly ministry, He said to them, "Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ," (Mat. 10:5-6,) and why He said, (Mat. 15:24,) "I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel ." While He was here in the flesh that was His theater of operation. Now He has set aside the restrictions under which He had previously bound Himself, and has taken His power over all in both heaven and earth. Therefore the restrictions He formerly placed upon His disciples no longer apply. They can go anywhere in the world that the Spirit may direct. That this does not mean that they are to go anywhere they may desire to go and preach is clearly shown in Acts 16:6-10. There we are told that Paul, being forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia, tried to go into Bithynia , and the Spirit would not permit him to do so. Then he was called in a night vision to go to Macedonia . So we see that, although Jesus made no mention of it at this time, the Holy Ghost is the only One Who can send a person to preach the gospel. No man, no church, and no organization of any kind has that authority. This so-called "Great Commission" is nothing more nor less than the removing of the restrictions placed earlier upon the disciples. As we go, even today, we are to preach the gospel wherever the Holy Ghost provides for us the opportunity, and to whomsoever we meet. It is not our business to be selective in the matter. Leave the selection to the Lord. We are to baptize in one name only, "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." He did not say "names:" there is only One, the Triune God. Neither are we to baptize in the name of a church, a denomination, or any other organization. Not long ago we heard a minister, while baptizing a brother, begin his declaration thus: "By the authority vested in me by ____ church, I baptize you_ _ _." This is totally out of place. If he is baptizing by the authority vested in him by any church, he does not have the authority to baptize, as a gospel minister ought. That authority must come from Him, Who called us, and not from the church: for there is no scriptural statement, or hint, that the church has such authority. Then those who are baptized are to be taught, and this teaching must be by both precept and example; and the substance of the teaching is "to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." Though we may sometimes interpret some things in God's word correctly, my interpretation, your interpretation, or someone else's interpretation, is not to be taken as a standard. The standard is "all things whatsoever I have commanded you." If we do this, we need never fear: for He says, "And, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." The literal translation is, "And, lo, I am with you all the days until the consummation of the age." This is, of course, the gospel age. To this Matthew adds his "Amen."


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