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26. Plot Against Jesus

1And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these words, he said unto his disciples, 2Ye know that after two days the passover cometh, and the Son of man is delivered up to be crucified. 3Then were gathered together the chief priests, and the elders of the people, unto the court of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas; 4and they took counsel together that they might take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him. 5But they said, Not during the feast, lest a tumult arise among people.

6Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7there came unto him a woman having an alabaster cruse of exceeding precious ointment, and she poured it upon his head, as he sat at meat. 8But when the disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? 9For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. 10But Jesus perceiving it said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me. 11For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. 12For in that she poured this ointment upon my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, that also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.

14Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15and said, What are ye willing to give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they weighed unto him thirty pieces of silver. 16And from that time he sought opportunity to deliver him unto them.

17Now on the first day of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, Where wilt thou that we make ready for thee to eat the passover? 18And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Teacher saith, My time is at hand; I keep the passover at thy house with my disciples. 19And the disciples did as Jesus appointed them; and they made ready the passover.

20Now when even was come, he was sitting at meat with the twelve disciples; 21and as they were eating, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. 22And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began to say unto him every one, Is it I, Lord? 23And he answered and said, He that dipped his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me. 24The Son of man goeth, even as it is written of him: but woe unto that man through whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had not been born. 25And Judas, who betrayed him, answered and said, Is it I, Rabbi? He saith unto him, Thou hast said.

26And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it; and he gave to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body. 27And he took a cup, and gave thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; 28for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins. 29But I say unto you, I shall not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom.

30And when they had sung a hymn, they went out unto the mount of Olives.

31Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended in me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad. 32But after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee. 33But Peter answered and said unto him, If all shall be offended in thee, I will never be offended. 34Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, that this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. 35Peter saith unto him, Even if I must die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

36Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto his disciples, Sit ye here, while I go yonder and pray. 37And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and sore troubled. 38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: abide ye here, and watch with me. 39And he went forward a little, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass away from me: nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42Again a second time he went away, and prayed, saying, My Father, if this cannot pass away, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43And he came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44And he left them again, and went away, and prayed a third time, saying again the same words. 45Then cometh he to the disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46Arise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that betrayeth me.

47And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priest and elders of the people. 48Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that is he: take him. 49And straightway he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, Rabbi; and kissed him. 50And Jesus said unto him, Friend, do that for which thou art come. Then they came and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. 51And behold, one of them that were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and smote the servant of the high priest, and struck off his ear. 52Then saith Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into its place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. 53Or thinkest thou that I cannot beseech my Father, and he shall even now send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54How then should the scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be? 55In that hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a robber with swords and staves to seize me? I sat daily in the temple teaching, and ye took me not. 56But all this is come to pass, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples left him, and fled.

57And they that had taken Jesus led him away to the house of Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. 58But Peter followed him afar off, unto the court of the high priest, and entered in, and sat with the officers, to see the end. 59Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false witness against Jesus, that they might put him to death; 60and they found it not, though many false witnesses came. But afterward came two, 61and said, This man said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. 62And the high priest stood up, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 63But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of God. 64Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven. 65Then the high priest rent his garments, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy: what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard the blasphemy: 66what think ye? They answered and said, He is worthy of death. 67Then did they spit in his face and buffet him: and some smote him with the palms of their hands, 68saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ: who is he that struck thee?

69Now Peter was sitting without in the court: and a maid came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilaean. 70But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. 71And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and saith unto them that were there, This man also was with Jesus of Nazareth. 72And again he denied with an oath, I know not the man. 73And after a little while they that stood by came and said to Peter, Of a truth thou also art one of them; for thy speech maketh thee known. 74Then began he to curse and to swear, I know not the man. And straightway the cock crew. 75And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.

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The Treachery of Judas Foretold.

17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?   18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.   19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.   20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.   21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.   22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?   23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.   24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.   25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

We have here an account of Christ's keeping the passover. Being made under the law, he submitted to all the ordinances of it, and to this among the rest; it was kept in remembrance of Israel's deliverance out of Egypt, the birth-day of that people; it was a tradition of the Jews, that in the days of the Messiah they should be redeemed on the very day of their coming out of Egypt; and it was exactly fulfilled, for Christ died the day after the passover, in which day they began their march.

I. The time when Christ ate the passover, was the usual time appointed by God, and observed by the Jews (v. 17); the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, which that year happened on the fifth day of the week, which is our Thursday. Some have advanced a suggestion, that our Lord Jesus celebrated the passover at this time of day sooner than other people did; but the learned Dr. Whitby has largely disproved it.

II. The place where, was particularly appointed by himself to the disciples, upon their enquiry (v. 17); they asked, Where wilt thou that we prepare the passover? Perhaps Judas was one of those that asked this question (where he would eat the passover,) that he might know the better how to lay his train; but the rest of the disciples asked it as usual, that they might do their duty.

1. They took it for granted that their Master would eat the passover, though he was at this time persecuted by the chief priests, and his life sought; they knew that he would not be put by his duty, either by frightenings without or fears within. Those do not follow Christ's example who make it an excuse for their not attending on the Lord's supper, our gospel passover, that they have many troubles and many enemies, are full of care and fear; for, if so, they have the more need of that ordinance, to help to silence their fears, and comfort them under their troubles, to help them in forgiving their enemies, and casting all their cares on God.

2. They knew very well that there must be preparation made for it, and that it was their business, as his servants, to make preparation; Where wilt thou that we prepare? Note, Before solemn ordinances there must be solemn preparation.

3. They knew that he had no house of his own wherein to eat the passover; in this, as in other things, for our sakes he became poor. Among all Zion's palaces there was none for Zion's King; but his kingdom was not of this world. See John i. 11.

4. They would not pitch upon a place without direction from him, and from him they had direction; he sent them to such a man (v. 18), who probably was a friend and follower of his, and to his house he invited himself and his disciples.

(1.) Tell him, My time is at hand; he means the time of his death, elsewhere called his hour (John viii. 20; xiii. 1); the time, the hour, fixed in the counsel of God, which his heart was upon, and which he had so often spoken of. He knew when it was at hand, and was busy accordingly; we know not our time (Eccl. ix. 12), and therefore must never be off our watch; our time is always ready (John vii. 6), and therefore we must be always ready. Observe, Because his time was at hand, he would keep the passover Note, The consideration of the near approach of death should quicken us to a diligent improvement of all our opportunities for our souls. Is our time at hand, and an eternity just before us? Let us then keep the feast with the unleavened bread of sincerity. Observe, When our Lord Jesus invited himself to this good man's house, he sent him this intelligence, that his time was at hand. Note, Christ's secret is with them that entertain him in their hearts. Compare John xiv. 21 with Rev. iii. 20.

(2.) Tell him, I will keep the passover at thy house. This was an instance of his authority, as the Master, which it is likely this man acknowledged; he did not beg, but command, the use of his house for this purpose. Thus, when Christ by his Spirit comes into the heart, he demands admission, as one whose own the heart is and cannot be denied, and he gains admission as one who has all power in the heart and cannot be resisted; if he saith, "I will keep a feast in such a soul," he will do it; for he works, and none can hinder; his people shall be willing, for he makes them so. I will keep the passover with my disciples. Note, Wherever Christ is welcome, he expects that his disciples should be welcome too. When we take God for our God, we take his people for our people.

III. The preparation was made by the disciples (v. 19); They did as Jesus had appointed. Note, Those who would have Christ's presence with them in the gospel passover, must strictly observe his instructions, and do as he directs; They made ready the passover; they got the lamb killed in the court of the temple, got it roasted, the bitter herbs provided, bread and wine, the cloth laid, and every thing set in readiness for such a sacred solemn feast.

IV. They ate the passover according to the law (v. 20); He sat down, in the usual table-gesture, not lying on one side, for it was not easy to eat, nor possible to drink, in that posture, but sitting upright, though perhaps sitting low. It is the same word that is used for his posture at other meals, ch. ix. 10; Luke vii. 37; ch. xxvi. 7. It was only the first passover in Egypt, as most think, that was eaten with their loins girded, shoes on their feet, and staff in their hand, though all that might be in a sitting posture. His sitting down, denotes the composedness of his mind, when he addressed himself to this solemnity; He sat down with the twelve, Judas not excepted. By the law, they were to take a lamb for a household (Exod. xii. 3, 4), which were to be not less than ten, nor more than twenty; Christ's disciples were his household. Note, They whom God has charged with families, must have their houses with them in serving the Lord.

V. We have here Christ's discourse with his disciples at the passover-supper. The usual subject of discourse at that ordinance, was the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt (Exod. xii. 26, 27); but the great Passover is now ready to be offered, and the discourse of that swallows up all talk of the other, (Jer. xvi. 14, 15). Here is,

1. The general notice Christ gives his disciples of the treachery that should be among them (v. 21); One of you shall betray me. Observe, (1.) Christ knew it. We know not what troubles will befal us, nor whence they will arise: but Christ knew all his, which, as it proves his omniscience, so it magnifies his love, that he knew all things that should befal him, and yet did not draw back. He foresaw the treachery and baseness of a disciple of his own, and yet went on; took care of those that were given him, though he knew there was a Judas among them; would pay the price of our redemption, though he foresaw some would deny the Lord that bought them; and shed his blood, though he knew it would be trodden under foot as an unholy thing. (2.) When there was occasion, he let those about him know it. He had often told them that the Son of man should be betrayed; now he tells them that one of them should do it, that when they saw it, they might not only be the less surprised, but have their faith in him confirmed, John xiii. 19; xiv. 29.

2. The disciples' feelings on this occasion, v. 22. How did they take it?

(1.) They were exceeding sorrowful. [1.] It troubled them much to hear that their Master should be betrayed. When Peter was first told of it, he said, Be it far from thee; and therefore it must needs be a great trouble to him and the rest of them, to hear that it was very near to him. [2.] It troubled them more to hear that one of them should do it. It would be a reproach to the fraternity, for an apostle to prove a traitor, and this grieved them; gracious souls grieve for the sins of others, especially of those that have made a more than ordinary profession of religion. 2 Cor. xi. 29. [3.] It troubled them most of all, that they were left at uncertainty which of them it was, and each of them was afraid for himself, lest, as Hazael speaks (2 Kings viii. 13), he was the dog that should do this great thing. Those that know the strength and subtlety of the tempter, and their own weakness and folly, cannot but be in pain for themselves, when they hear that the love of many will wax cold.

(2.) They began every one of them to say, Lord, is it I?

[1.] They were not apt to suspect Judas. Though he was a thief, yet, it seems, he had carried it so plausibly, that those who were intimate with him, were not jealous of him: none of them so much as looked upon him, much less said, Lord, is it Judas? Note, It is possible for a hypocrite to go through the world, not only undiscovered, but unsuspected; like bad money so ingeniously counterfeited that nobody questions it.

[2.] They were apt to suspect themselves; Lord, is it I? Though they were not conscious to themselves of any inclination that way (no such thought had ever entered into their mind), yet they feared the worst, and asked Him who knows us better than we know ourselves, Lord, is it I? Note, It well becomes the disciples of Christ always to be jealous over themselves with a godly jealousy, especially in trying times. We know not how strongly we may be tempted, nor how far God may leave us to ourselves, and therefore have reason, not to be high-minded, but fear. It is observable that our Lord Jesus, just before he instituted the Lord's supper, put his disciples upon this trial and suspicion of themselves, to teach us to examine and judge ourselves, and so to eat of that bread, and drink of that cup.

3. Further information given them concerning this matter (v. 23, 24), where Christ tells them, (1.) That the traitor was a familiar friend; He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, that is, One of you that are now with me at the table. He mentions this, to make the treachery appear the more exceeding sinful. Note, External communion with Christ in holy ordinances is a great aggravation of our falseness to him. It is base ingratitude to dip with Christ in the dish, and yet betray him. (2.) That this was according to the scripture, which would take off the offence at it. Was Christ betrayed by a disciple? So it was written (Ps. lxi. 9); He that did eat bread with me, hath lifted up his heel against me. The more we see of the fulfilling of the scripture in our troubles, the better we may bear them. (3.) That it would prove a very dear bargain to the traitor; Woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed. This he said, not only to awaken the conscience of Judas, and bring him to repent, and revoke his bargain, but for warning to all others to take heed of sinning like Judas; though God can serve his own purposes by the sins of men, that doth not make the sinner's condition the less woeful; It had been good for that man, if he had not been born. Note, The ruin that attends those who betray Christ, is so great, that it were more eligible by far not be at all than to be thus miserable.

4. The conviction of Judas, v. 25. (1.) He asked, Is it I? to avoid coming under the suspicion of guilt by his silence. He knew very well that it was he, and yet wished to appear a stranger to such a plot. Note, Many whose consciences condemn them are very industrious to justify themselves before men, and put a good face on it, with, Lord, is it I? He could not but know that Christ knew, and yet trusted so much to his courtesy, because he had hitherto concealed it, that he had the impudence to challenge him to tell: or, perhaps, he was so much under the power of infidelity, that he imagined Christ did not know it, as those who said, The Lord shall not see (Ps. xciv. 7), and asked, Can he judge through the dark clouds? (2.) Christ soon answered this question; Thou hast said, that is, It is as thou hast said. This is not spoken out so plainly as Nathan's Thou art the man; but it was enough to convict him, and, if his heart had not been wretchedly hardened, to have broken the neck of his plot, when he saw it discovered to his Master, and discovered by him. Note, They who are contriving to betray Christ, will, some time or other, betray themselves, and their own tongues will fall upon them.