with Alan Bailey
Welcome to this Bible Study. Read what I have written slowly. If you have a Bible look up the reference verses given, and allow the Holy Spirit to minister to your soul through them.
Each of the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), explain the events before, during and after the crucifixion. Mark has told us of the cleansing of the temple, the withered fig tree, Jesus’ answers to the questions of the Pharisees and others, His message about His second coming and the anointing at Bethany. Now we look at the last couple of days before His death.
Verses 10 & 11 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand Him over.
The treachery of Judas is hard for us to understand. Having been with the band of disciples for three years he saw the extraordinary nature of Jesus. He must have known the intentions of the Jewish leaders yet he was willing to hand Him over. Perhaps he was annoyed that Jesus was not proving to be the political reformer he had hoped he would be. Perhaps his love of money was powerful. Whatever the case, he was responsible for a foul deed.
Verse 12 On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked Him “Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?”
This feast was an annual celebration. It was put in place way back in the days the Hebrews were in Egypt and made their escape. God had moved His hand against Egypt and was about to cause the death of all their first-born. The Hebrews were to sacrifice a lamb and place blood on their doorways and when the destroying angel saw it, he would pass over them. So it became an event that was remembered through the Passover Feast.
Verses 13-15 So He sent two of His disciples, telling them,”Go into the city and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.
Jesus had loyal friends apart from His disciples. We don’t meet them but they are there. (Think of those who supplied the donkey for Jesus to ride into Jerusalem.) Also, think of His ability to describe what his disciples would see when they went into the city. There are no emergencies with Jesus. All is under control, even the awful events that lie immediately ahead.
Verses 16-18 The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. While they were reclining at the table eating, He said “I tell you the truth, one of you shall betray me—one who is eating with me.”
The scene is one that artists down through the years have depicted and entitled The Last Supper. Many have them seated as we would sit, but in fact they reclined on their elbows. Very relaxed. But here is a bombshell. To eleven of the disciples the idea of betrayal was unthinkable. Especially when it was one of their own number. Why would anyone do such a thing!
Verses 19-21 They were saddened, and one by one they said to Him, “Surely not I?” “It is one of the Twelve,” He replied, “one who dips bread into the bowl with me. The Son of Man will go just as it is written about Him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.”
We notice that each disciple cautiously denies any possibility of guilt. Did Judas also deny? Yes, he said what the others did. This is found in Matthew 26: 25. We can imagine that he must have felt a devastating feeling of alarm about what he was doing and the unknown consequences he was being warned about. The betrayal is especially despicable in the light of his fellowship with Jesus in a Feast.
Verses 22-24 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave to His disciples, saying, “Take it; this is my body.” Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it. “This is the blood of the covenant which is poured out for many,” He said.
In doing this, Jesus put in place the Christian feast we call the Lord’s Supper. He was giving us symbols that show what He was doing in dying in our place. The bread represented His body given, the wine His blood poured out. In Luke 22:19 we read the words “Do this in remembrance of me.” This is why Christians regularly celebrate the Lord’s Supper.
We should note that according to John, Judas left the group during this period and went out into the night (John 13:30).
Verses 25 & 26 “I tell you the truth, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God.” When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
In so saying, Jesus was looking forward to the future kingdom when He will be acknowledged as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. All who belong to Him will join in and partake of the new order of things. We will read in the next chapter, verse 23, that He was offered sour wine at the time of crucifixion but that He refused to take it.
Even in this sad time, they raised their voices in praise to God. The Mount of Olives was at the side of the city of Jerusalem.
Verses 27 & 28 “You will all fall away,” Jesus told them, “for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
Jesus now speaks further about the future. He foresees the disciples failing in loyalty and dropping out as things become harder. The quote about the shepherd and the sheep is from the Old Testament prophet Zechariah (13:7). The Lord makes it clear that He was about to rise from death and meet His disciples later in the Galilee area.
Verses 29-31 Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “today-yes, tonight- before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.
Peter tended to argue at times but it is not wise to argue with Jesus. He knew His men and He knew the pressure they would be soon be under. When the danger shows up, very often our resolve melts away. We are about to see how it all unfolds.
As we see the disciples of Jesus coming to a severe test, We should ask ourselves what loyalty we would show when things looked bad. Most disciples failed the test. Judas did worse and Peter fell heavily.
In godless company, are we inclined to betray Jesus? Or at least to deny knowing Him? Are we ashamed to own Him before our fellow man? All worth praying about.