Summary: In these conversations Jesus addresses issues related to His impending death and burial, His betrayal by a close friend, Peter’s soon-to-fail self-confidence, our great need to watch and pray, and a reaffirmation of His identity as the Son of God.
Matthew 26:7-12 A woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.”
•• “very expensive perfume” — John 12:5 calls the value “a day’s wages”!
•• Some thoughts:
(1) To the onlookers, it seemed an excessive gesture: “Why this waste?” But Jesus saw it as “a beautiful thing done to me.”
• There can be nothing considered excessive in total devotion to Jesus!
(2) Priorities — The poor are important, but Jesus is indeed more important. She had done nothing wrong by pouring this ointment on Jesus rather than giving its value to the poor.
(3) “to prepare [Him] for burial” — although the disciples were slow to comprehend, Jesus consistently and clearly predicted to them His coming death.
Matthew 26:20-25 When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table [for Passover] with the Twelve. And while they were eating, he said, “I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.” They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely not I, Lord?” Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray 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.” Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely not I, Rabbi?” Jesus answered, “Yes, it is you.”
•• The worst betrayals are by those closest to you! — “the one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me”.
•• In the midst of major religious celebration (here, Passover), there can still be those turning from the Lord.
• I recall during the height of the great Charismatic Movement in the 1970s nevertheless seeing a discouraging number of believers turn away from serving the Lord. Revival is no guarantee that the participants will steadfastly continue on in their walk with the Lord. It must be a personal, determined decision.
•• I find it interesting that Jesus did not try privately to counsel Judas out of his problem.
• I believe that it is possible in our 21st-century churches to over-counsel the saints and to be negligent by failing to exhort them to continue in the faith. I see Jesus, the apostle Paul, and other bible ministers doing very little personal counseling, but lots of teaching and exhortation.
•• “Woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man!” Purpose in your heart that you will never, never abandon your heartfelt dedication to Jesus.
Matthew 26:30-35 ...(31) Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ ... (33) Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.” “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
•• To His disciples Jesus said, “You will all fall away”! In our walk with the Lord there is no room for self-confidence like Peter’s “I never will!”
• 1 Corinthians 10:12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!
•• “...fall away on account of me” — It’s not just the world, the flesh, and the devil that cause Christians to fall.
• Persecution because of both our Christian faith and the upright stands that we take can intimidate us and lead to falling away.
Matthew 26:36, 40-45 Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” ... (40) Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
•• (1) Gethsemane! Crisis times are times for prayer.
•• (2) “...not keep watch...for one hour?” Jesus was surprised that they could not remain in a prayerful attitude for even one hour.
•• (4) “Are you still sleeping?... Look, the hour is near.” Difficult times, faith-trying times, are times for prayer, not for drowsiness and inattention.
•• (5) Jesus prayed three times, “saying the same thing.” This was importunity, the same persistence in prayer that Jesus had previously encouraged in His teachings (Luke 11:1, 5-10; Luke 18:1-6).
• Don’t fall for the biblically incorrect teaching that says, “If you pray for something more than once, that’s not showing faith.” Jesus prayed three times in a row for the same thing! And He certainly had plenty of faith.
Matthew 26:57, 63-65 Those who had arrested Jesus took him to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the teachers of the law and the elders had assembled.... (63b) The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy!
•• “[Are you] the Christ, the Son of God” “Yes, it is as you say.” There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind; He knew who He was.
•• He also claimed His rightful place at the side of God the Father, “the Mighty One.”
•• And He predicted His Second Coming — “You will see [me] ... coming on the clouds of heaven.”
•• “He has spoken blasphemy!” No doubt it would have been blasphemy, unless He was indeed the Son of God! And He is!