II. THE PASSION, DEATH AND RESURRECTION 26-28
1. The Last Supper 26, 1-35
From here one, agreement
between all three Synoptic Gospels is even greater than it is in the narrative of our Lord's Public Ministry. It seems
probable, therefore, that in the early oral catechesis of the Apostles the account of Christ's passion, death and resurrection
was considered as a special narrative, partly independent of the account of His preaching and miracles. Most of the
events that are here narrated in the first three Gospels are paralleled, in a broad sense, in the Fourth Gospel also.
St. John, however, rather presupposes the account of the Synoptic Gospels as known to his readers and supplements it with
new items of his own. There are certain seeming discrepancies between the Synoptic Gospels on the one hand and the Fourth
Gospel on the other, especially in regard to chronology. It seems that all four Gospels count time according to the
Jewish method of reckoning, i.e., the day considered as a period of twenty-four hours begins at sunset. Therefore in
all four Gospels the Last Supper takes place, strictly speaking, on the same day on which Christ died; the preparations for
it are made on the previous day. All four Gospels agree that our Lord died on a Friday at about three o'clock in the
afternoon. According to the Synoptic Gospels this Friday would seem to have been the great feast of the Passover, at
the beginning of which, that is, on the preceding evening according to our way of reckoning, the Passover Supper was eaten.
But according to the Fourth Gospel this Friday was the day before the Passover (cf. John 13, 1 f; 18, 28;
19, 14.31). Astronomical calculations (the date of Passover was determined by the moon) confirm the correctness
of the Fourth Gospel. During the whole period of Pilate's governorship (26-32 A.D.) no Passover could have fallen on
a Friday; but there were two years when it fell on a Saturday: 30 A.D. (April 8) and 33 A.D. (April 4). We have good
reasons from extra-biblical sources for believing that at the time of Christ, when the Passover fell on Saturday, many anticipated
the Passover Supper by one day. (See Lagrange, The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Vol. II, p. 193 f.) According
to the Synoptic Gospels Christ also seems to have done so.
1. The conclusion
of the preceding discourse according to the usual formula of the First Gospel. 2.
This brief prediction of the Crucifixion is only in Matthew. After two days: we would say, "The day after tomorrow."
Since Christ is apparently speaking of the Passover as the day on which He would eat the Passover Supper, i.e., Friday
according to the Jewish way of reckoning time, this prediction of His crucifixion was made on Wednesday.
3-5: The Council. Parallels in Mark 14, 1 f and Luke 22, 1 f. 3.
Then refers to the day mentioned in 2, as is certain from Mark. This meeting therefore took place on Wednesday.
The chief priests and the elders: Mark and Luke mention the Scribes also; therefore members of all three sections
of the Sanhedrin were present. However, this was probably not an official session of that body but rather a private
meeting of its leaders. 4. They had already decided to put Jesus to death (cf. John
11, 53). They were now discussing ways and means of arresting Him secretly, for an attempt to seize Him while
He was publicly teaching in the temple would have caused a riot among the people. 5.
Since there were so many Galileans at Jerusalem for the Passover, the Council finally decided, no doubt with reluctance, to
postpone the arrest of Jesus until the feast and its octave was over. But the offer made by the traitor Judas led them
to change their plans.
26, 6-13: The Anointing at Bethany.
Parallels in Mark 14, 3-9 and John 12, 1-8. Luke omits this, probably because he has already (in 7,
36 ff) given an account of a somewhat similar but certainly distinct anointing of Jesus. The anointing at Bethany took
place on the day before Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, as John 12, 1.12 explicitly states. Matthew
and Mark place this event in connection with the meeting of the Council and with the treason of Judas probably in order to
show that this incident completely embittered Judas against his Master and so led to his treason. But strange to say,
it is only the Fourth Gospel that mentions Judas by name as one of those disciples who were indignant at the seeming waste
of the precious ointment. Perhaps the intimate connection between this anointing and the burial of Jesus led to the
transference of this event from its proper chronological place to its present incorporation in the account of Christ's Passion.
Simon the leper: he must have been cured of his leprosy or he could not have acted as host. "Simon" was a very
common name at that time; it was by a purely accidental coincidence that the Pharisee in whose house Jesus was anointed by
the penitent woman also bore the name of Simon (cf. Luke 7, 40 ff). 7. We
know from John that his woman was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Precious ointment:
Judas estimated its value as worth three hundred denarii (cf. Mark and John), a very large sum indeed, since one denarius
was the ordinary daily wage of a laborer (cf. 20, 2). 8 f. John tells us
that these words were spoken by Judas. But the other indignant disciples shared his sentiments, although they were no
doubt sincere in their intention of having the money given to the poor. 10. The disciples
were evidently trying to stop the woman, at least by rebuking her; cf. Mark: "And they grumbled at her." What this good
turn consisted in is explained in 12. 11. Cf. Deut. 15, 11. Christ
is simply stating a fact; His words should not be abused as an argument against honest efforts to banish poverty from the
world as far as possible. The special circumstances, i.e., the close proximity of our Lord's death and burial justify
this lavish expenditure. 12. The ancients considered a decent burial with proper
anointing of the body to be of great importance. Because there was no time to wash and anoint the body of Jesus on Good
Friday evening, the women postponed this act of piety until the end of the Sabbath (cf. Mark 15, 46; 16,
1). But Christ had then already risen without having received this intended anointing. Hence the great importance
of this anticipated anointing of Christ's body by Mary of Bethany. 13. Mary's deed
merits immortal fame not merely because of its intrinsic goodness (any other good deed done to Christ would merit the same),
but because of its prophetic nature, i.e., it foretold the fact that Christ was soon to be buried without being anointed after
death. We need not suppose, however, that Mary understood all this.
The Betrayal. Parallels in Mark 14, 10 f and Luke 22, 3-6. Judas made his offer to
the chief priests probably on the same day that the Council met (3-5), i.e., on Wednesday of Holy Week. Some think that
16 implies a longer period. But the Council would hardly have come to its first decision (5) if Judas had already made
his proposal. Matthew alone mentions the amount of money that Judas received (cf. also 27, 3). By a "piece
of silver" is here meant the Jewish "shekel," the equivalent of the stater which was worth four denarii. They counted
out is correct according to the sense, for the money given to Judas was undoubtedly in coins; but the Greek means literally
"they weighed"; for the whole sentence is a quotation from Zach. 11, 12. According to Mark and Luke the money
was merely promised to Judas on this occasion. Probably it was set aside for him on this day and handed over to him
as soon as Jesus was delivered into their hands. Moreover, in Mark and Luke the money does not play a prominent role
in the betrayal. Possibly Judas' question, as given in 15 was merely a cloak to hide his real motives. It is true
that Judas was certainly avaricious (cf. John 12, 6) and no doubt avarice played an important part in the betrayal.
But the popular notion that Judas sold Christ merely out of avarice is difficult to reconcile with other known facts of the
case. For if avarice were his sole motive, why should remorse have induced him to throw this money away when he saw
that Jesus was condemned to death? Moreover, thirty pieces of silver were a comparatively small sum.
As treasurer of the Apostolic band Judas could probably have purloined much more than that during every month of our Lord's
Ministry. This was the amount of indemnity, determined by the Law, which a man had to pay who was responsible for the
accidental death of another's slave (cf. Ex. 21, 32). Probably the chief priests, out of hypocritical scruples,
felt that this was the minimum they should pay Judas for the death of his Master. But Judas was invaluable to them.
Without his assistance they could not have arrested Christ. If Judas were acting solely out of avarice, he could have
demanded a much higher price and he would have received it. A few prefer to explain the treachery of Judas as motivated
by sheer malice and hatred for Jesus. It is true that Judas had long since lost faith in Christ (cf. John 6,
65.71); but this theory also fails to explain his later remorse (cf. 27, 3 ff). Another unsatisfactory theory
seeks to lessen the malice of Judas by explaining his action as based on a desire to hasten the crisis and force Jesus to
proclaim Himself the Messias according to the popular conceptions of that dignity; when Judas saw that this plan had failed,
it was supposedly out of true but misguided affection for his Master that he committed suicide. But this theory, besides
being entirely unknown to tradition, is opposed to Christ's strong condemnation of Judas' treason (cf. 24). One thing
that is certain is that Judas acted under the instigation of the devil (cf. Luke 22, 3; John 13, 2.27).
His true motives are known only to God and to Satan.
26, 17-19: Preparation.
Parallels in Mark 14, 12-16 and Luke 22, 7-13. 17. The first
day of Unleavened Bread was originally equivalent to the first day of the Passover and its octave, i.e., the fifteenth
of Nisan, at the beginning of which the Passover meal was eaten; but in order to insure the absence of all leaven and leavened
bread at the feast, the Rabbis ordained that all leaven had to be out of the house by the morning of the previous day, i.e.,
the fourteenth of Nisan, the day on which the Passover lambs were sacrificed. Thus at the time of Christ the fourteenth
of Nisan became known as "the first day of the Unleavened Bread" (cf. Mark and Luke). It was sometime on Thursday
when the Apostles spoke these words. To eat the Passover means to eat the famous meal prescribed as a memorial
of the flight from Egypt (cf. Ex. 12). 18. A certain man: the Greek
is equivalent to our "Mr. So-and-so"; i.e., Christ named or described this man but the Evangelist does not identify him; cf.
the directions which Christ gave Peter and John on how they should find this man's house, as recorded by Mark and Luke.
Evidently this man was a disciple of Christ. According to tradition his house, now known as "the cenacle," became the
headquarters and first church of the Apostles in Jerusalem. Jesus meant My time as the time for Him to establish
His kingdom by His death and resurrection. Keeping the Passover is equivalent to "eating the Passover" of 17.
20-25: The Betrayer. Parallels in Mark 14, 17-21; Luke 22, 14.21-23 and John 13,
21-30. In Luke the order of events at the Last Supper is different from that of Matthew and Mark. Thus, in the
Third Gospel the denunciation of the Betrayer is mentioned after the institution of the Holy Eucharist. But, as is shown
in the Commentary on Luke, the order of events at the Last Supper as recorded in the Third Gospel is not always strictly chronological.
20. At their festive banquets the Jews at this time followed the custom of the Greeks and Romans who
reclined at table, i.e., lay on their side upon couches, supporting the head with the left hand and eating with the
right. From the description in the Fourth Gospel it seems that Jesus lay facing towards John, while John was perhaps
in the same position in regard to Peter; Judas lay on the other side of Jesus, while some other Apostle lay on the other side
of Judas. These five occupied the broad couch in the center, the other eight Apostles in two groups of four each occupying
the two side couches. From this arrangement of the table in the form of a square U the dining-room at that time was
known as the "triclinium," i.e., the three-couch room. 21. While they were eating:
this episode evidently took place near the end of the meal; the institution of the Holy Eucharist took place "after the
supper" (Luke). 22. Although each of the Apostles probably felt some apprehension
of the possibility of his own personal guilt, yet their question had rather the sense of self-justification, "It is not I,
is it, Lord?" 23. Apparently this sign by which the traitor might be known, was given
only to John and perhaps through him to Peter, for it seems from the Fourth Gospel that the other Apostles were ignorant of
the identity of the traitor at the time that Judas left. He who dips his hand with me in the dish should be
understood as the same sign as "He for whom I shall dip the bread and give it to him" (John); the latter gives the more exact
description of the action. Cf. Ps. 40, 10. 24. Goes his way, as
it is written of him, i.e., goes to His destiny, His death, as if foretold in the Prophets, especially Isa. 53.
25. Christ's answer must have been whispered to Judas, so that the other Apostles did not hear it.
Judas left immediately, as soon as he was sure that Jesus knew of his treachery (cf. John 13, 30).
26-29: The Holy Eucharist. Parallels in Mark 14, 22-25; Luke 22, 18-20; and 1
Cor. 11, 23-25. While all these four accounts are in substantial agreement, there are certain minor differences
between them even in regard to Christ's words. These differences are probably due to the fact that this action of our
Lord was repeated from the beginning at least once a week in every Christian community; thus there naturally arose certain
minor variants which are reproduced in these four accounts. Luke's account is very similar to that of 1 Cor.,
while Mark's phraseology is much closer to Matthew's. 26. While they were at
supper: i.e., "While they were eating" (Mark; the same Greek expression is used in both Gospels); contrast this with
"after the supper" (Luke), "after he had supped" (1 Cor.; the same Greek expression in both instances) in regard
to the cup of wine. Either the consecration of the bread and that of the wine were separated by an appreciable interval
at the Last Supper, their present close juncture in the Mass being a liturgical adaptation, or both temporal expressions are
more or less synonymous, signifying "at the end of the meal." Bread: more exactly "a loaf." Gave
it: i.e., the loaf of bread broken into pieces. The symbolism of "the breaking of the bread" is explained according
to the reading of many manuscripts in 1 Cor., "This is my body that is broken for you," i.e., that is broken with
suffering on the cross as a sacrifice for you; cf. the words of the consecration of the cup. The word blessed
is synonymous with the phrase gave thanks, both expressions referring to the unrecorded prayer of Christ in which
He thanked His heavenly Father for His gifts and called down the divine blessing upon this food and drink. This prayer
of Christ is no doubt substantially repeated in the prayers of the Canon of the Mass, beginning with the Preface. The
simple, direct statement, "This is my body" cannot possible be understood in a figurative sense. Even many
modern rationalists now admit that Christ meant these words in the sense in which they have always been understood in the
Catholic Church, although these critics, of course, deny Him the divine power of actually doing what He said He was doing,
i.e., truly giving His disciples His body as food under the appearance of bread. In theological language this change
of the substance of bread into the substance of Christ's body is known as Transubstantiation. 27
f. The cup contained wine, as is certain from 29. What has just been said of the bread applies
also to the change of the wine into Christ's blood. Cf. also 1 Cor. 10, 16. The word new
before covenant is missing in the best manuscripts of Matthew and Mark; it occurs, however, in all manuscripts of
Luke and 1 Cor.; cf. Jer. 31, 31; Heb. 7, 22; 8, 6; 12, 24. Jesus is certainly
alluding to Ex. 24, 8; cf. Heb. 9, 15-22. By these words Christ shows that this action of His
at the Last Supper is a sacrifice, for He speaks of His blood as similar to the sacrificial blood with which Moses sealed
the Old Covenant between God and Israel. Moreover, by the words which is being shed our Lord shows that this
act is related in a special way to His sacrifice on the cross. For many: see Commentary on 20, 28.
Unto the forgiveness of sins: this is therefore primarily a propitiatory sacrifice. 29.
Luke 22, 18 records these words of Christ as spoken in connection with what is apparently a different cup of wine,
partaken of before the Eucharist; but see Commentary on Luke. If these words are understood as referring to the Holy
Eucharist (so they are apparently to be understood in Matthew and Mark), they signify not only that Jesus wished to tell the
Apostles that He was about to depart from this world, but also the next time that He would give Himself to them in the Holy
Eucharist He would be in the kingdom of His Father; whereas the present sacrificial banquet at the Last Supper is an anticipation
of the Death on Calvary, all repetitions of the Liturgy of the Last Supper by the Church are memorial sacrifices, renewing
the Sacrifice of the Cross in which Christ "offered himself up once for all" (Heb. 7, 27).
30-35: Peter's Denials Predicted. Parallel in Mark 14, 26-31. Luke 22, 39 and
John 18, 1 also record the walk of Jesus and His disciples to Gethsemani. But the Third and the Fourth Gospels
mention the prediction of Peter's denial as taking place in the cenacle during Christ's discourse after the Last Supper.
Their accounts are too similar to those of Matthew and Mark to suppose that this episode occurred twice. The First and
the Second Gospels evidently forsake the chronological order here in order to place the prediction of Christ's abandonment
by the Apostles in closer proximity to its fulfillment. 30. After reciting a
hymn: literally in Greek, "having hymned"; several Psalms might have been sung. 31.
Be scandalized: literally, "be tripped up," i.e., the Apostles will stumble on the path of fidelity to Jesus, in
so far as they will abandon Him and scatter like frightened sheep. This scattering of Christ's little flock had been
foretold in Zach. 13, 7. Cf. also John 16, 31 f. 32. Whenever
Christ forewarned His disciples of His approaching passion and death, He also consoled them with the thought of the Resurrection.
Just as Jesus had courageously led His disciples from Galilee to Jerusalem (cf. Mark 10, 32), so also will He lead
them back from Jerusalem to Galilee, where He will appear to a large group of His faithful followers (cf. 28, 16;
1 Cor. 15, 6). 33-35. Peter's protestation of unwavering fidelity
and Christ's prediction of his three denials are substantially the same in all four Gospels. Mark alone mentions the
cock crowing twice, both in the prediction and in its fulfillment.
The Passion and Death of Jesus 26, 36 -- 27, 66
36-46: The Agony in the Garden. Parallels in Mark 14, 32-42 and Luke 22, 40-46.
There is also a brief anticipation of Christ's Agony in John 12, 27. We are here in a dark sanctuary of deep
mysteries which we should enter reverently, humbly confessing our ignorance. Although it was impossible for the human
nature of Christ to be separated from His divine nature and all that this union entails, still in this agony Christ seems
in a certain sense to suspend the spiritual support which His human nature normally received from His divinity. He is
here the Second Adam, voluntarily undoing by His loving obedience to the Father the sins which the disobedience of the First
Adam had brought upon mankind (cf. Rom. 5, 12-19; Heb. 5, 7 f). Therefore, since Jesus acts here as
the representative of all mankind, the Man par excellence, He acts, as far as possible, purely according to His human
nature, suffering all the natural, though sinless, frailties of human nature, the dread of suffering and death, the shrinking
from degradation and revilement, the intense sorrow of being abandoned by His friends and betrayed by His own disciple, the
overwhelming grief at the thought of men's black ingratitude in despising the cost and value of His Sacrifice, and perhaps,
as far as it would be compatible with His sinless soul, a sense of guilt for all the shameful sins of the world that He was
taking upon Himself to atone for (cf. 2 Cor. 5, 21; Gal. 3, 13; 1 Pet. 2, 24).
Gethsemani, a Hebrew name meaning "olive-oil-press"; its traditional site at the base of the Mount of Olives is marked
by century-old olive-trees. 37. The same three Apostles who were witnesses of Christ's
divine power in the raising of the daughter of Jairus and witnesses of His divine glory in the Transfiguration, were now chosen
to be witnesses of the humiliating agony of His humanity. But Jesus sought human solace from them in vain.
38. Even unto death: Christ's anguish was so great that of itself it could have caused His
death. 39. From this passage it is certain that Christ's human will is distinct from,
but in conformity with, His divine will; cf. also John 5, 30; 6, 38. On the meaning of the cup
see Commentary on 20, 22; here, however, there may be the additional thought of "the cup of God's wrath" (cf. Ps.
74, 9; Isa. 51, 17; Jer. 25, 15; Apoc. 14, 10; 16, 19). 40.
It was now near midnight and the Apostles were exhausted from the emotional strain of the evening (cf. Luke).
41. To enter into temptation may mean either "to be tempted" or "to consent to temptation."
Cf. 6, 13. The temptation against which the Apostles should at present use all natural and supernatural means
of help (vigilance and prayer) would be to forsake Christ and even deny Him. The spirit indeed is willing:
even the best good-will of men is often overcome by the weakness of human nature. 45.
"Sleep on now": these words may be understood as a concession to the tired Apostles; but in view of the following
statements, which were apparently spoken at once, they should rather be understood as ironical.
47-56: Jesus Arrested. Parallels in Mark 14, 43-50; Luke 22, 47-53; and John 18,
2-11. 47. A great crowd: very numerous at least in comparison with the small
band of the Apostles, although Peter apparently felt that he had some chance of successful resistance against them.
John speaks of a "cohort" and its military "tribune," but these terms should not be understood in the strict sense, as if
a body of Roman soldiers were present. This rabble no doubt consisted entirely of Jews, among whom were some of the
leaders of the High Priest's party (but certainly not Annas and Caiphas) and the "captains of the temple" (Luke), i.e., Levites
who served as the temple-police. That they were not a regular military force is seen from their weapons, swords
and clubs; the Greek word that is here translated as "swords" is not the technical word for "soldier's swords."
48 f. This signal had been agreed upon, probably in order to avoid causing undue alarm, for it was
customary for a disciple of a rabbi to greet his master with a kiss. 50. Friend:
see Commentary on 22, 12. "For what purpose hast thou come?": the Greek phrase, which is of uncertain
significance, is a relative clause, literally, "for which thou hast come"; perhaps the sense is, "Dost thou dare kiss me as
a friend in this business for which thou hast come!" (cf. Luke). 51. It is only from
the Fourth Gospel that we know that it was Peter who drew his sword and that the name of the wounded man was Malchus.
52-54. Christ was opposed to all physical violence on this occasion, but His words should not be overstressed,
as if He forbade His disciples under any circumstance to have recourse to active resistance against unjust aggression.
His arguments here are: (a) Physical violence always recoils upon him who uses it, and He wishes no unnecessary harm to befall
His Apostles (52); (b) This action shows lack of confidence in God who could send more than twelve legions of angels
instead of twelve weak Apostles, if it were His will to rescue Jesus from His enemies (53); (c) It is the will of the Father,
expressed in His words to the prophets, that Jesus should be captured and put to death (54). Moreover, Peter's action
would compromise Christ's cause (cf. John 18, 36). 55. In these words of
calm majesty Jesus shows His enemies that He is freely allowing them to arrest Him and that the means they are using in order
to capture Him are absurd. 56. According to Mark, Christ Himself pointed this out
to His enemies, i.e., He is allowing Himself to be arrested because it is His Father's will, as expressed in the Scriptures;
God permits Christ's enemies and the power of darkness to have this brief hour of seeming triumph (Luke).
57-68: Jesus before the Sanhedrin. The only parallel in the strict sense in Mark 14, 53-65.
John 18, 13 f.19-24 gives a different account of the inquisition held by the High Priest during the night.
Luke 22, 54.63-71 recounts the abuse heaped upon Jesus during the night in the house of the High Priest, but puts
the trial by the Sanhedrin as taking place at dawn. However, the account of the Jewish trial in Luke is too similar
to that of Matthew and Mark to be considered as a distinct repetition, held for the sake of legality in the morning.
The most probable harmonization of the four accounts of the Jewish trial is as follows. After His arrest in Gethsemani
Jesus is brought to the house of the High Priest where, apparently, both Annas and Caiphas had their apartments (Matt. 26,
57; Mark 14, 53; Luke 22, 54; John 18, 13 f.24). Here a preliminary investigation is held
by the leaders of the Sanhedrin, in order to get sufficient matter for the formal charge that would be presented before the
whole Sanhedrin in the morning; this inquisition was accompanied and followed by insults and physical violence, somewhat in
the manner of a modern "third-degree" (Matt. 26, 67 f; Mark 14, 65; Luke 22, 63-65; John 18,
19-23). At dawn Jesus is brought before the whole Sanhedrin and two charges are raised against Him: of claiming to be
the Messias and of claiming to be the Son of God. Upon His admission of the latter charge He is condemned to death as
guilty of blasphemy (Matt. 26, 63-66; Mark 14, 61b-64; Luke 22, 66-71). It is not clear whether
the false witnesses (Matt. 26, 59-63a; Mark 14, 55-61a) appeared at the preliminary investigation or at
the formal trial (cf. Luke 22, 71). 61. Mark records the false testimony
somewhat differently; possibly Matthew records the words of one witness and Mark those of the other witness. No doubt
these men were referring to the words of Christ as recorded in John 2, 19. A charge of crime against the temple
would have been fatal for Jesus if it could have been proved true. The fact that the leaders of the Sanhedrin did not
accept this false testimony shows that they were anxious, in their hypocrisy, to observe all the customary legalities.
If this is so, it would seem certain that the formal trial did not take place at night. 63.
Jesus had no need to answer charges upon which the witnesses themselves did not agree. I adjure thee by the living
God is a formula by which Jesus is put under oath to answer truthfully. His acceptance of the oath shows that His
prohibition against oaths (cf. 5, 34) is not to be understood in regard to necessary legal oaths.
64. Christ affirms His divinity by His allusion to the prophecy of Dan. 7, 13; sitting
at the right hand of the Power, i.e., of God Almighty, certainly implies that He is the Son of God in the strict sense.
The Sanhedrin also understood it as such. 65. The tearing of one's garments was a
gesture of the Jews to express great grief or horror, here the horror at hearing what was considered a blasphemy. This
was, however, a formality. If the claim which Jesus made were not true, His words would certainly have been blasphemous.
By formally stating under oath the fundamental Christian truth of His divinity, Jesus placed the act for which He was condemned
to death. 66. Liable to death: more exactly according to the literal sense
of the Greek and Latin, "guilty of death," i.e., guilty of a crime for which the penalty is death. In these words the
members of the Sanhedrin cast their votes by which they condemned Jesus to death. 68.
Prophesy to us: i.e., tell us by divine knowledge; Jesus had been blindfolded (cf. Mark and Luke) and could not know
naturally who struck Him.
26, 69 -- 27, 2: Peter's Denial.
Parallels in Mark 14, 66-72; Luke 22, 54-62; and John 18, 17 f.25-27. All four Gospels agree
substantially, but there are many minor differences of detail among them. All four agree: (a) that there were three
distinct denials; (b) that the charge of all three occasions was that Peter was a disciple of Jesus; (c) that the first denial
took place at the fire in the courtyard and was occasioned by a maidservant's suspicions. But in the second and third
denials there are differences among the four Gospels in regard to both the exact place in the courtyard and the accusers.
We should probably consider each of these denials as really a group of several accusations and denials, one Gospel recording
one part of it and another Gospel another part. Matthew and Mark alone mention the fact that Peter added oaths to his
denials, and indeed with increasing vehemence. 69. A maidservant: she was
the portress who had admitted Peter (cf. John). Peter had special reasons for being afraid, because he had wounded Malchus.
70. In Matthew and Mark Peter's first denial is mild enough, being merely an evasive answer, that he
did not understand what she was driving at. But a little lie soon grows to big proportions. 73.
The Galileans spoke a dialect of Aramaic that was somewhat different from Judean Aramaic. 74.
A cock crowed: we cannot really determine the time of the third denial from this incident, for cocks crow occasionally
at any hour of the night; however, at the first signs of dawn they all begin to crow lustily. 75.
Peter remembered: it was Christ's look that helped to remind him (cf. Luke). A cock crowed also after the first
denial (cf. Mark) and apparently Peter had heard that one too, but it did not remind him of Christ's prediction. [Commentary
on this section is continued at the beginning of the next chapter.]
1 And it came to pass when Jesus had finished
all these words, that he said to his disciples, 2 "You know that after two days the Passover will be here; and the Son of
Man will be delivered up to be crucified."
The Council 3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the
people gathered together in the court of the high priest, who was called Caiphas, 4 and they took counsel together how they
might seize Jesus by stealth, and put him to death. 5 But they said, "Not on the feast, or there might be a riot among
Anointing at Bethany 6* Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, 7* a woman came
up to him with an alabaster jar of precious ointment, and she poured it on his head, as he reclined at table. 8* But
when the disciples saw this, they were indignant, and said, "To what purpose is this waste? 9* for this might have been
sold for much and given to the poor."
10* But Jesus, perceiving it, said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? She has done me a good
turn. 11* For the poor you have always with you, but you do not always have me. 12* For in pouring this ointment
on my body, she has done it for my burial. 13* Amen I say to you, wherever in the whole world this gospel is preached,
this also that she has done shall be told in memory of her."
The Betrayal 14 Then one of the Twelve, called Judas Iscariot,
went to the chief priests, 15 and said to them, "What are you willing to give me for delivering him to you?" But they
assigned him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from then on he sought out an opportunity to betray him.
17 Now on the first day of the Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and said, "Where dost thou want us to prepare
for thee to eat the passover?" 18 But Jesus said, "Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, 'The Master says,
My time is near at hand; at thy house I am keeping the Passover with my disciples.'" 19 And the disciples did as Jesus
bade them, and prepared the passover.
The Betrayer 20 Now when evening arrived, he reclined at table with the
twelve disciples. 21 And while they were eating, he said, "Amen I say to you, one of you will betray me." 22 And
being very much saddened they began each to say, "Is it I, Lord?" 23 But he answered and said, "He who dips his hand
into the dish with me, he will betray me. 24 The Son of Man indeed goes his way, as it is written of him; but woe to
that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It were better for that man if he had not been born." 25 And Judas
who betrayed him answered and said, "Is it I, Rabbi?" He said to him, "Thou hast said it."
The Holy Eucharist
26* And while they were at supper, Jesus took bread, and blessed and broke, and gave it to his disciples, and said, "Take
and eat; this is my body." 27 And taking a cup, he gave thanks and gave it to them, saying, "All of you drink of this;
28 for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is being shed for many unto the forgiveness of sins. 29 But I say
to you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I shall drink it new with you in the kingdom
of my Father."
Denials Predicted 30 And after reciting a hymn, they went out to Mount Olivet. 31* Then Jesus said
to them, "You will all be scandalized this night because of me; for it is written,
'I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be
32 But after I have risen, I will go
before you into Galilee." 33 But Peter answered and said to him, "Even though all shall be scandalized because of thee,
I will never be scandalized." 34 Jesus said to him, "Amen I say to thee, this very night, before a cock crows, thou
wilt deny me three times." 35 Peter said to him, "Even if I should have to die with thee, I will not deny thee!"
And all the disciples said the same thing.
The Agony in the Garden 36 Then Jesus came with them to a
country place called Gethsemani, and he said to his disciples, "Sit down here, while I go over yonder and pray." 37
And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and he began to be saddened and exceedingly troubled. 38 Then
he said to them, "My soul is sad, even unto death. Wait here and watch with me." 39 And going forward a little,
he fell prostate and prayed, saying, "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; yet not as I will, but as
Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, "Could you not, then watch one hour with
me? 41 Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is
weak." 42 Again a second time he went away and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cup cannot pass away unless I drink
it, thy will be done." 43 And he came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 And leaving
them he went back again, and prayed a third time, saying the same words over. 45 Then he came to his disciples, and
said to them, "Sleep on now, and take your rest! Behold, the hour is at hand when the Son of Man will be betrayed into
the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us go. Behold, he who betrays me is at hand."
47 And while he was yet speaking, behold Judas, one of the Twelve, came and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs,
from the chief priests and elders of the people. 48 Now his betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss,
that is he; lay hold of him." 49 And he went straight up to Jesus and said, "Hail, Rabbi!" and kissed him. 50
And Jesus said to him, "Friend, for what purpose hast thou come?" Then they came forward and set hands on Jesus and
And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached out his hand, drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest,
cutting off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, "Put back thy sword into its place; for all those who take the sword
will perish by the sword. 53 Or dost thou suppose that I cannot entreat my Father, and he will even now furnish me with
more than twelve legions of angels? 54 How then are the Scriptures to be fulfilled, that thus it must take place?"
55 In that hour Jesus said to
the crowds, "As against a robber you have come out, with swords and clubs, to seize me. I sat daily with you in the
temple teaching, and you did not lay hands on me." 56 Now all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might
be fulfilled. Then all the disciples left him and fled.
Jesus before the Sanhedrin 57 Now those who had taken Jesus
led him away to Caiphas the high priest, where the Scribes and the elders had gathered together. 58 But Peter was following
him at a distance, even to the courtyard of the high priest, and he went in and sat with the attendants to see the end.
59 Now the chief priests and all the Sanhedrin were seeking false witness against Jesus, that they might put him to death,
60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. But last of all two false witnesses came forward,
61 and said, "This man said, 'I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it after three days.'"
62 Then the high priest, standing
up, said to him, "Dost thou make no answer to the things that these men prefer against thee?" 63 But Jesus kept silence.
And the high priest said to him, "I adjure thee by the living God that thou tell us whether thou art the Christ, the Son of
God." 64 Jesus said to him, "Thou hast said it. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you shall see the Son
of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming upon the clouds of heaven."
65 Then the high priest tore his garments, saying,
"He has blasphemed; what further need have we of witnesses? Behold, now you have heard the blasphemy. 66 What
do you think?" And they answered and said, "He is liable to death." 67 Then they spat in his face and buffeted
him; while others struck his face with the palms of their hands, 68 saying, "Prophesy to us, O Christ! who is it that struck
Denial 69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard; and a maidservant came up to him and said,
"Thou also wast with Jesus the Galilean." 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what thou art
saying." 71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another maid saw him, and said to those who were there, "This man
also was with Jesus of Nazareth." 72 And again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man!" 73 And after
a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Surely thou also art one of them, for even thy speech betrays thee."
74 Then he began to curse and to swear that he did not know the man. And at that moment a cock crowed. 75 And
Peter remembered the word that Jesus had said, "Before the cock crows, thou wilt deny me three times." And he went out
and wept bitterly.
6-13: The supper is that spoken of in John 12,
1-8, which took place six days before the Passover. The evangelist places it here to bring together the narratives of
the anointing and of the betrayal of Judas.
26: The Last Supper was on Thursday evening.
31: Zach. 13, 7.