New Defender's Study Bible Notes
26:7 poured it on his head. Three papyrus fragments originating in southern Egypt which include parts of this verse, part of Matthew 26:10 and part of Matthew 26:14, have recently been dated at A.D. 75–100. This date, indicated by the form of script used, makes these fragments almost the earliest copies known from the New Testament. Since these had been copied from some earlier manuscript, they would seem to prove that at least this gospel was written almost as far back as the time of Christ Himself, contrary to the opinions of liberal theologians.
26:11 poor always with you. In every generation there will be people in a state of poverty. No socialist utopia or other governmental programs will ever be able to win the “war on poverty” until Christ returns and sets up His own kingdom on earth. Then, with war or crime banned, and with a productive environment restored, universal prosperity will finally be achieved.
26:12 my body. Mary of Bethany, in accordance with custom, had first anointed Jesus’ feet (John 12:3), but then decided also to pour all the expensive ointment on His head—in effect covering His whole body. She alone (who had learned deeply from His teachings—Luke 10:38-42) seems to have fully understood His words concerning His coming burial (Matthew 26:12).
26:15 thirty pieces of silver. This is a remarkable fulfillment of Zechariah 11:12. A number of modern writers have tried to find some justifiable motive in Judas’ action, but the fact is that he was greedy and a thief (John 12:4-6) and made this bargain on his own volition. In fact, Jesus had recognized him much earlier as a “devil,” or adversary (John 6:70-71). Later, He even called Judas “the son of perdition” (John 17:12). He was chosen as a disciple, in spite of all this, because prophecy must be fulfilled (Psalm 41:9; John 13:18).
26:22 every one of them. A papyrus fragment of this verse, now in Magdalen College in Oxford, England, has been dated at A.D. 66, making it the oldest New Testament manuscript yet found. It confirms the traditional textual reading, “every one of them,” indicating that in the excitement of Jesus’ announcement, they all began to speak at once. Many modern translations, following a corrupt, though ancient, Greek text, render it as “each one in turn” or equivalent.
26:26 and brake it. This is the first of twelve references in the New Testament to the breaking of bread, each reminding the participants of Christ’s sacrificial death. The last is in Paul’s exposition of the Lord’s supper and its meaning (I Corinthians 11:23-24).
26:28 my blood. The next verse makes it clear that the liquid in the cup was not actual blood but “the fruit of the vine.” Nevertheless, it became an unforgettable symbol of His shed blood, just as the bread represented His broken body. This last meal of the Lord has, therefore, been commemorated by His followers ever since (I Corinthians 11:23-26). The regular practice of the Lord’s supper, or the Holy Communion, or whatever it may be called by different churches, has thus itself become a perpetual testimony to the authenticity of the Christian faith. There is no way of accounting for the beginning of this universal and unique practice except that Christ Himself commanded it just before He died. It could have been initiated only when this account was first read by the churches, for it has been observed ever since the last supper of Christ. In fact, if it were not already being observed when the written account was first received, the written account would itself have been rejected as false.
26:29 fruit of the vine. It is interesting that the term “wine” is never used at the Lord’s supper. Three times, “fruit of the vine” is used (Matthew 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18). The word “cup” is used twelve times (Matthew 26:27; Mark 14:23; Luke 22:17,20,20; I Corinthians 10:16, 21; 11:25,25,26,27,28. But it is never called “wine.”
26:30 sung an hymn. It is striking that the only recorded instance of Jesus singing is just as He prepared to go to the cross. However, after He comes again, He will sing joyfully in the midst of His redeemed people (Zephaniah 3:17).
26:31 it is written. This is in fulfillment of Zechariah 13:7. Despite all Jesus had done in trying to prepare His disciples for these events, His arrest seemed to take them by surprise and to discourage them so much that they all “forsook Him and fled” when it happened (Matthew 26:56).
26:39 this cup. This “cup” was nothing less than the cup of God’s wrath against all the sin and rebellion of all the men and women through all the ages (compare Revelation 14:10; 16:19; etc.). Note also Psalm 16:5; in fact, the entire sixteenth psalm seems to suggest the very prayer that Christ may have prayed that night in the garden of Gethsemane.
26:39 not as I will. The Lord Jesus not only has taught us how to pray (Matthew 6:9) but also has set us an example. Our prayer must always be that God’s will—not ours—be done (I John 5:14), no matter how difficult that will may prove to be. Some have suggested that Satan was here trying to slay Jesus before He could go to the cross, and that the Lord was beseeching the Father to let that cup be removed, but this is highly speculative at best. Jesus was fully human and would suffer as a man on the cross as no man had ever suffered before, bearing the full weight of the sin of the whole world in His body, and even suffering for the first time the loss of His Father’s presence and approval. In His humanity, never calling on the resources of His own deity at all (note Philippians 2:5-8), it would be inhuman not to shrink from such a prospect! It was this cup that He would have removed if He could. Nevertheless, “not as I will, but as thou wilt,” He said.
26:45 Sleep on now. This should probably be read as a rebuking question. That is: “Sleep on now and take your rest?” Compare Luke 22:46.
26:52 take the sword. Jesus’ message here to Peter (note John 18:10) is worth heeding. For defense and order, God has ordained the powers of government to bear “the sword” (Romans 13:1-4). His angels are well able to protect His people when it is His will. Note the following verse (also Psalm 34:7; 91:11).
26:57 Caiaphas the high priest. Caiaphas’ father-in-law was Annas (John 18:13). Acts 4:6 and Luke 3:2 support the fact that both were high priests. This position of high priest had become a political position. Annas had been deposed by Rome, with Caiaphas appointed in his place, but Annas still managed to exercise much of the power of the position. It is sad that both were Sadducees, rejecting the supernatural, and wanting the prestigious position for political and financial reasons only. They were intensely hostile to Jesus for these reasons, rather than for their manufactured charge of blasphemy against God.
26:61 three days. This was a distortion of Jesus’ words in John 2:19, but was the best evidence the illegally assembled kangaroo court of Caiaphas could produce in this infamous travesty of a trial.
26:63 held his peace. “As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so He openeth not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
26:64 Son of man. Caiaphas had no legal right to ask this question, but Jesus answered it anyway. When asked if He were the Messiah and the Son of God, He said yes. However, He persisted in calling Himself the Son of man.
26:67 buffeted. The “buffeting” consisted of the judges all encircling Him and then striking Him with their fists, one after the other. But they were all the while fulfilling prophecy (Isaiah 50:6; 52:14; etc.).
26:70 denied. Yet this same Peter, only a few hours before, had said: “If I should die with thee, I will not deny thee in any wise” (Mark 14:31). We need to be careful before boasting of what we intend to do spiritually!