SOURCE FOR QUESTIONS
Matthew 26:1 through 28:20
KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)
At this time in history, the Roman government appointed the political as well as religious leaders for Israel. Caiaphas was chosen as high priest, being son-in-law to Annas, a former high priest. It appears that Caiaphas worked well with the Romans, as he remained high priest longer than most — eighteen years. It was Caiaphas who first recommended that Jesus should die, and he, along with the other chief priests, scribes, and elders, conspired to arrest Jesus.
Matthew wrote his book primarily for Jewish Christians; therefore he emphasized Jesus’ kingly role and presented a portrayal of the Kingdom of God. Matthew strove to show that Christ’s Kingdom was in the hearts of men, and not in the politics of the time.
As world-shaping events were being plotted in Jerusalem, in a small corner in Bethany, Mary, sister to Martha and Lazarus, anointed Jesus with precious ointment from an alabaster box as a memorial for His burial. This was a small picture of what the Kingdom of God was really about — His love.
After partaking of the last supper, Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane, where He fought the supreme battle of all time. Jesus’ agony was because He would bear the sins of all mankind, and would be rejected for a time by His Father. Jesus’ human flesh struggled with the physical agony before Him, but as His spirit and will were completely subjected to God, He won the battle and accepted His “cup” with peace.
After being apprehended in the Garden, the next morning Jesus was sentenced to death by the chief priests and elders. They bound Jesus and sent Him to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judaea who was known for his cruelty. Rome had taken away the Jew’s authority to perform capital punishment; therefore Roman leaders had to do the sentencing and execution. The Jews knew that a charge of blasphemy would carry no weight in a Roman court, so they accused Jesus of claiming to be superior to Caesar when He said He was the Son of God.
Those who were condemned to die by crucifixion were forced to carry their own crosses, but Jesus, weak from the terrible scourging which had been inflicted upon Him, was unable to do so. Simon, a man from Cyrene in northern Africa, was compelled to carry it for Him.
Jesus was crucified at nine o’clock in the morning. At three o’clock in the afternoon, He cried out and then died. Suddenly there was an earthquake and many graves of the saints opened. At the same time the heavy curtain in the Temple tore down the middle from the top to the bottom, opening the Holy of Holies to the common people, and thus signifying man’s ability to approach God personally. Joseph of Arimathaea, a wealthy man, an honored member of the Sanhedrin, and a secret follower of Jesus, asked for Jesus’ body and put it in his own new tomb. The chief priest and Pharisees sealed the tomb securely and set a watch of soldiers around it.
At dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and another Mary (possibly the wife of Cleopas, or the mother of James and John) were coming to the sepulchre when there was a huge earthquake, and an angel came and rolled back the stone from the door. As the women approached, the angel told them that Jesus had risen from the dead.
Matthew’s account does not speak of the forty days Jesus spent on earth after His resurrection. Instead he moves directly to Jesus’ commission to His disciples. Before this time, the field of missionary work had been only to the Jews. Now Jesus expanded that field to the whole world. Before His ascension, Jesus promised He would be with His people always, even to the end of the world.
SUGGESTED RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS
- In Matthew 26:6-13, we read how Mary broke the alabaster box and anointed Jesus with its contents. Some who observed her actions condemned her, suggesting the money could have been better spent on the poor. What was Jesus’ response, and what lessons can we learn from Mary’s example of devotion?
Jesus defended Mary’s action, saying, “Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me” (Matthew 26:10). Class discussion of the second part of the question may bring out:
• Because Mary spent time listening to Jesus’ words, she had an understanding of what was about to occur to Him.
• An act of devotion to God is never wasted.
• Deeds of love and worship make an impact on those who observe them.
• We may be misunderstood when we do something for God, but He understands.
• Selfless devotion to Christ will be a lasting memorial.
- Judas was eager to make a deal with the chief priests for money (Matthew 26:14-16), but later deeply regretted this and wanted to reverse it (Matthew 27:3-10). What can we learn from Judas’ actions?
Your students may respond with thoughts such as:
• It is vital to weigh the consequences of actions.
• Greed can lead to tragedy.
• To fail in loyalty to Christ brings eternal death.
• Guard against becoming a tool of Satan.
• Wrongly directed ambition can lead to trouble.
The point should be made that while we might think we would never betray Jesus, we must learn from the failure of Judas to guard against making choices that could weaken our devotion or loyalty to Christ.
- At His last supper with His disciples, Jesus took two elements from the Passover feast — the unleavened bread and the cup — and used these to depict His coming death (Matthew 26:26-29). When Jesus broke the bread, He said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” How did Jesus identify the contents of the cup? What did it symbolize?
When He took the cup, Jesus said, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” Up until this time, forgiveness of sins was obtained by sacrificing animals. At the point of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and presentation of His Blood to the Father, a new covenant would begin. Jesus’ Blood would now be the perfect and complete atonement for man’s sins.
You may want to note that Scripture does not indicate that anything mysterious happened to these two elements. They were still simply bread and the “fruit of the vine.” However, from that time on they conveyed a deep symbolic meaning: they represented the body and Blood of Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of mankind.
- Jesus and His disciples went to a private garden at the Mount of Olives. Describe the nature of the great struggle that He faced there alone.
No doubt, as a man, He had a fear of the physical abuse He was soon to suffer. Yet, Jesus alone faced the overwhelming agony of knowing He must bear the sins of the world. Jesus alone experienced being made sin and a curse for mankind (2 Corinthians 5:21 and Galatians 3:13). As One who was absolutely holy, His righteous soul was repelled by the awful burden of sin He would carry. Jesus wrestled as He looked ahead, but He yielded Himself to God’s will.
- At Jesus’ arrest, Peter sliced off the ear of a servant of the high priest. In his zeal to defend Christ, he got ahead of God’s plan. What application from this can we make to our lives?
As finite individuals, we cannot see the perfect plan of God. Based on his own thinking about what should happen, Peter tried to step in and defend Christ, but the fact that the soldiers had not arrested Jesus in the Temple indicates that there was a divine timetable controlling His life. These events were not happening by accident, but by appointment. We may decide how God should answer our prayers or work out events in our lives; however, it takes discipline and submission to let go and let God have His way.
- Why do you think Peter was seemingly very brave when he cut off the servant’s ear, yet was later afraid when questioned by two young women and others? How might we face similar circumstances?
Peter was impulsive. He likely acted without thinking it through, expecting Jesus to back him up. When Jesus gave in to His captor and was separated from Peter, Peter likely felt alone and vulnerable.
We might face similar circumstances. When we are surrounded by other Christians and are strongly aware of God’s presence, we may feel as though we could conquer the world. The real test comes when those around us are antagonistic toward Christianity, or when we are standing alone and there is no conscious awareness of Christ’s presence for the moment. What is in our hearts will come out then.
- Possibly some in the crowd who clamored for Jesus’ death (Matthew 27:20-23) were the same people who only a few days earlier had hailed Him as their king. What conclusion can we draw from this?
People often like to do the popular thing. Sometimes being a “Christian” may seem to be the thing to do for social or political reasons. But at the first hint of persecution, usually those who are following the crowd will fall away and only those who are truly committed will stand.
You might also bring out that many of the people had been looking for an earthly king who would deliver them from Roman oppression. They had thought Jesus was the One who would do this, and were disillusioned when it seemed obvious that He would not.
- What did Jesus endure on Golgotha in addition to physical suffering? Why did He stay on the Cross when it was within His power to free Himself?
At Golgotha, Jesus endured not only the physical torment of this excruciating form of execution, but He endured the fact that God the Father, unable to look upon the sin hanging there in the form of Jesus upon the Cross, turned away from Him. The physical darkness that shrouded Golgotha was symbolic of the darkness that He endured when He became sin for us. In His dying hours, He cried out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken Me?”
Jesus knew why He was suffering and it was the joy of redeeming mankind that kept Him on the Cross.
- Why is the Resurrection of Jesus (Matthew 28:1-7) such a fundamental element of the Gospel?
If Jesus had died without power to return to life, He would have been no different than any other person who claimed to be God. Jesus’ resurrection power proves His divinity. It also shows that God has the power to keep His promise that we all will be resurrected one day.
- At the time of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) Jesus promised to be with us always. How does He accomplish this?
Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to be in our midst and to comfort us. At salvation we have a measure of His Spirit. At sanctification He comes to us in a greater measure and at the baptism of the Holy Ghost, His presence fills us and overflows in our lives. What a treasure this is!
God had a perfect plan when He sent Jesus to die for our sins. Jesus was faithful and fulfilled God’s plan in every aspect. The challenge that faces us is this: What will we do with Jesus?