Matthew: Jesus is *Christ the King

Jesus Dies and He Lives Again

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on Matthew 21:1 to 28:20

Ian Mackervoy

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.


Jesus dies and he lives again – Matthew 21:1 to 28:20

Chapter 21

Jesus enters Jerusalem as a king – Matthew 21:1-11

v1 As Jesus and his *disciples came near to Jerusalem, they reached the village called Bethphage. Bethphage was on the *Mount of Olives. Then, Jesus sent two of the *disciples. v2 He said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you. When you enter the village, immediately you will find a *donkey with a young *donkey. The owner has tied them there. Undo them and bring them to me. v3 If anyone says anything to you, say this to them. “The *Lord needs them.” And he will send them at once.’ v4 This happened to carry out what God had spoken by the *prophet.

v5 ‘Tell the daughter of Jerusalem, “Look! Your king is coming to you. He is gentle and he is riding on a *donkey. He is riding on a young *donkey.” ’

v6 The *disciples went. And they did as Jesus had told them. v7 They brought the *donkey and the young *donkey to Jesus. They put their coats on the *donkeys and Jesus sat on them. v8 A very large crowd of people spread their coats on the road in front of him. Other people cut branches from the trees and they spread these on the road. v9 Some of the crowd went ahead of Jesus and other people followed behind him. And they were all shouting, ‘*Hosanna! Praise the Son of David. We bless him who comes in the name of the *Lord. *Hosanna! Praise in the highest heaven.’

v10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in confusion. The people asked, ‘Who is this man?’ v11 The crowd answered, ‘This is the *prophet Jesus, from the town called Nazareth in Galilee.’

Verse 1-5 On the way to Jerusalem, Jesus stopped at the village called Bethphage. The name Bethphage means ‘house of *figs’. It was on the *Mount of Olives but we do not know its exact situation. It was a short distance to the east of Jerusalem. The *Jews considered Bethphage to be the outer limits of Jerusalem. It was a suburb of Jerusalem. The steep Kidron Valley separated it from the city.

From Bethphage, Jesus sent two *disciples to the next village. We do not know the name of that village. But it could have been Bethany. Bethany was a village about two miles (about 3 kilometres) from Jerusalem. It was on the east slopes of the *Mount of Olives. Bethany was where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived (John 11:1). But it could be that Jesus stopped as he approached Bethphage. And he sent the two *disciples ahead of him to Bethphage.

Jesus told the two *disciples to go to the village. And as they entered it, they would find two animals. There would be a *donkey and a young *donkey. The owners of the animals had tied them there. Jesus told the *disciples to untie them and to bring them to him. Mark and Luke mention only one young *donkey. Probably that was because Jesus would ride on the young *donkey.

Probably someone would ask the *disciples what they were doing with the animals. If that happened, Jesus told them what to say. They must reply that the *Lord needed them. And they must add the *Lord would send them back there immediately (Mark 11:3). Then the owners would send the animals with the *disciples.

Either that was a *miracle, or Jesus arranged it in advance. Otherwise, the owners would not have let the *disciples take the animals. It seems that Jesus’ route had been through Bethany to Bethphage. 6 days before the *Passover, Jesus had come to Bethany. That was probably a Friday before the start of the *Sabbath. The *Sabbath began that evening. He may have been there for a couple of days. So, he could have arranged something then. Crowds came to Bethany. They had heard that Jesus was there. John records that the next day Jesus ‘found’ the young *donkey (John 12:1-15). We call this day *Palm Sunday.

That all happened as the *prophets Zechariah and Isaiah had said about 500 years before. ‘Tell the daughter of Jerusalem, “Your king is coming to you. He is gentle and he is riding on a *donkey. He is riding on a young *donkey.” ’ These words come from Zechariah 9:9 and Isaiah 62:11. The right time had come. Jesus had to show that he was the *Christ, the king of the *Jews.

Verses 6- 9 The *disciples brought the *donkey and the young *donkey to Jesus. The *disciples put their coats instead of saddles on the animals. Then Jesus rode on the young *donkey. Nobody had ever ridden on the young *donkey. Nobody had trained it to carry a rider. However, it was tame when Jesus rode on it. The young *donkey was happy to carry Jesus.

Maybe the older *donkey was its mother. In the noise and excitement of the crowd, she would help the young *donkey to be calm.

There was a large crowd of people with Jesus. They were all going to Jerusalem because of the *Passover. Many of them had travelled from Galilee and from other regions. Many people had come from Jerusalem to see Jesus and Lazarus in Bethany (John 12:9). Perhaps those people joined the crowd as well.

Many people spread their coats on the road in front of Jesus. And they cut down branches from the trees. They spread them on the road as a carpet for the *donkeys to walk on.

The crowd split. Some people went on ahead of Jesus. The rest of the people followed behind Jesus. Even more people came out from Jerusalem to meet Jesus. Those people had *palm branches in their hands as they came (John 12:12). And all the people shouted as they praised Jesus.

They praised God because of all the great things that they had seen. They saw Jesus as the king whom God had sent to them. He was their king who was coming to his capital city. He was coming to receive his *kingdom. They shouted as they praised. ‘*Hosanna to the Son of David.’ (*Hosanna means, ‘Please save us.’ That was a way to praise Jesus. They were declaring that he was able to save (rescue) them. So they asked for his help.) The Son of David is a title for the *Christ. ‘We bless the king of *Israel.’ In other words, they prayed for God to support his rule. ‘Our king is coming in the name (authority) of the *Lord. God bless the king who comes in God’s name. Peace in heaven, and *glory in the highest places.’ (Psalm 118:25-26; Mark 11:9-10; Luke 19:37-38; John 12:13).

This event was on the Sunday before the *Passover. By tradition, the name for Sunday before Easter is *Palm Sunday.

From the *Mount of Olives, there was a full and magnificent view of the city. But Jesus saw the city’s future and he wept over it (Luke 19:41-44). He wept because the people had not trusted in God. If they had done so, God would have brought peace to Jerusalem. But Jesus knew that the *Roman army would destroy the city. That happened in *AD 70-72.

Verses 10-11 The large and noisy crowd came to Jerusalem. As the crowd entered the city, it caused much excitement. And it attracted much attention. Jesus was there and the crowd continued to praise him. So, the people in the city wanted to know who Jesus was. It was not that they did not know Jesus. He had taught and he had done *miracles in Jerusalem. But they did not know who he really was. The crowd answered them. No doubt, there was much confusion as people in the crowd shouted the answer. ‘This is the *prophet Jesus, from the town called Nazareth in Galilee.’

Jesus goes to the *temple – Matthew 21:12-17

v12 Jesus went into the *temple. People were selling and buying things there. Jesus forced all the people out of the *temple area. He turned over the tables of those who changed money. There were people who sold birds called *doves. Jesus turned over their seats. v13 He told them what God said in the Bible. ‘ “My house shall be a house of prayer, where people can pray.” But you are making like a cave where thieves live.’

v14 Blind people and people who could not walk came to Jesus in the *temple. And he cured them.

v15 The chief priests and the teachers of the law saw the wonderful things that Jesus was doing. They heard the way that children praised Jesus in the *temple. The children cried out, ‘*Hosanna to the Son of David.’ All these things made the chief priests and the teachers of the law very angry. v16 They said to Jesus, ‘Do you hear the things that these children are saying?’

Jesus answered, ‘Yes. You should have read this in the Bible. “You have prepared the mouths of young children and babies to praise you.” ’ v17 Then Jesus left them. And he went out of the city to village called Bethany, where he spent the night.

Verses 12-13 Jesus went into the *temple and he looked round. Because it was now late, he went back to Bethany for the night (Mark 11:11). On the next day, Jesus came again to the *temple. The action that Matthew records was on the second day.

The *temple consisted of several open areas, that are called the temple courts. The first was the area (court) for all people, from all nations. People who were not *Jews could not go beyond that first area. Then there was an area for *Jewish women. Women could not go beyond that area. Then there was an area for *Jewish men. Those three areas were open with no roofs. Only the priests could go beyond that area into the area which surrounded the *temple building. The holy place and the most holy place were inside the *temple building. Only the chief priest could go beyond the holy place. He went into the most holy place once a year.

People sold and they bought things in the first, outer area of the *temple. That part of the *temple area was for the people who were not *Jews. It should have been where they could pray to God. However, it had become a market.

On a previous occasion, John tells us that the traders sold *oxen, sheep and *doves (John 2:14). Also, there were people who changed money. Those animals and the *doves were for the *sacrifices. The *Jewish people had to give *sacrifices. It was easier to buy the animals there rather than to bring them from home. In addition to the *sacrifices, the *Jews had to pay the *temple tax. They had to pay a half *shekel for each person over the age of 20. The people who did not have *shekels had to change some money into *shekels. Therefore, those activities were necessary, but they should not have happened in the *temple.

Jesus was angry because those activities were in the *temple. He forced the people who sold things to leave the *temple. He turned over the tables of the people who changed money. He turned over the seats of the people who sold birds. What they were doing was wrong. And they knew it. Nobody had the courage to oppose him.

Jesus reminded them that the *temple was God’s house. It was a place for prayer (Isaiah 56:7). It was not a market place. And people who sold there were not honest. They were greedy. They charged more than they should have done. Jesus calls them thieves (Jeremiah 7:11).

Verses 14-17 This is the last incident in Matthew’s *Gospel when Jesus cured people. Jesus was in the *temple area. People led blind people to Jesus there. And people brought to Jesus those people who could not walk. And Jesus cured them.

The chief priests and the teachers of the law were watching Jesus. They saw the wonderful things that he did. They heard the children in the *temple area as they praised Jesus. The children called Jesus ‘the Son of David’. The Son of David meant the *Christ whom God had promised to send. Probably the children did not understand all that that meant. But often young children understand more than we think. However, the priests and the teachers of the law knew what it meant. And it annoyed them that children praised Jesus as the Son of David.

The priests and the teachers of the law asked Jesus if he had heard the children. But of course Jesus had heard them. So really the question was to ask why Jesus did not stop the children. Jesus approved of the children who were praising him. He referred the priests and the teachers of the law to what the Bible says.

In Psalm 8:2 in the *Hebrew Bible, God gives such strength to the words of children. Then their words defeat his enemies. That is a great reason to praise God. However, we have here the words as they appear in the *Greek Bible. The children praised Jesus with powerful words. And those words had shown God’s great power.

Jesus accepted that the children praised him. In the Psalm, the subject of praise is God. So Jesus shows that he is both the *Christ and God.

Then Jesus left the *temple and he returned to Bethany.

The *fig tree – Matthew 21:18-22

v18 Early in the morning, as Jesus was going up to the city, he was hungry. v19 He saw a *fig tree at the side of the road. He went to it but there were no *figs on the tree, only leaves. So Jesus said to the tree, ‘You will never have fruit again.’ Immediately the tree dried up.

v20 When the *disciples saw it, it astonished them. They asked, ‘How did the *fig tree dry up so suddenly?’

v21 Jesus answered them, ‘I tell you the truth. You must have *faith and you must not doubt. Then you could do what I did to this tree. In addition, you could speak to this mountain. You could tell it to go and to fall into the sea. And if you speak in *faith, it will happen. v22 You must believe when you pray. Then you will receive whatever things you asked for.’

Verses 18-20 Early in the morning, Jesus was going up to the city. That was the day when he forced the traders to leave the *temple. Jesus was hungry. He saw a *fig tree at the side of the road. It was not yet the time for *figs to be ripe. You can eat green *figs but they are not very nice. Usually they are ripe a month or two later. *Fig leaves appear about the same time as the fruit or a little after. When the leaves are mature, the *figs should be ripe. That tree was unusual. Already it had its mature leaves. Therefore, it ought to have good fruit. But it had no fruit. Jesus told the tree that it would never have fruit again. Immediately the tree began to die.

The next morning Peter saw that the tree was completely dead (Mark 11:20-21). The other *disciples saw it and it astonished them. A tree would not usually die in one day.

Verses 21-22 Jesus used this incident to teach his *disciples about *faith. They must have *faith in God. *Faith in God, without doubts, can do great deeds. With such *faith, the *disciples could do the same as Jesus did to the tree. In principle, they could speak to the mountain. Probably Jesus pointed to the *Mount of Olives. They could tell the mountain to throw itself into the sea. The mountain would obey the command of *faith. Jesus did not suggest that the *disciples should do such things. God can do things that seem impossible to us.

To pray without *faith achieves nothing. God answers when we pray with *faith.

The leaders doubt Jesus’ authority – Matthew 21:23-27

v23 Jesus went into the *temple. While he was teaching, the chief priests and the leaders of the people came to him. They said, ‘What authority do you have to these things? Who gave to you this authority?’

v24 Jesus answered them, ‘I will ask you a question also. Answer me first. Then I will tell you about my authority to do these things. v25 Did the *baptism of John come from heaven or from people?’

They discussed this among themselves. They said, ‘We could say that it was from heaven. Then he will ask us, “Why did you not believe him?” v26 We could say that it was from people. But we are afraid of the crowd. All the people believe that John was a *prophet.’ v27 So, they answered Jesus, ‘We do not know.’

Jesus replied to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’

Verses 23-27 In the *temple, Jesus taught the people. While he taught, a group of the leaders came to him. The group consisted of the chief priests, teachers of the law and other leaders. They could have been an official team from the *Sanhedrin. Those leaders believed that they had the authority among the *Jews. Yet, Jesus acted with greater authority. And Jesus taught with more authority than they did. They asked Jesus about his authority for what he did. They could see that Jesus had authority. But they asked who gave that authority to him. It seems clear that they wanted to use his answers against him. Jesus knew what they were trying to do. So, he did not answer them in the way that they expected.

Jesus replied to them with a question. If they could answer that question, then Jesus would answer their question. He asked them about the authority of John the *Baptist to *baptise. That *baptism was either from God or it was from John himself. The reference to John’s *baptism here would include what John taught.

That was a difficult question for the leaders to answer. They were not willing to accept that John’s authority came from God. They had not believed what John taught. And John had said that God had sent Jesus. Yet, the leaders dared not say that John’s authority was not from God. The people believed that John was a *prophet. So, the people believed that John’s authority came from God. Those leaders were afraid of what the people would do. The crowd might throw stones at them and perhaps that could even kill the leaders (Luke 20:6). So, the leaders were able only to say that they did not know. They could not tell by means of what authority John *baptised.

So, Jesus would not answer their question. In effect, they had the answer. God, who gave authority to John, also gave authority to Jesus. With that authority, Jesus taught and he did those great deeds.

A story about two sons – Matthew 21:28-32

v28 ‘Tell me what you think about this. A man had two sons. He went and he spoke to the first son. “Son, go and work today in my *vineyard.”

v29 The son answered, “I will not go.” However, later the son changed his mind and he went.

v30 Then the father went and he said the same thing to the second son. This son answered, “Yes sir, I will.” However, he did not go.

v31 Which of the two sons did what his father wanted?’

They replied, ‘The first son.’

Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth. The people who collect taxes and the *prostitutes are going before you into God’s *kingdom. v32 John came to show you the right way to live. And you did not believe him. But the people who collect taxes and the *prostitutes did believe him. Even after you saw this, you did not *repent. And you did not believe him.’

Verses 28-32 Jesus told a simple story to those leaders. He asked them to think about it. In the story, the man asked both his sons to go and to work in his *vineyard. One son said that he would go. But he did not go. The other son said that he would not go. But later he did go. The leaders all agreed on the answer. The son who went was the son who obeyed his father. Therefore, that son did what his father wanted. What matters most is the action, not the promise.

In the opinion of those leaders, the men who collected taxes and the *prostitutes were the most *sinful people. But those people believed what John taught. John taught the people the right way to live. They *repented and they changed their lives. They began to serve God because of the things that John had taught to them. The *Jewish leaders had seen the effects in the lives of those people. However, those leaders still did not believe what John taught. And they did not *repent. Therefore, those *sinful people would go into the *kingdom before the leaders of their religion. The way into the *kingdom is by means of *repentance and *faith. If the leaders had believed John, they would have accepted Jesus.

A story about God's Son – Matthew 21:33-46

v33 ‘Listen to another story. There was a man who owned some land. He planted a *vineyard on it. He put a hedge round it. In the *vineyard he dug a place in which to press the *grapes. He built a high building. Then the man rented the *vineyard to some farmers. And he went away.

v34 When it was harvest time, the man sent his servants to the farmers to collect his fruit. v35 But the farmers seized his servants. They beat one servant and they killed another servant. And they threw stones at the third servant. v36 Again, the man sent some other servants, more than he did the first time. The farmers did the same things to these servants. v37 Afterwards, the man sent his son to the farmers. He said, “They will respect my son.”

v38 The farmers saw the son as he came. They said to each other, “One day this son will own the *vineyard. Come! Let us kill him and then we can possess the *vineyard.” v39 So, they seized the son. They threw him out of the *vineyard and they killed him.

v40 Therefore when the owner of the *vineyard comes, what will he do to those farmers?’

v41 The people said to Jesus, ‘He will bring those bad men to a bad end. Then he will rent the *vineyard to other farmers. And they will give to him his fruit at harvest time.’

v42 Jesus said to them, ‘You should have read this in the *Scripture. “The stone that the builders refused has become the most important stone. The *Lord has done this and it is wonderful to us.” v43 Therefore, I tell you that God will take his *kingdom away from you. He will give it to the people who produce the *kingdom’s fruit. v44 If a person falls on this stone, it will break him. If the stone falls on a person, it will kill him.’

v45 The chief priests and the *Pharisees heard Jesus’ stories. And they knew that Jesus was talking about them. v46 They wanted to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowds. The people believed that Jesus was a *prophet.

Verses 33-34 Jesus told a story about a man who rented a new *vineyard to farmers. The man had done all that he could to prepare the *vineyard. He had planted it. He had surrounded it with a hedge to protect it. He provided the necessary building and the place to press the *grapes. Then the owner went away.

He would have dug the place to press the *grapes out of the rock. It would be in the shape of two large basins. One basin would be higher than the other basin. The farmers would press *grapes in the higher basin. Then the juice would flow into the lower basin. From the juice, the farmers would make wine.

The terms of the rent agreement included a share of the fruit for the owner. In a new *vineyard, there would not be much good fruit until the fourth year. The plants take a long time to mature. The farmers supported the plants with sticks. They cut back the plants so that they grew in the right shape. Then they tied the plants to the sticks. So, the plants would grow as the farmers wanted them to grow.

At harvest time, the owner sent his servants to receive his share of the fruit. It was important that the owner did that each year. That action made it clear that he was the owner.

Verses 35-36 The farmers had decided that they would keep all the profits of the *vineyard for themselves. The owner sent his servants. That may have continued during several years. Each time the servants came, the farmers beat them. Sometimes the farmers even killed the owner’s servants. So, the owner received no rent.

Verse 37-39 If that had been a true story, the owner would have appealed to the law. However, for the purpose of the story, the owner did not do that. He had one son. He loved his son. He sent that son to collect what was due to him. The owner hoped that the farmers would respect his son.

When the owner died, the son would own the *vineyard. The farmers had paid no rent for several years. The real owner was a long way away. Maybe the farmers thought that the owner was dead. Maybe he had given the *vineyard to his son. If they killed the son, perhaps they could take possession of the *vineyard. So, they threw the son out of the *vineyard and they killed him. Then they could become the owners of the *vineyard. That was the farmers’ plan. However, they were wrong because the owner was alive still. And the owner would oppose them.

Verses 40-41 Jesus asked the people what the owner would do. They gave their answer. The owner would come and punish those farmers. He would kill those evil men. Perhaps Jesus discussed that answer with the people. In Mark and Luke, Jesus told them what the owner would do (Mark 12:9; Luke 20:16). Jesus agreed with the people’s answer. The owner would kill those wicked men. He would rent the *vineyard to other farmers. They would pay him the proper rent each year.

This story gives a general impression. It would be a mistake to try to interpret every detail. *Israel was God’s *vineyard (Isaiah 5:1-7). That means that God has a special relationship with *Israel’s people. He wanted its leaders to guide the people so that their lives would please him. The leaders of the people were like the farmers. God sent his servants, the *prophets, to tell them what he wanted them to do. However, many of the leaders did not like God’s instructions, so they hated the *prophets. They beat and they killed many of the *prophets. But, the love of God for his people was very strong. He decided to give to them another opportunity to hear his message. So, God sent his Son, Jesus to them. Jesus was well aware of what would happen to him. *Israel’s leaders would hand him over to the *Romans. And the *Romans would kill him. The people who were responsible for that evil act would suffer a terrible judgement. Unless they *repented, God’s anger would be against them (Acts 2:36-40).

For 6 months, Jesus had been telling his *disciples about his death. In this story, he warned the leaders that they were opposing God. He even warned them that God would take the *kingdom from them. They understood that Jesus told this story against them. But they may not have realised the full meaning of the story.

Verses 42-43 Jesus reminds the leaders and the people about the *Scripture. They must have read Psalm 118:22-23.

It was common to build with stone. The builders had to choose carefully the correct stone for the purpose. They would throw out any stone that was not suitable. There is a story about a stone that the builders refused. The builders could not find where the stone should go. They threw the stone away. Then they discovered that it was the most important stone for the building.

We do not know what the most important stone was. It could have been a large stone in the base of the building. That stone would establish the shape of the building. It could have been the top stone on a corner of the building. That stone would hold the walls together. It could have been the top stone of the building. That stone would hold the whole structure together.

The leaders of God’s people were like builders. They should have been building the *kingdom of God. Jesus was like the stone that those leaders threw out. However, they had made a terrible mistake. God chose Jesus as the most important stone. All the purposes of God depended on Jesus.

In the history of *Israel, many of its leaders had failed to obey God. Even at that time, most of the important leaders did not recognise that Jesus was the *Christ. In a few days, they would persuade the *Romans to kill him. Then God would take his *kingdom (his rule) away from the powerful leaders who refused to obey him. God would give it to those people who would obey him. So, people from many different nations would join together with the people of God (1 Peter 2:9-10).

Verse 44 The stone has the power to destroy its enemies. That stone refers to Jesus. People may refuse and they may oppose Jesus. However, they will suffer because of it. On the day of judgement, God will punish them because of their attitude to Jesus.

Verses 45-46 The chief priests and the *Pharisees realised that Jesus spoke against them. Luke included the teachers of the law (Luke 20:19). Most of the teachers were *Pharisees. Many of the priests were *Sadducees. The *Pharisees and the *Sadducees were the two leading groups in the *Jewish religion. Also, they were the leaders of the nation. Those two groups were enemies but many of their leaders came together to oppose Jesus.

There were many *Pharisees, priests, and teachers of the law who wanted to serve God properly. They did not oppose Jesus and, of course, Jesus did not speak against them. They included such men as Joseph from Arimathea and Nicodemus (John 20:38-39). Later, many of them became Christians (Acts 6:7).

Such men would agree with Jesus’ words about the bad leaders of their nation. Those leaders refused to serve God. Jesus showed those evil leaders as the bad farmers who would kill the son. Then Jesus showed them as the builders who threw away the most important stone. That made them even more eager to arrest Jesus. However, they could not do it because they were afraid of the people. Just a few days earlier, very many people had come into Jerusalem with Jesus. The ordinary people believed definitely that Jesus was a *prophet, or someone more important than a *prophet. They even thought that he might be the *Christ.

Chapter 22

A story about a wedding *feast – Matthew 22:1-14

v1 Again, Jesus spoke to them in stories. v2 ‘The *kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding meal on behalf of his son. v3 The king had invited some people to the special meal. When the meal was ready, the king sent his servants to bring in the guests. But they refused to come.

v4 Again, the king sent other servants to those whom he had invited. “Tell them that my special dinner is ready. I have killed my *oxen and the young cows and everything is ready. Come to the wedding meal.” v5 However, the guests did not care and they went to do other things. One of them went to his farm. Another guest went to his business. v6 The rest of the guests seized the servants. And they beat and they killed the servants. v7 The king was very angry. He sent his army. They killed those guests who had murdered his servants. And the soldiers burned their city.

v8 Then the king said to his servants, “The wedding meal is ready. However, the people I had invited did not deserve to eat it. v9 Go to where the streets cross. Invite everyone that you meet to come to my special meal.” v10 So, the servants went into the streets. And they brought in all the people that they could find. There were good people and bad people. These new guests filled the wedding hall.

v11 The king came in to see the guests. He saw a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. v12 The king said to him, “Friend you should not be here without wedding clothes.” The man could not say anything. v13 Then the king ordered his servants, “Tie this man’s hands and his feet. And throw him out into the darkness. There people will weep and they will bite their teeth together because of the pain.” v14 God calls many people but he chooses only a few of them.’

Verses 1-7 Jesus told another story to the chief priests and the *Pharisees. He said that the *kingdom of heaven was like a wedding *feast. The king had prepared the *feast for the wedding of his son. It was a great honour to receive an invitation to such a *feast. And the invitation would be a command because it came from the king. It seems that all of the guests had accepted the invitations. And the king expected that they would all come. It was usual to expect a second invitation. It took a long time to prepare such a great *feast. And a large wedding *feast would continue for several days. When the *feast was ready, the king sent his servants to tell the guests. However, the guests refused to come.

Therefore, the king sent other servants to bring the guests. He told them that he had prepared the great *feast. He had killed the animals for the *feast. And he told them that everything was ready. Again, the guests refused to come. When they refuse in that way, they insulted the king. And they failed to obey his command.

Usually, nobody would refuse a royal invitation. In this story, the invitations were from the king of heaven. But the guests continued with their normal lives. One guest went to his farm. Another guest went to his business. They made all kinds of excuses. The truth is that those guests did not care. Each guest could have come but they refused to come. Some of them seized the king’s servants. The guests beat them and they killed some of the servants. The guests did not respect the king and they did not fear the king.

The king did not accept their excuses or their insults. He was very angry. He sent his soldiers to punish those guests. They came from the same city. The soldiers killed those guests who murdered the servants. And the soldiers burned the city. That would have taken some time. The king would not have delayed the *feast for that time.

Verses 8-10 The king would not allow the lack of guests to spoil the *feast. The guests whom he had chosen would not come. So, he would invite other guests. He sent his servants to where the streets cross. That was the place where the main roads went from the city. The poor people would be in those places.

The servants went out and they brought in all types of people. The wedding hall was full of guests.

Jesus told this story to show God’s desire for people. The *feast is in God’s *kingdom. He sent the *prophets to invite his people to come in. But so many of them would not accept that invitation. Now Jesus invites all people to come in. He sends Christians to bring in people from all nations. They must bring all types of people into God’s *kingdom. No person is beyond the reach of God. The good news of Jesus is for all people. God will receive everyone who comes to him. But that invitation may not remain open to those people who at first refuse it.

Verses 11-13 The king could not have known all the new guests at his *feast. His servants had brought them in from the streets of the city. It was reasonable for the king to come in to see the guests. Perhaps they introduced themselves to him. Many of those guests were poor people. They may not have possessed suitable clothes for such a wedding *feast. The king must have provided suitable clothes for all his guests. Then there would be no difference between the poor guests and other guests. Guests at a wedding would usually wear clean white clothes. However, one of the guests did not wear suitable clothes.

The king spoke to the man. He told the man that he should not be there without wedding clothes. The man had no excuse. He had the opportunity to have the right clothes. But he chose not to wear them. He knew that he was guilty. The king commanded his servants to tie the man’s hands and feet. He told the servants to throw the man into outer darkness.

This story is about the *kingdom of God. The people who eat at the wedding *feast have accepted Jesus as the Son of God. Outside of the *kingdom of God is the darkness. God will send those people who refuse the *Christ into that darkness. In that place, people will weep and they will be in pain.

Verse 14 God calls many people. There is an invitation for all people to come into God’s *kingdom. However, they have to come in the right way. The only way to enter the *kingdom of God is through the *Lord Jesus *Christ. We must accept that God has forgiven us. We must not think that we are good enough by ourselves. Many people hear the good news about Jesus but they do not accept it. Some people may agree with the good news but they do not accept it with *faith in Jesus. God chooses none of these people. God chooses those people who trust in Jesus for their life now and in the future.

A question about taxes – Matthew 22:15-22

v15 Then the *Pharisees left that place. They made plans. They wanted to make Jesus say something wrong. v16 So, they sent their *disciples with Herod’s *disciples to Jesus. They said, ‘Teacher you are sincere. We know that. And you teach the truth about God’s way. You are not afraid of what other people think about you. You do not worry about who they are. v17 Therefore, tell us what you think. Is it right for us to pay taxes to the *emperor or not?’

v18 Jesus knew their wicked plan. He said to them, ‘You are *hypocrites. You are trying to get me into bad trouble. v19 Show me the coin that you use to pay the tax.’ And they brought to him a *denarius. v20 Then Jesus asked them, ‘Whose image and name are on the coin?’ v21 They answered, ‘The *emperor’s.’ Then Jesus gave to them this answer. ‘Give to the *emperor the things that are *emperor’s. And give to God the things that are God’s.’ v22 When they heard it, this answer astonished them. And they left Jesus and they went away.

Verses 15-22 The *Pharisees went away. They discussed among themselves how to get Jesus to say something wrong. Then they could accuse him. Together with Herod’s *disciples, they thought about some difficult questions. They did not go to Jesus to ask the questions. Perhaps they were afraid of him. So, they sent some of their *disciples instead.

Those *disciples pretended to be sincere. They called Jesus teacher. Usually that would show that they respected him. But here it was *hypocrisy. They said that Jesus taught the truth about God’s way. Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth. And he did not give special attention to any person. Therefore, they expected to get an honest answer from Jesus.

The *Romans were the rulers over the nation called *Israel. They demanded that the people paid taxes to them. The people hated paying taxes to those foreign rulers. The *disciples of the *Pharisees and the *disciples of Herod asked a simple question. They asked whether it was right to pay taxes to the *Romans or not. Really, they asked whether it was legal under God’s law. There had to be a simple answer yes or no. If the answer was yes, the people would not like it. That could cause the people to turn away from Jesus. If the answer was no, the *Romans would not like it. Then the *Jewish leaders could arrange for the *Romans to arrest Jesus.

Jesus was too wise for such a question to cause him a problem. He knew what they were trying to do. He called them *hypocrites. They did not want information. They were not genuine.

He asked them to show him a *denarius. It was a silver *Roman coin. They had to pay the taxes with such coins. He asked them whose face and name was on the coin. They told him that it was the face and the name of the *emperor, probably Tiberius. Then Jesus gave to them his answer. He told them to pay to the *emperor what belonged to him. Also, they must give to God what belonged to him.

The answer astonished them and they had failed in their purpose. Then they left Jesus.

A question about life after death – Matthew 22:23-33

v23 That same day some *Sadducees came to Jesus. The *Sadducees did not believe that people would rise from death. They came to ask Jesus a question. v24 They said, ‘Teacher, Moses gave to us this rule. “If a man dies without children, his brother must marry the widow. And they must have children on behalf of the dead man.” v25 Once there were 7 brothers among us. The first one married and he died. Because he had no children, his brother married the widow. v26 Then the second brother died. Then the third brother and all the brothers died. v27 Last of all the woman died. v28 All the 7 brothers had married her. When people rise from death, whose wife will she be?’

v29 Jesus answered them, ‘You are wrong. You do not know what the *Scripture says. And you do not know God’s power. v30 When people rise from death, they do not marry. And nobody gives another person in marriage. They are like the *angels in heaven. v31 But God has spoken about the life after death. You must have read what God said to you. v32 God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” He is not the God of dead people. He is the God of people that are alive.’ v33 The crowd heard this. And what Jesus taught astonished them.

Verses 23-28 The *Sadducees were a group in the *Jewish religion. The name *Sadducee may have come from Zadok. Zadok was a priest in the time of David (2 Samuel 19:11). They did not accept all of the oral traditions of the *Pharisees. They believed in the first 5 books of the Bible. We do not know whether they accepted the rest of the *Old Testament. But they did not believe that there was a life after death. And they did not believe in spirits or *angels (Acts 23:8).

The *Pharisees and Herod’s *disciples had failed. Therefore, that same day the *Sadducees came with their difficult question. There was an ancient custom. When a man died without children, his brother would marry the widow (Genesis 38:8). The first child with the widow would be as the child of the dead brother. The purpose of the custom was to keep the dead man’s property in his family. The custom became a law where the brothers lived in the same place (Deuteronomy 25:5-6).

The *Sadducees said that there were 7 brothers. Because of the law, the widow of the first brother married each of the brothers as the previous one died. But she had no children with any of the brothers. She was the last person to die. The *Sadducees asked which one of the 7 brothers would be the woman’s husband in the next life.

The *Sadducees thought that their question would confuse Jesus. The story must show that there is no life after death.

Verses 29-33 Jesus told the *Sadducees that they were wrong. They did not understand the *Scripture. And they did not know God’s power. They supposed that life after death would be the same as this life. (However, they did not believe that there would be a life after death.) Life after death will be quite different from life here on earth. Life here on earth ends in death. Life after death will never end and there will be no more death.

Jesus states as fact that people will rise from death. In this life, people marry. In the life to come, there is no marriage. In the life to come, people will not live in families. And they will not come together as husband and wife. They will live like the *angels. The *angels do not marry and they do not die. The *Sadducees did not believe in *angels but again they were wrong.

Jesus answered the *Sadducees. He showed them what God said. God called to Moses from the bush that burned. God told Moses that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:1-6). Therefore, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were still alive but they had all died. They had or they will have life after death. They are alive with God. This proves that there is a life after death.

The way that Jesus answered the *Sadducees astonished the crowd.

The most important of God’s commands – Matthew 22:34-40

v34 The *Pharisees heard how Jesus had answered the *Sadducees. The *Pharisees came together. v35 One of them was an expert in the law. He asked Jesus a question to test him. v36 ‘Teacher, which command in the Law is the most important?’ v37 Jesus answered, ‘You shall love the *Lord your God with all your heart. And you shall love him with all your *soul and with all your mind. v38 This is the first and the most important command. v39 And the second command is like the first. You shall love your neighbour as yourself. v40 All the law and what the *prophets wrote depend on these two commands.’

Verses 34-40 The *Sadducees had failed. The *Pharisees heard how Jesus had answered the *Sadducees. Then the *Pharisees got together to discuss the situation. One of them, a lawyer, agreed to ask Jesus a question. He asked Jesus which command in the law was the most important. The law refers to the first 5 books in the Bible.

The *Jewish teachers divided the commands between the most important and the less important. All the commands came from God. Therefore, the teachers could not neglect any of the commands. But some commands were more important than other commands. The teachers found 613 of those commands in the Bible. The teachers argued about which of those 613 commands was the most important. Maybe they could use Jesus’ answer against him.

Jesus chose the command to love God. We must love God with all that we are (Deuteronomy 6:5). That is the first and the most important command. Sincere *Jews spoke this command every day.

Jesus added as the second command that we must love our neighbours as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). Love for God must cause us to love other people. We cannot love God and hate people.

These two commands include all the other commands. They are the whole law. All the other commands depend on these two commands. Love is the most important command, but it is not the only command. If we really obeyed these first two commands, we would obey all the other commands.

All the *Old Testament, both the law and the *prophets, depend on these two commands.

Jesus asks the *Pharisees a question – Matthew 22:41-46

v41 While the *Pharisees were together, Jesus asked them a question. v42 ‘What do you think about the *Christ? Whose son is he?’ They answered, ‘He is the Son of David.’ v43 Then Jesus said to them, ‘But David called him *Lord. And David was speaking by means of the *Holy Spirit. v44 David said by the Spirit, “The *Lord spoke to my *Lord. Sit at my right side until I put your enemies under your feet.” v45 David calls the *Christ *Lord. So, how can the *Christ be his son?’ v46 Nobody could answer that question. And from that day, nobody dared to ask Jesus any more questions.

Verses 41-46 Jesus asked the *Pharisees a question of his own. He asked them what they thought about the *Christ. He asked them if they knew who was the *ancestor of the *Christ.

In Psalm 110:1, the *LORD is God. He tells David’s *Lord to sit at God’s right hand. David’s *Lord is the *Christ. The *Christ would have an authority much superior to a *throne on earth. He would sit in the highest place with God. Then God will defeat all his enemies.

The *Pharisees understood that the *Christ would be a *descendant of David. They called the *Christ the Son of David. Usually they thought that the *ancestor was greater than the *descendant. Then David must be greater than the *Christ. In this case, the *Christ was great David’s greater son.

David wrote Psalm 110. He wrote as the *Holy Spirit led him. In that Psalm, David calls the *Christ his *Lord. David knew that his *descendant would be superior to him. The *Pharisees knew this. They accepted that David spoke about the *Christ his *descendant.

If the *Christ were David’s son, to the *Jews he would not be greater than David. If the *Christ was David’s *Lord, then he must be greater than David. Jesus gave this puzzle to the *Pharisees. And they could not answer it.

Jesus in his human nature was a *descendant of David. As the *descendant of David, Jesus was a man. But the *Holy Spirit declared that Jesus was the Son of God (*Romans 1:3-4). As the Son of God, Jesus has the same nature as God. The *Holy Spirit proved this as he raised Jesus from death.

The *Pharisees, Herod’s *disciples, the *Sadducees and the teachers of the law had all tried to find some way to accuse Jesus. However, he defeated their purpose by his answers to their questions. Then he asked a question that they could not answer. From that time, they did not dare to ask him any more questions.

Chapter 23

Jesus accuses some of the leaders – Matthew 23:1-36

v1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his *disciples. v2 ‘The teachers of the law and the *Pharisees sit in Moses’ place. v3 Therefore, you should listen to what they teach and you should obey it. However, do not do what they do. They do not do what they teach. v4 They make loads that are hard to carry. And they lay them on people’s shoulders. But they will not in any way help to remove the load.

v5 They do all their deeds so that other people can see them. They make the *scripture boxes that they wear larger. They make the borders of their clothes longer. v6 And they love to have the most important seats at *feasts and in the *synagogues. v7 They love people to greet them and to respect them in the market. And they like it when people call them teacher.

v8 But let nobody call you teacher. You have only one teacher and you are all brothers and sisters. v9 Do not call any person on earth father. You have one Father and he is in heaven. v10 Let nobody call you master. You have only one master and he is the *Christ. v11 The most important person among you will be your servant. v12 Whoever makes himself important, God will make him of no importance. Whoever is humble, God will make him great.

v13 How terrible it will be for you who are teachers of the law and the *Pharisees. You are *hypocrites. You lock people out of the *kingdom of heaven. But you do not go in yourselves. And you do not allow other people to go in. [v14 How terrible for you men who teach the *Law and for you *Pharisees! You have double standards! You rob widows when you take away their homes. Then you say long prayers in public! Your punishment will be very severe!] v15 How terrible it will be for you who are teachers of the law and the *Pharisees. You are *hypocrites. You cross over the land and the sea to gain a single person to follow you. And then you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are.

v16 How terrible it will be for you, blind guides. You say, “You may make a promise with the *temple as the witness. However, that promise means nothing. You may make a promise with the gold in the *temple as the witness. Then you must do what you promised.” v17 You are blind fools. The *temple is greater than the gold. The gold is holy because it is in the *temple. v18 You say, “You may make a promise with the *altar as the witness. However, that promise means nothing. You may make a promise with the gift on the *altar as the witness. Then you must do what you promised.” v19 You are blind. The *altar is greater than the gift. The gift is holy because it is on the *altar. v20 You may refer to the *altar as the witness to your promise. Then all that is on the *altar is a witness as well.v21 You may refer to the *temple as the witness to your promise. Then God, who lives in the *temple, is a witness as well. v22 You may refer to the heaven as the witness to your promise. If you do that, it includes God’s *throne. And God’s *throne includes God who sits on his *throne.

v23 How terrible it will be for you, the teachers of the law and the *Pharisees. You are *hypocrites. You give to God one 10th of your garden plants such as mint, dill and cumin. But you neglect the more important parts of the law. You are not fair or right toward other people. You do not pity those people who need it. And you are not loyal to God. You ought to have done these as well as the other things. v24 You guide the people, but you are blind. You take a small fly out of your drink, but you swallow a camel.

v25 How terrible it will be for you, the teachers of the law and the *Pharisees. You are *hypocrites. You wash the outside of cups and dishes. But inside they are dirty because you are greedy. And they are full of your excess desire to satisfy yourselves. v26 You are blind *Pharisees. First, clean the inside of the cup. Then you can clean the outside as well.

v27 How terrible it will be for you, the teachers of the law and the *Pharisees. You are *hypocrites. You are like graves that are white on the outside. They look beautiful but inside they are full of dead people’s bones. And inside there is all kinds of dirty things. v28 It is the same with you. People look at you and to them you appear to be good. But inside you are full of *hypocrisy and *sins.

v29 How terrible it will be for you, the teachers of the law and the *Pharisees. You are *hypocrites. You build the *prophets’ graves. And you make beautiful the graves of good people. v30 You say, “If only we had lived in the time of our *ancestors. We would not have done what they did. We would not have killed the *prophets.” v31 So, you are witnesses against yourselves. You are the *descendants of those people who killed the *prophets. v32 Complete the *sins that your *ancestors have done.

v33 You are snakes that come from a family of poisonous snakes. You will not escape God’s judgement. v34 Therefore, I send to you *prophets, wise men and teachers. You will murder some of these people. Some of them you will *crucify. Some of them you will beat in your *synagogues. And you will pursue them from one town to another town. v35 As a result, the responsibility for the murder of all innocent people on the earth will be yours. This includes the murders of innocent Abel to that of Zechariah, Barachiah’s son. You murdered Zechariah between the inner *temple and the *altar. v36 I am telling you the truth. All these things will happen to these people who are living now.’

Verses 1-3 Jesus spoke to the crowds about the teachers of the law and the *Pharisees. His purpose was to warn about the wrong ways that the leaders of religion often behave. Of course, there were many wrong religions at the time of Christ. The *Romans *worshipped many false gods, that included their *emperor. The *Sadducees had the right God, but several wrong beliefs (Acts 23:8).

However, Jesus spoke about the leaders of a good religion. The *Pharisees believed the right things. The teachers taught God’s law to the people. That is how religion should be. The problem was that many leaders of that right religion had the wrong attitudes. It was important for Jesus to warn about that problem. Even today, some leaders of the Christian religion are making similar mistakes.

Most of the teachers of the law were *Pharisees. Moses was the great leader by means of whom they received God’s law. Those men sat in Moses’ place. That meant that they were leaders and they were teachers in *Israel. Their work was to teach the law. Therefore, people should obey what those men taught from the law. Jesus did not say that people must obey the traditions of the *Pharisees. The most important laws are to love God and to love other people.

Jesus told the people not to do what those teachers did. The teachers did not behave in the way that they taught people to behave. Then, Jesus described some of the actions of those *Pharisees and the teachers of the law. Not all the actions that Jesus describes are wrong. It is not wrong to wear impressive clothes or to sit in an important place. Jesus was using those things as a way to describe the wrong attitudes that many *Pharisees and teachers had.

Verse 4 The *Pharisees and the teachers of the law should have taught the people to obey God’s law. But they added to the law all kinds of rules. They tried to make rules for all circumstances. The result was a large number of rules, many of which were not necessary. Those rules were like heavy loads that were too hard for people to carry. The people needed help. But many teachers of the law and the *Pharisees became too proud to help the ordinary people. The *Pharisees were not like Jesus. Jesus’ load is light and he promises rest (Matthew 11:28-30).

Verse 5 The *Pharisees liked people to see how good they were. Many of them tried to carry out their good deeds in public. Perhaps they thought that they were showing the people how to serve God properly. However, many of them became proud about the things that they were doing. They wanted the people to think that they were very holy. They desired that people should respect them. That seemed to be more important to them than what God thought.

The *scripture boxes were usually small leather boxes. They called those little boxes ‘phylacteries’. The boxes contained tiny *rolls of a similar material to paper. On the *rolls were four passages from the law in the *Old Testament. These passages were Exodus 13:2-10; Exodus 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Deuteronomy 11:13-21. Men wore the boxes on their arms and they tied the boxes to the front of their heads. Most *Jews wore those boxes at home or in the *synagogue at the time of prayer. However, some of the *Pharisees were trying to impress people by their use of those *scripture boxes. They made their *scripture boxes wider to make them more noticeable. They prayed in public so that everyone would see them (Matthew 6:5).

Moses told the *Jews to add to the corners of their clothes. Those corner pieces had a blue string in them. When a *Jew saw his corner pieces, he would remember to obey God’s commands (Numbers 15:37-41). The *Pharisees made their corner pieces longer than other people did. People would see those larger corner pieces. They would know that the *Pharisees tried to obey the commands.

It was not wrong for the *Pharisees to pray in public. They wanted to obey God’s law. It was not wrong for them to show that. However, it was wrong if they tried to impress other people by means of those things. Our prayers must be sincere. We must not try to impress other people as we pray. We must obey God’s law whether other people see it or not. Our duty to God is much more important than what other people think about us.

Verse 6 At *feasts, the host chose each person’s place. The host invited important people to the places near to him, in order to give them honour. The most important places were next to the host, on his right side and his left side. As the leaders of their religion, many *Pharisees loved to be in those important places.

We cannot be certain about the arrangement in the *synagogues at that time. It seems that there was a platform at the front. The *preacher would sit on that platform as he taught. Either behind the *preacher or in front of the platform there would be the chief seats. Probably the people who sat in the chief seats would look towards the people. The chief seats were for the most important people. Many *Pharisees loved to be in the chief seats.

It was not wrong that the people gave those important places to the leaders of their religion. It was not wrong that the *Pharisees accepted that honour. However, many people care too much about their own importance. So, they do not give God the honour that he deserves. Also, they did not care enough about other people.

Verse 7 The market was the public place in each town or village where people met together. Many *Pharisees loved it when people greeted them as someone of importance. They liked to receive honour from those people whom they regarded as less important. They enjoyed it when people called them teacher. In that society, to call someone ‘teacher’ meant that the person was superior to the speaker. They considered it very important that they had that rank in society.

Verses 8-10 There are two words for teacher. The first one means a superior teacher. The second one means a person who teaches. Jesus told the *disciples not to let anyone call them superior. All the *disciples are just brothers and sisters. No *disciple is superior to any other *disciple. We do have many teachers. However, they are in no way superior to any other Christian.

We have one real teacher and that is the *Lord Jesus. This second word teacher does not mean superior. However, Jesus is superior because he is our *lord and master.

We each have a natural father and it is right to call him father. But the *disciples must not give to any man the honour that God alone deserves. All the *disciples are brothers and sisters in God’s family. Therefore, all of them have the one Father in heaven. He is God.

In the same way, the *disciples have one master and he is the *Lord Jesus.

Verses 11-12 The attitude among the *disciples must be the opposite of the wrong attitude that many *Pharisees showed. The most important *disciples are the ones who serve the other *disciples. Many of the *Pharisees tried to make themselves important. God opposes proud people. God will refuse those people who make themselves important. But God will make the humble person great.

Verse 13 Jesus spoke to the teachers of the law and the *Pharisees who were in the crowd. He said how terrible it would be for them 7 times (verses 13, 15, 16, 23, 25, 27 and 29). In all of these except verse 16, Jesus called them *hypocrites. A *hypocrite is someone who pretends in order to give a false impression. What they did was for its effect on other people. The fate of those *hypocrites was a terrible one.

Jesus was not saying that all the *Pharisees were *hypocrites. Rather, he was warning them, and all the leaders of religion, that they must not be *hypocrites. That is a great danger for everyone who is a leader of religion. It is very wrong for leaders to pretend in order to impress other people. Their *faith and their actions must always be sincere.

Jesus *preached about the *kingdom of heaven. People could enter the *kingdom when they had *faith in the *Christ. For them the way was open. However, many of the *Pharisees and the teachers refused to accept what Jesus taught. They said that they believed in God. But they did not obey God. They had become enemies of God. They had opposed Jesus, who is the Son of God. Therefore, they would not enter the *kingdom of heaven.

As leaders of the people, they should have taught people how to enter the *kingdom. But they had shut the door to the *kingdom. They would not go in. And they stopped other people who desired to go in. It is terrible that any leader of religion should do such a thing. But that happens whenever leaders care more about their own importance than about God.

Verse 14 In some Bibles there is no verse 14.

Verse 15 The *Pharisees and teachers made great efforts to get other people to join their religion. Travel was not easy at that time. However, those men went everywhere to persuade even one person to join their group. Then they would train that person in their own religion. If they taught that person to serve God, that would be very good. However, a *hypocrite can only teach another person to become a *hypocrite like him. That is terrible. That new person would have even less chance of *salvation than his teacher.

‘Child of hell’ was a common phrase for a very wicked person. So, those leaders and teachers would make the new person twice as bad as they were previously.

Verses 16-22 Jesus calls the people who were teaching the wrong things ‘blind guides’. If a guide cannot see then he cannot lead anyone in the right way. In the same manner, those leaders and teachers were leading people away from the *kingdom of God.

Then Jesus gives an example of how they were teaching wrong things to the people. They were acting as if their own rules and traditions were more important than God’s law.

The *Pharisees had strange rules for people that made promises. To make a promise stronger, a person could use a superior authority as witness. Jesus gives to us examples of those odd rules. If the *temple was his witness, the promise had no force. So the person need not do what he had promised. If the gold in the *temple was his witness, the promise must stand. So the person must do what he had promised. Jesus shows that was not sensible. The *temple is more important than the gold in it. The *temple included all that was in it. In the same way, if the *altar was his witness the promise had no force. If the gift on the *altar was his witness, the promise must stand. That was not sensible because the *altar was more important than the gift. The *altar included all that was on it.

If the person used heaven as his witness, heaven included God’s *throne. And God’s *throne included God who sat on the *throne.

Jesus calls the people who followed such rules ‘blind fools’.

Whoever makes a promise must carry out his promise. There should be no need for a witness to make the promise sure.

Those rules might seem very strange. However, they are typical of the rules that people follow in every religion. Those rules are often just traditions without any sensible purpose. In fact, the effect of such rules is to give people an excuse not to obey God.

Verses 23-24 Again, Jesus said it would be terrible for those *hypocrites.

To give a 10th was an old custom (Genesis 14:20). In the *Old Testament law, the *Israelites had to give a 10th to the *Lord (Leviticus 27:30-33). They had to give a 10th of their income to the *Levites (Numbers 18:21). Then the *Levites gave a 10th of what they had received to the priests (Numbers 18:25-28).

The *Pharisees obeyed that law in an extreme way. They gave to God the 10th even from the small plants in their gardens. Probably they did much more than the law ordered them to do. It was not wrong for them to give those gifts. In fact, Jesus says that they were right to do it. However, many *Pharisees concentrated too much on those small matters. Then they neglected matters that were more important.

The more important matters that Jesus mentions are right judgements, kindness, and trust in God. So those people considered themselves good because they obeyed the rules in the law. However, they were not good because their attitudes were wrong. They had the wrong attitudes both towards God, and towards other people. So they were not obeying the two most important commands (Matthew 22:35-40). If they had loved God, they would have loved other people.

They were the leaders in their religion but they could not see the truth. With humour, Jesus says that they take a fly from their drink but they swallow a camel. They would be right not to eat the fly (Leviticus 11:20-23 and 11:41). However, that would only be a very small mistake to make. The camel was the largest animal in their country. To miss a camel would be an immense mistake! And the law said that they must not eat a camel (Leviticus 11:4).

They were careful to obey small regulations. But they failed to understand what the law meant.

Verses 25-26 For the 5th time, Jesus said how terrible it would be for the *hypocrites. The *Pharisees were careful with things that people could see. They wanted to impress the people so that the people would respect them. But many of the *Pharisees were less careful about the things that people could not see.

Of course, they drank from cups and they served food on dishes. The *Pharisees had special rules about how to clean cups and dishes (Mark 7:4).

Those *Pharisees who were not serving God properly were like cups and dishes. They made sure that their lives seemed pure (good and right) on the outside. However, inside themselves, where it did not show, they had the wrong attitudes. Many of them had become greedy. They wanted to please themselves rather than to please God.

Again, Jesus calls the *Pharisees ‘blind’. That is a way to describe them. It means that they did not understand. They could not understand that the inside is more important than the outside. Clean the inside first and then clean the outside. When a person is clean on the inside, it will have an effect on the outside. That means that a person’s inner attitudes are even more important than his actions. Only God can really ‘clean’ a person. Only God can change a person’s attitudes. However, when a person’s attitudes are right, that will bring about a great change in his actions.

Verses 27-28 Jesus continued to warn the teachers of the law and the *Pharisees. The effect of religion should be to give life to people’s spirits. However, when its leaders are evil, the opposite happens. It brings death to people’s spirits. Jesus compared the evil leaders of religion to white graves. Jesus said these things a few days before the *Passover. In the law, if a person touched a grave, he would he could not join in the public ceremonies of his religion. So, such a person would not be able to eat at the *Passover.

Graves were not always where people would expect them to be. They could be in an open field. If nobody had looked after a grave well, a traveller may not see it. He could touch a grave by accident. To avoid such accidents, each year the people painted the graves white. They did that on the 15th day of the month before the *Passover. Then travellers could easily see where the graves were.

The outsides of the graves were clean and bright. But inside the graves were the bones of dead people.

The *Pharisees and the teachers of the law looked very good people. But, many of them were full of *hypocrisy and other *sins.

Verses 29-32 For the last of the 7 times, Jesus said that it would be terrible for those *hypocrites. They seemed to give honour to the *prophets. They built graves in memory of the *prophets and other good people. But they continued in the *sins that the *prophets warned about.

Their *ancestors murdered the *prophets. The *Pharisees and the teachers said that they would not have killed the *prophets. They would not have done what their *ancestors had done. However, if the leaders continued to behave in that evil way, their own words would be a witness against them. They were not better people than their *ancestors were. And many of the leaders would be guilty of the same *sins.

Verses 33-34 Jesus repeats the words of John the *Baptist. ‘John saw that many *Pharisees and *Sadducees came to the place for *baptism. He said to them, “You are like children of poisonous snakes. I do not know who warned you to run away from God’s anger” ’ (Matthew 3:7). But Jesus adds that they would not escape God’s anger. Their attitudes, their words and their deeds showed that they were behaving like their *ancestors.

God would send more *prophets, wise men and teachers. But the *hypocrites would do to them what their *ancestors had done in the past. They would hand over Jesus so that the *Romans would *crucify him. They would throw stones at Stephen and kill him (Acts 7:54-60). They would *persecute Christians in all places where they went. They would murder some Christians and *crucify some of them. They would beat Christians and they would force them to leave their *synagogues. The *synagogues were also the local law courts. The local leaders could beat a person up to 39 times with a whip.

Verses 35-36 Those *hypocrites had the same attitude as those people who killed the *prophets. Therefore, they would be as guilty as their *ancestors. Their *ancestors were responsible for all the murders of innocent people. The *hypocrites would suffer the same punishment as their *ancestors. That had happened in the *Old Testament. God wanted them to *repent and to change their attitudes. He was willing to forgive any of them who *repented. However, God does not forgive people who refuse to *repent.

Cain killed his brother Abel. That was the first murder that the *Old Testament records (Genesis 4:8). In the *Hebrew *Old Testament, the books are in a different order. The last book is 2 Chronicles. Therefore, the last murder that the *Old Testament records is the murder of Zechariah. They threw stones at him until he died. They did that in the *temple (2 Chronicles 24:20-21).

Zechariah was the son of Barachiah but, in the *Old Testament, Zechariah appears as the son of Jehoiada. The words ‘son of’ often meant *descendant rather than immediate son. That could explain the different names. Also, it was common for a person to have two names. This Zechariah was a priest. That would explain why he was between the inner *temple and the *altar.

There have been other ideas about who this Zechariah was. The *prophet Zechariah was the son of Berechiah (Zechariah 1:1). But there is no record that anyone murdered him. The *Jewish history writer, Josephus, wrote about the murder of Zechariah, son of Baruch, in Jerusalem. They killed him before the *Romans destroyed Jerusalem in *AD 70.

All God’s judgements are right. Soon, Jerusalem’s people would suffer greatly when the *Roman army destroyed their city. The leaders of its religion had responsibility for what would happen there. When they should have been humble in front of God, many of them were acting proudly. That was why those leaders opposed the *prophets. That was why they did not accept Christ. That was why God’s judgement was against them.

Jesus feels sorry for Jerusalem – Matthew 23:37-39

v37 ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem the city that kills the *prophets. You throw stones at those people whom God sends to you. How often I wanted to gather your children together the way that a chicken gathers her young ones. She gathers them under her wings. But you would not let me. v38 Now your house will become empty. v39 I am telling you the truth. You will not see me again until I return. Then you will say this about me. “God bless him who comes in the name of the *Lord.” ‘

Verses 37-39 Jerusalem was the city that God chose. It was the holy city where the *Jews built God’s *temple. Jerusalem was special to Jesus and to the *Jews. But, at many times in history, the people there refused to serve God. They had killed many of the *prophets. They threw stones at some of them until they died.

The fate of that city upset Jesus deeply. He knew what would happen to Jerusalem in the future. He loved the people and he wanted to save them. As a chicken protects her young ones, Jesus wanted to protect them. But so many of Jerusalem’s people would not come to him. He was the *Christ that God promised to send to them. However, very many of them would not accept him as the *Christ. Jesus knew that he would die there too. The *Jewish leaders would cause the *Romans to *crucify him.

In a special way, God had been at home in Jerusalem. But he would go away from it. The house would be empty without God. The house probably meant the city of Jerusalem. But it could refer to the *temple that was in Jerusalem. It was their house now, not God’s. Jesus knew what would happen in the future. In *AD 70, the *Romans fought against Jerusalem and they destroyed the *temple and the city.

Jesus had come to the city for the last time. It was the last opportunity for the people to accept him as the *Christ. His time on earth was at an end. However, Jesus has promised to return. That event is still in the future. When he comes, the people of Jerusalem will accept Jesus. Then they will say those words, which come from Psalm 118:26.

These were Jesus’ last public words to *Israel that the *Gospels record. When Jesus had spoken them, he left the *temple.

Chapter 24

The enemy will destroy the *temple – Matthew 24:1-35

v1 Jesus left the *temple and he was walking away. His *disciples came to him to show him the *temple buildings. v2 Jesus said to them, ‘Look at all these buildings. I tell you the truth. There will not be one stone left upon another stone. The enemy will throw them all down to the ground.’

v3 As Jesus sat on the *Mount of Olives, his *disciples came to be alone with him. Then they asked him these questions. ‘Tell us, when will these things happen? How will we know that it is time for you to return? What will show to us that it is the end of this age?’ v4 Jesus replied, ‘Be careful. Do not let anyone make you believe lies. v5 Many people will come in my name. Each of those people will say, “I am the *Christ.” And many people will believe them. v6 You will hear about wars and stories about wars that will come. However, you must not be afraid. These things must happen before the end comes. v7 Nations will fight against other nations. *Kingdoms will fight against other *kingdoms. There will be times when there is no food for people to eat. And there will be *earthquakes in various places. v8 But all these things are like the first pains before a child is born.

v9 Then they will deliver you to *persecution and they will kill you. People in every nation will hate you because you believe in me. v10 At that time, many people will turn away from me. They will hand over each other to their enemies. And they will hate each other. v11 Many false *prophets will come. And they will cause many people to believe lies. v12 Because of the increase of evil deeds, many will not love as they once loved. v13 But God will save those people who continue to the end. v14 This good news about the *kingdom will spread through the entire world. It will be a witness to all the nations. And then the end will come.

v15 You will see in the holy place the awful thing that destroys. Daniel spoke about this. Everyone who reads this must try to understand. v16 Then the people in Judea must run away to the mountains. v17 Some people may be on the roofs of their houses. They must not go down to take anything out of their houses. v18 People in the fields must not go back to get their coats. v19 It will be terrible for women who are expecting babies. And it will be terrible for the women who are feeding babies at their breasts. v20 When this happens you must run away. But pray that it will not be in the winter or on a *Sabbath day. v21 People will suffer terrible things at that time. There has been nothing as bad since the world began. And there will never be anything like it again. v22 If God does not reduce the number of those days, nobody will remain alive. However, God will reduce those days because of the people whom he has chosen.

v23 Then someone might say to you, “Look. There is the *Christ” or “Here is the *Christ.” Do not believe it. v24 False *Christs and false *prophets will come. They will do wonderful things and powerful deeds. They will try to cause God’s people to believe their lies if that were possible. v25 But I have warned you before it happens. v26 People may say to you, “The *Christ is in the desert.” Do not go there. They may say, “The *Christ is in the inner rooms.” Do not believe it. v27 The Son of Man will come like the lightning. Lightning flashes across the whole sky, it shines from the east to the west. v28 Wherever there is a dead body, the *vultures will gather.

v29 Immediately after those awful days in which people suffer so much, “The sun will be dark. And the moon will not shine its light. The stars will fall from the sky. And God will shake the powers in the heavens.” v30 Then the Son of Man’s sign will appear in the sky. Then all the people on the earth will be sad and they will cry. They will see the Son of Man come on the clouds in the sky. He will come with power and great *glory. v31 He will send his *angels with the sound of a loud *trumpet. They will gather his people from the 4 winds, from one end of heaven to the other end.

v32 Learn a lesson from the *fig tree. Its branches become green and its leaves appear. Then you know that summer is near. v33 In the same way, you will see all these things. Then you will know that the time is near. He is ready even at the doors. v34 I am telling you the truth. All these things will happen while the people of this time are alive. v35 Heaven and earth will come to an end but my words will always remain.’

These passages in the *Gospels were about future events (Matthew 24-25; Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21). God would punish the people because they refused to accept the *Christ. Also, it was about the behaviour of those people who believe. It shows how they ought to live.

These passages are difficult to understand. Sometimes Jesus talked about when the *Romans would destroy Jerusalem. That happened in *AD 70. And sometimes Jesus talked about the end of the age, which is still in the future. Some of what Jesus said could be about both events. The first event happened after most of the leaders of the *Jews had refused to accept Jesus. The second event will happen after people have *preached the *gospel to the entire world.

The passages begin with the enemy who destroys the *temple. And they end with the *Christ when he comes for the final time at the end of the age.

Verses 1-2 Jesus and his *disciples left the *temple. Jesus did not go to the *temple again. As they went, the *disciples showed him the *temple building. Jesus knew the *temple very well. And he had taught there during the past few days. The *Jews were very proud of the *temple. And the *disciples admired the magnificent building.

King Herod had started to build the *temple and it had taken 46 years already. It was still not complete (John 2:20). He made it with large and beautiful stones. Josephus, the *Jewish history writer, wrote that in one place the stones were 25 *cubits long. They were 8 *cubits high and 12 *cubits wide. In another place, the stones were 45 *cubits long. Those stones were 5 *cubits high and 6 *cubits wide. A *cubit was about 18 inches (45 centimetres).

Probably the *disciples expected some nice remark from Jesus. Instead, Jesus told them that an enemy would destroy the *temple. There would not be one of those large stones left on top of another stone. In *AD 70, the *Roman army destroyed the *temple. Jesus said that it would happen.

Verse 3 Jesus and the *disciples went to the *Mount of Olives. As they sat there, they had a wonderful view of Jerusalem and of the *temple. As they talked, the *disciples asked Jesus a question. The question had three parts to it. The first part was about when the enemy would destroy the *temple. The other two parts were about when Jesus would return and about the *end of this age. That means the end of human history. In the minds of the *disciples, there was a connection between these events. Maybe they thought that they were the same event.

The *temple was very important to them. Maybe they could not think about a future without the *temple. When the enemy destroyed it, it would be the start of the end. In his reply, Jesus separated the three parts of the question. The three parts would not happen at the same time.

Verses 4-8 Jesus will return before the end of the age. But that would not be soon. Much had to happen before the time when he would return. There will be many false *prophets and teachers of religion. Jesus warns his *disciples not to believe them. Many men will say that he is the *Christ. All these false *Christs will attract many people who will follow them.

There may have been false *prophets while the *disciples were alive. But there is no record of false *Christs before the enemy destroyed Jerusalem. Jesus was preparing those people who believe in him. He was preparing them for the future.

Before the end comes, there will be wars between nations. There will be many *earthquakes. People will die because of the lack of food and because of diseases. There will be strange things in the sky. Those things are the beginning of the troubles that will come upon the world. Before the birth of a child, the mother suffers pains. So, before the end of the age, those things will happen.

However, people who believe in Jesus should not be afraid.

Verses 9-14 From that time onward, Christians would suffer *persecution in many parts of the world. Many Christians will die because they believe in Jesus. There will be people in every nation who hate Christians. They will not hate Christians because of what they do. They will hate Christians because they belong to the *Christ.

This situation will get much worse as the *end times approach. Until the end of time, people will *persecute the people who believe in Jesus. Because of the increase of *persecution, many people who have believed Jesus will turn away from their *faith. Some of them will even become enemies of the *Lord. Some of them will assist the people who *persecute Christians. They will give their friends to their enemies. They will hate each other.

All through history there have been false *prophets. And many people have accepted what they have taught. But in the *end times, this problem will increase. There will be many false *prophets and many people will believe them.

There will be an increase of evil things in the world. There will be terrible times in the *end times. Because of this, many people will not believe in God. Many who loved God will not love him any longer. And love between people will reduce.

God will protect the people who really trust him. They may have to suffer *persecution. People may kill them because of their *faith. People may kill the body but they can do no more. However, the real life of a Christian is with the *Lord Jesus. To those Christians who continue to the end, God promises *eternal life. This is a promise for Christians in every age.

God has established his *kingdom by means of the *Lord Jesus. Now people can enter that *kingdom because of what Jesus has done on behalf of us all. This good news must go into the whole world. That is the task for Christians to do. Jesus told his *disciples, ‘Go to the people in all nations. Make them my *disciples. *Baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the *Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have taught to you. And I am with you always, even until the end of this age’ (Matthew 28:19-20). When Christians have done that, then the end will come.

Verse 15 Daniel spoke three times about an awful thing that destroys. That thing will be in the holy place in the *temple.

Daniel *prophesied the future for *Israel. That future was in terms of 70 weeks of years. After 7 and 62 of those periods, the foreign ruler would kill an important person (Daniel 9:26). We understand that that person was Jesus. The *Romans killed Jesus in about *AD 30. After that event, the foreign ruler will destroy the city and the holy place. We understand that this happened in *AD 66-70. The *Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the *temple.

Daniel does not tell us when the remaining week of years will begin. But the foreign ruler will make an agreement with many for one week of years. We understand the many to be *Israel. In the middle of that 7-year period, he will stop *worship in the *temple. Then he will put the awful thing in or on the *temple (Daniel 9:27). There is no record of that agreement in history. It seems that the *prophecy of Daniel 9:27 is for a future time.

In Daniel 11, he *prophesied about the battles between the kings of the north and the south. The king of the north would stop *worship in the *temple. Then he would set up an awful thing in the *temple. That could be about Antiochus Epiphanes. In 168-167 *BC, he put an *altar to the god Zeus in the *temple. He built that *altar over the *altar of burnt *sacrifices. Also, he *sacrificed pigs on that *altar. But Jesus expected at least one more such awful thing.

In Daniel 12, the *prophecy was for the time of the end (Daniel 12:9). The Ruler will put the awful thing in the *temple. After that time, there will be 1290 days. That seems to be the second half of the last week of years in Daniel 9:27.

The awful thing in the holy place seems to be about three events. The first was in 168-167 *BC when Antiochus put an *altar to Zeus in the *temple. The second event was in *AD 66-70 when the *Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the *temple. We do not know what the awful thing was then. And the third event will come at the time of the end. The awful thing will be an image of the false *Christ.

Luke does not mention the awful thing. In that *Gospel, Jesus tells the *disciples about the events that would happen in *AD 66-70. Jesus told the *disciples that armies would surround Jerusalem. The armies would destroy the city. Jesus told the *disciples to run away when they saw the armies. He warned his *disciples not to go into the city. People who were in the city should come out of it. They should go into the mountains (Luke 21:20-24).

In Matthew’s *Gospel, Jesus tells them to run away when they see the awful thing in the holy place. They would see the armies before there would be the awful thing in the holy place. Therefore, it seems that Luke spoke about the attack by the *Romans in *AD 66-70. However, in Matthew that does not seem to be the same event. In Matthew, it seems that Jesus warned about a future event. This event is what Daniel *prophesied when he wrote about the time of the end (Daniel 12:9).

Verses 16-18 When these events happen the people in Judea must go to the mountains. They would be safer than in their towns. In the mountains, there were many caves in which people could hide.

If they were on the roofs of their houses, they should not go into their houses. They would not have time to collect things from their houses. But they would need to escape urgently. In that country, they built houses with flat roofs. And they used their roofs as extra rooms. There would be outside stairs up to the roof. Perhaps in some places, they could jump from roof to roof. That could be a quicker way to get out of the town.

People who worked in a field would remove their coats. They would leave their coats at the side of the field. But they would need to run away urgently. They should not spend the time to collect their coats. But it could mean that they must not go home to change their clothes. They should run away in their clothes for work.

When the *Romans began to gather round Jerusalem in *AD 66 many of the Christians escaped. Eusebius, a history writer, wrote that the Christians went to Pella and other places. Pella and the other places were in the region called Decapolis. That region was to the east of the River Jordan and to the south of the Sea of Galilee. They were safe there. We cannot be sure how true that was. Pella was not in the mountains.

The event happened as Jesus described it. The *Romans killed many thousands of people. And they took several thousand people as prisoners. They sent the prisoners to foreign countries.

Jesus said that other nations would control Jerusalem. That would continue until the times of the nations end (Luke 21:24). It is not clear what this means. However, those times must be ending because Jerusalem is not now under the control of the nations. Now it is again the capital city of *Israel.

Verses 19-20 Women who were expecting babies and women with young children would be less able to run. It would be difficult for them to escape. Also, the weather in the winter could cause problems to the travellers. Another difficulty for the *Jews would be if they must travel on the *Sabbath. Jesus told them to pray that it would not be in winter or on a *Sabbath.

The *Jews could only travel a short distance on the *Sabbath. That was the *Sabbath day’s journey. That was about 1000 yards or 900 metres (2000 *cubits). That rule was one of their traditions. To travel further would be work and they must not work on the *Sabbath day. The *Mount of Olives was about a *Sabbath day’s journey from Jerusalem (Acts 1:12). That distance would not be enough to escape on that day. *Jewish Christians may be unwilling to travel more than that distance. That may not bother some Christians but other people may try to stop them.

Verse 21 Those days will be the most terrible ones since God made the world. There will never again be anything as bad. When the *Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the *temple, it was an awful time. However, the troubles in the *end times will be much worse (Daniel 12:1). Many Bible teachers think that Jesus talked about the *end times in this verse.

Verse 22 There are two opinions about verses 22-28. Many teachers believe that they are about the events of *AD 66-70. Other teachers believe that these verses follow on from verses 4-14. Therefore, they are about the *end times. I accept the second opinion.

In Mark’s *Gospel he writes about that time. After these events, the sun will be dark. The moon will not give its light. The stars will fall from the sky (Mark 13:24-25). We cannot tell how long after the events that these things will happen. However, ’those days’ does not mean a very long period between the events and those things. However, Matthew says that those things will happen immediately after those events (Matthew 24:29).

God will reduce those days. If he does not do so, nobody will live. That must refer to more people than the *Jews only.

Verses 23-27 Since the first century, there have been false *Christs and *prophets. However, as the *end times approach there will be many more false men. These men will convince many people that they are genuine. They will speak with great words but those words will be lies. Many people will believe those lies. The false men will do wonderful things. Many people will see these things as proof that the man is *Christ or a *prophet. The false men will do powerful deeds. Many people will believe that the man is more than human. Some of these men will seem to be Christians. They will try to convince even Christians that the *Christ has come.

Here is the *Christ. There he is. He is in the desert. He is in the inner room. No, he is not there. When Jesus returns, everybody shall see him. He will not come in a secret way. He will not come to any particular group of people.

The lightning shines across the whole sky. It is so sudden. It does not warn a person before it comes. So, Jesus will come and everybody will know it. Jesus will come with power and great *glory. He will not come in a secret way. People everywhere will see him.

Verse 28 This is a strange verse and it is difficult to understand it. *Vultures are large birds that eat dead animals. So, a dead body will attract *vultures. You can know that the dead body is there because of the *vultures.

People who do not believe in Jesus are dead to God. They will attract judgement even as a dead body attracts *vultures.

Verses 29-31 Before Jesus returns there will be strange events in the sky. Matthew and Mark tell us that the sun and the moon will lose their light. The whole earth will be in darkness for a period. We do not know how this will happen. They say that stars will seem to fall from the sky. The heavens will shake (Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24). There will be major effects on the seas and on the earth. All these things will frighten people. These things will cause confusion and terror among the people (Luke 21:25-26).

The people who believe in Jesus will see the strange events in the skies. To them these events will mean that Jesus is returning. Unlike other people, they can be confident.

Verses 30-31 We do not know what the Son of Man’s sign will be. Whatever it is, it will have an effect on all the peoples on earth. It will upset them and it will cause them to worry. Mark and Luke do not mention the sign. However, all people will see Jesus when he comes on the clouds in the sky. They will see his power and his *glory. And it will scare them and it will fill them with despair.

Daniel saw someone like a son of man. This son of man came with the clouds of heaven. He approached God. God gave authority to the son of man. God gave to him the *glory and the power of a king. The *kingdom of this son of man would never end. No power could ever destroy that *kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14). Jesus will come to defeat his enemies and he will set up his *kingdom on the earth.

The *disciples saw Jesus rise into the cloud. The men in white clothes told them that Jesus had gone to heaven. They said that he would return in the same way (Acts 1:9-11). When Jesus returns to the earth he will come to the *Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4).

When Jesus returns, he will complete the process of *salvation. There will be the loud sound of a *trumpet. And he will send his *angels to gather those people who belong to him. The *angels will gather them from every nation. They will not miss even one of his people.

Verses 32-35 Most trees in that country kept their leaves all year round. However, the *fig tree lost its leaves in the autumn. In the spring, the branches of the *fig tree become alive again. Leaves grow on the branches of the trees. That must mean that it will soon be summer. The new leaves show that summer is near.

Like the *fig tree’s leaves, the events in the sky will show that the time is near. Then God’s *kingdom will come (Luke 21:31). The events in the sky will show that Jesus the king is ready to return. He is waiting for the right time.

The ‘people of this time’ cannot refer to the people who lived at the same time as Matthew. It must mean the people who live at the time of the strange events in the sky. Those strange events have not happened yet. The ‘people of this time’ is from a word in the original languages. This word could mean a type or a nation of people. Perhaps it means that there will still be *Jews or Christians at that time. The word could mean the normal life of a man. Then the events would last for no more than the period of a man’s life.

We think that this earth is permanent. But one day God will destroy this earth and sky. What Jesus said will always last. We can be sure that all these events will happen. It will happen just as Jesus said that it will.

When will Jesus return? – Matthew 24:36-51

v36 Nobody knows when that day or that hour will be. Neither the *angels nor the Son knows when it will be. Only the Father knows. v37 When the Son of Man returns it will be like it was in the time of Noah. v38 In the time before the flood, people were eating and they were drinking. They married and they arranged marriages. That was until Noah entered the large boat. v39 They knew nothing about the flood until it came. The flood killed them all. It will be like that when the Son of Man returns. v40 Two men will be working in a field. The *Lord will take away one man, but he will leave the other man. v41 Two women will be making flour with a mill. The *Lord will take away one woman, but he will leave the other woman.

v42 Therefore, you must always be ready. You do not know on what day your *Lord will come. v43 But understand this. Suppose that a house owner knew what time in the night that a thief was coming. The owner would watch. And he would not let the thief to break into his house. v44 Therefore, you must be ready as well. The Son of Man will come at a time when you do not expect him.

v45 The master trusts the wise and loyal servant. The master gives him command over all of the domestic affairs. That servant gives food to the other servant at the right time. v46 The master will return home later. It will be good for that servant if he is doing his work well. v47 I tell you the truth. The master will give that servant command over all his possessions. v48 But suppose that servant was a wicked person. He might think, “My master will not come back soon.” v49 Then he begins to beat the other servants. And he eats and he drinks with other people like himself. v50 The master will come on a day when the servant does not expect him. The servant did not know the time of his master’s return and so he was not ready. v51 Then the master will cut that servant into pieces. The master will put him with the *hypocrites. There people will weep and bite their teeth together with pain.

Verses 36-39 Many people have tried to calculate the date when Jesus will return. In every age, some people believe that age to be the *end times. But it is not possible for us to know that date. The *angels do not know when it will be. Even Jesus does not know it. Only God the Father knows. However, when the time comes the signs will be there. God’s people will know however nobody will know the exact time.

Until Jesus returns, life will continue as usual. It was the same in the time of Noah. The people lived their ordinary lives. They had no idea that the flood would come. They knew nothing about the flood until it came. Noah had *preached about it. They did not believe what Noah had told them. He built a large boat but that did not convince them. They did not obey God or trust in him. Therefore, they were not ready when the flood came. Once Noah had finished the boat, the flood was sudden. The flood killed all the people except Noah and his family who were in the boat.

When the end comes, it will be sudden. The *Lord Jesus will return suddenly. It will be a surprise to the whole world. They will not prepare themselves for Jesus to return. But those people who belong to Jesus should prepare themselves. They should live as people who expect Jesus to return.

Verses 40-44 People will be doing what they usually do. The two men were in the field. The two women were making flour. The *Lord Jesus will take one of people and he will leave the other person. The *Lord Jesus will return for his own people. But he will not take the people who do not believe in him.

To make flour was a task that the women did. Usually two women would work together. The mill consisted of two stones, one stone on top of the other stone. The women put the grain into the mill and they turned the upper stone. That reduced the grains to make flour.

We do not know when Jesus will return. Because we do not know, we must be ready. The man and the woman whom Jesus took were ready. The other two were not ready.

If a house owner expected a thief to come, he would watch. If the owner was ready, he could stop the thief. We do not know when Jesus will return. The fact that he will return is certain. So, we need to be ready for when he does return. We should live as if we expect him to return at any time.

Verses 45-51 Jesus told the story about a master who had many servants. The master was going away. He chose one servant and he put him in command of all his domestic affairs. That servant now had the responsibility for all the other servants. The servant did not know when the master would come back.

The loyal servant was wise. He did not know when his master would come home. But he was good and he looked after the other servants. And he did all that the master expected of him. The master came back home. He found that the servant had done a good job. So, he rewarded that servant.

Suppose that the servant was not wise and loyal. Suppose he thought that the master would be away for a long time. Therefore, the servant could do what he wanted. He could beat the other servants and not do his job properly. He could eat too much and he could drink too much with his friends. But the master could come home on a day when the servant did not expect him. So, the servant would not be ready for his master. The master would send the servant to the place of punishment with the *hypocrites.

There may be a long delay but our master, Jesus, will return. We cannot know when that will be. However, we must serve him, as he wants us to do. And we must look for him and be ready for him to return. While we wait, we must remain loyal to him.

Chapter 25

A story about 10 girls – Matthew 25:1-13

v1 Then the *kingdom of heaven will be like this. 10 young women took their lamps and they went out to meet the bridegroom. v2 5 of the young women were foolish and 5 of them were wise. v3 The 5 foolish young women took their lamps but they took no oil with them. v4 The wise young women took extra oil with their lamps. v5 The bridegroom was late. The young women became sleepy and they went to sleep.

v6 At midnight somebody cried out, “Look. The bridegroom is coming. Come out to meet him.” v7 Then all the young women woke up and they got their lamps ready. v8 The foolish young women said to the wise young women, “Give to us some of your oil. Our lamps are going out.” v9 The wise young women answered them, “No. We might not have enough oil for all of us. Go to the sellers and buy some oil for yourselves.”

v10 While the 5 foolish young women went to buy oil, the bridegroom came. Those young women who were ready went in with him to the wedding *feast. And they shut the doors. v11 Later the other young women came. They said, “Sir, Sir open the door to let us in.” v12 However, the bridegroom replied, “I tell you the truth. I do not know you.”

v13 So, always be ready because you do not know the day or the hour.

Verses 1-13 Jesus told a story about a *Jewish wedding. The families of the young man and the young woman would arrange for them to marry. To be engaged to marry was a more serious state than it is in many societies today. It was a legal contract by the couple about a year before the marriage. Then, even before the marriage, people called the couple husband and wife. The girl would remain in her parent’s house until the marriage. And the couple would not have sex until the marriage. To break off the agreement to marry would be a legal divorce.

If the bride had not been married before, the wedding would be on a Wednesday. If the bride was a widow, the wedding would be on a Thursday.

The bridegroom would prepare a home for their future together. That home was often in the home of the bridegroom’s parents. When the wedding day came, the bride would dress in wedding clothes. She would wait in her parent’s home for the bridegroom and his friends to arrive. He would take her to their new home. They would have a party there with their families and their friends. The parties could last for many days.

There would be some young women with the bride. They would be her helpers as she prepared for the wedding. They would go out to meet the bridegroom. When the bridegroom came, they would go with the bride to the new home. And they would go to the party.

In the story, there were 10 of those young women. They had lamps or torches with them. It might be dark by the time they met the bridegroom. There were 5 sensible women who had brought spare oil with them. There were 5 foolish women who had not brought enough spare oil with them.

However, it was very late before the bridegroom came. *Jewish weddings were often at night. They usually began as the evening star appeared. Because of the delay, the women slept. Then at midnight, they heard that the bridegroom was coming. The young women’s lamps had very little oil left in them. The lamps were quite small and they burned oil. They needed to put more oil into the lamps. The foolish women asked the wise women for some of their oil. The wise women would not give oil to the foolish women. If they did, they may not have enough oil for their own lamps. The foolish women had to go and they had to buy more oil. While the foolish women had gone, the bridegroom came. The wise women went in the procession with him and the bride to the party.

Later the foolish women came to the house and they knocked on the door. But they were too late. The bridegroom did not know them. They had to go away because they had not been ready.

The *kingdom of heaven is like that. In God the Father’s house, there are many rooms. Jesus has gone there to prepare a place for us. He will return to take us to live with him in his *kingdom (John 14:1-3). Like the wise women, we need to be ready for him. We do not know when he will return. There may be a long delay but we must still be ready.

A story about three servants – Matthew 25:14-30

v14 Again, the *kingdom of heaven will be like a man who goes on a journey. He called his servants to him. And he told them to manage his possessions while he was away. v15 To one servant he gave 5 *talents. To another servant he gave two *talents. And to a third servant he gave one *talent. He gave to each servant as much as he was able to manage. Then the man went away. v16 The servant who had 5 *talents traded with them. Soon he had earned another 5 *talents. v17 In the same way, the servant who had two *talents earned two more*talents. v18 But the servant who had one *talent went out. He dug a hole in the ground and he hid his master’s money.

v19 After a long time, the master came home. Then he asked his servants to give to him an account of his money. v20 The servant who had 5 *talents brought 5 more *talents. He said to the master, “Master you gave to me 5 *talents. See, I have earned 5 more *talents.” v21 The master said to him, “Well done. You are a good and loyal servant. You have been loyal and true with a few things. I will put you in control over greater things. Come and share in your master’s joy.”

v22 Then the servant who had two *talents came to the master. He said, “Master you gave to me two *talents. See I have earned two more *talents.” v23 The master said to him, “Well done. You are a good and loyal servant. You have been loyal and true with a few things. I will put you in control over greater things. Come and share in your master’s joy.”

v24 Then the servant who had received one *talent came to the master. He said, “Master. I knew that you were a severe man. You harvest where you have not planted. You gather crops where you did not sow any seeds. v25 So, I was afraid. I went and I hid your money in the ground. Here is what belongs to you.”

v26 The master answered him. He said, “You are a wicked and lazy servant. You knew that I was a severe man. I harvest where I did not plant. And I gather crops where I did not sow any seeds. v27 Therefore, you should have put my money in the bank. Then when I came home my money would have earned me some more.”

v28 The master said, “Take the *talent from him. Give it to the servant who has 10 *talents. v29 Those persons who have something will receive more. Then they will have plenty. But those persons who do not have much of anything will lose all of it. v30 This servant is worth nothing to me. Throw him out into the darkness. There, people will weep and they will bite their teeth together with pain.”

Verses 14-18 The previous story was about how important it is to be ready. This story is about how to be ready. The girls in the story waited for the bridegroom to come. However, to be ready does not mean that we do nothing.

The *kingdom of heaven is like a man who went away. The man was wealthy and he wanted his wealth to increase in his absence. He called his own servants whom he trusted. He did not go to financial experts. When Jesus was here, servants sometimes had considerable responsibility and authority. The man gave to his servants quite large sums of money for them to use.

He gave *talents to his servants. A *talent was a unit of weight. It was about 75 pounds (34 kilograms) weight. A *talent of money could be in gold, silver or copper. The value would be different for each of those metals. The *talent became the most valuable unit of money. Experts believe that a *talent was then worth 6000 *denarii. Therefore, even the one *talent was a large sum of money. It would take a worker 20 years to earn one *talent.

The man gave different amounts to his servants. He knew how capable each servant was. Therefore, he gave 5 *talents to the most capable servant. He gave two *talents to a less able servant. And he gave one to the least able servant. He gave to them no special instructions. He left them and he went away.

The servant with 5 *talents started to trade with them. He earned another 5 *talents. Then he had 10 *talents. The servant with 2 *talents did the same. He earned another 2 *talents. Then he had 4 *talents. The servant with one *talent was afraid to trade. He dug a hole and he buried the one *talent.

It was common for an owner to bury his valuable things. They did not have safe places where they could put them.

Verses 19-23 This story is about the *kingdom. It was a long time before the master came home. The long time could mean that there was a long delay. The *disciples expected the *kingdom almost immediately. However, Jesus showed that it could take a long time.

During that long time, the two good servants had enough time to double their *talents. The master called in the three servants to show him what they had done with his money. The first two servants told him that they had doubled the *talents. That pleased the master. He said to each of them the same words. ‘You are a good and loyal servant.’ They had been loyal and they had done well. Therefore, the master rewarded them with greater responsibility. Also, he invited them to share his joy.

Verses 24-25 The third servant came in. He brought the one *talent to give it to his master. He made his excuses because he had not used the *talent. However, he had kept it safe. He hid it in the ground, which was the safest thing to do. He explained the reason that he had not used the *talent. He was afraid of failure. He could have made a loss. Or he could have lost the whole *talent. And he was afraid of his master.

In his defence, he told his master what he thought about him. He saw his master as a severe character. The master took profit from the work of other people. Other people did the hard work and the master had the benefit of it.

The servant was responsible for the use of the money. He should have done what his master wanted him to do. The servant’s failure shows that he did not love his master. And his words showed that he did not respect his master. Only the wicked servant blames his master. He gave the *talent to his master.

Verses 26-27 The master did not accept the explanation from the servant. The servant was wicked and lazy. He received money from his master and he failed to use it. He was lazy because he did not work with the money. He failed to do what his master wanted. The servant thought it was enough to preserve the *talent.

The servant believed that his master was a severe man. He said that his master took profit from the work of other people. Therefore, the servant ought to have been more eager to work with the *talent. His own words blamed him.

The least that the servant should have done was to put the money in the bank. The bank would have paid for the use of the money. The bank there was the people who changed money. Also, they would have made loans to other people. Both activities earned fees for them. They would have paid off the loan of the *talent when the master came home. They would have added to the *talent the amount of profit that they had agreed.

Verses 28-30 The master took the *talent from the wicked servant. He gave it to the servant who had 10 *talents. The servant who had 10 *talents had proved that he was reliable. His master could trust him with more responsibility. The servant who had one *talent could not handle even that one *talent. So, the servant who had a lot would receive more. And he would have plenty. But the servant who did not have much would lose it all.

This is a principle in the *kingdom. God gives gifts to his children to use for his *glory. If we fail to use God’s gifts, we will lose them. However, if we use them he trusts us with more.

The servant who failed was of no use to the master. The master would punish that wicked servant. He would go to the place where people weep. There they have much pain.

That servant did not do a serious crime. But he failed to do what was right. And his attitude to the master was wrong.

The sheep and the goats – Matthew 25:31-46

v31 The Son of Man will come in his *glory. And all his *angels will come with him. Then he will sit on his great *throne. v32 All the nations will come to him. And he will separate the people as a *shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. v33 He will put the sheep on his right side and the goats on his left side.

v34 Then the king will speak to the people on his right side. “Come. My Father has blessed you. Receive the *kingdom that he has prepared for you. He prepared that *kingdom when he made the world. v35 I was hungry, and you gave food to me. I needed a drink, and you gave to me something to drink. I was a stranger and you accepted me. v36 I was naked and you gave clothes to me. I was sick and you helped me. I was in prison and you visited me.”

v37 Then the good people will answer him. “*Lord, when did we see you hungry and we gave food to you? When did we see you in need of a drink and we gave to you something to drink? v38 When did we see you as a stranger and we accepted you? And when did we see you without clothes and we gave to you clothes to wear? v39 And when did we see you sick, or in prison, and we came to you?” v40 Then the king will say to them, “I tell you the truth. Whatever you did for the least of my people you did it for me.”

v41 Then the King will speak to the people on his left side. “God will punish you. Go away from me into the fire that will burn always. God prepared that fire for the devil and his *angels. v42 I was hungry, and you gave to me nothing to eat. I needed a drink, and you gave to me nothing to drink. v43 I was a stranger and you did not accept me. I was naked and you did not give to me any clothes. I was sick and I was in prison. But you did not come to me.”

v44 Then those people will answer him. “*Lord when did we see you hungry or in need of a drink? When did we not give to you food or drink? When did we see you as a stranger and we did not accept you? When did we see you naked, sick or in prison and we did not help you?” v45 Then the king will answer them, “I tell you the truth. Because you did not do anything for the least of my people, you did not do anything for me.”

v46 These people will go away to a punishment that will never end. But the people who pleased God will have *eternal life.’

Verse 31 When Jesus returns, he will come as the judge of all the people. All people must give an account of what they have done during their life. Jesus will be the judge of all the nations. On that judgement day there will be some surprises. There will be people whom the *Lord Jesus will reward. They had done kind things to ordinary people who belonged to Jesus. However, the *Lord Jesus will say that they did those things to him. The *Lord Jesus will punish other people who did not do kind things to his people. He will tell them that they did not do kind things to him. Therefore, the test will be their attitude to Jesus. They showed this attitude by their actions toward his people.

This passage is about deeds as the evidence of *salvation. We do not receive *salvation because of what we have done. The *Lord Jesus came to save his people from their *sins. We have *salvation by *faith in what Jesus has done. However, *faith must produce good deeds. Unless we do good things, our *faith is not real.

When Jesus returns at the end of this age he will come in his *glory. He will come as the *Lord with great power and authority. He will not be alone. All his *angels will come with him. And as the king and the judge, he will sit on his magnificent *throne.

Verses 32-33 Jesus spoke about the final judgement of all people. In the end, all nations will come to him. Each person must stand in front of Him. We must all give an account to him of what we have done. As a *shepherd separates sheep from goats, Jesus will separate people into two groups.

In *Israel, sheep and goats were together as a single group. The type of sheep looked very similar to goats. At first glance, it was not easy to see the difference. At night, the cold affected the goats more that it affected the sheep. Therefore, in the evening the *shepherd would separate the sheep from the goats. And he would keep the goats in the warmer place.

The group that Jesus calls the sheep he will put on his right side. The group that he calls the goats he will put on his left side. There is no middle group. All people will be like either sheep or goats.

Verses 34-40 Jesus the king will speak first to the people on his right side. God had prepared a *kingdom for his people. He did this before he made the world. Jesus will say that the Father has blessed them. They will possess the *kingdom that God has given to them. This was always the plan of God on behalf of his people. It will be a gift because no one can earn *salvation.

Jesus mentioned some of the kind things that those people had done. He said that they had done those things to him. They had not realised that they had done those things to Jesus. But they had done them to his people. Therefore, Jesus the king took those acts of kindness as to himself.

Verses 41-45 Then the king will talk to the people on his left side. He had invited the people on the right side to come. But to the people on his left side he will say ‘Go away from me.’ The king will send them away from him. They will go to a place without God. They will go to the fire that will burn always. God intended this fire as the place of punishment for the devil and his *angels. That is where the people will go who are not in the book of life (Revelation 20:10-15).

Jesus mentioned some of the same things as he mentioned earlier for the ‘sheep’. The people on the king’s left side had not done those things for Jesus. They were surprised about that. They were not aware that they had refused Jesus any of those things. But they had not done those things on behalf of his people. Therefore, they had not done them to him.

Their failure was not so much in what they did. Their failure was mainly with what they had not done.

Verse 46 Jesus repeats that the ‘goats’ will go to a punishment. That punishment will never end. But the ‘sheep’ will enjoy a life with God that never ends.

Chapter 26

The plan to kill Jesus – Matthew 26:1-5

v1 Jesus finished teaching all those things. Then he spoke to his *disciples. v2 ‘You know that after two days it will be the *Passover. People will hand over the Son of Man to his enemies for them to *crucify him.’

v3 Then the chief priests and the leaders of the people met together in the chief priest’s palace. Caiaphas was the chief priest. v4 They made plans to arrest Jesus in secret and to kill him. v5 But they said, ‘We must not do it at the *feast. If we do, we may have serious trouble with the people.’

Verses 1-2 By that time, it was two days before *Passover. The *Passover was the great *feast that the *Jews had each year. The *feast was to remember how God had brought the *Israelites out of Egypt.

Jesus told his *disciples about his death. He knew that one of them would hand him over to the *Jewish leaders. The *Jewish leaders could not punish a person by means of death. Therefore, they would arrange for the *Romans to *crucify him. Jesus accepted what was about to happen to him. It was what he had come to do. That was the Father’s plan.

Verses 3-5 The official chief priest was Caiaphas. He was the chief priest from *AD 18 to *AD 36. He became chief priest when the *Romans removed his wife’s father, Annas, in *AD 15. In the *Old Testament, the chief priest continued until he died. Therefore, many *Jews still recognised Annas as the chief priest (Acts 4:6). The chief priests and the leaders of the people met in Caiaphas’ palace. There they discussed what to do with Jesus. They wanted to arrest Jesus because they wanted to kill him. They would have to do that in secret because of the people. The crowds that had come to Jerusalem believed that Jesus was a *prophet. To arrest the *prophet could cause serious trouble. Those leaders decided that they would arrest Jesus after the *feast. By that time, the crowds would have left Jerusalem.

They decided to not to act yet. However, Judas's offer to hand Jesus over was too good an opportunity (Matthew 26:14-16). Judas would do it at a time and in a place when the crowds were not present.

A woman *anoints Jesus – Matthew 26:6-13

v6 Jesus was in Bethany. He was in the home of a man called Simon the *leper. v7 While Jesus was there, a woman approached him. She had a jar of very expensive *ointment. She poured the *ointment on Jesus’ head as he sat at the table.

v8 The *disciples saw this and they were angry. They said, ‘She has wasted that *ointment. v9 She could have sold it for a large sum of money. And she could have given the money to the poor people.’

v10 Jesus was aware of what they were saying. So, he said to them, ‘You should not bother the woman. She has done a beautiful thing to me. v11 You will have poor people with you always, but you will not have me always. v12 This woman has put *ointment on my body to prepare it for the grave. v13 I tell you the truth. Wherever people *preach the good news in the world they will speak about this. They will tell what this woman has done. And they will remember her.’

Verses 6-9 Matthew does not say when that event happened. John tells us that it was 6 days before the *Passover. An account of that event is also in Mark 13:3-9 and John 12:1-8.

Jesus and his *disciples were in Bethany in the house of Simon the *leper. A man with *leprosy could not be with other people. Therefore, at that time, Simon was not a *leper. Perhaps Jesus had cured him of *leprosy. Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from death, was there (John 12:1-8). Lazarus’ sister, Martha, served the meal.

A woman approached Jesus. John tells us that the woman was Mary. She was the sister of Lazarus and Martha. It was a custom to give to special guests some oil for their heads. To Mary Jesus was a very special guest. Ordinary oil was not good enough for him. She poured expensive *ointment on Jesus’ head. And she poured *ointment on his feet (John 12:3). She wiped his feet with her hair. The pleasant smell of the *ointment filled the house.

*Christ means the *anointed one. Perhaps Mary *anointed Jesus because she recognised him as the *Christ.

The *disciples were angry. They thought that it was a waste of money. Judas spoke out what the *disciples thought. She could have sold the *ointment. It was worth a year’s wages. And she could have given the money to poor people. Judas was responsible for the *disciples’ funds.

The *ointment came from a plant in the distant country called India. That was why it was so expensive. The principal use of the *ointment was to *anoint the body of a dead person.

Verses 10-13 It seems that the *disciples' remarks were to each other. However, Jesus knew what they said. He told them not to upset the woman. He appreciated Mary’s love and attention. What the *disciples called a waste Jesus called a beautiful thing. In a few days time he would die. What Mary did was to prepare his body for death. It was not usual to *anoint a body before death. However, that was a noble deed. She seemed to know that Jesus would die soon. The *disciples did not seem to understand the situation.

Jesus told them that poor people would always be there. The *disciples could help poor people at any time. But Jesus would be with them for only a short while.

Jesus knew that after his death people would *preach the *gospel in the entire world. The *New Testament would record that event. When people *preached the *gospel, they would talk about Mary’s act. And people would remember her.

Judas becomes an enemy of Jesus – Matthew 26:14-16

v14 Then one of the 12 *disciples, Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests. v15 He said to them, ‘I could hand over Jesus to you. But how much would you pay me?’ They counted out 30 silver coins and they gave them to him. v16 From then on, Judas looked for an opportunity to hand over Jesus to them.

Verses 14-16 Judas was one of the 12 special *disciples. We do not know why Judas turned against Jesus. We do know that he was a thief. He had control of the money on behalf the *disciples. And he took some of the money for himself (John 12:4-6). Perhaps he saw that as an opportunity for financial gain. But there must have been another reason. Both Luke and John saw the work of the devil in what Judas did.

Judas went to the chief priests and the *temple guards (Luke 22:4). He said that he could hand over Jesus to them. However, Judas asked how much they would pay him to do so. They agreed a price of 30 silver coins. The value of those coins was probably about 120 *denarii. A worker would earn one *denarius for a day’s work. They promised to give the money to Judas. They counted the coins and they gave them to him.

From then on Judas looked for the chance to do that bad deed. But he had to do it in private away from the crowds.

Jesus eats the *Passover meal – Matthew 26:17-30

v17 On the first day of *unleavened bread, the *disciples came to Jesus. They asked him, ‘Where do you want us to prepare for you to eat the *Passover?’ v18 Jesus answered, ‘Go into the city to a certain man. Say this to him. “The teacher says: My time is near. I will eat the *Passover with my *disciples in your house.” ’ v19 The *disciples did what Jesus told them to do. And they prepared the *Passover meal.

v20 When it was evening, Jesus was sitting at the table with his 12 *disciples. v21 As they were eating, Jesus spoke to them. He said, ‘I tell you the truth. One of you will hand me over to my enemies.’ v22 This really upset the *disciples. Each of them began to say to Jesus, ‘*Lord it cannot be me.’ v23 Jesus answered them. ‘The man who puts his bread in the dish with me will hand me over to my enemies. v24 The Son of Man will die, just as the *Scriptures say. But it will be terrible for the man who hands over the Son of Man to his enemies. It would be better for him if he had never been born.’ v25 Judas was that man. He said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, do you mean me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Yes, it is you.’

v26 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread. He thanked God. Then he broke the bread into pieces and he gave it to his *disciples. He said, ‘Take this bread. Eat it because this is my body.’ v27 Then Jesus took a cup of wine and he thanked God. He gave it to his *disciples. He said, ‘All of you must drink from it. v28 This is my blood. And with it, God makes his promise to you. I will pour out my blood so that God can forgive the *sins of many people. v29 I tell you the truth. I shall not drink wine again until I drink it with you in my Father’s *kingdom.’

v30 They sang a song to God and then they went out to the *Mount of Olives.

Verses 17-19 Matthew and Mark say that it was the first day of *unleavened bread. The *Jews must remove all *yeast from their houses on that day (Exodus 12:14-15).

It was probably on 13th day in the month Nisan. Nisan was about March to April in our calendar. On that same day, they killed the animals for the *Passover meal. They ate a young sheep each *Passover to remember the first *Passover in Egypt. That happened in the early evening. The *Jewish day began in the evening. So, the day had become 14th Nisan. They ate the meal the same evening. The *Passover meal was with their family or with a small group. Later on the 14th Nisan, the next day in our calendar, Jesus died. They called the 14th Nisan the day of preparation. On the 15th Nisan there would be another ‘*Passover’ meal. That was the meal that the *Pharisees referred to in John 18:28.

The 15th Nisan was the first actual day of the *feast of *unleavened bread. That day was a special *Sabbath (John 19:31). The rules for that day were the same as for the *Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3-14). At the end of the *feast of *unleavened bread, there was another special day. That day would be the 21st day of Nisan. Sometimes people called those days high *Sabbaths. They were in addition to the normal *Sabbath days unless the 15th was a *Sabbath day.

On that first day, 13th Nisan, the *disciples came to Jesus. They asked him where they should prepare for the *Passover meal. Jesus had made the arrangement a secret. Only he knew where he would eat the meal with his 12 *disciples. Perhaps that was to avoid an early arrest. Judas could not have known the place.

Jesus told Peter and John to go into the city. In the city, they would see a man who carried a jug of water. They must follow that man. It was not normal for a man to carry a jug of water. Usually women went to fetch water. That man would lead them to the house where they must prepare the meal. They must tell the man at the house what Jesus told them. The man knew Jesus as the teacher. Jesus said that he would eat the *Passover in his house (Luke 22:7-13).

The *disciples did what Jesus told them to do. And they prepared the meal. In the afternoon, they would have taken a young sheep to the *temple. The priests killed it and they poured its blood at the base of the *altar. Also, they burned the fat of the young sheep. After sunset, the group would eat the young sheep in the *Passover meal.

Verses 20-25 The *disciples gathered with Jesus for the meal. They had to wait for the correct time. That was when they could see the first three stars in the sky that night. Also, a silver *trumpet sounded three times in the *temple area. Then the meal could start.

They sat at the table. To sit here means to lie down on their left sides. They lay on mats with their feet away from the table. Usually there would be three persons on a mat. They arranged the tables in a U shape. The guests sat on the outside of the table arrangement. The host sat on the mat at the base of the U. From the *Gospels it seems that John was to the right of Jesus and Judas was to his left.

During the meal, Jesus said that one of them would hand him over to his enemies. The 11 innocent *disciples were very sad about that. It upset them and they worried about it. Each of them asked whether he was the person. Jesus told them who would do it. The man who put bread into the dish at the same time as Jesus was the person. That could be a reference to Psalm 41:9. It was not a clear act as they were all taking bread. However, John had asked Jesus who it was. Jesus had told him. The person to whom he passed a piece of bread would be the person. Usually the leader would pass a piece of bread to the person on his left side. Jesus passed the piece of bread to Judas (John 13:25-26).

Jesus told them that he would die. He would die as the writers *prophesied in the *Old Testament. His death was in God’s plan. Jesus had come for that purpose. He came to die on behalf of his people. But the people who caused his death were guilty of that crime. The man who gave Jesus to his enemies would be responsible for his actions. It would be terrible for that man.

Judas asked, ‘Teacher do you mean me?’ Jesus replied, ‘Yes, it is you.’ Soon after that, *Satan took control of Judas (John 13:27). Jesus told Judas to go and to do what he must do. Judas went out but the other *disciples did not know why.

Verses 26-29 The meal took a traditional pattern. In the meal, they remembered the first *Passover. During the meal, the host would pass 4 cups of wine to the other people. Toward the end of the meal, the leader would take some bread and he would break it into pieces. He would give thanks to God. Then he would pass the pieces of bread to the other people. Jesus took the bread and he broke it apart. He told them that the bread was his body. He would give his body on their behalf. From then on, his *disciples should remember him in that way.

Then Jesus took the cup of wine that they would drink after the meal. He gave thanks to God. That was the third of the 4 cups of wine. He passed the cup to his *disciples. He told them all to drink from it. Then Jesus told them that God was making a new promise. But Jesus would die. He would pour out his blood on their behalf and on behalf of many people. It would be a terrible death. He would die because of the *sins of many people. Then God could forgive people because Jesus had taken away their *sins.

Christians break apart bread and they drink wine together to remember Jesus (1 Corinthians 11:23-26). We remember that he died on our behalf. Also, we remember that he rose up from death again. The bread that we break apart reminds us of the body of Jesus. The wine that we pour out reminds us of the blood of Jesus.

Jesus knew that it would be his last meal before his death. However, he knew that his death would not be the end. It would be a new beginning. Beyond death, there is life in the Father’s *kingdom. The next meal that he would have with his *disciples would be in that *kingdom.

Verse 30 The songs that the *Jews would sing after the meal were part of the Hallel. The Hallel was Psalms 113 to 118. Probably Jesus and the *disciples sang from these Psalms.

People who came to Jerusalem for the *Passover had to stay that night inside the city limits. The *Mount of Olives was in the city limits. Jesus and his *disciples went there.

In the garden called Gethsemane – Matthew 26:31-46

v31 Then Jesus said, ‘All of you will turn away from me tonight. And you will leave me alone. This is what the *Scripture says. “I will strike the *shepherd. And the sheep will scatter.” v32 But after I rise again to life, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’ v33 Peter said to him, ‘Everyone else may turn against you. But I will never turn against you.’ v34 Jesus said to Peter, ‘I am telling you the truth. This night you will hear the male chicken. But before that you will say three times that you do not know me.’ v35 But Peter answered him. ‘I will never say that I do not know you. Even if that means that I must die with you.’ And all the other *disciples said the same thing.

v36 Then Jesus went with his *disciples to a place called Gethsemane. He said to them, ‘Sit here. I am going over there to pray.’ v37 He took with him Peter and Zebedee’s two sons. And Jesus began to be very sad and anxious. v38 Then he said to them, ‘My heart is extremely sad. I feel as if I am dying because of it. You stay here and you watch with me.’

v39 Jesus went a little further and he went down with his face on the ground. He prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. However, not what I want but what you want.’ v40 Then Jesus came back to his *disciples and he found them asleep. He said to Peter, ‘So, you were not able to watch with me for one hour. v41 Stay awake. The enemy will test your *faith. Pray that you will not fail. The spirit wants to do what is right. But the body is weak.’

v42 Then Jesus went away a second time and he prayed. ‘My Father, I will do what you want. If I must drink from this cup I will do it.’ v43 Then Jesus came back to his *disciples. Again, he found them asleep. They could not keep their eyes open.

v44 So, Jesus left them and he went away again. And he prayed a third time and he said the same thing. v45 Then Jesus came to the *disciples again. He said to them, ‘Still you are asleep. And you continue to rest. Look, the hour has come. *Sinners are coming to arrest the Son of Man. v46 Get up because we must go. Here comes the man who has turned against me.’

Verses 31-35 Jesus knew what would happen that night. However, the *disciples did not seem to understand. They were not aware that anything unusual would happen. So, Jesus told them that they would all turn away from him on that night. They would be afraid and they would run away. They would all fail to help Jesus and he would be alone.

Jesus spoke about the sheep and the *shepherd. Strike the *shepherd and the sheep will scatter (Zechariah 13:7). He was the *shepherd and they were the sheep.

Jesus told them that he would rise up from death. God would raise him up. Then Jesus would go to Galilee where they would see him alive again. He appeared most often near Jerusalem. However, an *angel told the women to tell the *disciples to go to Galilee. Then Jesus met the women and told them the same thing (Matthew 28:7-10). When the *disciples arrived in Galilee Jesus would be there already.

Verse 33-35 Peter was confident that he would never turn away from Jesus. The other *disciples may turn away but Peter never would.

Jesus replied to Peter. The truth was that Peter would turn away from Jesus. Three times, he would say that he did not know Jesus. Peter would do it that night before he heard the male chicken. Peter could not accept that he would be so weak. He was willing to stand with Jesus whatever the cost. He said that he was willing to die if necessary. And the other *disciples said the same.

Verses 36-39 At the *Mount of Olives there is the garden called Gethsemane. Jesus went to that garden with the *disciples. He told them to sit there. And he told them to pray that they may not fail. He took Peter, James and John a bit further. He asked them to watch with him. He told them about the extreme strain that he felt because of his death. His heart was ready to break because of the pain.

Then he went a little further by himself. Jesus needed a time of quiet prayer with God before the painful death to come. People usually stood to pray. On that sad and special occasion, Jesus fell down with his face on the ground. He prayed to God his Father.

He knew about the awful death that he would suffer. It would not be an ordinary death. He called it the cup, which refers to the anger of God against *sin. Jesus would die because of the *sins of all people. God would put everybody’s *sins on Jesus. And Jesus would carry away these *sins (1 Peter 2:24). Jesus knew that he would suffer the punishment because of all our *sins. That is why he felt such pain. Therefore, he asked God his Father to take the cup away from him if it was possible. Maybe there was another way. But there was no other way to remove our *sin. This was God’s plan, and Jesus had come from God for this purpose. Jesus came to do what God his Father wanted. So, Jesus was ready to suffer and to die.

An *angel came to support Jesus. Jesus knew extreme pain in his mind and his spirit. Here was a real struggle for Jesus. He had to overcome it. His prayer was so serious that blood from his skin fell to the ground (Luke 22:44).

Verses 40-46 Jesus went back to the *disciples but they were asleep. He may have gone just to Peter, James and John. They were so sad and tired. He spoke to Peter. He said, ‘You could not watch with me for one hour.’ Probably one hour meant for some time rather than a full hour. But the situation was so serious that Jesus may have prayed for an hour.

It must have been a disappointment to Jesus. When he needed the *disciples to support him most, they were asleep. Jesus told the *disciples to remain awake and to pray. They needed to pray for themselves because the enemy would test them. That happened later and they ran away from the crowd. Jesus knew that they wanted to remain awake and to pray. But they were so tired.

Jesus went again. He prayed in the same manner as before. Now he did not pray that his Father would remove the cup if possible. He accepted that this was what his Father wanted. Therefore, he would do it.

Jesus came back to the *disciples. They were asleep again. He woke them up. They did not know what to say (Mark 14:40). So, Jesus went away a third time to pray. When he returned they were still asleep.

He woke them up and said the time had come. Then, he told them to get up. They must move because Judas was coming with a crowd to arrest Jesus. Jesus went to meet them.

The *Jewish leaders arrest Jesus – Matthew 26:47-56

v47 While Jesus was still speaking, Judas, one of the 12 *disciples, came. With him was a large crowd who had swords and heavy sticks. The chief priests and the people’s leaders had sent them. v48 Judas had planned to give to them a signal. He said, ‘I will kiss the man. Arrest him because he is Jesus.’ v49 Immediately Judas came to Jesus. He said to Jesus, ‘Greetings teacher.’ And Judas kissed Jesus.

v50 Jesus replied to Judas. ‘Friend, do what you are here to do.’ Then the people seized Jesus and they arrested him. v51 Then one of Jesus’ *disciples reached for his sword. He pulled it out. And he struck the servant of the chief priest and he cut off the servant’s ear. v52 Then Jesus said to the *disciple, ‘Put your sword away. People who fight with swords will die by means of the sword. v53 You must know that I could appeal to my Father. Immediately he would send to me more than 12 *legions of *angels. v54 However, it must happen this way. This is what the *Scriptures say.’

v55 At that time, Jesus spoke to the crowd. ‘You have come to get me with swords and heavy sticks as if I were a criminal. Each day I sat in the *temple and I taught you. But you did not arrest me there. v56 But all this has happened as the *prophets wrote about it. Now their words have happened.’ Then all the *disciples left him and they ran away.

Verses 47-50 While Jesus was speaking to the *disciples, Judas and the crowd arrived. Judas knew where Jesus would be. Often Jesus went to that place with his *disciples (John 18:2). It was a large crowd. They carried swords and heavy sticks. The chief priests and the leaders of *Israel had sent them. They came with the authority of the chief priests. Probably most of them would have been *temple guards. It was dark. So, Judas had agreed to show them by means of a kiss which man was Jesus. A kiss was a normal way for friends to greet each other. Therefore, Judas greeted Jesus with a kiss.

Jesus replied to Judas. He called Judas ‘friend’. Judas ought to have been a friend but he had become an enemy. From the start, Jesus was in control of the situation. He told Judas to do what he came to do.

Jesus spoke to the crowd. It may have been before or after Judas had kissed him. He asked them whom they wanted. They said Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus told them that he was the man. The effect was that they fell back. He asked them again, whom they wanted. They answered in the same words. Then he told them to allow the *disciples to leave (John 18:4-9).

Verses 51-54 The *disciples asked Jesus whether they should fight (Luke 22:49). Before he could answer, Peter used his sword. He cut off the right ear of the chief priest’s servant. The servants name was Malchus (John 18:10). Immediately Jesus told the *disciple to put his sword away. There was no need to fight. Jesus touched the servant’s ear and he cured the servant (Luke 22:51).

Jesus could have asked God his Father for more than 12 *legions of *angels. A *Roman *legion was an army of about 6000 soldiers. Jesus could have asked for a very large army of *angels to protect him. But he would not do so. However, all that would happen was in the purposes of God. This is what the *Scriptures said must happen.

Verses 55-56 Jesus spoke to the crowd before they arrested him. They would have been a noisy crowd. But they must have become quiet as Jesus spoke to them. Again, it showed that Jesus was in control of the situation.

They had come with swords and sticks to arrest him as if he were a criminal. He was not a criminal. They could have arrested him at any time. He taught in the *temple each day but they did not arrest him. The reason was that the ordinary people would have objected. They did not arrest him there because they were afraid of the people. The leaders had to do it in private. The crowd was not the ordinary public.

They were doing what the *prophets had written. All of that happened as the *Old Testament *Scriptures had said.

Then all of the *disciples left Jesus and they ran away. However, Peter and John followed the crowd at a distance to the chief priest’s house.

Jesus in front of the leaders – Matthew 26:57-68

v57 The people who arrested Jesus led him to Caiaphas, the chief priest. In his house, the teachers of the law and other *Jewish leaders had come together. v58 Peter followed at a distance. He came to the yard of the chief priest’s house. And Peter sat down with guards to see what would happen.

v59 The chief priests and the whole *Sanhedrin wanted to kill Jesus. So, they were looking for false evidence against him. v60 There were many false witnesses but they found no real evidence. Then two men came forward. v61 They said, ‘We heard this man. He said, “I can destroy God’s *temple. And I can build it again in three days.” ’

v62 Then the chief priest stood up. He said to Jesus, ‘You are not saying anything. You must answer what these men are saying against you.’ v63 But Jesus was silent. Then the chief priest spoke to him again. ‘By the power of the God who lives I order you to answer me. Tell us if you are the *Christ, the Son of God.’

v64 Jesus answered him, ‘You have said it. But I tell you this. In the future, you will see the Son of Man. He will be sitting at the right hand of the powerful God. And he will come on the clouds of heaven.’

v65 When the chief priest heard this, he tore his clothes. He said, ‘This man has spoken *blasphemy. We do not need any other witnesses. You all heard the *blasphemy that he spoke. v66 What is your decision?’ They answered, ‘He deserves to die.’ v67 Then they *spat in his face. They hit him with their fists. And some of them slapped him. v68 They said to Jesus, ‘You *Christ, *prophesy to us. Tell us who hit you.’

Verses 57-58 The crowd took Jesus first to Annas (John 18:13). Annas had once been the chief priest. He was the father of Caiaphas’ wife. At that time, Caiaphas was the chief priest. The chief priest should serve for the rest of his life. However, the *Romans changed the rules and they appointed chief priests. Many *Jews continued to accept Annas as the real chief priest. Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas (John 18:24). The *Sanhedrin came to the house of Caiaphas.

The *Sanhedrin had 71 members. The chief priest (Caiaphas) was the president. The *Sanhedrin was the most important committee of the *Jews. It was their government. Its members were the leaders of the *Jewish nation. The *Sanhedrin usually met in the *temple area but that night they met in Caiaphas’ house.

Some men guarded Jesus. They held him until the *Sanhedrin had come together. Those men made fun of Jesus. They did not believe that Jesus was a *prophet. They covered his eyes and they hit him. A *prophet should be able to tell them who hit him. And in other ways, they insulted him (Luke 22:63-65).

Peter and John had followed the crowd to the house of Caiaphas. John knew the chief priest and he went in with Jesus. He arranged for Peter to come in as well (John 18:15-16). Peter came into the open area of the property. It was a cold night. So, Peter sat by the fire with the chief priest’s guards and servants. Peter waited there to see what would happen to Jesus.

Verses 59-61 Through the night, the chief priest and the other leaders asked Jesus questions. The whole *Sanhedrin probably did not mean all 71 members. There were three groups in the *Sanhedrin. They were priests, the teachers of the law and the leaders of the people. The whole *Sanhedrin could mean that enough men from all those groups were there. Some leaders may not have been there. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea and perhaps other leaders would not have wanted Jesus’ death (John 19:38-41).

The chief priest asked Jesus about his *disciples and about what he had taught. Jesus replied that he had spoken in public. The people who heard him should be his witnesses (John 18:19-21). The chief priest and the *Sanhedrin wanted to kill Jesus. But they had to find a legal reason why Jesus should die. They tried to find something wrong in what he had said. They looked for something with which they could accuse him. However, they could not find anything of which he was guilty. Then they tried to find false evidence. There were several witnesses. But what they said did not agree.

Jesus had said, ‘Destroy this *temple. I will build it again in three days’ (John 2:19). The people did not understand that he referred to his body. Two men told the leaders that they had heard Jesus. But they did not repeat what Jesus had said. Jesus did not say that he would destroy God’s *temple. But they accused Jesus of a serious thing. Death would be the punishment for a person who tried to destroy God’s *temple.

Verse 62-63 Jesus did not defend himself against those false witnesses. The chief priest stood up, which was not usual for the *Sanhedrin president. He did that to give greater effect to what he said. He insisted that Jesus should answer. But Jesus remained silent. His silence made an impression. A normal person would have insisted that he was innocent. Jesus knew that the witnesses had lied. And he would gain nothing if he answered them. Already the *Sanhedrin had decided that he should die. But they had to make their decision seem to be legal.

Caiaphas, as the chief priest, called on the authority that he had. He called on God to witness the truth of what Jesus would say. Then he asked the key question. He asked whether Jesus was the *Christ, the Son of God. To be silent now would in effect deny that he was the *Christ. Jesus could not do that. He had to answer that he was the *Christ, the Son of God. However, to them that would be *blasphemy. For such *blasphemy, the punishment should be death.

Verse 64 Jesus answered that he was what they had said. But he was a different *Christ to the person that they were expecting.

Jesus, who called himself the Son of Man, would rise from the grave. And he would sit at the right side of God. The right side of God was the most powerful place to be. It was the place of great honour and authority. In the future, they would see him there. Also, they would see him coming on the clouds of heaven. That is what Daniel said would happen (Daniel. 7:13).

Daniel wrote this. ‘In my dream at night I continued to watch. Then I saw someone who seemed like a son of a man. He came on the clouds of heaven. He approached God, who is always God. And he came close to God. Then God, who is always God, gave to him authority, honour and royal power. So the people in every country who spoke every language served him. His *kingdom will last always and it will never disappear. Nobody can destroy it’ (Daniel 7:13-14).

Verses 65-68 Caiaphas tore his clothes. That action showed anger and shock. To him that was the most awful *blasphemy.

Jesus could not deny that he was the Son of God. His answer showed to them that he was the Son of God. They had tried to find witnesses against Jesus. But they could find none suitable. The chief priest and the men with him used what Jesus said against him. Jesus agreed that he was the Son of God. Therefore, in their minds, Jesus was guilty of *blasphemy because he made himself equal with God.

Caiaphas asked the *Sanhedrin members what they thought. They had already decided that Jesus must die. To them his answer gave the legal excuse. They could declare that he deserved to die. ‘You must put to death anyone who *blasphemes the *Lord’s name’ (Leviticus 24:16).

Verses 67-68 ‘They’ could refer to the *Sanhedrin members or perhaps it included the guards and the servants. They *spat upon Jesus to insult him. They hit him with their fists and they covered his eyes. Some of them slapped him. The *Christ would know who hit him. They demanded that Jesus should tell them. Jesus had the authority and the power to deal with those people. But he accepted all the insults as part of the process that he must suffer.

Peter says that he does not know Jesus – Matthew 26:69-75

v69 Peter was sitting outside in the yard. A servant girl came to him. She said, ‘You also were with Jesus from Galilee.’ v70 But Peter denied it to all the people there. He said, ‘I do not know anything about it.’

v71 Then Peter went to the gate. There another girl saw him. She said to the people there, ‘This man was with Jesus from Nazareth.’ v72 Again, Peter denied it with strong language. ‘I do not know the man,’ he said.

v73 A short time later, some of the people there came to Peter. They said to him, ‘You must be one of them. Your accent shows it.’ v74 Then Peter began to curse. He spoke with strong language, ‘I do not know the man.’ At that moment, he heard the sound of the male chicken. v75 Then Peter remembered what Jesus had told him. ‘Before you hear the male chicken you will deny me three times.’ And Peter went out and he wept. He was so sad.

Verses 69-75 When Peter arrived at the place, he stood outside the gate. A servant girl opened the gate for him. While Peter was in the yard, the servant girl came to him. She thought that she had seen Peter before. She accused him. She said that he had been with that Jesus from Galilee (John 18:17). He denied it.

Peter moved away from the fire and toward the gate. There, another servant girl recognised Peter. She told the people that Peter was with Jesus from Nazareth. Nazareth was a small town in the region called Galilee. That time Peter used strong language to deny it.

About an hour later, several other people accused Peter. They said that he had been with Jesus. Peter spoke with the accent of Galilee. That seemed to prove that he was with Jesus. One of those men had been in the garden. Malchus was a relative of his. The man was sure that Peter was one of the *disciples (John 18:26). Peter had lied twice and now he lied again. For the third time Peter denied it and he began to curse. He told them that he did not know the man (Jesus).

As Peter said that, they heard the male chicken. Peter remembered what Jesus had said. Jesus turned and he looked across the area at Peter (Luke 22:61). Jesus was aware of what Peter had done. Then Peter went outside and he wept. Peter had been so confident that he would never speak against his *Lord. Now he had done so three times. He thought that he was strong. But he found out he was so weak.

Chapter 27

The *Jewish leaders take Jesus to Pilate – Matthew 27:1-2

v1 Early next morning all the chief priests and the *Jewish leaders decided that Jesus should die. v2 They bound Jesus and they led him away. They handed him over to Pilate, the *Roman ruler in Judea.

Verses 1-2 As soon as it was light, the *Sanhedrin members came together. That was either in the house of Caiaphas or in the committee room in the *temple area. By their law, the committee could not meet as such in the hours of darkness. The guards brought Jesus to the *Sanhedrin. Then the *Sanhedrin approved the decision to kill Jesus. And they had to discuss how to approach the *Romans.

The *Jewish leaders did several things that were against to their own rules. They could not have a legal test at night. But that is what they did with Jesus. They must make the decision when it was day. They had made the decision before it was light. In the morning, they did agree the decision. However, where the decision was death they should not announce it until the second day. It was wrong to start that process on the day before a *Sabbath or before a *feast day. They should arrange for a lawyer to speak on behalf of the person whom they accused. They should call witnesses to speak on behalf of that person. They should not expect that person to be guilty. They should be fair and should test the person in an honest way. However, they wanted to kill Jesus and not to test him.

The *Romans did not allow the *Jewish leaders to put people to death. Therefore, they bound Jesus and they took him to the *Roman ruler called Pontius Pilate. The *Roman officials worked very early in the morning. So, it was necessary to take Jesus as soon as possible. If they were later, the *Romans would refuse to see them.

Pilate was the *Roman ruler in Judea for about 10 years from *AD 26 to *AD 36. Usually he lived by the sea in the town called Caesarea. He came to Jerusalem at the time of the *feasts. He wanted to be there in the event of trouble among the *Jews.

Judas kills himself – Matthew 27:3-10

v3 Judas had handed over Jesus to the *Jewish leaders. Now Judas saw that they decided to kill Jesus. He *repented because of what he had done. So, he brought back the 30 silver coins to the chief priests and *Jewish leaders. v4 Judas said to them, ‘I have *sinned. I handed over to you an innocent man.’ But they said, ‘That means nothing to us. That is your problem.’ v5 Judas threw the silver coins into the *temple and he went away. Then he hanged himself.

v6 The chief priests picked up the silver coins. They said, ‘Our law does not allow us to put this money with the *temple money. We cannot accept it because it is the price of a man’s blood.’ v7 Therefore, they decided to use the money to buy a field. That field had belonged to someone who made pots. It became a place in which to bury strangers. v8 This is the reason why to this day the people have called it the field of blood. v9 So, what Jeremiah the *prophet had said came true. He said, ‘They took 30 silver coins. *Israel’s people had agreed to pay this price for the man. v10 They gave those coins for the field of the man who made pots. This was as the *Lord ordered me.’

Verses 3-4 Judas had handed over Jesus to the *Jewish leaders. Judas must have known that they wanted to kill Jesus. Now they had made that decision. Jesus had not used his power to gain his freedom. Judas realised what he had done. He was very sorry and he *repented. But it was too late. He could not change the result.

He returned to the chief priests and the leaders with the 30 silver coins. He told them that he had done a wicked thing. Jesus was innocent. Judas was wrong to hand over Jesus to the *Jewish leaders. Judas’ conscience was his own problem. The chief priests and the leaders did not care. But they were guilty of the death of that innocent man.

Verses 5-8 Judas threw the coins into the holy place in the *temple. Only the priests could go into the holy place. Therefore, the priests had to pick up the coins. But the priests had the problem with the money. They could not add that money to the *temple funds. It was the price of a man’s blood.

They decided to buy a field with Judas’ money. Probably they bought the field in Judas’ name. Therefore, in effect, Judas bought that field (Acts 1:18). They knew the field as the field of a man who made pots. At some time, a man who made pots had owned it. We do not know whether that man still owned it. The priests would use the field to bury strangers. People called it the field of blood. Judas killed himself in that field. He hanged himself. Then he fell and his body burst open (Acts 1:18).

Verses 9-10 In the *Old Testament, we do not have a record of those words from Jeremiah. It seems that Matthew used words and phrases from both Jeremiah and Zechariah. Jeremiah wrote about a man who made pots. Also, he wrote that he bought a field. Zechariah wrote about 30 pieces of silver, the price that they put on the *shepherd.

Jesus in front of Pilate – Matthew 27:11-26

v11 Jesus stood in front of the *Roman ruler. The ruler asked him, ‘Are you the *Jew’s king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say so.’ v12 When the chief priests and the *Jewish leaders accused Jesus he said nothing. v13 Then Pilate said to Jesus, ‘Do you hear them? They are accusing you of many things.’ v14 But Jesus did not answer him a word. His silence astonished the *Roman ruler.

v15 At this *feast, the ruler would free one prisoner whom the people chose. v16 The crowd knew that there was a famous prisoner. His name was Barabbas. v17 Pilate called together the people. Then he said to them, ‘Whom do you want me to free? Do you want Barabbas or Jesus who is called the *Christ?’ v18 Pilate realised that they were jealous of Jesus. That was why they had brought Jesus to him.

v19 While Pilate sat on the judge’s seat, his wife sent a message to him. It said, ‘Do not do anything to that innocent man. Today I have suffered many things because of a dream about him.’

v20 But the chief priests and the leaders of the *Jews had persuaded the crowd. The crowd should ask Pilate for Barabbas and Jesus must die.

v21 The ruler again said to them, ‘I have Barabbas and Jesus. Which one do you want me to free?’ And they said, ‘Barabbas.’ v22 Pilate asked, ‘What about Jesus? What should I do with him who is called the *Christ?’ They answered ‘*Crucify him.’ v23 Pilate asked, ‘Why? What crime has he done?’ However, they began to shout even louder, ‘*Crucify him.’

v24 Pilate saw that he could achieve nothing. The crowd was beginning to get out of control. So, he took some water and he washed his hands in front of the crowd. Then he said, ‘I am innocent of this man’s death. You do it yourselves.’ v25 All the people answered, ‘We and our children will be responsible for his death.’ v26 Then Pilate freed Barabbas to them. He beat Jesus with whips. After that, he handed over Jesus to the soldiers for them to *crucify him.

Verses 11-14 This was the first of the two times that Jesus stood in front of Pilate. Pilate took Jesus into the hall of judgement. The *Jews would not go in because to them the place was *unclean. If they went in it would make them *unclean. Then they would not be able to take part in the *Passover ceremony (John 18:28).

The crime of *blasphemy was extremely important to the *Jewish religion. But *blasphemy was of no interest to the *Romans. *Blasphemy was not a crime in *Roman law. The *Jewish leaders had to find a better reason for their request to Pilate.

The *Jewish leaders accused Jesus of three serious crimes. He tried to cause the people to act against the *Romans. Then he told the people not to pay taxes to the *emperor. And he said that he was *Christ the king. The first two of those were clearly false. And Jesus did not say to the leaders that he was a king.

To Pilate the most serious of those was the last one. They said that he was a king. As a king, he must be an enemy of *Emperor Tiberius. The punishment because of that crime would be death. Therefore, Pilate asked Jesus whether he was the king of the *Jews.

Jesus did not deny that he was a king. He was a king but his *kingdom was not part of this world (John 18:33-38). Pilate could see that Jesus was not a danger to the *emperor. He was not a king in the way that the *Jewish leaders had meant. Pilate was a judge with much experience. It did not take him long to see that Jesus was innocent. He decided that Jesus was not guilty of any crime. He came out of the hall of judgement. And he told the *Jewish leaders and the crowd about his decision.

The chief priests accused Jesus of many things. They said that he caused trouble among the people. What he taught spread from Galilee through the whole nation. But Jesus did not answer them. Pilate spoke to Jesus but Jesus did not reply.

Pilate heard that Jesus was from Galilee. Herod was the ruler in Galilee and he was in Jerusalem for the *feast. So, Pilate sent Jesus to Herod. Luke writes about what happened there. Then Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate (Luke 23:6-12).

Verses 15-18 This was the second time that Jesus stood in front of Pilate. Pilate called together the *Jewish leaders and the people with them. He told them that he had examined Jesus. He could not find Jesus guilty of anything. Also, Herod had tried to find fault with Jesus. And Herod could not find anything about which Jesus was guilty. Pilate as the judge must free the innocent man. He said that he would punish Jesus. Then he would free him. But the *Jewish leaders and the people with them protested with loud shouts (Luke 23:13-16).

It was a custom that Pilate freed a prisoner at the *Passover time. He asked them whether he should free the king of the *Jews. He gave to them the choice. They could chose Barabbas or Jesus the *Christ. Barabbas was a thief and he was guilty of murder. The chief priests and the *Jewish leaders had persuaded the crowd to choose Barabbas.

It could not have been a very large crowd. There was not enough room in that place. But the crowd was large enough to worry Pilate. It could not have been typical of the ordinary people. The people were not against Jesus. They believed that he was a *prophet. Maybe friends of Barabbas were in that crowd. They would want their friend to be free.

Pilate knew that the *Jewish priests and leaders were jealous of Jesus. They had made up the reasons because of which they brought Jesus to Pilate. There were no facts in what they accused Jesus.

Verse 19 During that time, Pilate’s wife sent him a message. It was such a serious matter. She had to interrupt what was happening. She believed that her dream was to warn her husband. She saw that Jesus was innocent. If Pilate did not free him, awful things would happen. Perhaps that caused Pilate to try harder to free Jesus. Pilate started work very early in the morning. Probably his wife would not rise until later.

Verses 20-23 Again, Pilate asked the crowd to decide whom they wanted him to free. The crowd said Barabbas. Then Pilate asked what he should do with Jesus. The crowd shouted their answer. They cried, ‘*Crucify him.’ Pilate asked them what evil deeds had Jesus done. However, they shouted even louder, ‘*Crucify him.’

Verses 24-26 Pilate could see no way that he could free Jesus. He would not dare to oppose the crowd. To do so would cause a difficult situation. He did not really care what happened to that man from Galilee. It was more important to keep the peace at the time of the *feast. But as the judge, he could not say that Jesus was guilty. Therefore, he tried to pass the responsibility to the *Jewish priests and leaders. He washed his hands. It was a *Jewish custom for a person to wash his hands to show that he was innocent (Deuteronomy 21:6-9; Psalm 26:6; Psalm 73:13). Pilate said that he was innocent of Jesus’ death. But he was just as guilty as they were. He told them to do it themselves but they could not. He had to agree to the *crucifixion of Jesus.

The crowd that was there accepted the responsibility. The blame would be on them and on their children. That small crowd was not typical of the *Jewish people. The ordinary people believed that Jesus was a *prophet. They would not have agreed to his death.

In the end, Pilate gave in to the crowd. He agreed to *crucify Jesus and he freed Barabbas.

Before they *crucified slaves or criminals, the *Romans beat them with whips. Pilate’s men beat Jesus with a whip. That was an awful punishment. The whip had several strings. Each string had a piece of metal or bone at the end. Those pieces cut into the back of Jesus.

The soldiers laugh at Jesus – Matthew 27:27-31

v27 The ruler’s soldiers took Jesus into the ruler’s palace. All the soldiers that were there gathered round him. v28 They took off his clothes and they put a bright red coat on him. v29 They made a crown out of *thorn branches. They put the crown on Jesus’ head. They put a stick in his right hand. They bent down in front of him. And they made fun of him. They cried, ‘We greet you, king of the *Jews.’ v30 They *spat on Jesus. Then they took the stick and they beat him on the head with it. v31 After the soldiers had finished making fun of Jesus, they took off the red coat. And they put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to *crucify him.

Verses 27-31 Pilate’s soldiers took Jesus into their hall. Those soldiers may not have been *Romans. They may have been men who joined the *Roman army from other countries.

The soldiers took Jesus’ clothes off him and they put a bright red coat on him. Only officers would wear a coat of that colour. The red was as near to purple as they could find. Purple was the colour that a royal person would wear. They made a crown from *thorns and they put on his head. As they pushed that crown on him, the *thorns would cause him pain. And they put a stick in his right hand. It made Jesus look like a king. They made fun of him. They bent down in front of him. They insulted him as they *spat on him. And they hit him with the stick that they took from his hand.

When the soldiers had finished, they dressed Jesus in his own clothes. Then they led him away to *crucify him. Some of those soldiers led Jesus away. Usually 4 soldiers would go with each person that they would *crucify.

At Golgotha, the soldiers *crucify Jesus – Matthew 27:32-56

v32 On the way, they found a man called Simon. He was from Cyrene. The soldiers forced him to carry Jesus' cross. v33 They came to a place called Golgotha. Golgotha means the place of the *skull. v34 They gave to Jesus wine mixed with a drug. When Jesus had tasted it, he refused to drink it. v35 The soldiers *crucified Jesus. They played a game to decide who would get his clothes. v36 Then they sat down there to guard him. v37 They put a sign above Jesus' head. It read, ‘This is Jesus, the king of the *Jews.’ They had accused him of this.

v38 They *crucified two thieves with Jesus. One was on his right side and the other on his left side. v39 As people walked past, they insulted Jesus. They shook their heads at him. v40 They said, ‘You would destroy the *temple. And you would build it again in three days. Now save yourself. If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ v41 The chief priests, the teachers of the law and the *Jewish leaders were there. In the same way, they were making fun of Jesus. v42 They said, ‘He saved other people. But he cannot save himself. If he is *Israel’s king, let him come down from the cross now. Then we will believe in him. v43 He has trusted in God. So, let God rescue him now, if God wants him. He said, “I am God’s Son.” ’ v44 The thieves, who were on crosses next to Jesus, also insulted him in the same way.

v45 From the 6th hour to the 9th hour, there was darkness over the whole country. v46 At about the 9th hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice. He said, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ This means, ‘My God, my God, why have you left me alone?’

v47 Some of the people who stood there heard this. They said, ‘This man is calling Elijah.’ v48 Immediately, one of the people ran and got a *sponge. He filled it with sour wine and he put it on a stick. Then he offered it to Jesus to drink. v49 But other people said, ‘Wait. Let us see if Elijah will come to rescue him.’

v50 Jesus cried out again in a loud voice and he freed his spirit. v51 The curtain in the *temple split into two pieces from the top to the bottom. And the earth shook and the rocks split open. v52 Graves opened and from them many dead bodies of God’s people came to life again. v53 They came out of the graves. After Jesus came back to life, they went into the holy city. And many people saw them. v54 The army officer and the soldiers who were guarding Jesus saw this *earthquake. And they saw everything else that was happening. They were very afraid. They said, ‘He really was the Son of God.’

v55 Many women were there and they were watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee and they had provided for him. v56 With the women was Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Joseph. Also, the mother of James and John was there.

Verses 32-37 The person that they would *crucify had to carry the cross bar of his cross. It was very heavy. Jesus had suffered so much that he was now weak. He could not carry his cross the whole way. The soldiers took hold of Simon and they forced him to carry Jesus’ cross.

Simon came from Cyrene. Cyrene was a city in the North African country called Libya. Probably he became a Christian because of that experience. He was the father of Alexander and Rufus (Mark 15:21). Those two sons became Christians.

There was a large crowd of people on the streets as Jesus went past. The crowd followed him along the way. Those people were not against Jesus. They were ordinary people. Many of them admired Jesus. The situation probably made them sad and angry. But they could do nothing. Many of the women wept aloud as they saw him (Luke 23:27-32).

The place where they *crucified people was outside the walls of the city. The place was called Golgotha. Golgotha means the place of a *skull. A hill outside the old city walls has the appearance of a *skull. That could be the place, where they *crucified Jesus. There is a tradition that the *Romans *crucified Jesus on that hill. But it is more likely that it was at the base of the hill. It was near the road because people went past. As they went past the people made fun of Jesus (Matthew 27:39-40; Mark 15:29-30).

When they came to Golgotha, people gave Jesus a drink to reduce his pain. However, Jesus would not drink it. At about 9 in the morning, they *crucified Jesus there (Mark 15:25).

In *crucifixion, the person hung on a cross. We are not certain about the shape of the cross. It was probably a central beam with a cross bar. They fixed Jesus to the cross with nails through his hands and his feet (John 20:25-27; Luke 24:39). It was an awful, slow and painful death. But the Bible does not say much about the physical pain that Jesus suffered. It concentrates more on the importance of Jesus’ death. In his death, he took the punishment because of all our *sins (1 Corinthians 15:3). This means that God can forgive our *sin. And by means of his death, Jesus defeated the devil.

They divided Jesus’ clothes into 4 parts, one part for each of the soldiers. However, the coat was of one piece so it was quite valuable. The soldiers played a game to see who would take the coat (John 19:23-24; Psalm 22:18). Then they sat there to watch Jesus.

When they *crucified a person, they put a notice on the cross. The notice included the name and the crime of the person. So, Pilate ordered that they should put a notice above Jesus. They wrote the notice in three languages. It said ‘This is Jesus, the king of the *Jews.’

Verses 38-44 The *Romans *crucified two other men that day. They were criminals. They hung on crosses one each side of Jesus (Isaiah 53:12).

Many of the people would come to witness a *crucifixion. So on that occasion people stood there and they watched Jesus. Most of the ordinary people did not insult Jesus. But three groups of people insulted him. There were the people who went past. There were the priests and teachers of the law. And at first, there were the two criminals who hung on the other crosses.

The false witnesses told the leaders that they had heard Jesus. They said that Jesus would destroy the *temple. And he would build it again in three days. That was not what Jesus said. However, some of the people who went past accused Jesus of that. They must have known what the false witnesses had said. Probably several of those people had been in the crowd with the leaders in front of Pilate. They called out to Jesus to save himself. If he was the Son of God, he could come down from the cross. Jesus was the Son of God. And that is the reason why he did not come down from the cross.

It was surprising that several of the *Jewish rulers were at the cross. That showed how much many of them hated Jesus. Those important men included the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the *Jewish leaders. They did not speak directly to Jesus. But they would have spoken loud enough for him to hear them. If Jesus could save other people then he could save himself. If Jesus was the king of *Israel, he could come down from the cross. He trusted in God. If God had chosen him, then God could save him. All of that was true. Jesus could have saved himself. However, they did not understand that Jesus came to die on our behalf. It was God’s plan that Jesus should die because of the *sins of all people.

The two criminals began to insult Jesus. One of them continued to insult him. But the other criminal realised who Jesus was. He protested to the other criminal. Soon he would have to come in front of God his judge. That should cause him to be afraid of God. All three of them were suffering the same punishment. The two of them deserved it. But he was aware that Jesus was innocent of any crime.

The criminal spoke to Jesus. He believed that Jesus was a king. He did not ask Jesus to rescue him from his cross or from death. He realised that death would not be the end. Therefore, he asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his *kingdom. Jesus promised that he would. That criminal would die that day and then he would go to be with Jesus (Luke 23:39-43).

Verses 45-50 The *Jewish day consisted of 12 hours. The start of the day was sunrise, which would be about 6 in the morning. The end of the day was at sunset. Therefore, the length of an hour varied at different times during the year. They had no clocks or watches. The writers of the *Gospels estimated the times. Mark wrote that they *crucified Jesus about the 3rd hour. That was at about 9 in the morning (Mark 15:25).

It was dark from about noon to about three in the afternoon. The light from the sun could not come through the darkness. That darkness was not natural. It could not have been because the moon was in front of the sun. At *Passover time, there was a full moon.

(John wrote that Pilate brought Jesus out to the crowd at about the 6th hour. Probably John used the *Roman day. To the Romans, the day started after midnight. So, that the 6th hour would have been about 6 in the morning (John 19:14)).

The *Gospels record that Jesus spoke 7 times while he was on the cross. He spoke in the *Hebrew language. So, many of the people would not have understood what he said.

(1) As they *crucified him, he prayed to the Father. ‘Father forgive them. They do not know what they are doing’ (Luke 23:34).

(2) Jesus gave to John the responsibility to care for his mother, Mary (John 19:26-27).

(3) Jesus replied to one of the criminals (Luke 23:42-43).

(4) Jesus cried, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ (Mark 15:34; Matthew 27:46).

(5) Jesus cried, ‘I need a drink’ (John 19:28)

(6) Jesus said, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30). (In other words, ‘it is complete,’ or, ‘it is the end.’)

(7) Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I place my spirit’ (Luke 23:46)

At about the 9th hour Jesus cried, ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ That means, ‘My God, my God, why have you left me alone?’ We cannot understand what that really meant. It must have been part of the process to deal with our *sin. We read that Jesus did not have any *sin. But God made him to be *sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). God did that so that he could remove *sin from us. *Christ carried our *sins in his body when he died on the cross. He did that, so that we can be dead to *sin. Now we can live a life without blame. He accepted our punishment and he has healed us (1 Peter 2:24).

In the language that Jesus used, ‘Eli’ would sound similar to ‘Elijah.’ Some of the people thought that Jesus called for Elijah to come. Jesus cried out, ‘I need a drink.’ Someone brought some sour wine for Jesus to drink. He put the wine on a *sponge. A *sponge is a natural material that takes in liquids. But the people stopped him. They thought that the *prophet Elijah may come.

Jesus did not die because of what people did to him. He had said that he had authority to give his life. And he had power to take it again. Nobody could take his life from him. He would make his own decision to give his life (John 10:17-18). Jesus had done all that he had come to do. He cried out, ‘I have finished it’ (John 19:30). Then he gave his own life to God his Father. He cried out with a loud voice that the people could hear. He said, ‘Father, into your hands I place my spirit.’ (Luke 23:46) His spirit went to be with God. He took his last breath and his body died.

Verses 51-53 When Jesus died, the large curtain in the *temple split from the top to the bottom. That curtain was between the holy place and the most holy place in the *temple. The chief priest went into the most holy place once a year to meet with God. He had to go in on a special day. The purpose was to ask God to forgive the *sins of himself and the people. No other person could go through the curtain. Now the curtain to the most holy place was open. It was as if anybody could now go through the curtain. Now the people could approach God for themselves. The death of Jesus has made the way for us to approach God. Jesus’ body is like the curtain by which we have a doorway to God (Hebrews 10:19-25).

At the same time, the earth shook and the rocks split. The effect of that was that graves opened. People would expect that when the earth shook. They did not bury people in the ground there. Those graves were in the rocks. Many bodies of holy people came out of the graves. The dead people became alive. When Jesus became alive again those people went into Jerusalem. It seems that Matthew did not write in a strict time order. Because of the earth shaking, the graves opened. However, the dead people became alive and went into the city three days later.

Verse 54 The soldiers saw all that happened. They had seen other *crucifixions but this one was different. They had felt the darkness and they saw the effects of the *earthquake. They had heard all that Jesus had said on the cross. They had seen how he died. It was not natural and they were afraid. They knew that Jesus must have been innocent of any crime. Jesus was not just an ordinary man. Jesus’ death convinced them that he was the Son of God.

Verses 55-56 Many of Jesus’ friends had come. However, they stood some distance from the cross. Among them were the women who had been such a help to Jesus. They had travelled with him from Galilee. Those women were loyal to Jesus to the end. They watched as Jesus died. Matthew names three of them. The mother of James and John was Salome, who was the wife of Zebedee.

Joseph from Arimathea places Jesus’ body in the grave – Matthew 27:57-66

v57 When it was evening, a rich man came. He was from the town called Arimathea. His name was Joseph and he was a *disciple of Jesus. v58 Joseph went to Pilate and asked to have Jesus' body. Then Pilate gave orders for the soldiers to give the body to Joseph. v59 Joseph took the body and he wrapped it in a clean *linen cloth. v60 He put Jesus’ body in his own new grave, which he had cut out of the rock. After he had rolled a large stone across the entrance to the grave, he went away. v61 Mary Magdalene and the other woman called Mary were sitting opposite the grave.

v62 The next day, which was after the preparation, the chief priests and the *Pharisees went to Pilate. v63 They said to him, ‘Sir. While he was alive, that man tried to lead the people from the right way. We remember what he said. He told the people, “After three days I will rise again from death.” v64 So, give the order to your men to guard the grave until the third day. His *disciples may go and they might steal the body. Then they will tell the people that Jesus is alive again. That lie would be even worse than the first one.’ v65 Pilate replied to them, ‘You take some soldiers. They can guard the grave. Make it as safe as you can.’ v66 So, they went with the guard and they made the grave safe. And they fastened the stone at the entrance to the grave.

Verses 57-60 Joseph was a rich man who came from the town called Arimathea. We do not know where Arimathea was. Joseph was a *disciple of Jesus. However, he kept quiet about it because he was afraid of the leaders of the *Jews (John 19:38). He was a sincere man who respected God. He expected the *Christ to come and he looked for the *kingdom of God. Joseph was a member of the *Sanhedrin. He could not have been there when the *Sanhedrin called for Jesus’ death. All of the *Sanhedrin that was there had agreed with the decision. But Joseph had not agreed with their decision (Luke 23:51).

By that time, it was late in the afternoon. The *Sabbath day would begin at sunset. That *Sabbath was a special day because it was the *Passover. So, they had to remove the bodies before sunset. *Jewish custom said that they must remove such a body the same day (Deuteronomy 21:22-23). The soldiers broke the legs of the two criminals to speed their death. But Jesus was dead already so they did not break his legs (John 19:32-33).

Joseph overcame his fear of the leaders of the *Jews. He went to Pilate and he asked for Jesus’ body. Joseph must have been an important person. So he was able to go to Pilate. Pilate was surprised that Jesus was dead already. He called the officer. And the officer told him that Jesus was dead. Pilate told the soldiers to give the body to Joseph. Joseph took the body down from the cross and he wrapped it in a cloth.

Joseph had prepared a grave for himself. The grave was in a garden that was near to Golgotha. He had cut the grave in the rock. He put Jesus in his own new grave. Nicodemus brought some *spices. Joseph and Nicodemus put *spices on the body to preserve it (John 19:39). Then they wrapped the body in strips of cloth. They closed the grave with a large stone across the entrance.

The door to the grave would be a large flat round stone. They would cut a ditch across the door into which the stone would fit. They would roll the stone into the ditch. Then it would be very difficult to remove the stone. It would need several men to get the stone out of the ditch. The grave would be safe from animals and thieves.

Nicodemus was another member of the *Sanhedrin. He too was a secret *disciple of Jesus.

Verse 61 Joseph and Nicodemus hurried to bury Jesus. The *Jewish custom was to wrap a mixture of *spices and oils with the body. There was not time to prepare *spices in a proper way. The two women called Mary followed Joseph to see where the grave was. Probably some of the other women were with them (Luke 23:55). They sat and they watched Joseph and Nicodemus.

Then the women went away to prepare the necessary *spices. They intended to come after the *Sabbath to wrap the body in a proper manner (Luke 23:56).

Verses 62-66 The day on which Jesus died Matthew calls the day of preparation. It was the day of preparation for the special *Sabbath of *Passover. On that *Sabbath, the chief priests and *Pharisees went to Pilate.

On several occasions, Jesus had said that after three days he would rise again from death. The *disciples did not understand what that meant. But the *Pharisees and the priests remembered it. They did not believe it. But they thought that the *disciples might try to steal the body. Then the *disciples could pretend that Jesus was alive again.

The chief priests and *Pharisees asked Pilate to put a guard on the grave. Pilate agreed and he told them to take some soldiers. They took soldiers to guard the grave. And they fastened the stone on the grave so that nobody could move it.

Chapter 28

Jesus rises from death and he becomes alive again – Matthew 28:1-10

v1 The day after the *Sabbath was the first day of the week. At dawn on the first day, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the grave. v2 At that time, there was a strong *earthquake. An *angel of the *Lord came down from heaven. He went to the grave, and he rolled away the stone from the entrance. Then he sat on the stone. v3 He shone like lightning and his clothes were as white as snow. v4 The guards were afraid of the *angel and they shook with fear. And they became like dead men.

v5 The *angel said to the women, ‘Do not be afraid. I know that you are looking for Jesus. They *crucified him. v6 But he is not here. He has risen from death as he said. Come here and see the place. That was where his body was laying. v7 And go quickly to tell this to his *disciples. “He has risen from death. He is going into Galilee ahead of you. And you will see him there.” I came to tell you this.’

v8 With fear and great joy, the women hurried from the grave. They ran to tell the *disciples about Jesus. v9 Suddenly, Jesus met them and he said, ‘Greetings.’ They approached him. They held his feet and they *worshipped him. v10 Then Jesus said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. Go to my brothers. Tell them to go to Galilee and they will see me there.’

Verses 1-10 The *Sabbath day was the 7th day of the week. It ended at sunset on Saturday. Then the first day of the week started. At dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the grave. There was no hurry and they could not do anything in the dark. The other Mary was the mother of James and Joseph. Also, Salome the mother of James and John was there (Mark 16:1). They had prepared *spices and they had come to use them on Jesus’ body.

They had discussed among themselves who could move away the heavy stone from the grave (Mark 16:3). But there had been a strong *earthquake. An *angel had rolled the stone away. He did not do that to let out Jesus. He did it to let the women into the grave. Jesus did not need an open grave because he had gone already. The *angel sat on the stone. The guards saw the *angel and they were afraid. And they could do nothing.

When the women came to the grave, it was open. They saw the *angel and they were afraid. But the *angel spoke to them. He told them not to be afraid. He knew why they had come. He told them that Jesus was not there. Jesus had been dead. As Jesus had said, God would raise from death (Matthew 16:21; 17:22-23; Luke 9:22; 18:31-33). Now Jesus was alive. The *angel invited them to see where Jesus had been. The women went into the grave but Jesus’ body was not there.

The *angel told them to go quickly. They must tell the *disciples that Jesus had risen from death. He was alive and he would meet them in Galilee.

The women hurried from the grave. They ran with emotions of both fear and joy. As they ran, Jesus met them. They kneeled down by his feet and they *worshipped him. Jesus told them not to be afraid. He told them to give this message to his brothers. He called the *disciples brothers. Perhaps Jesus called them brothers as he included more than the 11 *disciples. The message was that he would meet the *disciples in Galilee. Jesus said that he would meet them in a certain mountain (Matthew 28:16).

The soldiers give a report to the leaders – Matthew 28:11-15

v11 While the women were going, some of the guards went into the city. The guards told the chief priests all that had happened. v12 After the chief priests had met with the *Jewish leaders, they decided what to do. They gave to the soldiers a large sum of money. v13 The chief priests said to the soldiers, ‘You must tell this story. “Jesus’ *disciples came in the night. And they stole him while we were asleep.” v14 If the *Roman ruler hears about this, we will satisfy him. We will keep you out of trouble.’ v15 So, the soldiers took the money. They did what the chief priests had told them to do. And this story has spread among the *Jews to this day.

Verse 11-15 The guards at the grave now had a problem. They were there to make sure that the *disciples did not steal the body of Jesus. They had done their duty. The grave had remained closed until that *angel came. They did not see the body come out of the grave. But the body had gone.

As soon as the women had gone, some of the guards went into the city. They went to the chief priests because Pilate had given to them authority over the guards. The guards could not tell *Roman officers about it. *Roman officers would not have believed them. It would seem that they had failed in their duty. The body had gone. Therefore, the *Roman officers would have punished the guards.

The guards told the chief priests all that had happened. The chief priests could not let the people know the truth. They and the leaders of the *Jews discussed what they should do. They made a plan. They would give to the soldiers a large sum of money. And the soldiers must not tell about what happened. Instead, they must say that the *disciples came during the night. And while the guards were asleep, the *disciples took Jesus’ body from the grave.

The story shows how desperate they were for an explanation. They were professional soldiers. They would not all be asleep. And if just one of them was awake, he would have sounded the alarm. They would have arrested the *disciples.

The *disciples were too afraid to have thought of such a scheme. Even if all 11 *disciples came, the soldiers would have been much stronger than the *disciples. It was not possible that the story could be true.

If the *Roman ruler heard the story, the *Jewish leaders would satisfy him. They would protect the soldiers from any trouble. The soldiers took the money. They did as the chief priests said. The truth would have been much stranger than the lie. This false story spread among the *Jews.

Jesus’ last words to his *disciples – Matthew 28:16-20

v16 The 11 *disciples went to Galilee. They came to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. v17 There they saw Jesus and they *worshipped him. But some of them doubted that it was really Jesus. v18 Then Jesus came to them. Then he said, ‘God has given to me all authority on earth and in heaven. v19 Go to the people in all nations. Make them my *disciples. *Baptise them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the *Holy Spirit. v20 Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you. And I am with you always, even until the end of this age.’

Verses 16-20 Many times Jesus met with people after he had risen from the grave (1 Corinthians 15:4-8). Matthew only records how Jesus met with the women near the grave and with the 11 *disciples in Galilee.

The 11 *disciples went to a mountain in Galilee. It is possible that other *disciples went with the 11 *disciples to the mountain. We do not know which mountain it was. But Jesus had told them where they would meet him. When they saw Jesus at a distance, they *worshipped him. Some of them doubted that it was really Jesus. Maybe they thought that he was a spirit and not a real man. They hesitated for a moment then they realised the truth. They knew that the person was Jesus. Jesus was alive again.

Then Jesus came near to them. He told them that God had given to him all authority over heaven and earth. Jesus had all authority on earth and he had all authority in heaven. Because of that authority, he told his *disciples to go into the entire world. Their task was to make *disciples for Jesus in every nation.

Jesus told them to *baptise the new *disciples. This *baptism must be in the name of the Father, the Son and the *Holy Spirit. These are the name of God in three persons. The Father is God. The Son is God. And the *Holy Spirit is God. They are not different Gods. They are the same God because there is only one God. The *baptism shows that the *disciple has come into God’s family. The experience of God as the Father, the Son and the *Holy Spirit is what makes a person a *disciple.

*Baptism is the start of a new way to live with the *Lord. The *disciple has to live in the right way. Jesus taught the first *disciples how to live in that manner. They must teach new *disciples to obey all that Jesus had taught them.

The *Gospel ends with Jesus’ promise to remain with all his *disciples. He does not promise to be with them in the future only. He promises to be with them each day. And he promises to be with them always until to the end of the age. Jesus is with his people from the present and to the end of time.

Word List

AD ~ years after *Christ.

altar ~ the special table where priests burned animals and other gifts that they offered to God.

ancestors ~ people in history from whom your family has come.

angel ~ a servant of God from heaven. God made angels to serve him and to take his messages. So, angels are God’s servants from heaven. But there are evil angels who opposed God. These evil angels now serve the devil.

anoint ~ to put oil or *spices on a person.

anointed one ~ another name for the *Christ. It means a person whom someone has *anointed to carry out special work for God.

baptise ~ to use water in a special ceremony to show that God has forgiven (washed away) a person’s *sin.

baptism ~ the act when a person *baptises someone.

Baptist ~ the title that we use for John, whom God sent to prepare people for the *Christ’s arrival.

BC ~ years before *Christ.

blaspheme ~ to say things against God; to curse God or to insult him. Such behaviour is *blasphemy.

blasphemy ~ to speak against God; an insult against God.

Christ ~ The Christ is the name for the person whom God would send to save his people. The word ‘Christ’ means that the person has received an anointing. The anointing was a special ceremony that appointed someone to carry out a special work for God. Jesus is the Christ and he was called Christ. God sent Jesus to save his people from their *sins (Matthew 1:21).

Christs (false) ~ False Christs are people who pretend falsely to be Christ. God has not sent them and they do not have a message from God.

crucifixion ~ when someone nailed a person to a cross of wood in order to kill that person as a punishment.

crucify ~ a *Roman method to kill as a punishment. The *Roman soldiers would nail the person to a cross of wood.

cubit ~ A *cubit was about 18 inches (45 centimetres).

denarius ~ a *Roman coin that was worth about the wage of a worker for one day. The plural is denarii.

descendant ~ a future member of a family or nation.

disciple ~ a person who follows a leader, especially the 12 men that Jesus chose to be with him.

donkey ~ an animal, like a small horse, with long ears. People use donkeys to ride on or to carry goods.

dove ~ a kind of bird.

drachma ~ a coin that was worth about the wage of a worker for one day. It was about the same value as a *denarius.

earthquake ~ When the earth shakes, that is an *earthquake.

emperor ~ like a king. The *Romans called their ruler an *emperor.

end times ~ the end of this age; the future period that will begin a short time before the return of Christ.

eternal life ~ It is a new quality of life now for those people who truly believe in Jesus. And it continues in heaven, after our body dies. This eternal life will never end.

faith ~ trust in someone or something; belief and trust in God and in Jesus Christ his Son.

feast ~ a time to eat and drink. The special times of *Jewish ceremonies are feasts.

figs ~ a kind of sweet fruit.

glory ~ great honour and beauty.

Gospel ~ one of the first 4 books in the New Testament. They are Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

gospel ~ the good news that God saves people from *sin because of Jesus Christ.

grapes ~ the fruit of a plant called the vine, which grew in *vineyards. People make wine from the fruit.

Greek ~ the language in which the authors wrote the *New Testament.

Hebrew ~ the language of the *Jews.

Holy Spirit ~ God’s Spirit whom Jesus sent to help his people. The Holy Spirit is another name for God, also called the Spirit of God, the Spirit of Christ and the Comforter. The Holy Spirit is a person but not human. He carries out God’s work on earth. He is God, equal with God the Father and with God the Son.

hosanna ~ ‘Hosanna’ means ‘please save us.’ It was a word that people shouted in order to praise a great ruler. It gave honour to the ruler to hear that the people depended on him to save (rescue) them from their enemies.

hypocrisy ~ when someone pretends in order to give a false impression.

hypocrite ~ someone who pretends to do good deeds in order to give a false impression.

idol ~ the image of a false god.

Israel ~ the country of the *Jews.

Israelites ~ *Jewish people.

Jewish ~ people or things that are from the *Jews.

Jews ~ people who were born from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their *descendants.

kingdom ~ the place or territory where a king rules. In the *New Testament, we often read about God’s kingdom. This nearly always means the people over whom God rules, and not a territory on earth.

legion ~ an army of about 6000 soldiers.

leper ~ someone with a serious skin disease called *leprosy.

leprosy ~ a serious disease of the skin.

Levite ~ a person from the *tribe of Levi. The Levites assisted the priests in the *temple.

linen ~ a type of fine (good quality) cloth.

Lord ~ a title for God, or Jesus, to show that he is over all people and things. In the *Old Testament, LORD was a special name for God. The word ‘lord’ can also mean a master or a ruler.

miracle ~ a powerful deed that does not happen by natural means. Often, miracles seem impossible to explain. Miracles show God’s power.

Mount of Olives ~ a hill near Jerusalem. The word ‘mount’ means a mountain or hill. Olives are a type of oily fruit that grow on trees. Those trees grew on the hill near Jerusalem called the Mount of Olives.

New Testament ~ the last part of the Bible, which the writers wrote after the life of Jesus on earth.

ointment ~ special oil that has a sweet smell.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible; the holy things that the writers wrote before Jesus’ birth.

ox ~ an animal of a similar kind to a cow. The plural is oxen.

palm ~ a kind of tree.

Passover ~ annual ceremony (*feast) to remember God’s rescue of the *Jews from Egypt.

persecute ~ to attack and to hurt someone because of that person’s beliefs.

persecution ~ attacks against someone because of that person’s beliefs.

Pharisees ~ a group of *Jews who tried to obey all God’s rules. They thought that by this they could please God.

preach ~ to speak God’s message in public, and to teach his word.

prophecy ~ a message from God that a person speaks by the power of the *Holy Spirit.

prophesy ~ to speak a *prophecy.

prophet ~ a person who speaks for God. A prophet can sometimes say what will happen in the future.

prostitute ~ a woman who sells her body to men for sex.

repent ~ to change one’s mind and heart. People who repent must turn their minds and hearts away from *sin. They ask God to help them so that they can now serve him.

repentance ~ When a person *repents, that is repentance.

resurrection ~ life after death.

roll ~ material (for example, cloth, paper or something similar) that a person has rolled up tightly. This was the original shape of a book before people began to bind separate pieces of paper together.

Roman ~ Rome was the capital city of the most important rulers at the time of the *New Testament. Anything that belonged to Rome was called Roman. The people from Rome were called the Romans.

Sabbath ~ the 7th day of the week (Saturday) which is special to the *Jews as a holy day.

sacrifice ~ a gift to God to ask him to forgive *sins or to thank him for something. To sacrifice is to make a sacrifice.

Sadducee ~ one of a group of *Jews who did not believe in heaven or in *resurrection. They were an important group of *Jews at the time of Jesus, and they included the most important priests. They only used the five books at the beginning of the *Old Testament. They believed that people would not live again after death.

salvation ~ a right relationship with God. The only way for anyone to receive that right relationship is when God forgives that person’s *sins. And that is only possible because Jesus died for us. We must confess our *sins to God and we must invite him into our lives.

Sanhedrin ~ a group of 71 leaders under the chief priest who were the *Jewish government.

Satan ~ the name of the devil.

Scriptures ~ the books of the Bible. Where Jesus talks about the Scriptures, he means the books of the *Old Testament.

scripture boxes ~ boxes that contain a small *roll with words from the *Scriptures on it. *Jews wear these boxes (called phylacteries) during prayer.

shekel ~ *Jewish money.

shepherd ~ someone who takes care of sheep.

sin ~ Sin is the wrong things that we do. To sin is to do wrong, bad or evil deeds and not to obey God.

sinful ~ a person who *sins is sinful.

sinners ~ people who *sin.

skull ~ the bones in a head.

soul ~ the part of a person’s nature that other people cannot see; the real life of a person that continues after the death of the body.

spit/spat ~ To spit is to force liquid from the mouth. People did this in order to insult someone. Spat is the past tense of this word.

spice ~ a sweet substance or a substance with a strong smell.

sponge ~ a natural material that takes in liquids.

synagogue ~ a building where *Jews gather for prayer; a meeting place for *Jews.

talent ~ A talent was originally a unit of weight. It was about 75 pounds (34 kilograms) weight. A talent of money could be in gold, silver or copper. The talent became the most valuable unit of money. Experts believe that a talent was then worth 6000 *denarii.

temple ~ a special building for the *worship of God. The *Jews had a temple in Jerusalem for the *worship of the real God. But at other temples, people *worshipped false gods.

thorns ~ sharp hard points on a tree or bush.

throne ~ the special chair for the king or for an important person.

tribe ~ a large family of people who have a common *ancestor. The nation called *Israel grew from the 12 sons of Jacob. Their 12 families became the 12 tribes of *Israel.

trumpet ~ a musical instrument which makes a loud noise when someone blows into it.

unclean ~ unable to join in public acts of *worship.

unleavened bread ~ flat bread that a person bakes without *yeast.

vineyard ~ a place where *grapes grow.

vulture ~ a nasty bird that eats dead bodies.

worship ~ the act when someone shows honour to God (or to an *idol). When a person worships, that person praises God. That person thanks God. And that person respects God.

yeast ~ a substance that makes bread rise before someone bakes it.

Book List

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Leon Morris ~ The Gospel according to Matthew ~The Pillar New Testament Commentary

D.A.Carson ~ The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

R T France ~ Matthew ~ The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries


A. Marshall ~ The Interlinear Greek New Testament


© 2015, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

August 2015

Visit our website: