Harmony of the Gospels

 
JESUS TELLS DATE OF HIS CRUCIFIXION


INTRODUCTION

Life presents us with many opportunities; how we respond to them depends on what we love and what we look for in life. The Jewish leaders looked for the opportunity to destroy Jesus, while at the same time Jesus was anticipating the opportunity to obey His Father and bring Him glory.

Here in this passage, Jesus predicts His death at the hand of the ones who should have been the first to accept him as Israel’s Messiah. It is incredible that these religious leaders perpetrated history’s greatest crime during Israel’s holiest festival.


COMMENTARY

And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples (Matthew 26:1)

For the forth time in this Gospel (16:21[1]; 17:23; 20:18), Jesus gave His disciples notice of the approach of His sufferings and death. He waited until he had finished all these sayings; that is, when He had finished all he had to say in His Olivet Discourse. The Lord Jesus had completed His mission as a prophet; now He entered into the performance of His office as priest. He is moving according to God’s timetable, and He is forcing the issue; He is not a helpless victim. Christ had always avoided His enemy’s plots to kill Him, but now it was His time. The true Lamb of God would take away the sin of the world.

Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified. (Matthew 26:2)

After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: (Mark 14:1a)
Now the feast of unleavened bread drew nigh, which is called the Passover. (Luke 22:1)

Jesus makes a final prediction of His death two days before Passover, which was eaten on the evening of Nisan 14. Hence, the prediction was made on the 12th of April (Wednesday); the year was probably A.D. 30. The Feast of the Passover was the first feast on the Jewish yearly calendar and was kept in commemoration of the national deliverance from Egypt in the exodus under Moses. All Jewish men were required[TL1] to be in Jerusalem for the Passover (Deut 16:16)[2].

The Jewish leaders wanted to kill Jesus for what they considered to be the good of their nation. They reasoned that if people followed Christ as the Messiah, the Roman government would rise up and crush the “rebellion.”

Passover takes its name from the Hebrew term related to the Death Angel passing over those who had applied the blood to their homes (see Ex 12). The Hebrew root pesach was translated into “pashcal” from which Christ’s suffering is often referred to as His “passion.” Passover time was a great high day among the Jews and thousands of pilgrims flocked to Jerusalem to observe it each year. Our Lord’s death was the ultimate fulfillment of which the annual feast had been a representation. It was followed by the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Nisan 15–21). Sometimes the entire period was generally referred to as Passover.
The Jewish religious leaders, and Sanhedrin members, had already decided that Jesus must be put to death (Jn. 11:47-53[3]). While his enemies were preparing trouble for him, He was preparing himself and his followers to meet it. He had told them of his coming sufferings before, now he speaks of them as being at the door.  He told His disciples to expect sad times, jail and afflictions, and then tells them, The Son of man is betrayed; to imply that they would get along no worse than he would, and that his sufferings[TL2] should take the sting out of theirs.

Son of man is His favorite designation for Himself. Betrayed is better translated here as “delivered up” or “handed over.” The meeting of the Sanhedrin takes place at the palace courtyard. He is betrayed, since Judas was at that moment making plans to betray him.

His announcement implied that the Passover and His crucifixion were not far away: “Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.” This year the Passover would find its true meaning. The Passover Lamb had at last arrived and would soon be slain.

Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, (Matthew 26:3)

Caiaphas was a Sadducee who had been appointed High Priest a few years earlier, about A.D. 18, just before Christ’s earthly ministry began. The plot of the chief priests, and scribes, and elders of the people is against the life of our Lord Jesus. Many consultations had been held against the life of Christ but this plot was laid deeper than any yet, for the attendees were all engaged in it. The chief priests, who presided in ecclesiastical affairs; the elders, who were judges in civil matters, and the scribes, who, as doctors of the law, were leaders of both—these three groups of people made-up the Sanhedrim, or great council that governed the nation, and these were allied against Christ.

And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him. (Matthew 26:4)

and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. (Mark 14:1b)
And the chief priests and scribes sought how they might kill him; (Luke 22:2b)

The plot itself was to take Jesus by subtlety, and kill him; nothing less than his blood, his life-blood, would serve their objective.

Even as He was uttering the words, the religious leaders were gathering in the palace courtyard of Caiaphas, the high priest, to map out their strategy. They wanted to arrest Him secretly and have Him killed; it is incredible that Israel’s religious leaders took the lead in plotting the death of their Messiah. They should have been the first to recognize and to enthrone Him. Instead, they formed the cutting edge of His enemies.

But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people. (Matthew 26:5)


But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people. (Mark 14:2)
for they feared the people.(Luke 22:2c)

Why not arrest Jesus during the feast days? Was it due to the holiness of the time, or, so they would not be disturbed during the religious services of the day? No, but lest there be an uproar among the people. They knew Christ had a great interest in the common people, of whom there was a great gathering on the feast-days. Ands they might take-up arms against their rulers, if they tried to lay violent hands on Christ, whom all believed was a prophet. They were awed, not by the fear of God, but by the fear of the people; all their concern was for their own safety, not God’s honor. They would have killed Him at the feast; because it was a tradition of the Jews that criminals should be put to death at one of the three feasts, especially rebels and impostors, so that all Israel might see and fear; but not on the feast-day. Since many of Jesus’ supporters from Galilee would be in Jerusalem during this time, the leaders did not want to upset the crowd whose emotions were at a high level anyhow. They wanted to arrest Him after the people had gone home, but Judas unexpected betrayal expedited matters. Thus God’s timetable was followed. Jesus ultimately foiled their plan when divine Providence overruled them, and the Passover Lamb of God was killed at that very time Christ predicted. He said that He would die during the Passover. When did He die? He died during the Passover. You see, Jesus, not His enemies, set the time of His execution. He is in command; He is the King of Kings, and when He seems more helpless and weak at other times, He still is in charge.


SUMMARY

Jesus had “steadfastly set face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51[4]), knowing full well what would happen to him there, and now those events were about to occur.

They were appointments, not accidents, for they had been determined by the Father and written centuries ago in the Old Testament scriptures (Luke 24:26-27[5]). We cannot but admire our Savior and love Him even more as we see Him courageously enter into this time of suffering and eventual death.  We must remember that he did it for us.

 

Scripture References

[1] (Matt. 16:21) From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

[2](Deut 16:16) Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:

[3] (Jn. 11:47-53) Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 

[4](Luke 9:51 ) And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem,

[5] (Luke 24:26-27 ) Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself

 

Special Notes

[TL1] The Passover was one of the three compulsory feasts. The other two were the Feast of Pentecost and the Feast of Tabernacles. Every adult Jew who lived within fifteen miles of Jerusalem were obligated to go there for Passover, but far more than these came. It was the one ambition of every Jew to eat at least one Passover meal in Jerusalem before he died. And therefore, from every country in the world pilgrims came flocking to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. During the Passover, all lodging was free. The city could not hold the crowds, and Bethany and Bethphage were two of the outlying villages where pilgrims lodged. Every possible preparation was made for the Passover. For a month beforehand the meaning of the Passover was expounded in the Synagogue, and the lesson of the Passover was taught daily in the schools. It was the aim that no one should come to the celebration, ignorant and unprepared.

How big was the Passover? Josephus reports that in one year 256,500 lambs were killed. Now the law said that there must be a minimum of ten people to one lamb, which means that there must have been close to 3,000,000 pilgrims in Jerusalem. The mass of people had to have a place to stay, and the residents of Jerusalem opened their homes to them and provided them with the facilities for celebrating the Passover.

[TL2] Thoughts of a suffering Christ are great supports to a suffering Christian, suffering with him and for him.

Do you have any questions or comments?

 “The remarkable thing about fearing God is that when you fear God you fear nothing else, whereas if you do not fear God you fear everything else.” —Oswald Chambers

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