Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible

Matthew Ch.26 / 28 Ch.s


* The rulers conspire against Christ. (1-5) Christ anointed at
Bethany. (6-13) Judas bargains to betray Christ. (14-16) The
Passover. (17-25) Christ institutes his holy supper. (26-30) He
warns his disciples. (31-35) His agony in the garden. (36-46) He
is betrayed. (47-56) Christ before Caiaphas. (57-68) Peter
denies him. (69-75)

#1-5 Our Lord had often told of his sufferings as at a distance,
now he speaks of them as at hand. At the same time the Jewish
council consulted how they might put him to death secretly. But
it pleased God to defeat their intention. Jesus, the true
paschal Lamb, was to be sacrificed for us at that very time, and
his death and resurrection rendered public.

#6-13 The pouring ointment upon the head of Christ was a token
of the highest respect. Where there is true love in the heart to
Jesus Christ, nothing will be thought too good to bestow upon
him. The more Christ's servants and their services are cavilled
at, the more he manifests his acceptance. This act of faith and
love was so remarkable, that it would be reported, as a memorial
of Mary's faith and love, to all future ages, and in all places
where the gospel should be preached. This prophecy is fulfilled.

#14-16 There were but twelve called apostles, and one of them
was like a devil; surely we must never expect any society to be
quite pure on this side heaven. The greater profession men make
of religion, the greater opportunity they have of doing
mischief, if their hearts be not right with God. Observe, that
Christ's own disciple, who knew so well his doctrine and manner
of his life, and was false to him, could not charge him with any
thing criminal, though it would have served to justify his
treachery. What did Judas want? Was not he welcome wherever his
Master was? Did he not fare as Christ fared? It is not the lack,
but the love of money, that is the root of all evil. After he
had made that wicked bargain, Judas had time to repent, and to
revoke it; but when lesser acts of dishonesty have hardened the
conscience men do without hesitation that which is more

#17-25 Observe, the place for their eating the passover was
pointed out by Christ to the disciples. He knows those hidden
ones who favour his cause, and will graciously visit all who are
willing to receive him. The disciples did as Jesus had
appointed. Those who would have Christ's presence in the gospel
passover, must do what he says. It well becomes the disciples of
Christ always to be jealous over themselves, especially in
trying times. We know not how strongly we may be tempted, nor
how far God may leave us to ourselves, therefore we have reason
not to be high-minded, but to fear. Heart-searching examination
and fervent prayer are especially proper before the Lord's
supper, that, as Christ our Passover is now sacrificed for us,
we may keep this feast, renewing our repentance, our faith in
his blood, and surrendering ourselves to his service.

#26-30 This ordinance of the Lord's supper is to us the passover
supper, by which we commemorate a much greater deliverance than
that of Israel out of Egypt. Take, eat; accept of Christ as he
is offered to you; receive the atonement, approve of it, submit
to his grace and his government. Meat looked upon, be the dish
ever so well garnished, will not nourish; it must be fed upon:
so must the doctrine of Christ. This is my body; that is,
spiritually, it signifies and represents his body. We partake of
the sun, not by having the sun put into our hands, but the beams
of it darted down upon us; so we partake of Christ by partaking
of his grace, and the blessed fruits of the breaking of his
body. The blood of Christ is signified and represented by the
wine. He gave thanks, to teach us to look to God in every part
of the ordinance. This cup he gave to the disciples with a
command, Drink ye all of it. The pardon of sin is that great
blessing which is, in the Lord's supper, conferred on all true
believers; it is the foundation of all other blessings. He takes
leave of such communion; and assures them of a happy meeting
again at last; "Until that day when I drink it new with you",
may be understood of the joys and glories of the future state,
which the saints shall partake with the Lord Jesus. That will be
the kingdom of his Father; the wine of consolation will there be
always new. While we look at the outward signs of Christ's body
broken and his blood shed for the remission of our sins, let us
recollect that the feast cost him as much as though he had
literally given his flesh to be eaten and his blood for us to

#31-35 Improper self-confidence, like that of Peter, is the
first step to a fall. There is a proneness in all of us to be
over-confident. But those fall soonest and foulest, who are the
most confident in themselves. Those are least safe, who think
themselves most secure. Satan is active to lead such astray;
they are most off their guard: God leaves them to themselves, to
humble them.

#36-46 He who made atonement for the sins of mankind, submitted
himself in a garden of suffering, to the will of God, from which
man had revolted in a garden of pleasure. Christ took with him
into that part of the garden where he suffered his agony, only
those who had witnessed his glory in his transfiguration. Those
are best prepared to suffer with Christ, who have by faith
beheld his glory. The words used denote the most entire
dejection, amazement, anguish, and horror of mind; the state of
one surrounded with sorrows, overwhelmed with miseries, and
almost swallowed up with terror and dismay. He now began to be
sorrowful, and never ceased to be so till he said, It is
finished. He prayed that, if possible, the cup might pass from
him. But he also showed his perfect readiness to bear the load
of his sufferings; he was willing to submit to all for our
redemption and salvation. According to this example of Christ,
we must drink of the bitterest cup which God puts into our
hands; though nature struggle, it must submit. It should be more
our care to get troubles sanctified, and our hearts satisfied
under them, than to get them taken away. It is well for us that
our salvation is in the hand of One who neither slumbers nor
sleeps. All are tempted, but we should be much afraid of
entering into temptation. To be secured from this, we should
watch and pray, and continually look unto the Lord to hold us up
that we may be safe. Doubtless our Lord had a clear and full
view of the sufferings he was to endure, yet he spoke with the
greatest calmness till this time. Christ was a Surety, who
undertook to be answerable for our sins. Accordingly he was made
sin for us, and suffered for our sins, the Just for the unjust;
and Scripture ascribes his heaviest sufferings to the hand of
God. He had full knowledge of the infinite evil of sin, and of
the immense extent of that guilt for which he was to atone; with
awful views of the Divine justice and holiness, and the
punishment deserved by the sins of men, such as no tongue can
express, or mind conceive. At the same time, Christ suffered
being tempted; probably horrible thoughts were suggested by
Satan that tended to gloom and every dreadful conclusion: these
would be the more hard to bear from his perfect holiness. And
did the load of imputed guilt so weigh down the soul of Him of
whom it is said, He upholdeth all things by the word of his
power? into what misery then must those sink whose sins are left
upon their own heads! How will those escape who neglect so great

#47-56 No enemies are so much to be abhorred as those professed
disciples that betray Christ with a kiss. God has no need of our
services, much less of our sins, to bring about his purposes.
Though Christ was crucified through weakness, it was voluntary
weakness; he submitted to death. If he had not been willing to
suffer, they could not conquer him. It was a great sin for those
who had left all to follow Jesus; now to leave him for they knew
not what. What folly, for fear of death to flee from Him, whom
they knew and acknowledged to be the Fountain of life!

#57-68 Jesus was hurried into Jerusalem. It looks ill, and bodes
worse, when those who are willing to be Christ's disciples, are
not willing to be known to be so. Here began Peter's denying
him: for to follow Christ afar off, is to begin to go back from
him. It is more our concern to prepare for the end, whatever it
may be, than curiously to ask what the end will be. The event is
God's, but the duty is ours. Now the Scriptures were fulfilled,
which said, False witnesses are risen up against me. Christ was
accused, that we might not be condemned; and if at any time we
suffer thus, let us remember we cannot expect to fare better
than our Master. When Christ was made sin for us, he was silent,
and left it to his blood to speak. Hitherto Jesus had seldom
professed expressly to be the Christ, the Son of God; the tenor
of his doctrine spoke it, and his miracles proved it; but now he
would not omit to make an open confession of it. It would have
looked like declining his sufferings. He thus confessed, as an
example and encouragement to his followers, to confess him
before men, whatever hazard they ran. Disdain, cruel mocking,
and abhorrence, are the sure portion of the disciple as they
were of the Master, from such as would buffet and deride the
Lord of glory. These things were exactly foretold in the
fiftieth chapter of Isaiah. Let us confess Christ's name, and
bear the reproach, and he will confess us before his Father's

#69-75 Peter's sin is truly related, for the Scriptures deal
faithfully. Bad company leads to sin: those who needlessly
thrust themselves into it, may expect to be tempted and
insnared, as Peter. They scarcely can come out of such company
without guilt or grief, or both. It is a great fault to be shy
of Christ; and to dissemble our knowledge of him, when we are
called to own him, is, in effect, to deny him. Peter's sin was
aggravated; but he fell into the sin by surprise, not as Judas,
with design. But conscience should be to us as the crowing of
the cock, to put us in mind of the sins we had forgotten. Peter
was thus left to fall, to abate his self-confidence, and render
him more modest, humble, compassionate, and useful to others.
The event has taught believers many things ever since, and if
infidels, Pharisees, and hypocrites stumble at it or abuse it,
it is at their peril. Little do we know how we should act in
very difficult situations, if we were left to ourselves. Let
him, therefore, that thinketh he standeth, take heed lest he
fall; let us all distrust our own hearts, and rely wholly on the
Lord. Peter wept bitterly. Sorrow for sin must not be slight,
but great and deep. Peter, who wept so bitterly for denying
Christ, never denied him again, but confessed him often in the
face of danger. True repentance for any sin will be shown by the
contrary grace and duty; that is a sign of our sorrowing not
only bitterly, but sincerely.