Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Bible Study Notes

Matthew 26: 1- 16

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
The Scheme to Kill Jesus

The Scheme to Kill Jesus
General Idea: This passage is about opportunities and whether we use them to serve or to betray! To recognize what we will do with our opportunities in life, we have to ask ourselves, whom, or what do I love? Whom, or what do I trust? Whom, or what do I serve? These are pivotal questions that determine our motivations and actions; these were the conflicts the religious leaders and Judas faced. They decided they wanted to serve themselves and their distorted views of God! If we love Jesus, we will trust Jesus; we will serve Jesus, and we will not betray Jesus! The same goes with any interpersonal relationship we will ever face in life! Here, the Jewish leaders were serving their own needs and fears of conviction, so they literally hunted for a way to destroy Jesus. He was their very own Messiah and Savior, whom they said they had sought after for countless generations. But, now that He finally has come, their will and plans are upset, so they seek to kill Him once and for all!  

The pious, fraud leaders (Matt. 23) sought their own way. When an opportunity came, they took it and twisted it to conform to their will, regardless of God's plan and purpose. But, our God is sovereign and does not yield to our desires; so, He took their corrupt plans and used them for the ultimate glory of His Son's death in our place for redemption! The woman, realizing the debt that was paid on her behalf, took costly oil and used it to glorify our Lord! Her opportunity was to honor; the leader's was to destroy! Then, Judas sold out his Lord for a cheap price!


1.  Will be delivered to be crucified. For the first century person under Roman occupation, this would be the most heinous event conceivable; yet, Jesus is predicting this to the disciples for Himself! Imagine how they would have felt and responded! Here is God incarnate facing a human sentence of a cruel death! 

a.   Plotted. This is literally "hunting" a person for sport, in this case-God! This was a private meeting, one that went against the Law and Prophets, to conspire to kill someone who had not broken any laws simply because they did not like what and how He said truth. Who does this? A person who does not want to be convicted or be told what to do or how to behave. They prefer sin and debauchery; their will is superior and God is in their way!

b.   Jesus was not under indictment or convicted of a crime; nonetheless, they sought punishment for Him!

c.   Not during the feast, Jesus was very popular and was in Jerusalem along with hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. The leaders knew if they had anything to do with starting a riot, they would definitely lose their power and position and might even be crucified by the Romans themselves! During festivals, Roman officials were there observing to make sure there was peace. There were massive numbers of people hyped up and drinking and who could easily be provoked to riot versus other times when work and family obligations would take precedence. It is the same today! One of the roles of the priests under Roman occupation, and why they were allowed to continue their functions, was to keep the people in line. So, eventually, they would do it at night, when people and Roman officials would not know and thus could not stop them (Matt. 26:55)!

d.   Caiaphas was a member of the Sanhedrin from 18-36 A.D. (Josephus stated he held the longest time in this office because he was a masterful "peace- bringer"), which was the supreme court of Israel consisting of the top Pharisees, Scribes, and Chief Priests (John 11:47-48). They preserved their history and traditions while keeping the peace for Rome. They were also charged with defending the people from the "messianic frauds" of which there were a lot-hundreds, according to Josephus. Their greatest fears were realized as they lost the Temple, their positions, and some even their lives in 70 A.D.

e.   The religious leaders as well as Judas had their plans-and God had His! They wanted to plot and wait for a better time; God already had His perfect timing!


2.   Bethany was a small village of inns near Jerusalem where people on the pilgrimage to the Passover in Jerusalem would stay.

a.   Simon the leper. This could have been a nickname because a close family member had leprosy, or because he helped lepers, or because he had it and Jesus healed him. He was not a leper at this time or else no one would have been near him (Lev. 13-14).

b.   Woman. John 12:3 tells us it was Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus.

c.   Some scholars say Matthew and Mark were separate accounts from John. The difference was chronology; Jews were not chronological thinkers. However, Greeks were; hence, the book of Luke is written in a chronological order (Luke 1:1-4), while Matthew and John focus on events.

d.   Sat. People reclined on carpets and pillows at a low table, their feet away, and leaned on their left elbow, eating with their right hand.

e.   Poured it on. Anointing someone with oil served several purposes. Anointing your head (Matt. 6:16-18), in this context, was the daily routine of hygiene. The Jews did not shower or bathe as we do, but put olive oil on themselves, then scraped off the sweat and dirt. This kept them clean, and their skin smooth and sunburn free in the hot climate. It also served to anoint for service and consecration, as with Saul and David. Here, it was to honor important guests, which Simon did not do. This anointing was extraordinary because of the very expensive oil imported from the East (perhaps China), and sealed by wax in an alabaster jar. It could last for decades in this way if kept cool. It was worth a year's wages for a field worker. It possibly was a family heirloom.

f.     Indignant. John reports it was Judas who was being hyper-critical (John 12:4-6), but the others said Matthew agreed with him!

g.   Sold for much. John 12:5 said it could be sold for 300 denarii; this is nearly three times the amount Judas received for his betrayal.

h.   Good work. What the others saw as a waste, Jesus saw as honoring Him. What is precious in our sight usually is not to God; what is precious to Him is our humility and devotion to Him! The NIV uses the word beautiful. The Greek word for this applies to aesthetics as well as ethics, indicating that doing good deeds is beautiful.

i.    The poor you will always have. This is a reference from Deuteronomy 15:11. We are challenged to be generous to the poor because we are faithful to God. Now God is amongst them! This is not downplaying service to the poor, but lifting up Christ as Lord! For us, it means we cannot do the service of God unless we are honoring God!

j.    My burial is another allusion to His passion to come. Jesus turns the anointing that was meant to honor Him-not to prepare His body for burial-into something obviously neither the women nor His Disciples intended (Mark 16:1).


3.   Judas Iscariot. Perhaps no name in all of the ages signifies betrayal and disloyalty more than his! This man, who was with Jesus from the beginning and close in his relationship with Him, perhaps even closer than the rest, would be the one to be the traitor! He was an Apostle (Apostolos); the word means emissary, or sent ones, as in Jesus' commissioned representatives (Matt. 10:14, 40; 15:24; Mark 6:7-13; 30; 9:37; Luke 9:1-6; 48; John 4:34; 5:24, 30, 36-38; 6:38; 1Cor. 1:1; Heb. 3:1). He was the one to betray Jesus, and hang himself (Matt. 26:14-16, 47-50; 27:3-10). Yet, he was considered the "best" disciple, the best looking, and the most promising. Looks and position do not tell us what is inside a person!

a.   Why did Judas do this? In all likelihood, his motivation to betray Jesus stemmed from confusion; blinded by pride and rage, he sought to force Jesus' hand to overthrow the Romans, not understanding Jesus' true mission. Or, as some have speculated, and what Scripture alludes to, Satan entered him, and used him, seeking to destroy Jesus. In all likelihood both are true, as Satan uses our pride and rage for his gain (See Matthew 10: 1-4 for more information on Judas).  

b.   Went to the chief priests. This would be like a common person having a private meeting with the president of the U.S. This could happen. But, a chief priest was only seen; he was not approachable. The priest's agenda needed a reason and a person to betray Jesus! Judas supplied both!

c.   Thirty pieces of sliver. Traditionally, this was the price of a slave, although it varied from place to place and time to time. This was equivalent to 120 denarii. (Laborers and Roman soldiers received one denarius a day.) This was also the amount of compensation paid back to a master for the killing of a slave (Ex. 21:32).

d.   Judas sells out the Creator, Lord, and Savior of the universe at a bargain price!


          What do you look to and for in life? What are your motivations and inspirations? What is your good work? On what special occasion do you give to our Lord? How do you honor our Lord? Or, are you over-concerned with what others may see and say? Remember, what most people consider a waste, Jesus sees as honoring Him; what is precious in our sight usually is not! What is precious to Him is our humility and devotion to Him! Mary was commended by Jesus for her devotion; Jesus turned an attempt to give Him honor into one of preparing Him for the greatest work ever done on our behalf. What was seen by others as a waste ended up to be the greatest honor a person has ever done for our Lord! How do we honor Him? We need to examine our motivations. The motivation of Judas was to betray; Mary's was to honor. What is ours? After our motivations are uncovered, we will meet opportunities to serve or to betray. The question becomes how will we respond to them? Do you fully realize that these questions determine just about every action and reaction you will experience in life? Our devotion to Jesus must precede any efforts of serving or works we do! Our agenda must reflect a life of faith and prayer; if not, we can do nothing of worth or significance because we will not be honoring our Lord. Rather, it will be the glorification of ourselves (John 3:16-17; 7:38; Heb. 9:28).




1.  If you were offered a year's wages to betray a friend so he or she would lose his or her job, would you do it? What about to just gossip about him or her, no harm being done? Do you realize that how we answer these questions shows our level of integrity or how we can be bought?  


2.   How do you respond to opportunities? How should you?


3.   Ask yourself, whom, or what do I love? Whom, or what do I trust? Whom, or what do I serve? How do these pivotal questions determine your motivations and actions?


4.   Do you believe that if we love Jesus, we will trust Jesus? How so?


5.   How do Christians today betray Jesus?


6.   How do you think the disciples felt and reacted to Jesus' foretelling of His pending death?


7.   What happens when a person does not want to be convicted, or be told what to do or how to behave?


8.   Why would someone prefer their sin and debauchery over our superior God?


9.   The religious leaders and Judas had their plans, and God had His! How do you suppose they reacted when they found the truth, either after they were converted or they died, knowing they had wanted to plot to kill Jesus?


10.  What was this woman's motivation to take a precious heirloom, break it, and use it for Jesus? Would you have done this?


11. Why were the disciples indignant? How does their anger show their hyper-critical attitude?


12. What tells you that someone, including yourself, is faithful to God?


13. How would you respond if a relative of yours named their child Judas? Why would you respond that way?


14. Why do you think Judas did what he did?


15. What do you think about the fact that Judas sold out the Creator, the Lord and Savior of the universe, at a bargain price, while Mary spent a fortune to honor Him?


16.  What do you look to and for in life? What are your motivations and inspirations? What is your good work? How do these questions determine just about every action and reaction you experience in life?


17. How does your devotion of Jesus affect any efforts of serving and works you may do for Him or others?


18. Do you struggle with what others may see and say? How can you overcome this barrier?


19. What special occasion can you think of that you can give to our Lord?


20. How can you do a better job at honoring our Lord?



© 2004 R. J. Krejcir Into Thy Word Ministries  

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