Matthew 26:1-16 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Plot to Kill Jesus
26 When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, 2 “You know
that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up
to be crucified.”
3 Then the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the
high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4 and plotted together in order to arrest
Jesus by stealth and kill him. 5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an
uproar among the people.”
Jesus Anointed at Bethany
6 Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, [a] 7 a woman came
up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on
his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant,
saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to
the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman?
For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For you always have the poor with you,
but you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done
it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in
the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
Judas to Betray Jesus
14 Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief
priests 15 and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid
him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray
Everything, up to this point in Matthew, has being building to reveal the Christ, the true
expected One of Israel. The Messiah. Tonight we arrive at the heart of the story. There has
been a build up to this; Jesus has upset the status quo of his day, he has challenged the
norms and is now set to reveal all that he has been talking and teaching about.
The focus of what Jesus is doing is the culmination of the Old Testament expectation. The
expectation of the Old Testament can be described as this: God (the True King of Creation)
created a good world, and set up mankind (male and female) to rule for him upon the earth.
We chose to rebel and so the creation (God’s good creation) stands in rebellion against her
good True King. The tension of the whole of the Old Testament is the expectation that God
is going to bring about true justice on the world. He is going to send a promised messiah (a
chosen man) who will come with His power and authority and will come to rule the world and
deal with evil once and for all.
This is a good story, and it resonates deeply within us; we all long for justice and goodness.
What Matthew has being setting up and making clear is that we simply cannot stand the true
Justice that God wants to bring; because all of us fall deeply short of God’s standards and
goodness. Even Jesus chosen (the Apostles) are shown to be incompetent at best and
deeply flawed at worse.
So what is a good God to do with an evil creation? How is God going to deal with evil
through Jesus. well from now onwards in Matthew this is what we are going to be dealing
We see firstly;
1. Evil has it’s day
The first thing we see is that the plots and schemes against the Messiah are revealed. Jesus
states clearly to his disciples that “The Son of Man will be handed over and crucified.” – the
disciple do not ever get this until it has happened. Which is the standard reality of the cross.
This is a side note; however, we don’t “get” the cross until we really “get” the cross. There
have been many times in my recent ministry that I have preached Christ crucified, and I can
see on the face of people that they understand what I am saying, but they don’t really get it. I
remember after one week of several days of preaching and teaching and seeing, really, only
one person get it. I said to my wife, I think God has given me a ministry where most of the
time people just don’t get it. And she said to me, the gospel is not taught it is caught.
The disciples display this; so do we.
However, back to the story we see the priests and the elders (those who were meant to be
the most righteous of the people plotting to kill Jesus. And we get a glimpse into the
darkness of this plot in verse 5 where it says:
5 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people.”
The point is that evil is allowed to rise, to “have it’s day.” This is deeply profound, because
remember, God is allowing this. God is allowing this evil plot to develop, in fact it is part of
the greater story that God is telling. This does not mean that God is the author of this evil.
But it does mean that God is in control.
Now, what I want to show you in all this; and we will repeat this lesson when we actually get
to the cross, is that God, in the cross, allows evil to do its worst. Satan is allowed to plot
against God himself. All this will be done to humiliate the power of darkness and show it for
what it is a shadow of the real.
Think about it; the worst that evil could do is kill God, and God allows it. God, in Jesus
Christ, was killed by evil, but all that it accomplished, in this, was to open a way for all of
mankind to be saved.
But we are running ahead of the story, so the plot of evil is revealed, next we see;
2. The Messiah is anointed
Next we come to a part of the story so important that every single gospel writer repeats it.
Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all have this story. Matthew and Mark mention it happens at
Simon the Lepers house, Luke states that Simon was a Pharisee, John doesn’t mention
Simon at all. Luke and John mention that Jesus’ feet was anointed, Mark and Matthew
mention that it was his head was anointed. It was probably both.
The lesson remains the same in all four, this is seen as an act of devotion from Mary and an
anointed in preparation for his burial.
Now, to get what is being communicated here, we have to understand some ideas; firstly
what Messiah means, then the Messiahs expectation and finally the different response of
Mary and the disciples, especially Judas.
So in terms of the word “Messiah”( in Greek “Christos”) means anointed one. To be
anointed meant that oil was poured over your head as a sign that you were set apart by God
for a task that He was calling you to. This was done, in the Old Testament, to kings and
However, a growing picture is given throughout the Old Testament of someone who will be
anointed by God and He will be used by God to administrate God’s justice in the world and
rule over all creation. He was called the Messiah; the Christ.
Many thought, that this anointing would be done to rule, as a king. However, what Jesus
makes clear here is that this anointing, done by a sinful woman, in an act of pure devotion,
was done in preparation for his death. Jesus was being anointed to die. Jesus would rule by
dying. We will come back to that idea.
So Messiah means anointed one, He was anointed, or set apart by God, for the task of
dying. Let us look at the response of people to this anointed. Firstly there is the one who
anoints him. Mary, A woman of “ill-reputation” let’s say. Luke and John gives us clarity on
this. John Lets us know it was Mary. However it is Luke who gives us the clarity of the
reason for her devotion.
In Luke 7:41-43, 47 states;
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred
denarii, [a] and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he
forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said… 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have
been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little
Mary perceives, she has caught who the Christ is, and what He has done for her and so no
cost is too great, even this Jar of perfume which was about 3 year’s worth of wages in this
single jar which is a huge amount of money. To put it in context the sales pitch for an
engagement ring is three months wages. But all this value was nothing compared to what
she had glimpsed in Christ.
In contrast to this is the disciples who just haven’t got it yet, and are indignant; saying in
verse 8 “What a waste”. They hadn’t got it, because they hadn’t see how much they owe.
Finally we see the response of Judas
3. The King is betrayed - by a friend.
Judas goes out and starts the ball rolling so that Christ is betrayed and handed over to be
killed. He goes out and betrays Jesus for 30 silver coins. In Exodus 21:32 this is the price
set for the cost of a killed slave. If an Ox kills another person’s slave the owner of the Ox
was required to pay 30 pieces of silver.
The contrast is purposed. Mary, who understood her condition, no cost was too high to pay
for her devotion. While, Judas, who had no understanding of his own, the Christ was valued
at the price of a slave.
I guess that is the reality of the world and even here tonight. To those who do not see
themselves truly who think that they are, somehow, okay. That God owes them because
they are “not that bad” well Christ is a tool, a slave something to be used to get what I want,
or even thrown away.
We don’t get the gospel, we are bored with church and with what God is doing in the world,
(with all this), because we don’t see Jesus as he is. We see him infinitely less. And we do
this because we don’t perceive our debt, our need our desperation for His intervention in our
This goes back to the statement I made earlier that Jesus would rule by dying. Jesus is the
promised Messiah, the Messiah was and is promised to rule the earth. God is bringing
justice into the world. However, He is bring perfect justice. And because of that Christ had to
rule through dying.
If the Messiah came and simply established the pure and perfect justice of God, we would all
be hopelessly lost; we would be crying out as the people in the Book of Revelation for the
Mountains to fall on us to Hide us from God.
You see, we all minimise our sin, and the impact of our sin. We think we are okay, because
we don’t know how dark the brokenness of our hearts is. I mean most of us here know we
struggle with sin, we have shame. Ja, but have you wrestled with how even the good you do
is tainted with selfishness, how you are incurably self-obsessed. And it is that that is cause
the pain and hardship in your life and everyone around you.
But the wretch that you and I are, Jesus died for that. How must does Jesus love you? Well,
He knows you better than anyone else in the world, knows all your shortcomings, all your
shame, all your heartaches and self-obsession. He knows you deeper that you even know
yourself. And Still loved your enough to die for you: To give you His life!
In that act justice is established in the world; because your sins are not excused, they are
identified and shown for what they are, sins, evil. But they are then taken upon Him and he
bore the consequences of them.
So, what does a Good God do with a rebellious creation; He dies for it! He loves it even unto
death so that anyone who believes will not perish but have eternal life.