Daily Scripture Analysis

Daily Gospel

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord A

PASSION SUNDAY, YEAR A

Readings: (PROCESSION: Mt 21:1-11); Isa 50:4-7; Phi 2:5-11; Mt 26:14-27:66.

1/ Reading I: RSV Isaiah 50:4 The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he wakens, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 5 The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, I turned not backward. 6 I gave my back to those who smote me, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting. 7 For the Lord GOD helps me; therefore I have not been confounded; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame.

2/ Reading II: RSV Philippians 2:6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

3/ Gospel: RSV Matthew 26:14 Then one of the twelve, who was called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, "What will you give me if I deliver him to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. 17 Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Where will you have us prepare for you to eat the Passover?" 18 He said, "Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, `The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.'" 19 And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the Passover. 20 When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; 21 and as they were eating, he said, "Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me." 22 And they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?" 23 He answered, "He who has dipped his hand in the dish with me, will betray me. 24 The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born." 25 Judas, who betrayed him, said, "Is it I, Master?" He said to him, "You have said so." 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom." 30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, "You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, `I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee." 33 Peter declared to him, "Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away." 34 Jesus said to him, "Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." 35 Peter said to him, "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you." And so said all the disciples. 36 Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I go yonder and pray." 37 And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. 38 Then he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me." 39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt." 40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, "So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." 42 Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, "My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, thy will be done." 43 And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44 So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. 45 Then he came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46 Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand." 47 While he was still speaking, Judas came, one of the twelve, and with him a great crowd with swords and clubs, from the chief priests and the elders of the people. 48 Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him." 49 And he came up to Jesus at once and said, "Hail, Master!" And he kissed him. 50 Jesus said to him, "Friend, why are you here?" Then they came up and laid hands on Jesus and seized him. 51 And behold, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 52 Then Jesus said to him, "Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. 53 Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? 54 But how then should the scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?" 55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, "Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. 56 But all this has taken place, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." Then all the disciples forsook him and fled. 57 Then those who had seized Jesus led him to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders had gathered. 58 But Peter followed him at a distance, as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and going inside he sat with the guards to see the end. 59 Now the chief priests and the whole council sought false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, 60 but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward 61 and said, "This fellow said, `I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.'" 62 And the high priest stood up and said, "Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?" 63 But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." 64 Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." 65 Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. 66 What is your judgment?" They answered, "He deserves death." 67 Then they spat in his face, and struck him; and some slapped him, 68 saying, "Prophesy to us, you Christ! Who is it that struck you?" 69 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." 70 But he denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean." 71 And when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." 72 And again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man." 73 After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you." 74 Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately the cock crowed. 75 And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly. 27:1 When morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death; 2 and they bound him and led him away and delivered him to Pilate the governor. 3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, 4 saying, "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? See to it yourself." 5 And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. 6 But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money." 7 So they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. 8 Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9 Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, 10 and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me." 11 Now Jesus stood before the governor; and the governor asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus said, "You have said so." 12 But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer. 13 Then Pilate said to him, "Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?" 14 But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly. 15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 And they had then a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. 17 So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you, Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?" 18 For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up. 19 Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much over him today in a dream." 20 Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. 21 The governor again said to them, "Which of the two do you want me to release for you?" And they said, "Barabbas." 22 Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Let him be crucified." 23 And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified." 24 So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." 25 And all the people answered, "His blood be on us and on our children!" 26 Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified. 27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the praetorium, and they gathered the whole battalion before him. 28 And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him, 29 and plaiting a crown of thorns they put it on his head, and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him they mocked him, saying, "Hail, King of the Jews!" 30 And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him on the head. 31 And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe, and put his own clothes on him, and led him away to crucify him. 32 As they went out, they came upon a man of Cyrene, Simon by name; this man they compelled to carry his cross. 33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull), 34 they offered him wine to drink, mingled with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. 35 And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting lots; 36 then they sat down and kept watch over him there. 37 And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, "This is Jesus the King of the Jews." 38 Then two robbers were crucified with him, one on the right and one on the left. 39 And those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, "You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross." 41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 "He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him; for he said, `I am the Son of God.'" 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way. 45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" 47 And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "This man is calling Elijah." 48 And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. 49 But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him." 50 And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. 51 And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; 52 the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, 53 and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. 54 When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!" 55 There were also many women there, looking on from afar, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to him; 56 among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. 57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. 58 He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. 59 And Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock; and he rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb, and departed. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the sepulcher. 62 Next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate 63 and said, "Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, `After three days I will rise again.' 64 Therefore order the sepulcher to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away, and tell the people, `He has risen from the dead,' and the last fraud will be worse than the first." 65 Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." 66 So they went and made the sepulcher secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard.

I. THEME: How Christ endured sufferings.

            St. Thomas Aquinas answered the question whether fortitude is a virtue as followed: 

Wherefore it belongs to human virtue to make man good, to make his work accord with reason. This happens in three ways: first, by rectifying reason itself, and this is done by the intellectual virtues; secondly, by establishing the rectitude of reason in human affairs; and this belongs to justice; thirdly, by removing the obstacles to the establishment of this rectitude in human affairs. Now the human will is hindered in two ways from following the rectitude of reason. First, through being drawn by some object of pleasure to something other than what the rectitude of reason requires; and this obstacle is removed by the virtue of temperance. Secondly, through the will being disinclined to follow that which is in accordance with reason, on account of some difficulty that presents itself. In order to remove this obstacle fortitude of the mind is requisite, whereby to resist the aforesaid difficulty even as a man, by fortitude of body, overcomes and removes bodily obstacles (ST IIaIIae, Q. 123, A.1).

            Applying St. Thomas’ explanation into Christ’s sufferings, we will see the logic of his suffering. First, Christ knows the good he shall get from his sufferings, that is, the salvation for all human souls. Secondly, he established the rectitude of reason in human affairs, that is, by his sufferings he takes away all their sins so they don’t have to suffer God’s judgment. He establishes justice between God and people. In order to achieve this purpose, Jesus did two things: First, he paid attention only to his mission which is to convince people to believe in him to attain salvation; and secondly, he must overcome all obstacles during his Passion and Death.

            We can see this process in all the readings of the Passion Sunday. In the first reading, the Isaiah’s third song, the Suffering Servant didn’t yield when he is persecuted because he knows that he shall not be confounded or put to shame. He was trained to face hardship. In the second reading, only in five short verses, the author of the Letter to the Philippians describes the whole mission of Jesus when he entered the world. Though he is God, he emptied himself and put on the human form so he can suffer for people. By his suffering and death, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name. In the Matthew’s Gospel, the author reported in details Christ’s Passion, Death and Resurrection.

II. ANALYSIS:

1/ Reading I: The Third Song of God’s Suffering Servant

1.1/ The Suffering Servant endured sufferings because he trusted in God: As a human being, everybody is afraid of sufferings. The reason why one wants to suffer because he firmly believes in the result he shall get after sufferings; for example, a medal for an athlete. The Suffering Servant wanted to suffer because he believed in God and shall liberate God’s people from sins. He confessed his faith in God: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; my face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. The Lord God is my help; therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame.”

1.2/ The Suffering Servant knew how to support those in suffering: An athlete received not only the medal after the competition, but also other rewards such as: a healthy body, a strong will, etc. The Suffering Servant received not only praise by the Father, but also compassion to support those in suffering. He stated: “The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I might know how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them. Morning after morning he opens my ear that I may hear; aand I have not rebelled, have not turned back.”

2/ Reading II: Jesus must go through sufferings to achieve glory.

2.1/ Christ humbly suffered: St. Paul used Christ’s exemplar of suffering to teach the Philippians: “Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”

            Jesus himself is God; but he humbled himself to put on a human body. The Greek can’t understand this action. While they were trying to escape their human body because they considered them as a prison to confine their soul; Jesus wanted to incarnate in a body to become like men. Moreover, Jesus has God’s absolute power to wipe out all sufferings; but he volunteered to go through the way of his Father: to die on the cross to redeem people.

2.2/ God greatly exalted Christ: Since none is humble, obedient, and suffered like Christ; as a result, none has such a glory like him. St. Paul described this glory as followed: “Because of this, God greatly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

            Jesus also taught his disciples the way to be greatest: “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves” (Lk. 22:25-26). St. Paul also encouraged his faithful: “provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him” (Rom 8:17b).

3/ Gospel: Christ’s Passion and Death according to St. Matthew

            Since the Passion is long, those who want to read the commentary can follow the commentary on Mark’s Passion in year B because Matthew closely followed Mark’s Passion. There are only two differences which were on Judas Iscariot; we shall comment in details these two differences in Judas’ betrayal. In addition, we shall pay a special attention to Jesus’ acts when he faced his Passion and the reactions of four kinds of people which are represented by Simon Peter, Judas Iscariot, Pilate and the Sandherin.

3.1/ Jesus’ attitudes: Four attitudes we learned from Christ in his Passion.

            (1) He was very courageous and ready to accept sufferings because he knew suffering is only temporal and the way to reach glory. Before entering his Passion, Jesus knew sufferings are lasted only three days, from Thursday to Saturday of the Holy Week, after that is the glorious resurrection as he forewarned his disciples. It is his firm faith in his Father that helped him to overcome all sufferings to the glorious victory. We can illustrate his confidence with the events that happened before the Passion.

            - During the Passover meal, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me” (26:21). Jesus could point out Judas is the betrayer and he shall not escape the disciples’ hands; and Jesus shall escape his plan. But Jesus didn’t accuse Judah because he wanted to give him a chance to repent; but Judas chose to be indifferent with Jesus’ warning, “The Son of man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born” (26:24).

            - After the meal, Jesus sang the hymn with his disciples to thank God’s wise providence though he is going to confront worldly powers. This shows that Jesus completely believed in God’s plan, without fear or sadness.

            (2) He always obeyed his Father’s will: There are two events that shows his obedience and willing to do his Father’s will.

            - First, Jesus prayed in Gethsemane Garden: He said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go yonder and pray." And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled, he said to them, "My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” During the hours before the Passion, Jesus wanted to have the support from the Father and his disciples; but he got none from both sides. The Father seems to hide from him; the disciples though they were there but offered no help. Running back and forth, Jesus felt all forsook him. However, he was still courageous and prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt” (26:39). Jesus, in his human nature, feared what are going to happen so he prayed his Father to take away the cup because he knows God can do all things. However, he is ready to do God’s will more than his will. After the third prayer, he came back to his disciples and told them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand” (26:45-46).

            - Next is Jesus’ dying moment on the cross: Matthew reported this moment as followed, “Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, "Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?" that is, "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" And some of the bystanders hearing it said, "This man is calling Elijah." And one of them at once ran and took a sponge, filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, "Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him." And Jesus cried again with a loud voice and yielded up his spirit. And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split; the tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (27:45-52).

            Those standing nearby heard only the first two words “Eli, Eli,” they though Jesus is calling the prophet Elijah. The event of the curtain which was split in half is commented by the author of the Letter to the Hebrews as follows, “Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh” (Heb. 10:19-20). From this moment, people no longer need to wait for the Day of Atonement so that the high priest can enter the Holy of the Holies to ask God to forgive their sins; but they can come directly to God to ask for His forgiveness. This event also foretold the Jerusalem destruction (70 A.D.); people no longer have to go to the temple to offer sacrifices for their sins.

            (3) Jesus was always truthful when facing sufferings and betrayals.

            - First, Jesus treated Judas very nicely: He knew Judas is the betrayer but didn’t revile him or made known his betrayal with other disciples. If they know, Judas shall not be in one piece. But Jesus must let Judas know with the hope that Judas shall repent by his gently treatment. Jesus wanted us to differentiate between two things: According to God’s plan of salvation, Jesus must die; however, people have freedom to cooperate or to destroy God’s plan. If Judas Iscariot weren’t betrayed, there is still other betrayer; moreover, Judas can repent after his betrayal. Unfortunately, he chose not to repent.

            - Secondly, Jesus was not afraid to speak the truth though he knew it can lead to his death; for example, when Pilate asks him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus said, "You have said so." But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer. Then Pilate said to him, "Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?" But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly” (Mt. 27:11-14).

            Jesus’ answer isn’t completely positive as “exactly;” but, “You have said so.” Jesus wanted to tell Pilate that he isn’t a political king as accused by the Jews, but only as the religious king. In John’s account, Jesus was more clearly, “My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world” (Jn 18:36). He didn’t answer the high priest and the Jews because if he answers them, there is no good for them!

            (4) He always loves and forgives: Though faced with the coming Passion, Jesus still remembered his disciples and the future generations. That is the reason why he established the sacrament of the Eucharist to remain and to nourish people’s souls.

            - Jesus established the sacrament of the Eucharist, the new Passover: During the meal, “Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom"” (26:26-29). When people celebrate the sacrament of the Eucharist, they are reminded to think about the future when they shall drink the new wine with Christ in God’s kingdom.

            - In the background of the old Passover, Jesus wanted his disciples to understand what are going to happen in the new Passover. Like the loaf of bread is divided for many people to eat, Jesus’ body is also broken for his disciples and many people. Like the thanksgiving cup (the third cup of the old Passover), Jesus’ blood is poured out for many people so they will receive their salvation. The Old Covenant which God was established is the covenant on Mount Sinai (Exo 24:3-8). According to this covenant, God shall protect and bless the Israelites as His own people while the Israelites must carefully keep the Ten Commandments. Since the Israelites violated this covenant by not keeping the Ten Commandments, Jesus must establish the New Covenant. According to this covenant, Jesus’ blood must be poured out to redeem people. People are no longer dependent on the law to receive God’s blessing and protection; but are completely dependent on His love, based on Jesus’ blood which is going to be poured out for them.

            - When saying these words, Jesus confirmed two things: First, he knew he is going to die, but also knew God’s kingdom is coming. He knew he must carry the cross, but the glory shall be his after all. Secondly, God’s love and his love for people shall overcome all of their sins.

            - Though he knew all the apostles shall betray, Jesus is ready to forgive, to reconcile and to provide hope for them when he said, “You will all fall away because of me this night; for it is written, `I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.' But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee” (Mt. 26:31-32).

3.2/ The betrayals of Simon Peter and other apostles: When Jesus forewarned one amongst them shall betray him, they were very sorrowful, and began to say to him one after another, "Is it I, Lord?" The apostles didn’t know who is the betrayer in Matthew’s account? They might know their weakness so they took turn to ask Jesus that question. Jesus foreknew and prepared everything he can for them to understand what are going to happen, such as: teaching, transfiguring, forewarning, but what shall happen must happen; they shall run away from him! However, he believes they shall recognize the truth and completely believe in him after his Passion, Death and Resurrection.

            - Peter didn’t know his weakness, so he said to Jesus, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away." But Jesus said to him, "Truly, I say to you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." Peter said to him, "Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you." And so said all the disciples” (Mt 26:33-35). Only God knows for certain what shall happen to people; they don’t know surely what shall happen to them. Therefore, people must believe in what God said more than what people or they themselves said.

            - The one who drew the sword and cut off the right ear of the high priest’s servant is Peter, as said in John’s account (Jn 18:10). This reaction is proper with Peter’s temperament. He is the only one who has courage to protect his master. At this moment, things happened exactly as Jesus illustrated, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (26:31). When the soldiers seized and tied up Jesus, all his disciples ran away from him; they feared they shall be persecuted with him.

            - Peter was also gone through the investigation at the same time with Jesus: while Jesus was investigated officially in the palace, Peter was investigated unofficially in the garden. Matthew reported Peter’s denial of Jesus three times as follows: The first time, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. And a maid came up to him, and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." Peter denied it before them all, saying, "I do not know what you mean." The second time, when he went out to the porch, another maid saw him, and she said to the bystanders, "This man was with Jesus of Nazareth." Again he denied it with an oath, "I do not know the man." The last time, while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, "Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you." Then he began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, "I do not know the man." And immediately the cock crowed. And Peter remembered the saying of Jesus, "Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times." And he went out and wept bitterly.

            Though Peter denied Jesus three times, he is still more courageous than other apostles because they didn’t follow Jesus to the high priest’s palace. Different with Judas Iscariot, Peter recognized his betrayal and his truly repentance helped him to begin the process of reconciliation and of witness for Jesus. Peter shall become the witness for Jesus’ resurrection before the Sanhedrin.

3.3/ The selfishness and betrayal of Judah Iscariot: Before Jesus’ Passover meal with his apostles, “Judas went out to meet the high priests and said to them, “What will you give me if I deliver him to you?" And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him” (Mt 26:15-16).

            - Most of Jesus’ apostles are the Galileans, only Judas belongs to the village of Iscariot in Judea. All the gospels didn’t mention Jesus’ calling of Judas. Most of the places in the gospels where Judas is mentioned, there is another title that follows his name, such as: the betrayer, the one who sold Jesus or the one who handed Jesus over.

            - The price which the high priests paid Judas is very cheap; it is the price for a cheap slave. To understand how cheap it is, we can compare with the present currency. A dollar is equivalent with four shekels; thirty shekels is about eight dollars. However, we must compare with the currency at that time. A denarius of that time is equivalent with a day of labor, so thirty denarii is the monthly salary of a working person. We can’t understand why Judas sold Jesus with such a cheap price! The pound of costly ointment of pure nard which Mary poured on Jesus’ head and feet costs three hundred denarii!

            - There are many events in the Old Testament which imply Judas’ selling of Jesus, the most near to Jesus’ time is in Zechariah 11:11-13; then Jeremiah 32:6-15; 18:23; 19:1; and the farthest is the selling of Joseph by his brothers for twenty silver pieces in Genesis 37:28.

            - The scholars tried to find out the reason why Judas decided to sell Jesus. There are two different opinions: First, according to the Fourth Gospel (Jn. 12:6) and many scholars, Judas sold Jesus due to his greed of money. Secondly, some said since Judas knew Jesus has great power, the selling is the cause that forces Jesus to use the Messiah’s power to destroy his enemies. Later, when Judas saw his reasoning isn’t correct, he returned the money back to the high priest. When they refused to receive the money, Judas threw it in the temple. The first opinion is more correct because it has a Scripture basis and is proper with Judas’ attitude and his title as a bursar.

            - There was a strange phenomenon in Matthew’s gospel: while other disciples called Jesus as the Lord, Judas called Jesus as Rabbi twice. The latter is very foreign, used only for the Pharisees and the scribes. Jesus forbade his disciples: Do not let anyone call them Rabbi.

            - Judas knew well the place where Jesus used to pray. To differentiate between Jesus and his disciples, Judas had given soldiers a sign, saying, "The one I shall kiss is the man; seize him." He came up to Jesus at once and said, "Hail, Master!" and he kissed him. They seized him at once. People use the kiss to show their love for others; the Jews have a habit of kissing their master; but Judas used his kiss to betray his master. He might think that he could bluff Jesus. In Luke’s account, Jesus let Judas know his betrayal when he said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of man with a kiss?” (Lk 22:48).

            - Judas went out and killed himself: Matthew reported, “When Judas, his betrayer, saw that he was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, "I have sinned in betraying innocent blood." They said, "What is that to us? See to it yourself." And throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself. But the chief priests, taking the pieces of silver, said, "It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, since they are blood money." So they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood (Haceldama) to this day. Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, "And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord directed me” (Mt. 27:3-10).

            - There are three differences between Matthew’s account and the Acts 1:18-19: First, the way Judas killed himself, hanging in Matthew and falling with his guts out in the Acts. Secondly, the high priests used the money to buy a field. Lastly, the blood money is Jesus’ blood in Matthew while it is Judas’ blood in the Acts.

            - Though Judas only denied Jesus one time; after that he regretted and returned the money to the high priests; but the difference between the two apostles is that Judas didn’t believe in God’s mercy, so he went out and killed himself.

3.4/ The dishonesty of the Sanhedrin:

            - When the high priests and the entire Sanhedrin tried to find a reason to condemn Jesus to death, they couldn’t find it, because though they had many wrong accusations, but these couldn’t match with others. Some of these are listed by Matthew.

            - The sin of planning to destroy the temple: Someone accused Jesus, “This fellow said, `I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days'” (26:61). This is a wrong accusation because Jesus said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (Jn. 2:19); not “I shall destroy.” Moreover, Jesus didn’t imply the Jerusalem temple but his own body.

            - The blasphemy sin: “And the high priest said to him, "I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God." Jesus said to him, "You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven." Then the high priest tore his robes, and said, "He has uttered blasphemy. Why do we still need witnesses? You have now heard his blasphemy. What is your judgment?" They answered, "He deserves death"” (Mt. 26:63-66).

            This high priest seriously violated the law when he asked Jesus this question, because the law doesn’t permit the inquisitor to ask the accused the question which by answering the question, the accused is condemned. The high priest knew what Jesus shall answer when he asks him about the relationship between him and God because Jesus can’t lie. Jesus wasn’t hesitated to answer that he is the Messiah; partly because it is the truth, partly because he wanted to end the Sandherin’s dirty game. By his answer, he wanted to let them know that he has courage to speak the truth though by saying the truth, it can lead him to death. If he weren’t saying that, they shall have no reason to condemn him. Moreover, he wanted to let them see that all things they shall do to him are just temporal. They will see his glorious victory after his Passion.

            - The initial investigation before the Sandherin: The Sandherin was considered the highest court of the Jews; it has seventy-one people who are the high priests, the elders and the scribes. The Sandherin has power only over the problems that related to the Jews’ religion; they can’t kill people. The Sandherin must organize their meeting at the Hewn Stone, in the area of the temple.

            The Sandherin broke many laws when they judged Jesus in that night. The law doesn’t permit them to judge people in the night, the feast days and the wrong place. All witnesses must be investigated at different places and their witnesses must be corrected in single detail. Each member of the Sandherin must give their own judgment, beginning with the youngest. If it is the death sentence, it needs a passed night before the sentence is executed. Its purpose is for all the members to have an opportunity to carefully think if there exists a lighter sentence than death. In short, since they wanted to eliminate Jesus right away, they judged and condemned Jesus illegally.

            - The burial of Jesus (Cf. Mk 15:42-47; Lk 23:50 -55; Jn 19:38-42): The high priests and the Pharisees seriously violated the Sabbath law when they left their house and entered the Gentiles’ place. Matthew reported this violation as follows, “Next day, that is, after the day of Preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered before Pilate and said, "Sir, we remember how that impostor said, while he was still alive, `After three days I will rise again.' Therefore order the sepulcher to be made secure until the third day, lest his disciples go and steal him away, and tell the people, `He has risen from the dead,' and the last fraud will be worse than the first." Pilate said to them, "You have a guard of soldiers; go, make it as secure as you can." So, they went and made the sepulcher secure by sealing the stone and setting a guard” (27:62-66). Matthew wanted to show God’s power: Jesus resurrected and got out of the tomb and even the guard didn’t know it.

3.5/ The effeminacy and cowardice of Pilate: At the morning break, the high priests organized a meeting with the elders and the scribes in the Sanhedrin. Then, they led Jesus out and handed him over to Pilate. As said above, the Sanhedrin only has power over the religious problem and can’t execute the death sentence. Therefore, after they found the religious reason to condemn Jesus as blasphemy; now they must find a political reason for Pilate to kill Jesus because they knew Pilate shall not concern with the different opinion about their religion as reported in Luke’s account. They found the political reason for Pilate to sentence Jesus to death: Jesus proclaimed himself as the king of the Jews. When he proclaimed this, he is against the Roman power and Emperor Caesar!

            So, Pilate the governor asked him, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus said, "You have said so." But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer. Then Pilate said to him, "Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?" But he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly... Besides, while he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, "Have nothing to do with that righteous man, for I have suffered much over him today in a dream."

            - Pilate tried to find a reason to release Jesus: “Now at the feast, the governor was accustomed to release for the crowd any one prisoner whom they wanted. And they had then a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas. So when they had gathered, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you, Barabbas or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew that it was out of envy, they had delivered him up; but they wanted him to release Barabbas, a murder.

            - They asked Pilate to crucify Jesus: Pilate said to them, "Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" They all said, "Let him be crucified." And he said, "Why, what evil has he done?" But they shouted all the more, "Let him be crucified." So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, "I am innocent of this man's blood; see to it yourselves." And all the people answered, "His blood shall be on us and on our children!" Then he released for them Barabbas, and having scourged Jesus, delivered him to be crucified” (27:22-26).

3.6/ The centurion proclaimed Jesus is the Son of God: “When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"” (27:54).

III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:                    

            - We should learn Christ’s way of acting which is full of wisdom, courage and love in his last hours on earth to achieve his purpose, that is, to attain salvation for all people.

            - We must also know that our mission in this world is to attain the salvation for ourselves and those who God sends to our life.

            - In order to achieve these purposes, we must also go through sufferings. We must know all sufferings are only temporal and can’t be compared with the glory which God prepares for us through Christ’s sufferings.

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