Matthew 26:30-75 – Jesus Conquers the Flesh


Jesus and His disciples end their final Passover meal with singing.  This was common practice in Judaism during the first century.  The Jewish hymnbook was the Psalms.  Psalms 113-118 were known as the “Hallel” or “praise psalms” and traditionally sung at Passover.  If Jesus followed the custom, Psalm 118 would be the hymn that was sung in this text.  Jesus then took His disciples to the Mount of Olives.  Once there He laid another bitter truth on the disciples.  He told them, “they would all fall away this very night” (vs. 31).  Peter becomes the focus of their prophesied failure, but “all” the disciples claim their loyalty, and they “all” fail their Lord (vs.  56).  Jesus took His inner circle, Peter, James, and John, into a garden to pray.  Gethsemane was a grove of olive trees that still exists on the Mount of Olives to this day.  The name Gethsemane literally means “oil press.”  It is in this garden that the disciples fail to stay awake and pray and Jesus declares the famous passage, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (vs. 41).  This text ends with Peter cursing and denying the one he said he would die for.  It is important to realize the failure of the disciples is also our failure.  We have all denied our Lord.  We have all fallen asleep and failed to pray.  All flesh is weak.  However, it is in our weakness that the beauty of the Gospel is discovered.  Jesus conquered the flesh.  He lived the perfect life that we have not.  He did not deny Himself and He did not fail to watch and pray.  Jesus satisfied every righteous requirement of the Law that no other human is able to accomplish.  This is why Paul can say, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).



A mob appears on the Mount of Olives carrying clubs and swords.  They are led by none other than Judas Iscariot who betrays Jesus with a kiss.  As Jesus is being seized, one of the disciples grabs his sword and strikes a servant of the High Priest.  Another gospel identifies the disciple as Peter, and the name of the servant, Malchus (John 18:10).  It is clear that Peter struck at the head of the servant, but missed cutting of his ear.  The Gospel of Luke tells us that Jesus healed Malchus (22:51).  Jesus then rebukes His disciples and reminds everyone twice that these events must occur (vs. 54, 56).  The Messiah must “fulfill” the Scriptures!  Jesus is taken to the high priest.  The entire trial was contrived as the scribes and elders were already gathered there awaiting Christ.  The trial was also illegal as Jewish law forbade holding criminal trials at night.  These trials were to be held in the temple and in public.  The Jewish leaders break their own laws to prove that Jesus is the lawbreaker.  Jesus reminds them that they are going to see the destruction of the temple (24:30; 26:64).  The authority of these leaders was based on the authority of the temple.  They used their authority to find Jesus guilty.  Truly these leaders did see the destruction of the temple and their authority (24:34).  Only the name of Jesus can save (Acts 4:11-12).


Study Questions

  1. Why is it important for us to see ourselves in the failures of Peter and the other disciples?
  2. Why is it important to see the triumph of Jesus where all others have failed?
  3. Discuss the hypocrisy of the Jewish leaders.  Why will men do anything to protect their own authority?  Reflect upon the way our futile attempts backfire when pressed against the sovereign will of God.