|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
26:1-5 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.
Verse 5. - Not on the feast day; ἐν τῇ ἑορτῇ: during the feast; i.e. during the eight days of the Passover celebration. The assembled multitudes did not leave the city until the close of the octave, so the danger of a rising was not removed till then. The rulers well knew the stern temper of Pilate the procurator, who was prepared to crush any popular movement with the strong hand, and at festival times had always his soldiers ready to hurl upon the mob at the slightest provication, and to deal indiscriminate slaughter. Hence arose the plan of a clandestine apprehension. It was, indeed, the custom to execute great criminals at the time of the chief festivals, in order to impress the spectacle of retribution upon the greatest number; but in the case of Jesus, after what had occurred during the last few days, and when Jerusalem was filled with Galilaeans, who might naturally favour their countryman's pretensions, it was deemed dangerous to make any open attack. Their fears were relieved in the most unexpected manner by the appearance of Judas among them (ver. 14).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And they said, not on the feast day,.... Upon mature deliberation, it was an agreed point with them, at least it was carried by a majority, that nothing of this kind should be attempted to be done on the feast day, on any of the days of the feast of passover, which was now at hand; though this was contrary to their common rules and usages: for, a person that sinned presumptuously, and such an one they accounted Jesus to be, they say (a),
"they do not put him to death by the order of the sanhedrim of his own city, nor by the sanhedrim of Jabneh; but they bring him up to the great sanhedrim at Jerusalem, and keep him "until the feast", and put him to death, "on a feast day"; as it is said, Deuteronomy 17:13, "and all the people shall hear and fear", &c.''
But what influenced them at this time to take another course, is the reason following;
lest there be an uproar among the people: they had no fear of God before their eyes, or in their hearts, only the fear of the people; many of whom believed in Christ, and others that did not, yet had a great veneration for him, having seen his miracles, and received favours from him; themselves, or their friends and relations, being cured by him of various diseases: besides, at the feast, people from all parts came up to Jerusalem; and they knew that large numbers from Galilee, where he had the greatest interest, would be present; and they feared, should they attempt anything of this nature at this time, the people would rise, and rescue him out of their hands. But God had determined otherwise, and his counsel shall stand; it was his pleasure, that he should be put to death at this feast, that the truth might answer the type of the passover lamb; and that all Israel, whose males now met together, might be witnesses of it: and so it was, that though these men had concluded otherwise in their council; yet an opportunity offering by Judas, to get him into their hands, they embrace it; and risk the danger of the people's uprising, who they found compliant enough to their wishes.
(a) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 10. sect. 4. Maimon. Hilch. Memarim, c. 3. sect 8.
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