Matthew 26:31
Then said Jesus to them, All you shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) All ye shall be offended because of me.—We may think of the words as spoken at some early stage of that evening walk. It corresponds in substance with John 16:32, but seems to have been uttered more abruptly.

I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.—The citation of this prophecy, from Zechariah 13:7. is every way suggestive, as showing that our Lord’s thoughts had dwelt, and that He led the disciples to dwell, on that chapter as applicable to Himself. To one who dealt with prophecy as St. Matthew dealt with it, much in that chapter that is perplexing to the historical critic would be full of divinest meaning. It told of a “fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness;” of One with “wounds” in His hands, who was “wounded in the house of His friends;” of the Shepherd to whom Jehovah spake as to His “fellow.”

26:31-35 Improper self-confidence, like that of Peter, is the first step to a fall. There is a proneness in all of us to be over-confident. But those fall soonest and foulest, who are the most confident in themselves. Those are least safe, who think themselves most secure. Satan is active to lead such astray; they are most off their guard: God leaves them to themselves, to humble them.Jesus foretells the fall of Peter - This is also recorded in Mark 14:27-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:34-38.

Matthew 26:31

Then saith Jesus unto them - The occasion of his saying this was Peter's bold affirmation that he was ready to die with him, John 13:36

Jesus had told them that he was going away - that is, was about to die. Peter asked him whither he was going. Jesus replied that he could not follow him then, but should afterward. Peter, not satisfied with that, said that he was ready to lay down his life for him. Then Jesus distinctly informed them that all of them would forsake him that very night.

All ye shall be offended because of me - See the notes at Matthew 5:29. This language means, here, you will all stumble at my being taken, abused, and set at naught; you will be ashamed to own me as a teacher, and to acknowledge yourselves as my disciples; or, my being betrayed will prove a snare to you all, so that you will be guilty of the sin of forsaking me, and, by your conduct, of denying me.

For it is written ... - See Zechariah 13:7. This is affirmed here to have reference to the Saviour, and to be fulfilled in him.

I will smite - This is the language of God the Father. I will smite means either that I will give him up to be smitten (compare Exodus 4:21 with Exodus 8:15, etc.), or that I will do it myself. Both of these things were done. God gave him up to the Jews and Romans, to be smitten for the sins of the world Romans 8:32; and he himself left him to deep and awful sorrows - to bear "the burden of the world's atonement" alone. See Mark 15:34.

The Shepherd - The Lord Jesus - the Shepherd of his people, John 10:11, John 10:14. Compare the notes at Isaiah 40:11.

The sheep - This means here particularly "the apostles." It also refers sometimes to all the followers of Jesus, the friends of God, John 10:16; Psalm 100:3.

Shall be scattered abroad - This refers to their fleeing, and it was fulfilled in that. See Matthew 26:56.

Mt 26:31-35. The Desertion of Jesus by His Disciples, and the Denial of Peter Foretold. ( = Mr 14:27-31; Lu 22:31-38; Joh 13:36-38).

For the exposition, see on [1363]Lu 22:31-38.

See Poole on "Matthew 26:35". Then saith Jesus unto them,.... Either before they went out of the house, where they had been eating the passover, and the supper; or as they were going along to the Mount of Olives; which latter rather seems to be the case:

all ye shall be offended because of me this night. The words are spoken to the eleven disciples; for Judas was now gone to the high priests, to inform them where Jesus was going that night, and to receive of them a band of men and officers to apprehend him; which is what would be the occasion of all the rest of the disciples being offended: for when they should see their master betrayed by one of themselves, and the officers seize him and bind him, and lead him away as a malefactor, our Lord here suggests, that they would be filled with such fear and dread, that everyone of them would forsake him and run away, and provide for their own safety; yea, would be so stumbled at this unexpected event, that they would begin to stagger and hesitate in their minds, whether he was the Messiah, or not, as the two disciples going to Emmaus, seem to intimate; they would be so shocked with this sad disappointment, and so offended, or stumble, as to be ready to fall from him: and their faith in him must have failed, had he not prayed for them, as he did for Peter; for they thought of nothing else but a temporal kingdom, which they expected would now quickly be set up, and they be advanced to great honour and dignity; but things taking a different turn, it must greatly shock and affect them; and it was to be the case not of one or two only, but of all of them: and that because of him, whom they dearly loved, and with whom they had been eating the passover, and his own supper, and had had such a comfortable opportunity together; and because of his low estate, his being seized and bound, and led away by his enemies; as the Jews were before offended at him, because of the meanness of his parentage and education: and this was to be that very night; and it was now very late, it may reasonably be supposed to be midnight: for since the last evening, or sun setting, they had ate the passover, the ceremonies of which took up much time, and after that the Lord's supper; then the Hallell, or hymn was sung, when Christ discoursed much with his disciples, and delivered those consolatory and instructive sermons, about the vine and other things, occasioned by the fruit of the vine, they had been just drinking of, recorded in the 15th and 16th chapters of John; and put up that prayer to his Father for them, which stands in the 17th chapter; and indeed within an hour or two after, see Mark 14:37, this prediction of Christ's had its accomplishment, and which he confirms by a prophetic testimony:

for it is written, in Zechariah 13:7,

I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered. This text is miserably perverted by the Jewish writers; though they all agree, that by "the shepherd", is meant some great person, as a king; so the Targum renders it, "kill the king, and the princes shall be scattered": one (u) of them says, that a wicked king of Moab is designed; another (w), a king of the Ishmaelites, or of the Turks; and a third (x), that any, and every king of the Gentiles is meant; a fourth says (y), it is a prophecy of the great wars that shall be in all the earth, in the days of Messiah ben Joseph; and a fifth (z), after having taken notice of other senses, mentions this as the last: that "the words "my shepherd, and the man my fellow", in the former part of the verse, are to be understood of Messiah, the son of Joseph; and because he shall be slain in the wars of the nations, therefore the Lord will whet his glittering sword against the nations, to take vengeance on them; and on this account says, "awake, O sword! for my shepherd, and for the man my fellow": as if the Lord called the sword and vengeance to awake against his enemies, because of Messiah ben Joseph, whom they shall slay; and who shall be the shepherd of the flock of God, and by reason of his righteousness and perfection, shall be the man his fellow; and when the nations shall slay that shepherd, the sword of the Lord shall come and smite the shepherd; that is, every shepherd of the Gentiles, and their kings; for because of the slaying of the shepherd of Israel, every shepherd of their enemies shall be slain, and their sheep shall be scattered; for through the death of the shepherds, the people that shall be under them, will have no standing.

Now though this is a most wretched perversion of the passage, to make the word "shepherd" in the former part of it, to signify one person, and in the other part of it another; yet shows the conviction of their minds, that the Messiah is not be excluded from the prophecy, and of whom, without doubt, it is spoken, and rightly applied by him, who is concerned in it, the Lord Jesus Christ; who feeds his flock like a shepherd, is the great shepherd of the sheep, the chief shepherd, the good shepherd, that laid down his life for the sheep; which is intended by the smiting of him: in the text in

Zechariah 13:7 it is read, "smite the shepherd"; being an order of Jehovah the Father's, to Justice, to awake its sword, and sheath it in his son, his equal by nature, his shepherd by office; and here, as his own act, and what he would do himself, "I will smite the shepherd"; for his ordering Justice to smite, is rightly interpreted doing it himself. The Jews cannot object to this, when their own interpreters in general explain it thus, , "God shall cut off the shepherd" (a). The sufferings of Christ, which are meant by the smiting him, were according, not only to the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, the will of his good pleasure, but according to his will of command; which justice executed, and Christ was obedient to, and in which Jehovah had a very great hand himself: he bruised him, he put him to grief, he made his soul an offering for sin; he spared him not, but delivered him up into the hands of men, justice, and death, for us all: the latter clause, "and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered", respects the disciples, and their forsaking Christ, and fleeing from him, when be was apprehended; for then, as was foretold in this prophecy, and predicted by Christ, they all forsook him and fled, and were scattered every man to his own, and left him alone. In Zechariah it is only said, "the sheep shall be scattered", Zechariah 13:7, here, the sheep of the flock; though the Evangelist Mark reads it, as in the prophet, Mark 14:27, and so the Arabic here, and the sense is the same; for the sheep are the sheep of the flock, Christ's little flock, the flock of slaughter, committed to his care; unless it may be thought proper to distinguish between the sheep and the flock; and by "the flock" understand, all the elect of God, and by "the sheep", the principal of the flock; "the rams of his sheep", or "flock", as the Syriac version renders it; the apostles of Christ, who are chiefly, if not solely intended; though others of Christ's followers might be stumbled, offended, and staggered, as well as they; as Cleophas was, one of the two that went to Emmaus,

(u) R. Sol. Jarchi, in Zechariah 13.7. (w) Isaac Chizzuk Emuna, par. 1. c. 37. p. 310. (x) R. David Kirachi, in Zechariah 13.7. (y) R. Aben Ezra in ib. (z) Abarbitnel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 74. 4. (a) R. Aben. Ezra, R. David Kimchi, & Miclol Yophi in loc.

{8} Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad.

(8) Christ, here taking more care of his disciples than of himself, forewarns them of their falling away, and provides them with some comfort.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Matthew 26:31. Τότε] whilst they were going out, Matthew 26:36.

πάντες] put first so as to be highly emphatic.

σκανδαλ.] Comp. on Matthew 11:6. In this instance it means: instead of standing faithfully by me till the last, ye will be cowardly enough to run away and leave me to my fate, and thus show that your faith has not been able to bear the brunt of the struggle. Comp. John 16:32. See Matthew 26:56. With what painful astonishment these words must have filled the disciples, sincerely conscious as they were of their faithful devotion to their Master! Accordingly this announcement is followed up with quoting the prediction in which the tragic event is foretold. The passage here introduced with γέγρ. γάρ is from Zechariah 13:7 (quoted with great freedom). In the shepherd who, according to this passage, is to be smitten, Jesus sees a typical representation of Himself as devoted to death by God, so that the words cannot have had reference (Ewald, Hitzig) to the foolish shepherd (ch. Matthew 11:15 ff.), but only to the one appointed by God Himself (Hofmann), whose antitype is Jesus, and His disciples the scattered sheep; comp. Hengstenberg, Christol. III. 1, p. 528.Matthew 26:31. τότε, then, on the way through the valley between the city and Olivet, the valley of Jehoshaphat (Kedron), suggestive of prophetic memories (Joel 3, Zechariah 13, 14), leading up, as well as the present situation, to the topic.—πάντες, all; one false-hearted, all without exception weak.—ἐν ἐμοὶ, in what is to befal me.—ἐν τῇ ν. τ. So near is the crisis, a matter of hours. The shadow of Gethsemane is beginning to fall on Christ’s own spirit, and He knows how it must fare with men unprepared for what is coming.—γέγραπται γάρ: in Zechariah 13:7, freely reproduced from the Hebrew.31–35. All shall be offended

Mark 14:26-31; Luke 22:32-34. Cp. John 16:3231. I will smite the shepherd] Zechariah 13:7. The words do not literally follow the Hebrew. The context describes the purification of Jerusalem in the last days—“in that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem”—the discomfiture of the false prophets, and the victory of Jehovah on the Mount of Olives.

It may be fitly remembered that the Valley of Jehoshaphat (in N.T. the Valley of Kedron) according to the most probable view derived its name—the Valley of the Judgment of Jehovah—not from the king of Judah, but from the vision of Joel (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 3:9-17), of which the prophecy of Zechariah is the repetition in a later age. If so, there is deep significance in the words recurring to the mind of Christ, as He trod the very field of Jehovah’s destined victory. Nor is it irreverent to believe that the thought of this vision brought consolation to the human heart of Jesus as He passed to His Supreme self-surrender with the knowledge that He would be left alone, deserted even by His chosen followers.Matthew 26:31. Πάντες ὑμεῖς, all ye) Our Lord had before foretold the crime of a single traitor.—σκανδαλισθήσεσθε, shall be offended) So that your faith in Me shall totter exceedingly. The same word occurs in Romans 14:21.—γέγραπται, it is written) The disciples might conclude that the prediction was about to be fulfilled that night, from the conjunction of the smiting of the shepherd, and the scattering of the sheep.—πατάξω, I will smite) sc. with the sword, put by metonymy for the Cross, concerning which it was not the part of the prophets to write more expressly. In Zechariah 13:7, the LXX.[1141] have ΠΆΤΑΞΟΝ ΤῸΝ ΠΟΙΜΈΝΑ, ΚΑῚ ΔΙΑΣΚΟΡΠΙΣΘΉΣΕΤΑΙ ΤᾺ ΤΡΌΒΑΤΑ, smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered. God smote Jesus, since He delivered Him to be smitten.—διασκορπισθήσεται, shall be scattered) The whole protection of the disciples, before the advent of the Paraclete, consisted in the presence of Jesus; who being smitten, they were dispersed.—τὰ πρόβατα, the sheep) The disciples were representatives of the whole flock which they were afterwards to collect.

[1141] So the Ed. of Grabe and Breitinger from the Cod. Alexandr. The text of Reineccius has πατάξατε τοὺς τοιμένας, και ἐκσπάσατε τὰ πρόβατα.—E. B.Verse 31. - Then saith Jesus. The warning, according to the other evangelists, was given in the upper chamber, unless, as is very unlikely, it was twice repeated (see Luke 22:31-34; John 13:36-38). The "then" of St. Matthew must not be taken strictly as denoting exact chronological sequence, but as marking a change of scene or a new incident. All ye shall be offended because of me (ἐν ἐμοί, in me). There is an emphasis on "all ye;" even ye eleven, who have been steadfast hitherto. One, Judas, had already departed; but Christ warns the eleven that they too shall for a time lose their faith in him, and sin by forsaking their Lord. His apprehension and trial would prove a rock of offence to them. It is written. In Zechariah 13:7, where the prophet's words are, "Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the Man that is my Fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered." It is here shown that all that happened took place according to "the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God." That Christ may be the Saviour he must be a sacrifice. In Zechariah the Lord gives the command to the sword; hence Christ can say, I will smite. The Shepherd is Christ, the sheep are the disciples, who, at the sight of the officers coming to seize him, "all forsook him, and fled" (ver. 56). The prophecy in Zechariah is remarkably full of references to Christ, his nature and his position.
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