Matthew 26:20
The institution of the Holy Supper was in connection with the eating of the Passover. The occasion was most appropriate and significant; for the Jewish feast had been instituted to foreshadow what the Christian festival was founded to commemorate (see 1 Corinthians 5:6-8). The two sacraments of Christianity express all that was expressed in the entire circle of the ceremonial law, and more. All the washings are embodied in the sacrament of baptism; all the sacrifices and feasts in the Eucharist. Consider -


1. The lamb typified Christ.

(1) It was a male of the first year, to set forth the excellence and the maturity of his humanity. He was "the Son of David," viz. that Son in comparison with whom the other sons of David are nowhere. He was "the Son of man," viz. in comparison with whom no other son of Adam may be named.

(2) It was "without blemish." He was in his birth immaculate, in his life and death perfectly righteous. In all points unique in purity, wisdom, and goodness.

(3) It was taken from the flock, to show that the humanity of Christ was to be real. It was accordingly no phantom. He was "bone of our bone."

2. Its sacrifice foreshadowed his Passion.

(1) "Taken from the flock" in order to be sacrificed, it became a vicarious victim. It became the substitute for those that were spared in consequence of its selection. So Christ, having identified himself with our race, was "taken" as our Substitute.

(2) In the original institution the blood of the lamb sacrificed, and sprinkled in faith upon the door posts and lintels of the houses, protected the inmates from the sword of the destroyer. So is there life and salvation where by a sure faith the blood of the Lamb of God is sprinkled.

(3) The place of the sacrifice was ordained to be that which the Lord should choose. Jerusalem was that chosen place.

(4) The time was the fourteenth day of the month Abib (cf. Exodus 12. (6-10; John 18:28). "Between the two evenings," viz. the "ninth hour," when Jesus cried with a loud voice and gave up the Ghost.

(5) Even the direction respecting the preservation of the bones of the lamb from fracture had its prophetic meaning (cf. Exodus 12:46; John 19:36).

3. The feast anticipated his communion.

(1) The Egyptian had no right to the Passover. It was not for the idolater, but for the believer. So neither are the blessings of redemption in Christ designed for the obstinate sinner, but for the humble believer.

(2) It was to be eaten with unleavened bread. Leaven, being a kind of corruption, was an emblem of insincerity and falsehood. The faith which saves is not that of the hypocrite, but that of the true man (see 1 Corinthians 5:8).

(3) It was to be eaten "with bitter herbs." The unleavened bread and bitter herbs together made the "bread of affliction." So if the sinner would commune with Christ, he must come with contrition and repentance.


1. The elements of the sacrament.

(1) Bread. This was to represent, signify, or be an emblem of the body of Christ.

(a) It was not his very body. "This is" equivalent to a common Hebrew idiom (cf. Genesis 40:12; Genesis 41:26; Daniel 7:23; Daniel 8:21; 1 Corinthians 10:4; Galatians 4:24).

(b) Bread signifies all food which supports the life of the body. So is the body of Christ, discerned by faith, the sufficient and necessary food of the spirit.

(2) Wine. This was to represent his blood.

(a) "This is" cannot be literally taken. For in Luke (Luke 22:20) the words are, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood," which it will not be contended is to be literally taken. The drinking of literal sacrificial blood was a custom amongst idolaters. But this was never practised in the service of Jehovah (see Psalm 16:4).

(b) Blood, viz. of the vegetable kind is chosen to set forth the life of the resurrection of Christ, which is that in which the true Christian has communion with him.

2. The treatment of the elements.

(1) The blessing. This was observed both in respect to the bread and the wine. This was no miracle of transubstantiation. It was, as explained in the evangelists, "giving thanks." The cup used was the "cup of blessing" of the Passover. Christ, as Man heading the table of the redeemed, gives God thanks. True believers will all say "Amen" to this benediction and thanksgiving.

(2) The breaking of the bread and pouring out of the wine vividly call to remembrance the prominent features of the Passion. And forasmuch as Christ himself broke the bread and poured the wine, he evinced the voluntariness of his suffering for us. But that this breaking of the bread and pouring of the wine was not the actual suffering of Christ as the transubstantiationist must maintain, is evident, for Christ said," With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer' (see Luke 22:15).

(3) The participation. This set forth the believer's communion with Christ, his assimilation to Christ, his incorporation with Christ, and his union in spirit with the Lord. He gave the elements to his "disciples" - mark, not as apostles, which they were, but as disciples, viz. that "all" disciples might claim this privilege. Bread to strengthen; wine to gladden. The cup is by Ignatius called ἄγαπη, as it was the symbol of love. By Paul it is called the "communion" (see 1 Corinthians 10:16).

(4) The description. "My blood of the covenant." It is the sign and seal of the "better promises" of the "new," or excellent, and "everlasting" covenant.

(5) The hymn. Praise at such time is to us most fitting. "Christ, removing the hymn from the close of the Passover to the close of the Lord's Supper, plainly intimates that he intended that the ordinance should continue in his Church, that is, it had not its birth with the ceremonial law, so it should not die with it" (Henry).

(6) The departure, immediately afterwards, to the Mount of Olives, was also significant. For he was destined thence, after his actual Passion, to ascend into heaven to receive for us the blessing of the covenant.

3. The admonitory incident.

(1) "As they were eating, Jesus said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me." As at its institution the Passover separated between Israel and Egypt in mercy and judgment, so now at its transformation into the Christian sacrament, mercy and judgment were to separate between the spiritual and sordid Israel. Judas was the type of his nation also when his wickedness recoiled upon him, as the wickedness of the Egyptians had recoiled upon them.

(2) The presence of treachery in the Church is an occasion of sorrow to the true believer. "They were exceeding sorrowful:" for the Lord, that his great love should be requited with villainy; for their college, that its credit and influence should be compromised.

(3) It is also an occasion for heart searching. "They began to say unto him every one, Is it I, Lord?' The search of true self-examination is particular and special. The evil concealed in us can be fully discovered to us only by the Lord. "He that dippeth," etc. (ver. 23; cf. Psalm 41:9). External communion with Christ in his ordinances is an aggravation of treachery to him.

(4) "The Son of man," etc. (ver. 24). It had been foretold that Messiah should suffer (cf. Isaiah 53:3; Daniel 9:26). But though Divine mercy brought infinite good out of that suffering, those who inflicted it were none the less criminal. How resolute is the devil of hypocrisy! "Judas answered and said, Is it I, Rabbi?" - J.A.M.

And as they did eat, He said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray Me.
Every man is a mystery to himself. In every soul there lie, coiled and dormant, like hybernating snakes, evils that a very slight rise in the temperature will wake up into poisonous activity. Let no man say, in foolish self-confidence, that any form of sin which his brother has ever committed, is impossible for him. Temperament shields us from much, no doubt. There are sins that we are "inclined to," and there are sins that we "have no mind to." But the identity of human nature is deeper than the diversity of temperament.

I. ALL SINS ARE AT BOTTOM BUT VARYING FORMS OF ONE ROOT. The essence of every evil is selfishness; and when you have that, it is exactly as with cooks who have the "stock" by the fireside — they can make any kind of soup out of it, with the right flavouring. All sin is living to oneself instead of to God, and it may easily pass from one form of evil into another, just as light and heat, motion and electricity, are all various forms of one force. Doctors will tell you there are forms of disease which slip from one kind of sickness into another; so, if we have got the infection about us, it is a matter very much of accidental circumstances what shape it takes.

II. All sin is GREGARIOUS. The tangled mass of sin is like one of those great fields of sea-weed that you sometimes come across upon the ocean, all hanging together by a thousand slimy growths; which, if lifted from the wave at any point, drags up yards of it inextricably grown together. No man commits only one kind of transgression. All sins hunt in couples.

III. ALL SIN IS BUT YIELDING TO TENDENCIES COMMON TO US ALL. The greatest transgressions have resulted from yielding to tendencies which are common to us all. Cain killed his brother from jealousy; David befouled his name and his reign by animal passion; Judas betrayed Christ because he was fond of money. Many a man has murdered another simply because he had a hot temper. And you have got a temper, and love of money, and animal passions, and that which may stir you up into jealousy. Your neighbour's house has caught fire and been blown up. Your house, too, is built of wood, and thatched with straw, and you have as much dynamite in your cellars as he had in his. Do not be too sure that yon are safe from the danger of explosion.

IV. ALL TRANSGRESSION IS YIELDING TO TEMPTATIONS THAT ASSAIL ALL MEN. Here are one hundred men in a plague-stricken city; they have all got to draw their water from the same well. If five or six of them died of cholera, it would be very foolish of the other ninety-five to say, "There is no chance of my being touched." And we all live in the same atmosphere; and the temptations that have overcome these men, that have headed the count of crimes appeal to you.

V. MEN WILL GRADUALLY DROP DOWN TO THE LEVEL WHICH, BEFORE THEY BEGAN THE DESCENT, SEEMED TO BE IMPOSSIBLE TO THEM. First, the imagination is inflamed, then the wish begins to draw the soul to the sin, then conscience pulls it hack, then the fatal decision is made, and the deed is done. Sometimes all the stages are hurried quickly through, and a man spins downhill as cheerily and fast as a diligence down the Alps. Sometimes, as the coast of a country may sink am inch in a century, until long miles of the fiat sea-beach are under water, and towers and cities are buried beneath the barren waves, so our lives may be gradually lowered, with a motion imperceptible but most real, bringing us down within high-water mark, and at last the tide may wash over what was solid land.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

A moment of dismay among the disciples. The Master had just declared that one of them should commit an act of the basset treachery, and betray Him to His enemies. How do they take His words? Do they break out in indignant remonstrance? Do they fall to accusing one another? Does each draw back from his brother apostle in horror at the thought that possibly that brother apostle is he who is to do this dreadful thing? No; they are all self-engrossed; each man's anxiety is turned, not towards his brother, but towards himself. Now, there are times in the lives of all of us, when that comes to us which came here to Christ's disciples.

I. WHEN WE SEE DEEP AND FLAGRANT SIN IN SOME OTHER MAN. While the act from which we recoil is repugnant to our conscientiousness, the powers that did it and the motives that stirred those powers into action are human, and such as we possess and feel.

II. WHEN WE DO SOME SMALL SIN, AND RECOGNIZE THE DEEP POWER OF SINFULNESS BY WHICH WE DO IT. The slightest crumbling of the earth beneath your feet makes you aware of the precipice. The least impurity makes you ready to cry out, as some image of hideous lust rises before you, "Oh, is it I? Can I come to that?"

III. THE EXPRESSION OF ANY SUSPICION ABOUT US BY ANOTHER PERSON. Perfectly unwarrantable and false we may know the charge to be; but the mere fastening of the sin and our name together, must turn our eyes in on ourselves and set us to asking, "Is it possible? I did not do this thing, indeed. My conscience is clear. But am I not capable of it? Is there not a fund of badness in me which might lead me almost anywhere? And if so, can I blaze up into fiery indignation at men's daring to suspect me? Can I resent suspicion as an angel might, who, standing in the light of God, dreaded and felt sin? No; our disavowal of the sin would be mot boisterously angry, but quiet, and solemn, and humble, with a sense of danger, and gratitude for preservation.

IV. BY A STRANGE BUT VERY NATURAL PROCESS, THE SAME RESULT OFTEN COMES FROM JUST THE OPPOSITE CAUSE. Unmerited praise reveals to us our unworthiness. A man comes up to our life, and, looking round upon the crowd of our fellow men, he says, "See, I will strike the life of this brother of ours, and you shall hear how true it rings." He does strike, and it does seem to them to ring true, and they shout their applause; but we whose life is struck feel running all through us at the stroke the sense of hollowness. Our soul sinks as we hear the praises. They start desire, but they reveal weakness. No true man is ever so humble and so afraid of himself as when others are praising him most loudly.

V. EVERY TEMPTATION which comes to us, however bravely and successfully it may be resisted, OPENS TO US THE SIGHT OF SOME OF OUR HUMAN CAPACITY FOR SIN. The man who dares to laugh at a temptation which he has felt anal resisted is not yet wholly safe out of its power.

(Phillips Brooks, D. D.)

The form of the question in the original suggests that they expected a negative answer, and might be reproduced in English, "Surely it is not I?" None of them could think that he was the traitor, yet none of them could be sure that he was not. Their Master knew better than they did; and so, from a humble knowledge of what lay in them, coiled and slumbering, but there, they will not meet His words with a contradiction, but with a questions

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Do not say. "I know when to stop." Do not say, "I can go so far; it will not do me any harm." Many a man has said that, and been ruined by it. Do not say, "It is natural to me to have these inclinations and tastes, and there can be no harm in yielding to them." It is perfectly natural for a man to stoop down over the edge of a precipice to gather the flowers that are growing in some cranny in the cliff; and it is as natural for him to topple over, and be smashed to a mummy at the bottom! God gave you your dispositions, and your whole nature under lock and key; keep them so!

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Philip, Duke of Austria, paid the ambassadors of Charles IV. (who had betrayed their trust) in counterfeit coin; and when they complained, made reply, that false coin is good enough for false knaves. James I., king of Scotland, was murdered in Perth by Waiter, Earl of Athol, in hope to have the crown; and crowned he was indeed, but with a crown of red-hot iron clapped upon his head, being one of the tortures wherewith he ended at once his wicked days and devices. And Guy Gawkes, that Spanish pioneer, should have received his reward of five hundred pounds at an appointed place in Surrey, but instead thereof, he had been paid home with a brace of bullets for his good service, if justice had not come in with a halter by way of prevention. Thus traitors have always become odious, though the treason were commodious.


In the long line of portraits of the Doges, in the palace at Venice, one space is empty, and the semblance of a black curtain remains as a melancholy record of glory forfeited. Found guilty of treason against the State, Marine Falieri was beheaded, and his image as far as possible blotted from remembrance. As we regarded the singular memorial we thought of Judas and Demas, and then, as we heard in spirit the master's warning word, "One of you shall betray Me," we asked within our soul the solemn question, "Lord, is it I?" Every one's eye rests longer on the one dark vacancy than upon any one of the many fine portraits of the merchant monarchs; and so the apostates of the Church are far more frequently the theme of the world's talk than the thousands of good men and true who adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things. Hence the more need of care on the part of those of us whose portraits are publicly exhibited as saints, lest we should one day be painted out of the Church's gallery, and our persons only remembered as having been detestable hypocrites.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

We have here an example of fixed determination to do evil, unshaken by the clearest knowledge that it is evil. Judas heard his crime described in its own ugly reality. He heard his fate proclaimed by lips of absolute love and truth; and notwithstanding both, he comes unmoved and unshaken with his question. The dogged determination in the man, that dares to see his evil stripped naked and is not ashamed, is even more dreadful than the hypocrisy and sleek simulation of friendship in his face. Most men turn away with horror from even the sins that they are willing to do, when they are put plainly and bluntly before them. We have two sets of names for wrong things; one of which we apply to our brethren's sins and the other to the same sins in ourselves. What I do is "prudence," what you do of the same sort is "covetousness;" what I do is "sowing my wild oats," what you do is "immorality" and "dissipation;" what I do is "generous living," what you do is "drunkenness" and "gluttony;" what I do is " righteous indignation," what you do is "passionate anger." And so you may go the whole round of evil. Very bad are the men who can look at their deed, described in its own inherent deformity, and yet say, "Yes, that is it, and I am going to do it." "One of you shall betray Me." Yes, I will betray you." It must have taken something to look into the Master's face, and keep the fixed purpose steady. This obstinate condition of dogged determination to do a wrong thing, knowing it to be a wrong thing, is a condition to which all evil steadily tends. We may not come to it in this world, but we are getting towards it in regard of the special wrong deeds and desires that we cherish and commit. And when a man has once reached the point of saying to evil, "Be thou my good," then he is a "devil," in the true meaning of the word; and wherever he is, he is in hell!

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

On the eve of the crucifixion Jesus sat down to supper with the twelve, in the room which had been provided and prepared for them.

I. A picture of THE POVERTY OF JESUS ON THE EVE OF DISCHARGING THE GREATEST DEBT EVER OWED BY MAN. He must borrow a room and accept the hospitality of a stranger. But in a moral sense he was rich and able to atone for the sins of men. We must not judge the worth of a person by outward circumstances.

II. A picture of THE CALMNESS OF JESUS ON THE EVE OF ENDURING THE GREATEST ANGUISH EVER BORNE BY MAN. With calmness he sat down with the twelve on the eve of the greatest suffering.

III. A picture of THE FRIENDLESSNESS OF JESUS ON THE EVE OF EXPERIENCING THE GREATEST DESERTION EVER KNOWN BY MAN, He sat down with the very men who were to forsake him; but He utters no word of stern rebuke.

(F. W. Brown.)

I. THERE IS THE PREDICTION and it discovers to us —

1. The close and constant view which the Lord Jesus seems to have taken of His final sufferings.

2. The naturalness of our Lord's mind; by this I mean its resemblance to our own minds. He has our inward nature. He felt treachery.

3. The exceeding tenderness of Christ. He cared for the love of the men around Him.

4. The wonderful self-denial of our Lord. He did not treat Judas differently from the other disciples, though so long false.


1. Their simple faith in their Lord's prediction.

2. Their warm love for Christ.

3. Their great self-distrust,

(C. Bradley.)

When the wind is rising it is good for each ship at sea to look to its own ropes and sails, and not stand gazing to see how ready the other ships are to meet it. We all feel that we would rather hear a man asking about himself anxiously than to see him so sure of himself that the question never occurred to him. We should be surer of his standing firm if we saw that he knew he was in danger of a fall. Now, all this is illustrated in Christ's disciples.

(Phillips Brooks.)

You have here an account of how our Lord, whilst partaking of the last supper with His disciples, predicted His betrayal. The disciples were greatly moved by the declaration: it is a good sign when we are less suspicious of others than of ourselves — "Lord, is it I?"

I. We regard the sayings of our Lord at this time as uttered with SPECIAL REFERENCE TO JUDAS, WITH THE MERCIFUL DESIGN OF WARNING HIM OF THE ENORMITY OF HIS PROJECTED CRIME, and thus, if possible, of withholding him from its commission. It is easy to see an adaptation between the words used by Christ and the feelings which may have been working in Judas. "The Son of Man goeth as it is written of Him." Judas may have thought that he was helping forward the work of the Messiah; the crucifixion was a determined thing. "Woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed." Judas was free in his treachery, acted from his own will, in obedience to his depraved passions, as if there had been no Divine fore. knowledge. Oh! the vanity of the thought that God ever places us under a necessity of sinning, or that because our sins may turn to His glory they will not also issue in our shame.

II. Let us now glance at another delusion to which it is likely that Judas gave indulgence; this is the delusion as to THE CONSEQUENCES, THE PUNISHMENT OF SIN BEING EXAGGERATED. There is such energy in conscience that it would hardly let a man run on flagrant acts of sin if there were not some drug by which it were lulled. It may be that Judas could hardly persuade himself that a Being so beneficent as Christ, whom he had seen healing the sick, could lay aside the graciousness of His nature, and avenge a wrong by surrendering the evil doer to interminable woe. But our Lord's words meet this delusion — "It had been good for that man if he had not been born." We expect to find Judas overawed by this saying.

III. IT REVEALS HIS UTTER MORAL HARDNESS. Christ had said, "Woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed." At this saying Judas asks, "Lord, is it I? " Numbers bear themselves proudly against Christ and His gospel and go forth from the very sanctuary, with the words of condemnation in their ears, to do precisely the things by which that sentence is incurred.

(H. Melvill, B. D.)

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