These small group studies of Matthew contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, teaching points, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Matthew 26:14-35 Inductive Bible Study – Discussion Questions and Teaching Points
I. Judas offers to betray Jesus (14-16)
II. The Last Supper prepared (17-19)
III. The Betrayal predicted (20-25)
IV. The Lord’s Supper instituted (26-30)
V. Jesus predicts Peter’s denial (31-35)
Some of the following notes are taken from the parallel passage found in Mark 14:12-31 (https://studyandobey.com/inductive-bible-study/mark-studies/mark14-10-22/)
I. Judas offers to betray Jesus (14-16)
What might have motivated Judas to betray Jesus?
Why might he have followed Jesus at the beginning?
Why did the chief priests need Judas? What was his job?
1. Judas was clearly not a genuine believer. The Bible doesn’t tell us the reasons or even how Judas came to start following Jesus. Perhaps Judas was something like Simon in the book of Acts (Acts 8:9-25). Simon saw that there was real power in this movement. He wanted to use this power for material gain. He was motivated by fleshly desires. Perhaps Judas hoped to have a high position in Jesus’ kingdom and therefore get rich. Perhaps he hoped to gain the ability to do miracles so that he could charge for them. We don’t know the reasons, but we do know that Judas was a greedy person. In John 12:4-7, we see that Judas is motivated by a desire for money in suggesting that the perfume be sold because he used to steal from the money box. And in this passage we see that the priests promise Judas money (in Matthew 27:3, we see he got thirty pieces of silver for it.)
How much was the silver worth?
It is hard to calculate the exact value because we don’t know exactly what the piece of silver represented. Scholars who have attempted to calculate it believe it ranges between one half year wages to the price of a slave. It was a significant amount, but nothing that would make Judas wealthy. The silver was later used to buy a field.
Why did the priests need Judas to betray Jesus?
In Matthew 26:4 we see that they wanted to capture Jesus be stealth. They wanted to do it in a private place away from the eyes of a public that adored Jesus. But in that day there were no spy satellites, GPS tracking, or CCTV systems. If Jesus wasn’t in a public place, then they themselves did not know where he was. That is why they needed Judas. As one of his disciples, he knew Jesus’ schedule and itinerary. He could tell the priests when an opportune time presented itself. And that is exactly what he did after the Lord’s Supper when Jesus went to the Garden of Gethsemane.
What Lessons can we learn from Judas?
1. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10) – While Satan may get the nod for worst sinner of all of God’s creation, Judas may get the nod for worst sinning human. He masqueraded as Jesus’ friend. He followed Jesus for three years, serving with Him, eating with Him, traveling with Him, talking with Him, listening to Him teach. As one of the disciples he went and preached the gospel. He was an eye-witness of Jesus’ miracles seeing the blind see, the lame walk, and the dead raised to life. He saw more miracles than the commoner and heard much more of Jesus’ teachings. And yet, finally he betrayed Jesus.
This could be considered far worse than what the priests did. They never pretended to follow Jesus and always claimed to be serving God. Judas had no such excuse (for an excuse it was). What could possibly motivate Judas to sell out Jesus to death? Some have speculated that it was a desire to somehow force Jesus into action to declare Himself and wipe out the Romans. While it cannot be completely ruled out, the Bible does not say that nor give any hint of that. The Bible does say that he agreed to do it for money. It is therefore reasonable to say that he did it for the love of money.
Application: Loving money can cause even the worst betrayal in the history of the world. If it can cause that, how many more sins can it cause? Do not allow yourself to go down the road of loving money. We should follow Mary’s example in the first part of this chapter. She gave the very best she had to Christ even though it cost a lot.
2. Not everyone who looks like a sheep is a sheep – To most people, Judas looked like a faithful disciple. He seemed spiritual and committed. He had also given up things to follow Jesus. But he was not a faithful disciple. His heart had not been regenerated. He had ulterior motives. Do you sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts? (1 Peter 3:15) Do not just talk the talk. Continuously evaluate your own heart and motives so that they are pure before the Lord.
II. The Last Supper prepared (17-19)
What is the Festival of Unleavened Bread?
Why is it called that?
What do we learn about the disciples from this passage?
What do we learn about Jesus from this passage? What lesson do we learn from the fact that Jesus was still “celebrating” when He knew He was going to die the next day?
What additional details do the parallel passages in other gospels give?
Mark 14:13-15 – Parallel passage with more details.
1. The disciples took initiative – We have seen throughout the book of Mark that the disciples were quite involved in Jesus’ ministry. They did not just sit and watch, but helped in many ways. Here we see that they took care of a lot of physical errands (much like the original deacons in Acts), so that Jesus could have more time and energy to focus on the spiritual plane. Instead of waiting for Jesus to tell them what to do, they came to Jesus and asked what they could do. We would do well to learn from their volunteer spirit. Try to be observant to consider what you can do to help others in a variety of situations. Instead of waiting for others to help, jump in and do what needs to be done.
2. The Festival of Unleavened Bread is a term used for the whole holiday week of the Passover. It is thus called because the Jews were commanded to take no leavened (yeast) bread with them when they left Egypt during the Exodus. They were not allowed to take leavened bread because that type was easier to spoil and they needed to take bread that would last a while on their journey.
3. Go into the city to a certain man – In the passage in Mark 14 we learn that they would know this man because they would see him carrying a large jar of water. Jesus told them what was going to happen with surprising detail. Unless this happened by God’s sovereign power, it could not have happened. If I was the guy carrying the pitcher of water, I would have kept looking over my shoulder at the two strong men from out of town who were following me. After taking a couple of turns, I would glance back and they were still there. My first thought would be that they were thieves trying to rob me. After all, there would be many kinds of people roaming about Jerusalem during the festival. Probably long before I got home I would have broken into a run to get away from the stalkers. But this guy didn’t do that. He led them back and the owner of the house graciously agreed to let them use it. Rooms like this in Jerusalem would have been in high demand with the tens or hundreds of thousands of Jews flowing into the city from the whole region. Why does this guy let the disciples follow him back? Why does this owner so readily agree to let them use it (and apparently for free)?
Divine appointments are routine with God!
4. By this point it seems that they had mostly learned to obey Jesus without question. Jesus’ story is a bit hard to believe from a human standpoint, but Jesus had done plenty more much more difficult miracles. This is what Christ expects of us, to trust and obey. Most of the Christian life can be boiled down to this. Do you trust and obey Christ no matter what?
III. The Betrayal predicted (20-25)
Why were they reclining at the table? What does this tell us about the environment there?
How did Jesus know Judas would betray Him? A more difficult question, why did He allow Judas to follow Him since He knew this would happen from the beginning?
How did the disciples react?
Who did Jesus say it was?
What did Jesus say about the betrayer? Why didn’t Judas take this warning to heart and repent right away?
Matthew 26:25 – Judas also said, “surely it is not I.” Jesus said, “You have said it yourself.”
Luke 22:3 – Satan entered Judas.
John 13:26-30 – Satan enters Judas and Jesus tells him to do it quickly.
Psalms 41:9 – Even my close friend who ate my bread has lifted up his heel against me.
Zechariah 11:12 – Thirty pieces of silver.
1. This is a somewhat cryptic passage. Eleven of the disciples do not know what is going on. They proclaim their innocence of this plot to betray Jesus. Not only did they never enter into any such plot, it was shocking to them that any of their number could stoop so low as to do something like this. Jesus is basically having a private conversation with Judas, which no one else in the room clearly understands.
2. Jesus knows who is going to betray him – The main point seems to be to show us that Jesus knew about this betrayal. It did not catch him by surprise. In fact, he had known all along. What do we learn about Jesus from this? We learn that Jesus is omniscient. It is yet another reminder that Jesus allowed Himself to be caught and killed. He could have prevented it if He wanted to, but He did not want to. We also learn about Jesus’ great patience and even self-control. Somehow He let Judas take part in all of the activities of this inner circle for years. There is no record that He rebuked Judas before this event or confronted him about his motivations. Perhaps partly it is due to His mercy in exposing Judas to more teaching and giving him more opportunities to repent. Even more importantly, this was part of God’s sovereign plan.
What do we learn about the will of God?
The story of Judas is a fascinating study in the will of God. Was he following God’s will to betray Jesus? No… and Yes. Judas was specifically breaking many of Jesus’ teachings. He had ignored what Jesus had taught him such as in Mark 14:6-7. Judas was intentionally breaking the revealed will of God. And yet in the process of breaking this revealed will, he was somehow fulfilling an integral part of God’s ultimate, sovereign, end-plan will. Was Judas doing what was right since this was part of God’s ultimate plan and used to bring about Christ’s sacrifice for the sins of the world? No. But somehow God used his own sinful choice, made completely on his own (James 1:13-17) to bring about His own plan. This is something that I will never understand this side of heaven, and maybe not even then. It shows us just how amazing and transcendent and incomprehensible God is.
3. Jesus warns Judas – Judas did not decide to betray Jesus in ignorance. Jesus made sure of that. He made it clear that this would be the worst and most devastatingly catastrophic decision he could make. And yet Judas does it. He gives up his very soul, and for what? Thirty pieces of silver which he later threw back at them because of his guilt.
Application: It is easy to look at Judas and think about what a foolish decision this was. But what about us? Every time we sin, we do a similar thing. Whenever we choose to satisfy our flesh, our lust, or our greed we despise the commandments of God in return for short-term pleasure that we ourselves will despise as the guilt of our sin overcomes us. Do not make the same mistake Judas did. Do not knowingly reject any commands of God for short-term gratification.
IV. The Lord’s Supper instituted (26-30)
What does Jesus mean that the bread is His body?
What did Jesus do before eating of the bread and drinking of the cup? Why? What precedent is there for us?
What does he mean that the cup is His blood, poured out for many?
What is the meaning of the Lord’s Supper? Why should we do it?
How often should we do it?
Matthew 26:26-30 – Parallel passage in Matthew.
Luke 22:14-20 – Parallel passage in Luke.
Acts 2:42-47 – They devoted themselves to teaching, fellowship and breaking bread.
1 Corinthians 10:16-22 – One loaf demonstrates the unity of believers in the body.
1 Corinthians 11:17-34 – More in depth discussion of the Lord’s Supper.
What is the Lord’s Supper?
It is an ordinance established by Jesus for His disciples and all future believers. As such it is one of only two ordinances, including baptism, established for the church. It was established by Jesus at the Passover celebration meal. This is not a coincidence. The Jews celebrated God’s deliverance of the Passover yearly. Jesus is now showing His disciples that there is something more important to remember, His death.
How often should we partake of the Lord’s Supper?
This is an oft argued point among believers. Various denominations hold different views. Some are steadfast in their belief that it should be held every week. Others are steadfast that it should be only once a month. Still other denominations hold it quarterly, yearly, or for special events. There is always a simple question we should use when faced with such questions. “What does the Bible say?”
In this case, the Bible does not say. While the believers in Acts (20:7-11) appear to have held it once a week, there is no written command that we do likewise. If Jesus had a very specific time line in mind which He wanted us to follow, I can only assume that He would have told us. Since He didn’t, we should not fight about it or look down on others who do it more or less often than we do. The point is that true believers must take part in it.
What is the Lord’s Supper?
This has also been a source of some debate and controversy in church history. Catholics believe in transubstantiation. This is a fancy word which means they believe that the bread literally/magically turns into Jesus’ body and the cup literally/magically turns into His blood (they will point to John 6:53-54 as evidence for this view).
Because there is no visible evidence of the bread and cup actually changing at the Lord’s Supper, Luther came up with the theory of consubstantiation. This believes that the bread and cup are spiritually Jesus’ body and blood. The bread and cup are literally, but not locally Jesus’ body/blood.
There are a couple of other views, held by Calvinists and other denominations. These can be generally grouped under the symbolic view.
This view holds that the bread/cup are not Jesus’ actual body/blood, but are meant to represent His body and blood. Reformed groups would likely hold that this is a sacrament, which is a means of grace in the life of believer, while Baptists and others would say it is completely symbolic and has no power to accomplish anything of itself in the life of a believer.
Which view do you hold and why?
The below article from https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/477-what-are-transubstantiation-and-consubstantiation gives clear reasons why hermeneuticaly this should be interpreted figuratively rather than literally.
“One of the fundamental canons in identifying figurative language is this. Normally, a word should be viewed as literal, unless other considerations make it impossible to interpret the term in that light. Determinative factors that are essential to making the proper judgments are these: context, both immediate and remote (i.e., discussion of the same subject in other biblical references), grammar, consistency (the Scriptures do not contradict themselves), common sense (i.e., does a literal interpretation imply an absurdity?).
An appropriate application of these hermeneutic principles will force the serious Bible student to the conclusion that the biblical references to the Lord’s supper as the “body” and “blood” of Christ must be interpreted figuratively, not literally. Consider the following points.
When Jesus took bread and fruit of the vine, gave these objects to the disciples, and said, “this is my body . . .this is my blood” (Mt. 26:26-28), he quite obviously was not speaking literally, for he still possessed his literal body and blood! Moreover, at the same time, Christ specifically identified the drink as “this fruit of the vine” (v. 29). The nature of the substance had not changed.
There is a common figure of speech that is known as metaphor. The metaphor is a dramatic image by which one thing is compared to another, but being represented figuratively as that very thing.
Of the tribal descendants of Judah, Jacob said: “Judah is a lion’s whelp” (Gen 49:9) — certainly not literally, but having certain lion-like traits. When Jesus referred to Herod as a “fox” (Lk. 13:31-32), no one understood him to imply that the ruler was a four-legged animal with a bushy tail! Christ once said: “I am the vine, you are the branches” (Jn. 15:5).
Every careful student knows that the Savior employed symbolism by this language. An analogy was being drawn; the language was not to be pressed literally.
The fact that Jesus instructed the disciples to subsequently partake of the Lord’s supper “in remembrance” of him (Lk. 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:24) contains the implication that he would not be present physically in the communion celebration.”
What is the purpose of the Lord’s Supper?
Jesus instituted this on the very last night before His death. This meal was very special to Him as a time to give last instructions and reminders to His disciples. This was one of the very most important commands He had for them, as evidenced by the priority given to it on the eve of His death.
Fortunately, this is not a difficult question because Jesus already answered it. See Luke 22:14-20. Jesus commanded them to take the bread and the cup in remembrance of Him. Thus the Lord’s Supper is not a complicated theology. Instead it is to celebrated with a very basic goal in mind, to remember Jesus’ death and by implication His resurrection. Jesus’ death/resurrection for sinners is THE most important event in the history of the world. He forfeited His own holy and blameless life to save us, redeem us, adopt us, and bring us up to live with Him in heaven. What kind of followers would we be if we didn’t strive our best to remember and memorialize what He did for us.
Abraham Lincoln uttered the famous phrase “[the world] can never forget what you did here” during his Gettysburg address. If the world doesn’t forget the sacrifices of those soldiers how much more should we remember the sacrifice of its very Creator, the Son of God.
One article at https://www.gci.org/church/lordssup/qanda gives a good summary of the purpose of the Lord’s Supper.
Firstly, it looks back to the death of Jesus on the cross. In so doing we are somber and sorrowful at what Jesus had to suffer because of us. If you are driving a car and your mistake causes the suffering of an innocent bystander you can’t help but feel responsible and sorrowful, even guilty at what happened. It is healthy for us to have the same feelings of regret and sorrow at what Jesus had to suffer because of our sins. Do you often thank Christ for what He has done for you or do you take it for granted?
At the same time, there is joy that Jesus was victorious over death (Hebrews 2:9, 14-15).
Secondly, the Lord’s Supper is a look upward. 1 Corinthians 10:16. It shows our willingness to share in Christ, to follow Him even to the point of persecution and death. It is a reminder that Jesus is victorious, has conquered Satan, and currently sits on His throne having already achieved our redemption.
Thirdly, it is a look inward. See 1 Corinthians 11:28. We are to examine ourselves and confess any sin in our lives prior to taking the Lord’s Supper. Are we worthy of Christ’s death? Of course not. Since we aren’t, we must take this time to confess our sins and admit our total reliance upon Christ and throw ourselves upon His mercy. Do you examine yourself when taking the bread/cup or just do it nonchalantly?
Fourthly, it is a look around. In 1 Corinthians 10:17 we learn that one loaf represents one body. Because of Christ’s sacrifice for us we can have true unity with people of all ages, backgrounds, cultures, and positions. When taking communion our color, career, and car don’t matter. The only thing that matters is that we have been cleansed through His blood and are part of His family. Look at your neighbor on your left and your right. Do you treat them as family? Do you truly fellowship with them? Do you encourage them in their walks with the Lord?
Finally, it is a look forward. Jesus said that He would not drink from the fruit of the vine until that day… in the kingdom of God. This seems to indicate that Jesus would not drink wine until He returns and sets up His earthly kingdom. At the same time, Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 11:26 that whenever we participate in the Lord’s Supper, we “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” Are you looking forward?
What lessons have you learned about communion which you need to apply? What changes will you make the next time you take communion?
Singing a hymn –Aha, after years of searching, I have now found the definitive verse that teaches us we should sing only hymns! Well, actually not since this is a narrative of what they did. However, we can learn a few lessons from Jesus’ example?
1. Singing is a good and acceptable way of worshiping God.
2. You do not need to be in temple or church to sing to the Lord.
3. It is good to have a habit of singing hymns/songs to the Lord together with brothers and sisters in Christ in casual settings, not only in worship services.
4. Singing is a productive and meaningful activity you can participate in with other believers whether few or great in number.
5. Anyone can sing even if you haven’t been professionally trained.
V. Jesus predicts Peter’s denial (31-35)
What does it mean that they would all fall away?
Did this happen? When?
What else did He tell them about what was going to happen?
How did Peter respond to this? What can we learn about Peter?
What were the others saying? What can we learn about them?
What should Peter and the other disciples have said?
What lessons can we learn from this passage?
Zechariah 13:7-9 – Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.
Mark 14:66-72 – Peter did deny Jesus three times.
Proverbs 16:18 – Pride goes before the fall.
Proverbs 11:2 – With the humble is wisdom.
Galatians 6:3 – If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing he deceives himself.
Proverbs 26:12 – Do you see a man who is wise in his own eyes? There is more hope for a fool than for him.
James 4:6 – He gives more grace. He is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble.
1. Jesus knew the future – Jesus clearly predicts how the disciples will react to the night’s persecutions. He knows what is coming. But He does not run. Why do you think He tells them this?
Jesus may tell them so that afterward they will remember what He said and have more evidence of Jesus’ deity. Another reason could be to remind them not to be prideful.
2. Jesus is compassionate – Jesus us about to die for the sins of the world including for the sins of the disciples. He will give everything for them. And He knows that they are not prepared to do the same. He knows that at the first sign of trouble, they will scatter. And yet He does not blame them. He does get angry. There is no yelling. You don’t see Jesus loudly rebuking them or showing self-pity for the fact that even His closest friends would desert Him. Even the reasons for His sharing this information are for their own good.
Application: We often want our friends or family to treat us a certain way. We get upset when they don’t treat us fairly or don’t respect us. From this passage we can learn that even during those times we should primarily be concerned with their own well-being and not ours.
3. Peter responds pridefully. He believes that he is the most spiritual, the most faithful, the most committed disciple and he expresses his willingness to face any kind of punishment, even death, for his Lord. Is this good or bad? The willingness to suffer with Jesus is commendable. Peter has great confidence and indeed seems to really love the Lord. The problem is that his confidence is greatly misplaced. He has loads of confidence, but his confidence seems to be in himself. What should Peter have done?
It would have been better for Peter to throw himself on Jesus’ mercy and say, “Lord, I desperately want to serve you until the end, but I am so weak and so afraid, help me!”
Application: Pride goes before the fall. Don’t be overconfident. Don’t trust in yourself or your own spirituality. Thinking that you are immune to some sin and will never fall can be the quickest way to a devastating defeat. Instead, no matter how strong you feel, know that you are in fact a weak sinner in need of grace. Resolve yourself to continually pray to the Lord and seek His grace to cover over your own weakness.
More to come soon