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Matthew 26 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Matthew 26 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 And it came to pass, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said unto his disciples,

2 Ye know that after two days is the feast of the passover, and the Son of man is betrayed to be crucified.

3 Then assembled together the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders of the people, unto the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas,

4 And consulted that they might take Jesus by subtilty, and kill him.

5 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar among the people.

6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,

7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.

8 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?

9 For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.

11 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

12 For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.

13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests,

15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.

16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.

17 Now the first day of the feast of unleavened bread the disciples came to Jesus, saying unto him, Where wilt thou that we prepare for thee to eat the passover?

18 And he said, Go into the city to such a man, and say unto him, The Master saith, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at thy house with my disciples.

19 And the disciples did as Jesus had appointed them; and they made ready the passover.

20 Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve.

21 And as they did eat, he said, Verily I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me.

22 And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto him, Lord, is it I?

23 And he answered and said, He that dippeth his hand with me in the dish, the same shall betray me.

24 The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.

25 Then Judas, which betrayed him, answered and said, Master, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.

26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

(26:26-28) "Eat; this is my body."
Jesus tells his disciples to eat his body and drink his blood. Did he mean this literally or figuratively? The question has divided Christians since the Reformation, but it's impossible to tell from the passage itself. If God inspired the Bible, shouldn't he have made its interpretation clear?
As Christ is in heaven, it can't be meant literally. And they didn't eat it literally here, did they? In order to believe that the eating is literally, you also have to believe that the bread turns into Christ's flesh and the wine in Christ's blood. So this transformation must be part of the literal interpretation as well. If Christ has meant this to be literal, he would have given his body literally while he was still present with his disciples.

27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

29 But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.

"I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."
WooHoo! There will be wine to drink in heaven.
Is it OK to drink alcohol?
Yes, it is OK to drink alcohol in moderation. The verses the author of the SAB quotes in opposition warn either against too much alcohol or are meant for those who has taken the Nazarite vow, Num. 6:2-3.

30 And when they had sung an hymn, they went out into the mount of Olives.

31 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.

"But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee."
Did Jesus forewarn his disciples about his coming death?
Yes, Jesus did forewarn his disciples many times, but they did not understand his words, see John 20:9. because they did not understand the scriptures.

32 But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

33 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended.

34 Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

"Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice."
Jesus says, "before the cock crow, thou [Peter] shall deny me thrice." But according to Mark (14:66-72) the cock crowed after Peter's first denial.
Did Jesus say before the cock crow or before the cock crow twice?
Did the cock crow before or after Peter's denial?
The answer is twice to both questions, see Mark 14:30 and Mark 14:72 for the explanation.

35 Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.

36 Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder.

37 And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.

38 Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me.

39 And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

(26:39, 42) "Let this cup pass from me"
Did Jesus ask God to save him from crucifixion?

40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

42 He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done.

43 And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy.

44 And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.

45 Then cometh he to his disciples, and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest: behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

46 Rise, let us be going: behold, he is at hand that doth betray me.

47 And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.

48 Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast.

(26:47-49) "Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he."
Did Judas identify Jesus with a kiss?

49 And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him.

50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him.

51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest’s, and smote off his ear.

52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.

"All they that take the sword shall perish with the sword."
Jesus gives some good advice here. Unfortunately, he contradicts it in Mt.10:34 and Lk.22:36. And, of course, it is also contradicted in innumerable places elsewhere in the bible (See Violence and Injustices for some examples).
Did Jesus come to bring peace?
The sword about which is spoken in chapter 10:34 is not a literal sword, but the effect of preaching the gospel, namely persecution. This verse is about taking up the sword literally. And not when defending one's own country of family, but taking it for private revenge. Such is forbidden.
The injustices about which the author of the SAB mentions are places in the Bible were evildoers are punished, something the author of the SAB seems to oppose.

53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?

54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?

(26:54-56) "But all this was done, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled."
What scriptures? What prophets? There is no such prophecy in the Old Testament.
There are no prophecies in the Old Testament that Christ had to die? The Old Testament is full of them! Let me quote (Is. 53:7) just one:

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

John Gill lists many more.

55 In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

56 But all this was done, that the scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled. Then all the disciples forsook him, and fled.

57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were assembled.

(26:57) "And they ... led him away to Caiaphas."
Was Jesus taken to Caiaphas or Annas first?

58 But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.

59 Now the chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death;

60 But found none: yea, though many false witnesses came, yet found they none. At the last came two false witnesses,

(26:59-61) "At the last came two false witnesses"
Did Jesus say, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up"?
Yes, Jesus did say that he would rebuild the temple, that is, his body, see John 2:19. These two false witnesses repeated part of what Jesus said, but twisted the words and meaning to make Jesus say something he didn't. These witnesses make it appear Jesus said he would destroy the physical temple. Which is false. And it is clear the priests understood the meaning of Jesus' words to be about his body. After they had crucified him, they went to Pilate for a guard of his tomb, because they suddenly remembered that Jesus had said he would rise again after three days, see chapter 27:63.

61 And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days.

62 And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?

63 But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.

64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

(26:63-64) "Thou hast said."
When the high priest asks Jesus if he is "the Christ, the Son of God," Jesus hedges by saying, "Thou hast said." In Mark (14:62), Jesus answered directly by saying, "I am." In both gospels he falsely prophesies that the high priest would see his second coming.
How did Jesus respond to the high priest?
What the Bible says about the end of the world
We should be aware here that the evangelists translated Jesus words. Jesus as fluent in Hebrew, and he could have spoken that as his daily language as well, but there also reasonable arguments that Jesus spoke Aramaic as his daily language. So both Matthew and Mark give us a translation. Matthew is perhaps closer to the original when he writes “thou hast said”. This is an idiomatic way of saying “thou hast said right,”. Mark translates Jesus words as “I am.
On the end of the world: Jesus does not mean here to say the high priest would see him while still alive. At the end of time, the dead will rise and they also will see the Son of man.

65 Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.

66 What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.

67 Then did they spit in his face, and buffeted him; and others smote him with the palms of their hands,

68 Saying, Prophesy unto us, thou Christ, Who is he that smote thee?

69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee.

Peter was asked by two different maidservants and one male servant if he knew Jesus. But as he was at a crowded and full place of course many others heard it and might have become involved. See Mark 14:69 if the same maid saw him the second time. See Luke 22:58 if the second person was a male. See also the response by Waterrock who gives a harmonized account of these events.

70 But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.

71 And when he was gone out into the porch, another maid saw him, and said unto them that were there, This fellow was also with Jesus of Nazareth.

72 And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man.

73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee.

74 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.

75 And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.