Unit 7, Day 1: Matthew 26:31–75

New Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students, 2015


Introduction

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ began taking upon Himself the sins of all people as part of His Atonement. Judas betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders. Jesus was then illegally tried before Caiaphas, the high priest, where false charges were brought against Him. During this time Peter denied knowing the Savior three times to those who identified him as one of Jesus Christ’s disciples.

Jesus Praying in Gethsemane

Matthew 26:31–46

Jesus Christ suffers in the Garden of Gethsemane

Consider the following scenario: Ever since he was a child, a young man has been taught that it is a priesthood responsibility to serve a full-time mission. As a teenager, he feels that he should serve a mission, but he struggles with committing to go. He is more interested in other opportunities and worries that a mission will prevent him from having those experiences.

In what other situations might the desires of young men and women differ from what Heavenly Father wants them to do?

Ponder times when you may have found it difficult to submit your will to Heavenly Father’s will. As you study the rest of Matthew 26, look for principles that can help you when you struggle to do what Heavenly Father asks of you.

Recall that Matthew 26:1–30 told about when the Lord ate the Passover feast with His Apostles and instituted the sacrament. Read Matthew 26:31–35, looking for what Jesus prophesied would happen to His Apostles.

In this context, the word offended means to fall or turn away or forsake.

Notice how Peter and the other Apostles responded to what the Savior said.

Read Matthew 26:36–38, looking for where Jesus and the Apostles went after the Passover feast.

Look at the photographs of the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane in Bible Photographs, no. 11 and no. 12. Gethsemane was a garden of olive trees located on or near the Mount of Olives, just outside Jerusalem’s walls. “The word gethsemane means ‘olive press’” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Gethsemane,” scriptures.lds.org).

Mark phrases in Matthew 26:36–38 that describe how Jesus felt as He entered Gethsemane.

Read Matthew 26:39, looking for what Jesus did after going “a little further” into the garden.

The cup the Savior referred to was a symbolic term for the bitterness of the suffering He experienced as part of the Atonement. In Gethsemane, Jesus began taking upon Himself the sins and suffering of all people as part of His great atoning sacrifice.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained what Jesus was asking the Father for when He asked for the cup to pass from Him: “The Lord said, in effect, ‘If there is another path, I would rather walk it. If there is any other way—any other way—I will gladly embrace it.’ … But in the end, the cup did not pass” (“Teaching, Preaching, Healing,” Ensign, Jan. 2003, 41).

You may want to mark the phrase “nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matthew 26:39; see also D&C 19:19).

Even though He asked for a different way to accomplish the Father’s purposes, Jesus Christ submitted His will to the Father’s will to accomplish the Atonement.

Ponder what we can learn about Jesus from His willingness to submit to Heavenly Father’s will even though it meant He would endure intense suffering and eventual death.

Complete the following statement based on what you have learned from Matthew 26:39: We follow Jesus Christ’s example when we ____________________________________________________________________________________________________.

  1. journal icon1.

    Review the scenario and the situations you listed at the beginning of this lesson. Then answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How can the Savior’s example strengthen us in these situations?

  2. journal icon2.

    Think of times when your desires differed from Heavenly Father’s will but ultimately you chose to follow His will. Write about one of your experiences in your scripture journal if it is not too personal, and explain why you made that choice and how you felt about it.

Identify a specific way you will follow Jesus Christ’s example by submitting your will to Heavenly Father’s will. Consider setting a goal to act on what you identified.

Review Matthew 26:37–38, looking for the Savior’s instructions to Peter, James, and John in Gethsemane.

The instruction to “watch with me” in verse 38 means to be awake, alert, or vigilant. To better understand why the disciples may have needed the Savior’s instruction to watch with Him, note that the Joseph Smith Translation adds the explanation that when the disciples came to the garden, they “began to be sore amazed, and to be very heavy, and to complain in their hearts, wondering if this be the Messiah” (Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 14:36 [in the Bible appendix]). By instructing the disciples to watch with Him, Jesus warned them to be vigilant because their faith in Him would be tested.

Read Matthew 26:40, looking for what Jesus discovered that “Peter and the two sons of Zebedee [James and John]” (Matthew 26:37) had been doing while He was praying.

Christ waking Apostles

The Joseph Smith Translation of Luke 22:45 indicates that they were sleeping, “for they were filled with sorrow.”

Read Matthew 26:41, looking for what Jesus told them to do.

The following is one principle we learn from the Savior’s instructions to these Apostles: If we watch and pray continually, we will have strength to resist temptation.

What do you think the phrase “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:41) means?

One meaning could be that the disciples wanted to obey the Savior, but they allowed their physical desire for sleep to overcome their spiritual desire to watch and pray. Ponder how understanding this phrase might help us resist temptation.

President Henry B. Eyring

After quoting Matthew 26:41, President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency said: “[The Savior’s] warning to Peter is to us as well. The wolf who would kill the sheep will surely tear at the shepherd. So we must watch over ourselves as well as others” (“Watch with Me,” Ensign, May 2001, 39).

Recall that to “watch” means to be awake, alert, or vigilant. Think about how spiritually watching and praying can help us overcome our weaknesses and resist temptation.

Ponder whether you have ever given in to temptation because you failed to pray and be watchful. Consider how that choice affected you. Next, ponder times when you resisted temptation by praying and being watchful. What has helped you be consistent in spiritually watching and praying?

On a separate piece of paper or a card, write one thing you will do to better watch and pray continually. Consider carrying this paper with you to remind you of your goal.

Note that Matthew 26:42–46 records that Jesus prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane. Each time He expressed His willingness to obey His Father’s will.

Matthew 26:47–75

Jesus Christ is arrested and tried before Caiaphas

Chief priests and scribes conspired to kill Jesus Christ. Their evil plot included bribing Judas, producing false witnesses, inflicting ridicule, and even torturing Jesus. The Savior was forced to face two formal trials: The first was a Jewish trial before the Sanhedrin of Jerusalem—an assembly of 71 members, including Levites, chief priests, scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and those of other political persuasions, all presided over by the high priest, who was Caiaphas at this time. The second was a Roman trial before Pilate. During the Jewish trial Jesus was accused of blasphemy (to mock, revile, or curse God) because He called Himself the Son of God (see Matthew 26:64–65). Since blasphemy was a Jewish matter and of no concern to the Romans, the Jewish leaders changed the charge to treason when they took Jesus to Pilate. The Jewish leaders tried to persuade the Romans that Jesus was trying to set Himself up as a king, hoping the Romans would put Him to death as a traitor to Caesar. However, during the Roman trial Pilate found no fault with Jesus. Yet, in the end Pilate authorized the execution of Jesus anyway to appease the Jewish leaders.

Read the following statement by Gerald N. Lund, who later was a member of the Seventy: “Imagine [Jesus Christ,] the Being whose power, whose light, whose glory holds the universe in order, the Being who speaks and solar systems, galaxies, and stars come into existence—standing before wicked men and being judged by them as being of no worth or value!” (“Knowest Thou the Condescension of God?” in Doctrines of the Book of Mormon: The 1991 Sperry Symposium, ed. Bruce A. Van Orden and Brent L. Top [1992], 86).

Even though Jesus Christ had the power to destroy the men who were smiting and spitting on Him, He suffered and endured them willingly. The Roman leaders and soldiers did not realize the infinite power Jesus could have called upon if it were the will of the Father that He do so.

Search Matthew 26:47–68, looking for how Jesus Christ continued to exercise control and submit to His Father’s will even when He was mistreated and judged by wicked men (see also 1 Nephi 19:9). You may want to mark what you find.

  1. journal icon3.

    In your scripture study journal, write what stands out to you about the Savior’s determination to do Heavenly Father’s will regardless of the circumstances. Also write how you can follow the Savior’s example of obedience.

In Matthew 26:56, note that the Savior’s prophecy that the Apostles would turn away from Him was fulfilled. However, this turning away was only temporary.

Matthew 26:69–75 records that while Jesus was being tried after His arrest, Peter denied knowing Him three times. (Note: Peter’s denial will be covered more thoroughly in the lesson on Luke 22.)

  1. journal icon4.

    Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Matthew 26:31–75 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: