Matthew 26

“Lesson 9: Matthew 26,” New Testament Teacher Manual (2018)

Introduction and Timeline

The information in Matthew 26 begins Matthew’s account of the events of the Atonement—from the Savior’s foretelling of what was about to happen to Him through Peter’s three denials of Christ. The important events leading up to and including the Atonement account include (1) the Savior’s Last Supper with His disciples, at which He instituted the sacrament—an ordinance that represents His Atonement; (2) His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane, during which He experienced intense agony of body and soul, yet submitted His will to His Heavenly Father; and (3) His betrayal, arrest, and trial before the Jewish council.

New Testament Student Manual : Religion 211-212

Chapter Overview

Matthew 26

Chief priests and scribes conspired to kill Jesus Christ. Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus ate the Passover meal with His disciples, at which time He said that one of them would betray Him. He instituted the sacrament and then suffered in Gethsemane. Jesus was betrayed by Judas, arrested, and taken to stand trial before Caiaphas, where He was falsely accused and abused. Peter denied Jesus three times.

Suggestions for Teaching

Matthew 26:17–30

Instituting the Sacrament at the Last Supper

Ask students to respond to the following:

  • How many times would you estimate you have partaken of the sacrament?

  • Why do you think the Lord wants us to participate in the sacrament so often?

Briefly discuss the students’ responses. Then explain to students that in this lesson they will have the opportunity to study the Last Supper, during which the Savior instituted the sacrament. Through the scripture study and discussion that follow, they can learn more about why the Lord commanded us to partake so often of the sacred emblems of the sacrament.

Before having students read portions of Matthew 26, mention that the account of the woman anointing the feet of Jesus, found in Matthew 26:6–13, will be taught when they study the Gospel of Mark. Then have students look in Matthew 26:17 and identify the feast that Jews were celebrating in Jerusalem at that time. After students have identified the Passover, invite a student to explain briefly why Jews celebrate the Passover. If needed, you might refer students to the student manual commentary for Matthew 26:17–30 for a brief explanation of the meaning of the Passover feast.

Have a student read Matthew 26:18–21, and then ask:

  • What thoughts do you think you might have had if you had been at the Last Supper and heard the Savior say, “One of you shall betray me”?

Have one student read Matthew 26:22–25 and another student read the quotation by President Boyd K. Packer in the student manual commentary for Matthew 26:21–22. Ask students the following questions:

  • What is the lesson President Packer wanted us to learn from the example of these early Apostles?

  • What are some examples of occasions when we could apply the example set by these Apostles? (All occasions when we are receiving gospel instruction.)

Explain that the Gospel of John (see John 13:26–30) suggests that immediately after the conversation between Jesus and Judas recorded in Matthew 26:25, Judas left the supper to go betray the Savior to those with whom he had already conspired (see Matthew 26:14–16). It appears that after Judas’s departure, Jesus instituted the sacrament. Have students silently study Matthew 26:26–28, looking for key words and phrases Jesus Christ used to teach His disciples about the sacrament. Students should identify phrases such as “this is my body,” “my blood of the new testament,” “drink ye all of it” (meaning “all of you drink from it”), and “for the remission of sins.”

  • What doctrine or principle do you learn about the sacrament from these verses? (As students share their thoughts, emphasize these truths: The emblems of the sacrament represent the body and atoning blood of Jesus Christ. By partaking worthily of the sacrament, we can obtain a remission of our sins.)

Help students deepen their understanding of the sacrament by having them read the student manual commentary for Matthew 26:26–28. Then ask:

  • Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught that “every ordinance of the gospel focuses in one way or another on the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.” How does partaking of the emblems of the sacrament focus on the Atonement?

  • Keeping in mind what the Savior taught in these verses, why do you think the Lord has commanded us to partake of the sacrament weekly?

  • What have you done in the past to make your sacrament experience more meaningful?

Share how the sacrament has blessed your life. Encourage students to feel the importance of these truths about the sacrament and think about how they can apply them by taking a moment to ponder what the Holy Ghost has taught them today about the sacrament. Invite them to make a silent commitment to the Lord that they will follow those promptings and choose at least one specific thing they will do this week to make their sacrament experience more worshipful.

Matthew 26:36–46

Submitting to His Father’s Will in Gethsemane

If you have access to olives and olive oil, you might show some olives or some olive oil to your students and ask:

  • What does it take to extract oil from olives? (The olives must be crushed and pressed.)

Ask students to consider the meaning of the word Gethsemane as one student reads Matthew 26:36 and another student reads the quotation by President Russell M. Nelson in the student manual commentary for Matthew 26:36. Discuss as a class why it was appropriate for the Savior to take upon Himself the weight of all our sins, sorrows, and infirmities in a place called Gethsemane.

Have students read Matthew 26:37–38 and look for indications that Jesus was already feeling the tremendous weight that accompanied the Atonement. (He began to be sorrowful and very heavy. His soul was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death.) After discussing student findings, ask:

  • If the Atonement demanded so much of Him, why do you think Jesus Christ was willing to do all that the Atonement required of Him?

Have students look for additional answers to this question as they quietly study Matthew 26:39–44, the quotation by Elder Richard G. Scott in the student manual commentary for Matthew 26:37–39, and the first two paragraphs in the student manual commentary for Matthew 26:39.

  • What doctrinal truths did you discover that help you better appreciate why the Savior was willing to do what the Atonement required of Him? (As students share their answers, emphasize these truths: Jesus Christ was motivated by complete and perfect love for His Father in Heaven and devotion to Him. Jesus Christ was willing to endure the sufferings of the Atonement because of His great love for us.)

  • Of the challenges Elder Scott identified that Jesus Christ faced in carrying out the Atonement, which one is most meaningful to you, and why?

Ask students to underline “not as I will, but as thou wilt” at the end of Matthew 26:39, and “thy will be done” at the end of Matthew 26:42. Ask students:

  • What does it mean to you that in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ told His Father, “Thy will be done”?

Help students understand this doctrine: During His suffering in Gethsemane, Jesus Christ submitted His will to the will of His Father in Heaven. You might emphasize this doctrine by writing it on the board.

As time permits, you might use the following diagram and discussion questions to help students further explore the Savior’s submission to the Father. Draw a diagram like the following on the board:

Before He Came to Earth

During His Suffering

After His Resurrection

Moses 4:2

Matthew 26:39

3 Nephi 11:11

Have students take several minutes and read the scriptures you have written on the board. As they read, have them (1) identify what these scriptures have in common and (2) consider what these references teach about the Savior’s relationship to His Father. Have students explain any insights they learned as they studied and pondered these verses.

  • What does it mean to you that Jesus Christ was submissive to Heavenly Father “in all things from the beginning”? (3 Nephi 11:11). (Students should understand that Jesus Christ submitted to His Father’s will in the premortal world and in mortality. Jesus also bore witness of His submission following His Resurrection.)

Explain to students that Jesus Christ is the great Exemplar. On numerous occasions He has invited us to follow Him and do the works He has done. Have students read the quotation by Elder Robert D. Hales in the student manual commentary for Matthew 26:39. Then ask:

  • Why is it sometimes difficult for us to do what Heavenly Father wants us to do?

  • What spiritual attributes must we have in order to submit to God’s will in our lives?

  • How has submitting to the will of Heavenly Father blessed your life, even when doing so was very difficult? What were your feelings during and after you were submissive to His will?

Help students to be taught by the Holy Ghost by asking them to respond in writing to the question, “How can I better follow Jesus Christ’s example of submission to the Father?” After a few minutes, ask students if any of them would like to share their feelings for the Savior and their gratitude for the Atonement. Share your gratitude and your testimony that in Gethsemane Jesus Christ submitted His will to His Father in Heaven.

Matthew 26:1–5, 14–25, 47–68

Jesus Christ’s Betrayal, Arrest, and Trial before Caiaphas

Tell students that Matthew intended for his readers to understand that the Savior’s betrayal, arrest, and trials before Jewish and Roman leaders were the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (this idea is discussed further in a supplemental teaching idea for this lesson). In addition, Matthew’s account helps us understand the character of Jesus Christ. Write the following phrases on the board:

“Behold, the hour is at hand” (Matthew 26:45).

“Rise, let us be going” (Matthew 26:46).

Have students examine Matthew 26:45–47 and look at these phrases in their context.

Ask students:

  • What was happening at this time? (The Savior had completed His suffering in Gethsemane, and He recognized that this was the moment when He would be betrayed by Judas, thus beginning the events that would lead to His Crucifixion.)

  • What other options did He have as Judas and the multitude approached? (He could have fled. He could have defended Himself.)

  • What do the phrases written on the board teach you about the character of Jesus Christ? (They show that He was willing to submit to His Father’s will. Instead of fleeing from the painful events that were before Him, He went toward Judas and the multitude and took the disciples with Him. He knew that these events were part of Heavenly Father’s plan for Him.)

To help students further understand the Savior’s submission to the events preceding His Crucifixion, briefly review with students the account of the Savior cursing the fig tree found in Matthew 21:17–20 and the account of the Savior confounding the chief priests and other Jewish leaders in Matthew 21:23–27; 22:23–33. Consider asking a student to read aloud the statement by Gerald N. Lund in the student manual commentary for Matthew 26:51–54. Ask students to keep the Savior’s power in mind as they read further in Matthew 26.

Read together the account of Judas betraying the Savior, found in Matthew 26:47–49. Then assign students to work together in pairs to read these scriptures about the events that followed: Matthew 26:50–53; Matthew 26:59–64; and Matthew 26:66–68. Ask students to discuss with each other what the scriptures teach about the Savior’s submissiveness.

After students have had time to discuss these passages, invite several students to share the highlights of their discussions. Students will probably give some of the following ideas: Jesus could have destroyed His enemies but instead allowed them to arrest Him. He had the ability to verbally confound His enemies, but during the trials He supplied the evidence against Him they sought. He could have called upon legions of angels to defend Him, yet He chose not to do so.

Summarize this discussion by making sure that students understand this truth: The Savior willingly submitted to the betrayal, arrest, and trials leading to His Crucifixion.

If time permits, you might read the student manual commentary for Matthew 26:51–54 with your students. Then conclude by asking:

  • When have you submitted to the Lord’s will for you, even though doing so was hard for you? How were you blessed because you did this?

Bear testimony of Heavenly Father’s great love for each of us. Testify that He has a plan for each of us, and when we willingly follow that plan, as the Savior did, it leads to happiness and eternal life with Him.